Great Song: The Life and Teachings of Joe Miller

Great Song: The Life and Teachings of Joe Miller

edited with an introduction by Richard Power
Maypop Press, 196 Westview Drive, Athens, GA 30606; paperback, 200 pages.

This remarkable book tells the story of a true American mystic, his travels through life, and his interpretations of teachings from many of the world's great religions. Joe Miller was a simple and profound man, a Theosophist, Sufi, Zen master, minister, but more importantly a friend.

The book is a distillation of the many lectures Joe gave at the San Francisco Lodge of the Theosophical Society, or on his famous Thursday walks in Golden Gate Park, when he and his wife Guin would be joined typically by dozens of people, and on holidays by hundreds. It is a beautiful tapestry of Miller's life experiences, including meetings with Annie Besant and W. Y. Bvans-wentz.

In his introduction to the book, Richard Power wrote, “Joe was an authentic American revolutionary of the spirit…He had no formal education beyond the eighth grade. He held no hierarchical posit ion in any religious organization. Joe didn't publish any books or write any articles for prestigious reviews. He didn't 'travel the national lecture circuit. Joe had no videos to market, and he didn't organize seminars…He spoke for free, and he would talk to anyone who was interested.”

Joe was deeply influenced by the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. He often spoke of realization and various states of consciousness. There is commentary on the Sutra of Hui-Neng and the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation. “The Great Liberation is something that you individually find out and work with yourself,” Joe said. “Not by going with out, but by going within…you have to find that reality with in yourselves.”

He would advise, “I tell people to keep a little place, just 10% inside your heart and know that little place doesn't belong to anybody, just God and you have access to it.”

And he would say, “The truth IS, nobody can say it. You've got to BE it! You've got to live it. That's Sufism, that's Theosophy, that’s Christianity, that's Vedanta, Zen, Buddhism. Whatever name you want to put on it, you have to feel the at-one-ment with the reality.”

And, “It 's all a Oneness in reality, all the different things are but the divisions of the lower levels of your consciousness, which you can understand if you come into awareness. We live in a world of duality and we have to learn to see through that duality. How can we see the Oneness if we're running one way or another? Whether it's money or energy, we say, ‘Oh, I gotta get to this, I gotta get to that.' But can we look at it and see that it's just two side s of one thing. Look at it all from the standpoint of equilibrium of the middle path.”

The book packs a punch. Joe was never one to be at a loss for words. He talks about Sufism, Jesus and Muhammad, spiritual practices, marriage, sex, love, the bhakti path, Theosophy, spiritual hierarchy, psychic experiences, the River meditation, the Six Rules of Tilopa, and more. There is something in this for everyone: humor, warmth, and simple discussion of some very complex teachings. Most of all, it contains the essence of one man who incorporated spiritual teachings into his own life, and lived love, deeply and fully. “We're not pushing a religion,” he would say, “we're pushing compassion.”


Winter 1993