A Chinese saying goes: “May you live in interesting times”....in our own generation it is surely true that we all have lived through a fascinating period in the history of the human race! The period which I have experienced encompasses the latter half of the twentieth century and I could not have chosen a more interesting time to be alive. In this book I will give a candid account of this life and the events that occurred, without undue embellishment and with a considerable degree of transparency. I will describe the events of my life interspersed with the philosophical insights which came to me unannounced but which occurred as a result of a conscious investigation into the mysteries of existence and the purpose, if any, of living.
Reading over the story of one's life a pattern emerges and events and personalities link one to another. Everything that ever happened in life leads one to this transitory present moment. I grew up in a musical household and later learned to play the guitar. I found Edwardian postcards which my grandfather had sent home from the various places in the world which he visited in the merchant navy. I found in the house many copies of travel magazines which depicted ethnic communities and photographs of native peoples. Later I was to travel widely myself and discover different cultures, customs and ways of life. At times the feeling is of being guided, from one stepping stone to another, never knowing where it is leading, but with a feeling of anticipation, never apprehension. It is not that “I” want to go anywhere but that life is taking me where “it” wants “me” to go, like an endless flowing river, where there is movement but no time.
These stepping stones began with an intimation and awareness that I was no different from anybody else in this world, that the ethic peoples in the pictures of the travel magazines could have been me, or that I could have been born anywhere, not particularly in a Yorkshire town in the middle of a war for survival. The fact that these people were a different colour, believed in different faiths, practised different customs did not concern me unduly, in fact were quite superficial and only added to the endless variety in the world's multifarious wonders. The underlying fact was that they were fellow human beings, who had the same needs, the same thoughts, the same feelings and sufferings as I had. The world is full of human beings who share the same consciousness, with a strong motivation for staying alive, for self-preservation and for multiplying their kind. To achieve this necessitates mutual co-operation and an intelligent functioning of society. So why was I born in the middle of a devastating war?
These musings did not dominate my thinking at the time but nevertheless they reposed in my consciousness. I had a normal childhood, despite the events unfolding around me, and I learned how to socialise with others of my tender age in the vicinity of my home. I understood the importance of listening without comment, to be seen but not heard, absorbing knowledge with an impartial mind and not rushing to judgment. I felt very much as an outsider, never joining in with the ideas and assertions of the crowd, but standing on the sidelines looking in, as an observer and not so much a participator.
It was an involuntary process of discrimination, with the possibility of acceptance or rejection depending on an authority which stemmed from within rather than from a blind obedience to one which was imposed from without. In other words, I did not accept everything I heard or read without consulting an inner voice which seemed to be a guiding light, leading me towards a true understanding of the vagaries of life. The inner voice was to remain my trusted guide throughout my life, often leading me into situations which I would not otherwise have chosen and taking me to places which one could describe as exotic, bizarre – even repressive. All this was valuable experience, and I was prepared to face the challenge of experiencing everything at least once. My natural innate curiosity impelled me to find out, to discover what motivated people to act in the way they did and how they were constantly being led astray, often despite their best intentions and why they did not venerate the world which they inhabited, or assume their godly role as its guardian and protector.
Thus I learned to view the body as the receptacle of the soul, to be adequately but not over-nourished, to be indulged on occasions but not unduly, to be exercised and not abused, and not to identify with it to the extent of losing touch with the inner voice which guided my actions and monitored my thoughts. I had the feeling of being different and unique but not separate from other beings or other forms of life. There is consciousness, formless energy, and out of it streams life which creates, evolves and dies and is reborn in an eternal dance. “where he comes from nobody knows, or where he goes to, but on he goes.” This is the way to nowhere and it is the journey alone that matters and not the destination.
These first stepping stones led me into philosophy, and this will be revealed in greater detail in the pages which follow. My path led me to remote mountain areas where shamanistic rituals were practiced, operations by psychic healers were witnessed, meetings with remarkable individuals take place and visits are undertaken to ancient temples in Java and the pilgrimage centre of Mecca. My journeys took me to faraway places where I met peoples with differing beliefs and attitudes and varying customs and modes of behaviour. These experiences widened my perspective and reinforced my understanding that, whatever differences there appear to be, basically every human being is the same, with similar needs, wants and desires, hopes and fears, and that in real terms there are no divisions apart from those artificially created by ourselves.
We set out on the path of life with expectations, not knowing what the future holds, but with a certain degree of optimism that all will be well and that life will bring rewards, both here in this physical world, and in a place described as heaven. We are encouraged to think this way by the society in which we find ourselves, yet more often than not we become enmeshed in confusion and uncertainty and become involved in entanglements from which we appear to have great difficulty in extricating ourselves. Life does not always go in the direction that we intend and envisage and often seems to have a mind of its own. In the pages which follow I will seek to show how this comes about and how this path which we feel is leading to our destiny has no significance, apart from the meaning that we assign to it, and is in fact a way to nowhere.