Sunday, 15 April 2018

Perspective #10: What's It All About?

This Perspective is essentially my own life testimony. However, I hope you do not read into this that I am some kind of saint as, physically at least, I am subject to the same laws and temptations as anyone, and my crude thinking has at times led me to do some foolish things. Such thinking has caused me great anguish at times, but I realise also that the past is the past and one has to move on. I hope that I have learnt enough so that such behaviour issues do not re-occur.

But underlying my life's experience there has been a curiosity and an inward sense that the conscience should play a big part in how life is lived. Living purely or mainly for the purpose of gaining wealth has never been an attraction though I admit to allowing myself to be carried along for a time by its mystique.

Not so long ago I read a passage in a significant book that took me back 60 years. When I was 12 or 13 much of my life was lived as a ' loner', but I did not mind as I used to find great solace in reading and also thinking. In fact, I now realise that my thoughts entered a metaphysical plane and to such an extent that one day (at the dinner table) I asked my Father, "What is it within me that looks out on the world? What is it that motivates me to do things? Why am I in this body and not another [body]?" My Father looked at me, unsure whether to accuse me of talking rubbish or to try to give answers. He did neither. I did not get any answers and so I stumbled on wondering whether I was mad for thinking such things.

When 17, an older friend introduced me to a 'Gospel Tabernacle' and for awhile there I was happy in finding an outlet to my inner feelings, until my Father curtailed my activities in that area after a remarkable debate with him that lasted 12 hours! In those days parents possessed more control.

And so I went on to stumble through life, unsure about what to do ... except to throw myself into whatever came across my path. In the refreshing years of the 60s, I found a great number of friends, and enjoyed sports and music of various kinds, and rather fell into a career in the then new computer industry. Everything was working fine ... except inwardly I still felt uncertain.

I hitch-hiked around Europe for a time and then stumbled into marriage. Materially things blossomed for several years until it all fell apart under bizarre (illogical) circumstances. That event and how it happened literally took me back 20 years and the questioning that I had raised when I was a youngster. There were unanswered questions to resolve, questions about the inner self, and what was life really about.

Many 'coincidental' things started to happen. I would be searching for an answer to a particular question and suddenly while out walking I would be ushered into some cult or other that thought it could provide the answer to what I was seeking, whether it was the "Moonies" (the Christianity of Sun Yan Moon) or some other inner development group, such as the followers of Gurdjieff. By this time I had become aware of the Sufis, but did not know of their connection with Islam for some while. But it was when I did find out the connection that I started following the outer structure of Islam (the Sunni path) to find the inner (the Sufi path). Without me knowing at that time, it was a Sufi mufti who inducted me into Islam.

Amidst all this was a series of meetings with remarkable people, and experiencing life in greater depth - particularly in discovering more about giving service - though I was still not pure in mind.

In time, after much travelling around the UK and experiencing Sufi and other meetings, I realised that that path, also, seemed inappropriate for me. And then, partly through marriage, I entered the Shia Imami branch of Islam, an Islamic way that attunes itself according to the times without forgetting the essential teaching. The Aga Khan is their spiritual leader and I once had the experience of being in his presence at Olympia, London. And it was an experience; something occurred then that had an impact. From a distance, he glanced in my direction and his eyes seemed to penetrate my mind, and I am certain to this day that he directed a message of foreboding to me - I now believe the message was to say that the way of the Ismaili Shia was not one I would continue with. And I didn't.

For some time afterwards, I was in no-man's land again. Many earthly issues had to be dealt with, but when they subsided a little the same old inner questions came back.

Then, when in absolutely dire material straights, there was some illumination. And it was at that time, some 20 years ago, when I came to see that all religious paths link towards one entity; one God. And the medium of that message was Sri Sathya Sai Baba. My way since then has been defined by his teachings, and I now seek answers from nowhere else.

It's mainly since that time that various 'miracles' occurred to alleviate the material downturn that I had seemed to take myself into. Recently, quite unexpectedly and just at the right moment, I received a cheque for £5,000 which in one swoop got rid of most of our debts! I shan't say how that came about as it's a long and tedious story (nothing to do with gambling or lotteries!), but I was certainly not expecting it. The fact that it arrived just when we needed it puts it into the class of an Act of God as far as I am concerned. A similar kind of thing happened to us about 12 years ago when over £1,000 suddenly appeared from nowhere! And other - smaller - incidents, but profound incidents nevertheless.

When I think back on it I've had a lot of what is ordinarily termed luck, particularly over the last 60 years - and always when it was just needed. It's fascinating to me how those events occurred. In 1967, for example, I was getting ready to be married to my first wife when we were both working in summer jobs on the coast, with no money whatsoever. Twelve months later we possessed our own (nearly new) house! And more followed. I could never properly explain those fortunate scenarios.

Importantly, 50 years after I had raised those youthful and innocent questions of my physical Father, the questions were answered. "What is it within me that looks out on the world" is the Atma, the everlasting spirit. The questions of what is it that motivates me to do things and why I am living in this body and not another, have also been answered.

But life is not just about philosophy: it's very much about living it in accord with the philosophy that you espouse. Life is for living experientially, to know from experience what is what. The world says that knowledge is power when the reality is that character derived from experience is the real power.

Thank you, Dear Lord. I have learnt that life is for living, not for planning for retirement. And that death is a continuation of life.

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Perspective #10: What's It All About?

This Perspective is essentially my own life testimony. However, I hope you do not read into this that I am some kind of saint as, physicall...