The Story Of A Guru: Phillip Schaeffer

Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel

“Excuse me, Miss! I have to say; you’re wearing my favorite type of belt.”

I turned to find an older gentleman with smiling blue eyes staring back at me.

A silk tie-dyed scarf was fastened around his neck, neatly tucked into a blue pinstripe button-up shirt — a classic style with a twist. I liked him immediately.

“My name is Phillip Schaffer,” he said as he extended his hand.

My face lit up. We knew each other.

At the time, I was an editor at a local paper, and Phillip and I had emailed, hoping to start his column on wellness.

Unfortunately, the paper wasn’t up for it. So, with a tail between my legs, I explained who I was and proceeded to apologize for the column not working out.

He waved his hand in the air, as if to say not to worry, then held out his arms and said, “Megan! It’s so nice to finally meet you!” before leaning in to hug me.

Not long after, he invited me to his home for coffee.

And as he poured the black liquid into the small white ceramic cup, he looked at me from the corner of his eyes and said, “Megan, you and I are family. We’ve met before, in other lifetimes.”

I nodded my head, totally flattered since I had felt the same feeling when we first met.

As we settled in the living room, surrounded by art and curiosities I would pay to see in a museum, we sipped on some of the strongest coffee I’ve ever had to this day.

I told him I had recently quit my job as an editor to move to Washington. I would live on a sailboat with my boyfriend, Chris and we planned to sail to Mexico.

“That’s wonderful!” Phillip said without missing a beat – a long departure from the are-you-insane looks I was used to.

Realizing I had less than an hour until I had to leave, I jumped into journalist mode to soak up as many stories from this man as I could.

He told me about his time in Big Sur – sharing a hot tub and joints with Henry Miller on more than one occasion (I also learned some of these meetings are documented on VHS!) – and how he sailed his a yacht around New York harbor with loads of friends on board.

As time ticked down, I mildly panicked feeling we’d only just begun.

I told him that I felt he was my Guru and was sad to not have more time with him since I was moving in less than a week.

But he smiled, waving his hand in the air as if to dissolve my worries, and gave me a short list of things to remember on my journey:

  1. Drink lots of good, clean, healthy water.
  2. Rinse your eyes out daily, “To get all the dust and shit out of them.”
  3. Sun-gaze for twenty minutes a day. “Blue skies do it all!”
  4. To enjoy life at any stage. “Even the boring parts.”

Before I left, we wandered downstairs to Gita’s office to say hello.

She was (and is) stunningly beautiful, sitting at her desk immersed in a project.

Philip told me to turn my head so that Gita could see my profile. He said I had a strong, Egyptian nose and she agreed. (This meant a lot to me since my nose has always been my insecurity!).

Though we connected only a few times after, I’d think of him almost every day as Chris and I sailed to Mexico.

Sometimes I’d feel a tug at my heart, telling me that I was missing out on moments with Phillip.

So to calm myself down, I’d pull out the book, Codes for Longevity and read a chapter.

His words are friendly, full of wisdom, and just as comforting as if he’s speaking to you.

To this day when I’m stress out about work, traveling, or life in general, I’ll think of Phillip.

I’ll wave my hand in the air like Phillip would, as if to say not to worry, then tie a colorful silk scarf tied around my neck in honor of him.

Below is Phillip’s author bio for Code For Longevity:

Writer Phillip F. Schaeffer, now age 90 and in good health, knows whereof he writes – not only from his research and years of helping others to heal but also from his own personal experience.

He has had his share of ill health and accident injuries.

In his earlier years, he suffered through and recovered from malaria, dengue fever, infectious hepatitis, crippling osteoarthritis, gout, heart and eye problems, poor eyesight, allergies, skin cancer, diverticulitis, arteriosclerosis, pneumonia, and elevated cholesterol.

He also smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for over 35 years and survived three critical auto accidents.

Stay tuned as he’ll be sharing insights and excerpts from his book, Codes For Longevity.


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  1. Lovely to find your story on the web. Phil was my uncle…Married to my Mom’s younger sister for many years before he met Gita. We remained close to all of them.

    • Hi, Roxanne.

      What a treat to connect with you via your uncle Phil! What a guy with so many life stories to share. It was such a pleasure to know him and Gita. Nice to know y’all remained close; makes sense. 🙂 Thanks for your comment. I’m sure Phillip is smiling down on this connection, too.