The Byron Bay region of New South Wales, Australia is very rich in offering the opportunity to be exposed to material from different spiritual traditions. There were regular gatherings, but the area also attracted visiting speakers and was host to conferences and workshops. We sampled these and it made me aware of the different approaches to spiritual growth.
We had the habit of settling mid-afternoon for several hours: meditating, reading and exploring. What began to come along was material from what could be termed the Advaita or non-dualist philosophy. We gained from various authors who spoke of moving away from description and thought so that the essential Oneness of all could begin to show itself. Ramana Maharishi’s teachings are important sources. He trained Papaji, who was a householder businessman; and he, in turn, trained Gangaji. She and Eli gave workshops in Byron Bay which helped us along the path. Others helped us to not be limited by dogma or technique. Paul Lowe
held regular talks. At the end of one he said “see if you can be content for just one week with ‘not knowing’ “.
We were fortunate to be taken to a talk by Gabrael. She had been a Professor of English Literature. One night St Francis manifested in front of her and said it was time for her to step into her true role of being a spiritual teacher. Everything changed for her overnight; she had no interest in spirituality before that. She travelled seven times around the world teaching. We gained much from knowing her and helped with some of her presentations.
One thing that was also part of this growth was to meet someone who had shamanic training in the South American traditional practices. When done as a sacred practice this can lead to the opening of your perception and greatly expand your view of reality.
There were others who were becoming very well known internationally. One was Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now” and other books. He gave an extended series of talks, hosted by Oprah Winfrey, which was available to watch live via the internet at no charge. This became so well received that Oprah was paying several million dollars for each talk for the internet bandwidth charges.
Another friend introduced us to talks by Adyashanti. He was a down to earth young man from California who had a passion for spiritual growth. Some of his training was by Zen Buddhist teachers; though again it is not helpful to classify him. After years of devoted effort, he felt he was not achieving what he wanted, despite having many extraordinary experiences. He just stopped doing all his practices. After six months he had a spontaneous awakening and went through a period of intense adjustment for seven years. He began to teach and has written several books and conducts a weekly internet radio program.
When he visited Australia, I was chosen to go to the microphone to ask him a question. He answered my first question and it led on from there. At the end of that I was experiencing Oneness, there was just he and I, but not even he and I. The people and the room we were in were like shadows, but I was experiencing the depths of myself in his presence. That was and is the strongest experience I
have had with another person.
In one of his many recorded video talks, he said, in effect: “I just keep talking until the mind gives up completely and you sink into yourself”. At another, he was asked what was most important to him. He replied: “Being here talking to you.” His talks on different aspects of the growth process are valuable because they are clearly delivered, without complication.
Each of these teachers is pointing to the same thing: to really know, you must dive into yourself where the true answers lie. All teachings can only tell you about this experience. If they are from a true teacher, they will facilitate this dive into the depths of yourself.