Payam Ayazi and Odet Nazarian

Recorded January 19, 2021 Archived January 18, 2021 37:57 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby020338


Friends Payam Ayazi (36) and Odet Nazarian (52) discuss their mutual connection to the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi, School of Islamic Sufism and the role it has played in their lives.

Subject Log / Time Code

P.A. and O.N. give an introduction to themselves.
“When did you start coming to the school and what was your experience?” P.A. asks O.N.
“Sufism was always practiced behind closed doors.” O.N. describes going to the lectures as a child with her parents in Iran and the way she experiences MTO now as an adult.
“What I’ve learned is that the teachings have always been about love and kindness,” O.N. says.
P.A. describes the way he finds examples in nature that connect to MTO lectures.
P.A. shifts the conversation to the pandemic and the way MTO has supplied PPO and food donations and asks O.N. about the process of this global effort.
“We all fall, we all lose our way in life, but we all have hope,” O.N. says.
“It’s our nature to want to help,” P.A. says as he reflects on one of his favorite lines in the Holy Quran.
“Odet you are a student of Islamic sufism, but you are also Jewish. How has that been for you?” P.A. asks O.N.
“We all have a self, our true essence, which is our direct connection with God. Being on this path we learn these things,” P.A. shares.
O.N. shares the story of how her mom came to the MTO school of Islamic Sufism.


  • Payam Ayazi
  • Odet Nazarian

Recording Location

Virtual Recording


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00:00 My name is Taya miozzi. I am 36 years old. Today's date is January 19th 2021. It's a Tuesday in Los Angeles. And I'm going to be having a conversation with with it as audio who is a friend and volunteer from MCO.

00:21 My name is Odette nevarran. I'm 52 years old today date is January 19th, 2021. Where in Los Angeles California? I'll be talkin to Pia Mia. We are having a friend.

00:41 Hi, my name is i m i z. I am 36 years old. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I'm a small business owner and love nature and the outdoors and also I'm a student and volunteer at MCO shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism, which is really a huge part of my life.

01:01 I am Odin has Ariana 52 years old. I live in Los Angeles. I was born in Iran and at a young age. I moved my family to Italy where I went to elementary school there and see you later. We move to Los Angeles. We have three wonderful girls and I want a real daughter that brings a smile to my face everyday coming, right? Yes, and she and I'm 6 months pregnant and we are so excited family friends for a long time, and we've been working together for quite some time, but I never really got to know you until recently.

01:46 Yes, it's beautiful knowing you more and working with you and other volunteers that until I am seriously is an international and non-profit religious organization with centers all around the world. And the aim of the school is to teach Sufism and Sufism is the author of self-knowledge and Discovery through the way of the heart and finding that she's tranquility and and love with it and ultimately our goal as students is to

02:24 Find that connection within ourselves and without of God and existence and I've been coming to the school since I was a child my parents used to bring us, but you were a part of the school before I was even born. When did you start come in? And what was your experience? Like? I was around five years old, but my pain started changing into your classes in your own actually my childhood memories of those days are so sweet. I remember sitting next to my mom at m.t.o sessions at a young age the sweet smell of rose water in the air. Very good. While being there a feeling of warmth and love and electric sound like a very soft Melody my ear and that's all I do.

03:23 From my childhood days and then filled but going back in time when my parents were taking us to M2 classes and you're on it wasn't like today at all. I mean sophism was always practice behind closed doors with the most absolute beautiful incredible things that happened for me.

03:56 Where can you be stationed right decisions were caused by a healthy balanced life to self knowledge. And there it is beautiful deck sessions with the membranes of the Beloved by Sufjan chanting. So incredible and amazing, you know the message of Charity and hope has always been a part of it.

04:31 What is a powerful force and probably the most important factor when it comes to overcoming life's biggest challenges and the students are always encouraged to be a part of the community on to volunteer. For example, as you know, different Supercenters have done many different like helping the homeless crisis happened with disaster relief program has had been also very active in Interfaith Community School of different backgrounds and different take apart of the kitchen service that until I remember and your husband and you very much involved in it. How is that like for you? I mean even a teenager I was a part of the

05:31 What is the young professional group and we would host events or we would attend different interface functions and have conversations and you know, practice meditation together with people of different faiths. And so it's been a lot of fun and I mean with regards to the volunteer work. What does it mean to you to volunteer?

06:02 You know what? I've learned from school. So his mom is that the teaching has always been about love kindness and compassion and that's one of the pillars of stuff is on his selfless service on.

06:20 It has been such a great experience for me being volunteer work, but I always time always constantly remind myself just because I do volunteer work. The doors are having I automatically open to me or I don't get closer to God because of that. I know that and I feel that I just think for me just enough for me personally. It's just something very human. It's it's just very humbling to me and helps me find balance that you didn't lie to my whole life so I can actually to myself myself only and it's a blessing for me that I really supposed to feed my soul how much love and hope he's always in chicken sandwich students like you and other volunteers and the two words and the charity work again. It's just I feel like

07:20 Hardee's in Cedar. Hope hope for people to know that they're not alone. I mean, what does it mean to be a part of it is everything you just said for me. It's very grounding and humbling to be a part of this to volunteer my time and energy, but it's also a provides my life with balance and it is something that I need. So I'm happy to be a part of it.

07:51 You know what that you know how I meant interested in in fascinator with like nature in the outdoors and all that answers and to sort of connect the teachings of Sufism. You know what I learn in and lecture and I try to connect that with nature and so just the other day my brother and I we went to Sequoia National Park. Have you ever been there like 250 300 ft tall and there's a massive and so my brother and I were just walking around and were marveling at like the sheer size of these trees and something that we learned was that while we were admiring the size of the trees is that under the surface all of these trees are

08:48 Connected like all the routes are interconnected under the forest floor and the forest and the trees do this magnificent thing where if one of the trees were a bunch of trees are like hurting or or you know,

09:06 There's something wrong with it that the other trees will send its nutrients through the root system to help the trees to benefit the system as a whole and so you know, when I was there, I was just thinking about it and just marveling at this and I I think of professor said that I was answer when he was asked why nature competes and in his book The Hidden angels of life. She states that the manifestations of beings seem to be living apart from one another but in fact, they're all connected and that they all rely upon an inch of intellectual and unique agent. And so this puts me in thought and so I relate this that we as people

09:52 We are also connected on on so many levels whether it's a physical level or a cultural or an emotional or a deeper spiritual level, but that at this time people are hurting like there is so much going on in the world that people are hurting and that it is our duty to help when we can and I feel that we do this not just buy.

10:16 Volunteering work by donating but by week do it individually by finding our own inner balance and peace.

10:25 So that we can share that love and kindness to one another that were part of like a greater balance in this system. Does that all make sense? I just love finding these connections.

10:43 You know.

10:44 So this pandemic has been absolutely crazy just unreal on so many levels and m.t.o has started its Global efforts in providing covid-19 release by hand making thousands of personal protective items. Like ham face masks face Shields Medical gowns along with massive amounts of food donations in care packages and other charity work and this was all advised by our Sushi Master Professor not their Uncle who encourage the students and volunteers to participate in to be a part of something like this and the first several months of this whole pandemic was just it was crazy. Like there was a national shortage of personal protective items around the country and we had to do a lot of research and figure out what to do and how to do it. And I know that you have been personally doing quite a bit of juggling during this whole process and

11:44 Really wanting to get like your take on it. What's his thin like for you was dying to see what kind of fabrics the hospital all the students from every age group that wanted to be a part of this drive. Is Smyth my face everyday. It is dumb.

12:22 A little bit challenging at the beginning remember but very shortly and quiet. I think magically the students learn the more effective way to raise the planet eyes and packaged non-perishable food items or and how to distribute them. But you were questions were making face masks on the sewing small sewing machines remembering the name to Industrial sewing machines that a lot like City of Hope Kaiser Permanente Los Robles Hospital wise as it's it's amazing. I'm not get so excited and talking about it with so much love and positive energy for me.

13:21 Was about love and hope it's been so beautiful in life challenging experience for me to see This Global effort know I'm a workaholic but and I used to go through my stuff only right but I learned to know if I am I literally mean learn to understand that has made such an amazing. I like on my words that I'm really thankful and everybody realizes I'm asking people for help. Now. I lost him where it is just changed me so much already. So awesome. Okay, so I'm working together with all of this. I realized that I mirror a lot of people's energy and that while we're working together. It's just everybody is hustling and ever.

14:21 What is working so hard but then everyone has a smile on their face. Some people are singing while they're working and it's just as collective energy that that just fueled me that just like after a day of hard work. I was just so energized and it was fun. It was really big collaborative effort with with the other Suki said, you know around the country or around, you know, another country is even that there was sharing information like, you know, like you mentioned that the hospital material like we had to do a research to be like hey what is accepted in the hospital and we had to find out the name of the material and find suppliers and then you know who can sew and how can I sew and like finding template so that other people from different centers would find like a better version or you know other formats that works better and we would share this information. So it's like there was a really amazing collaborative effort and then

15:21 Well, you have been working so hard on your back end in preparing all these mainly food donations and and packages. You know, I was a part of a lot of the door-to-door deliveries and I remember the very beginning of the endemic. This was like when the shutdown was happening was we found one of the senior living centers that was actually near the LA Sufi Center and we went there with several hundred full bags of non-perishable food and

15:58 We went knocking door-to-door, you know just delivering these and they were some people who are very reluctant to answer the door or obviously like there was a lot going on, but then there were other people that they open the door and they saw that we were giving them food and they just like broke down and started crying like they were so happy and they were telling me like some people are crying and they were like, we had nothing like nothing and it was just it was very very touching to me. And you know, I want to ask you like in this work that you've been doing. Was there any organization or any family that's really touched your heart?

16:41 Do you know any stories to tell and I got emotionally may be involved with so many of these organizations, but I tell you one one of the ones that I could tell you about. This could be one of them is Harvest family. I mean the Supercenters are always ready and ask ask give me searching for people and organizations who need help the most doing the station that provides housing support for homeless pregnant woman the next day. I'll call them on behalf of them to you.

17:26 I spoke to draw Anna and she was such a wonderful lady and she explained to me. What is no problem is profit organization does and how it helps expecting mom. What does it mean when your car is ringing after the pregnancy? So I just asked you ready to help I said M2 is always through the job. So she said okay. I'm going to email you a list when I looked at the list. I kind of like what my heart. Organist and Mt. On November 17th.

18:09 I think we did leave it on the Run 17 / 1500 items to them face mask and and she was like elephant ears and she's good at this is amazing. This is just so amazing and and she told me what's going on and then she forgot something to tell you. I want to share something with you. We have six new ones in the house now to harvest Hanalei other organizations in the hope that into the given them every time and your you know, that they are told that there are people out there that I care, you know, sweet and very special.

19:08 Well with this organization that was particularly homeless women. What did that feel like for you especially being a mother of three?

19:18 My heart broke

19:21 Being mother of three and having a daughter that is pregnant. It was very hard for me, but I did some research to see what's going on. And I read among young women ages 18 to 25 experience homelessness 44% or pregnant or mother.

19:45 44% of of young homeless women are pregnant or mothers. Yeah. So I tell you coping with pregnancy and Parenthood is very difficult for any young woman, especially if you find if you find yourself without your the challenges of being homeless, and I'm having anyone to care for you. I mean when when I want to share something with you and my kids will our kids a little much longer. We practically lost everything we had overnight nothing. We have nothing left and things got so bad that we had to borrow money to survive. I am not go borrowing money from cousins and

20:33 I remember looking at my credit cards to see which credit cards did had available money before we hit the limits and credit to buy food and milk for the kids.

20:43 Add milk for the kids to have small kids. I'm being afraid of tomorrow. I tell you I know how it feels I am.

21:01 Wow, it is one thing to be afraid to go to sleep hungry. But you know that there is a possibility for your kids to have to go to sleep hungry just breaks. Your heart is ready, but your heart is so bad. I sometimes don't even want to remember that day, but I learned something. We also we all lose our way. We all had fortune in life.

21:30 Which to me the same as space. I love that we get that strength from we staying at to stand up once again and to stand up tall and strong and powerful. I'm not a now and 9 to know that we will get through the tough times and that this too will pass. You know, that's the saying and I Met Your Mother and I'm so grateful for you. Hope that is planted in some one heart and one of my favorite quotes that really touches my heart, but you're not anger or so, can I send it? Because what I know, you know that called you both love it says

22:22 Life hope is planted seed in Fertile ground that there's fruit.

22:30 In the land of my heart Duplantis despair never girls and I live with that cause everyday.

22:39 I love that quote. I love that.

22:43 You know, I feel like

22:46 To me that for people who are struggling and must really mean something to receive anything. You know that it must give them a sense of hope. There's a quote in the Holy Quran that really resonates with me and it says if anyone saved a life it would be as if the life of the whole humanity and so I think about this and I think about this all the time when I'm working is that if there is something that I can do I will do something. You know that it's

23:23 You know, it's it's it's our nature to want to help going back to some of the events that we've had. There were neither was seven major events that into held at the two of them were covid-19 testing sites pop of testing sites. And this was when there was no other testing sites in that area and it was there was a huge response and then we had an event for the nurses day and event for Memorial Day in event for homelessness awareness week and it needs one of these events. They were just

24:05 Amazing displays of of packages of the non-perishable food or the the personal protective items. Everything was beautifully color coded and displayed and then we held these these events with with public figures, you know, we had people from the police department the sheriff of Los Angeles County came and the mayor's represented as a city council member and and firefighters and emergency responders and an ER staff and homeless shelters. Like it was all these people came and it was this amazing scene to see all the best and to see how it all comes together. And then one of my favorites was the Kids Day event, you know, like that one was awesome.

24:51 Yeah, I know. That was the most beautiful one. I cannot even forget that day. Yes, it was Friday July 31st event. That was the cheapest building 207 Powerman and hope I remember that day delivered over thousand PPE and onesies that was amazing and then like the highlight of that before me was the 600 backpacks and school supplies that into ordered and delivered to how much like Elementary School Yolanda. Yeah. I was pretty upset and The Punisher with the LA County Sheriff

25:51 It was like I was on this beautiful line to set up hundreds of kids were standing in this line in front of us in the son and there was sweating and their faces were red and I was trying to run and be everything else as fast as possible and do all looking at the back to you know, trying to figure out what's in his what color back that they will get and there was a line of cars also not everybody so far is that stress like two blocks long and I felt like it was an accident or something but it turned out to be all families in line to receive their their unit school supply and they were like the the fan

26:51 Please with the kids in the back and it was just I was blown away by that response. Like I had no idea that there was going to be

27:03 In front of the kids in the line and I was just trying to help with one of the deputies to pick up the backpacks and passed them as fast as possible. So this beautiful kids can go to the shade and mad at their faces this little girl came from and she had this beautiful face with

27:24 You know, rosy cheeks and she's looking my eyes I could such a poop and you know waiting to see what color backpack she's going to get and I was really touched by his side look to my side and I told the baby baby. Oh my God, it looks amazing. She's so excited. Look at this. You know, I understand them.

27:48 I was one of them growing up my parents weren't able to buy me backpacks. I never had a backpack. So I fully understand how they feel time. I think my heart wanted. I don't know what I'm doing. I didn't know what I'm doing with that moment. I was just passing the backpacks, but my heart was going inside every backpacks that was given to every week. It is an amazing experience and I was trying to be a part of it. It was very touching beautiful absolute favorites and then we had that events for homelessness awareness week and I believe that was where we had a thousand.

28:35 Bags of non-perishables going to Salvation Army. And that was the one to the the harvest home right color coding all the bags. So we knew like where it was all going and we displayed it all before loading it up into the bands for delivery.

28:56 And

28:58 I remember there was a lady who came to the gate.

29:04 And what was that? I I remember that I saw something from the distance and I didn't know what was happening. But I forget that moment will removing the food's the bag of sand organizing and bicolor. So Harvest Home LA or people concerned look at a certain color. So it was easier to load them and one of the students called me and said someone by their doors asking for food.

29:36 The right away I grabbed one of the heavy bags, you know, I'm sorry if it was always happy for you and and I when I come to the door.

29:54 I thought you said it was probably my age. So I was like seeing get mirror image of myself in front of me and I look into my eyes and feels like I'm kind of emptiness which made me really sad. I asked her. What would you like some food? She just nodded her head and she said give her the temperature outside cuz if I was a very heavy and I asked are you okay? Is there anything else I can do for you? Can I bring you anything else? Just not at that moment. I just wanted to hug her. I really wanted to have and give her more bags, but she just turn around and walk away and I was watching her and feeling so emotional.

30:47 And she turn around just like a movies. It was amazing. She just turned around and I'm not kidding. I saw it like a sinkhole of a smile on her face.

30:59 And she turned back and relax.

31:09 It's a very touching story and it's crazy because you know, we've been doing I've been doing all of this and there's been so much going on and it's one thing when we're donating to organizations, but it's another thing when we see the actual people who are needing it and then we hand them personally, but this is a whole different experience.

31:35 Was it something else I've been meaning to ask you is that you are a student of m.t.o school of Islamic Sufism. We were also Jewish. What is that like for you?

31:50 Robin is your best impression George willing to learn about different religions other than the wrong there isn't any of this individual do not take the time to learn about other religions because he still be trained with probably that's why sometimes you had hard times. I think that's the way they thought but that's okay because I feel different reality the way I see it. Is that the end of the day we are all praying to the same God and the more you learn about God through the perspective of different religions. Your Clarity on God become stronger Sufism is The Path of Knowledge and the reality of religion and it is at yourself and gods from weed.

32:50 In your heart and it's based on the goal of self-knowledge. You know, that's an arm Iowa. My gender is of my religion is I don't think so, you know, but I can tell you whatever happened out there with the family and friends who know that isn't made us as a family and much stronger family, and I'm just thankful to live in 2 minutes with Anderson Cooper classes.

33:24 I thought she was beautiful and I love for you bring up the bridge between religions and I find that to be a very meaningful part of Sufism is that it teaches the reality of once on being and it teaches the reality of the prophet's teachings in helping each individual attain that inner peace and balance and really their own connection with God and all that exists.

33:58 Everyone you me and everyone we all have a self we all have that Inner Essence and that no matter what religion ethnicity gender or any other social identity. We have we have that true Essence that is our direct connection with God and that being on this path is, you know, we learn these things and there's one thing the prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him. He said you be you and this in itself is so powerful and it it just

34:37 Everything is within it it's just admit. It says the world, you know, I just we need to find that true identity within ourselves and I heard your mom. I've been meaning to ask you. I heard your mom has this really beautiful story of how she became introduces glor went when she first started coming. Would you be open to sharing that very personal touch it to me? So I hi. Crying don't mind my mom yesterday. She found herself.

35:37 She had this mixed emotions instead of attending the temple with her pants. Now, she was sitting in the class. I was called Islamic Sufism at one of the classes that was taught by professors to add an angle.

35:55 She wasn't feeling well emotionally professor and Islam. I loved it, but I'm a little bit uncomfortable. I don't know how to tell my father brother that car what class is Anna Kendrick.

36:18 Professor not done with my dad my mom and my mom said all her boys went away at that moment. He told her.

36:26 You're not here to change your religion. What could be a better Jewish person? I would like your Shabbos candle. Don't forget the light.

36:40 The light the candles in your heart.

36:44 And my mom has been lighting the Shabbos candles every Friday night is so beautiful play emotional anesthesia made in kitchen.

37:08 Or that it has been an absolute pleasure being not only friends with you but working with you and really getting to know you and I'm very grateful for this conversation. And I think you so much for opening up and for sharing what you did no sharing all that you have you did.

37:30 I'm really also grateful to be a part of the school and to be with you and to volunteer with you during all this thank you, and I like to chew this time can heal for showing me this beautiful Journey. Thank you again.