April 10, 2015
I was brought up in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. I had a fairly normal upbringing in a suburb near Port Phillip Bay and remember, at times, not feeling very connected to other people, almost as if I didn’t belong here. My sister and I were sent off to the Anglican Sunday school nearby. I could never really relate to what was being said and remember that usually I would start to fall asleep when we had to sing a hymn.
I was a fairly good student at central and high school, but again couldn’t relate well to team sports and was allowed to go to the gym in the city on sports days. One delight for me was being part of the stage staff and participating in some of the talent quests. I was part of a quartet which was beaten in the finals by another quartet who had Keith Potger as a member. He was later one of the four singers in the group “The Seekers”.
I remember my father, who later studied with the Rosicrucians, had some spiritual books on the shelf including “The Third Eye” by Lobsang Ramtha. I think reading these books was the first thing that began to open me up to the possibility that there was more to myself than the body and the mind that I was used to.
When I was at university studying engineering, one of my friends had a 1932 Hudson Teraplane and three of us set off with the car on the Princess of Tasmania to cross the very rough Bass Strait from Victoria to Tasmania. We drove initially to the West Coast of Tasmania, putting the car on a train at one stage. I remember very distinctly the three of us sitting on the top of a high cliff overlooking the Southern Ocean crashing in on the rocks and the sand far below us for over an hour without speaking. I think this was the first experience in my life of total immersion in what was happening. I remember coming back to normal awareness and the incredible sense of peace that I felt.
In 1963 I moved to Sydney to study computing before there were any undergraduate courses. Sometime after that I borrowed a book on meditation from the library and started to do some of the exercises. This led to another very important experience for me. It didn’t occur during a formal meditation, but instead while I was laying down feeling totally relaxed. Any of these experiences are so difficult to put into words but I will do my best.
I experienced myself as a point of consciousness in space. There was no sensation of body or anything physical or identity and the space was not what we are used to in the normal physical sense. I would describe it now as experiencing myself as pure consciousness.
These initial solitary experiences were a precursor to further development.
At around this time, I found the book “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda (or it found me). Yogananda moved from India to America in the early part of the twentieth century and is credited with introducing Eastern philosophy to many people. His book describes what he experienced as he travelled through India, meeting many regarded as advanced souls who shared their wisdom with him. He also witnessed many things that would be regarded as miraculous phenomena. One chapter describes meeting the Perfume Saint who would manifest any fragrance you asked for in the air. Another describes seeing the Butterfly Saint attracting swarms of butterflys. There were also other experiences of a much subtler nature.
This book was important to me because it opened my thinking to the world beyond the physical that we can perceive with our normal senses. Even if you do not as yet have expanded experiences, it is very important to be exposed to the possibilities and to accept that they could exist. With this openess in place, you are then in a much better position to have further growth and development experiences brought to you. Yogananda taught practices to enable you to move forward and also taught on many aspects of spirituality and religion.