The text below was originally on my website under ‘Who am I?’. It was written in 2011. I realized it was too long-winded for the site and so offer it here for those who would like to know more detail of my history, the journey of becoming. Another blog, ‘A Spiritual Autobiography’ gives the details of that particular story of emergence. If it’s not on this site under ‘blog’ , it’s still on my list of many blog titles and not yet written, by all means prompt me 🙂
Generally we lie about our experience in order to present a certain image of ourselves and gain popularity and power. We exaggerate or invent the ‘good’ and reduce or remove the ‘bad’ so uncomfortable are we with the whole human experience including as it must light and dark, ignorance and wisdom, failure and success. So rampant is the fear and insecurity of the typical separate self it seeks approval and love externally which in truth can only be discovered internally. In so doing we attempt to create a self-image that others will buy into such as being intelligent or rich or successful or enlightened and so on. These games are tiresome, inherently delusional and ultimately false. They obscure what is real. The dysfunctional world we live in is interrelated with this fundamental confusion. When we realise we are not the character we have thought ourselves to be we can relax and enjoy expressing what we really are.
I have long noticed a curious willingness and comfort in being candid about my experience, whether dysfunctional or delightful, wise or ignorant, insightful or insane. I intend to maintain this here and avoid a standard attempt to sell myself. I feel compelled to be authentic in a world which craves truth. Besides, your heart already knows whether I am to serve your journey or not; this section is mere entertainment, for you and me 🙂
Personal authenticity is no small thing. Our collective denial of the profound dysfunction we have created in our living on this earth can be seen as an expression of our unwillingness to face truth in ourselves. We will only face the truth of where we are collectively as more of us face the truth of where we are personally. As we do so we expand the awareness that is life itself that offers a route out of our personal and collective confusion. What will happen as more of us experience that to be authentic and vulnerable is as cool and strong as it gets and that to show up as who we truly are is all we really ‘should’ do? It is delightful to notice in my experience and hear from my clients the mysterious transformative power of simply being present to a pain or perceived problem. Presence or ‘pure awareness’ or ‘Buddha Nature’ is itself transformative of that which it witnesses. This is why it is so important we cultivate this presence and be willing to face any pain or circumstance with an open heart. This is where the magic happens; problems disappear, challenges become opportunities, despair becomes joy and our life reorders itself to the new ‘frequency’ we are emitting.
Ultimately our planetary circumstance are a consequence of a fundamental error; we believe our experience of a separate and substantial self to be intrinsically real and what we are. We deny the unitive, interconnected nature of being human. We identify with thought and noise, ignoring the vast presence we more truly are. It is only within this confusion we have created, where another human or nature is perceived as being apart from me, that we could possibly destroy. Realising our inherent unity with all life naturally we love all life and act accordingly.
I have been graced with some degree of realisation of what I truly am. I have realised I am eternal and infinite, connected to all and every being and thing, just as I know I have a nose and ears. My experience of this vast Presence continues to be often personal however and to speak of what we are only in terms of such an impersonal realisation, as is the fashion in much of contemporary spirituality, is rather like banging on about a holiday experience or a funny comedy sketch and expecting others to appreciate it as you did. And then some.
It is impossible to speak of the ineffable truth of what we are. Words cannot capture this vastness – although we can have fun trying. Truth can only be experienced. Were this story to take the standard narrrative form of blah blah then ‘my’ realisation there is a danger of creating yet one more false identity, one more mask of separation as ‘an enlightened one’, ‘the teacher’ or ‘one who knows’. I am so much more and less than any of that. I am sensitive to these standard structures within spiritual circles as their existence means other’s disempowerment is encouraged, slumber perpetuated and all manner of shadow and idealised self rubbish is projected on to this flawed always still evolving human being. Claims of ‘awakening’ or biographies that subtly imply ‘enlightenment’ as personal achievement are largely worthless…value is found in a life transformed. My wish is for you to experience a fuller taste of what you really are and to guide your allowing of life’s natural reordering into greater joy and freedom.
The preamble of the beginnings of the realised truth of Unity out of the way, let’s get on with more conventional sharing of ‘who I am.’ Of course this will be told from one limited perspective, albeit one with first hand experience, and through memory, a process which we now know to be, in neuroscientific terms, made up every time we recall. It’s just a story. I hope you enjoy it and take it less seriously than I once did.
In the English village where I grew up I spent much time pondering whether God existed, what death was and why we are here. Satisfying answers to these questions were not immediately apparent nor readily available so mostly I got on with playing football, building camps and reading comics. The insatiable curiosity for life’s deeper meaning persisted and I would occasionally marvel at the impossibility of imagining the nothingness that my culture told me death was.
When my parents marriage was falling apart I experimented with what some had said God was by praying to It they would stay together. To help God out I made it clear this was not merely for my benefit but for Mum, Dad, my sister, indeed the whole community and thus He really should do it, assuming He was good and existed. With impeccable 12 yr old logic I asked God to reveal himself, in effect gambling my world as being one of meaning, purpose and good on my parent’s staying together. When my parent’s told my sister and I they were getting divorced I concluded life was meaningless and if there were an immaterial intelligence behind it all It was not listening and it did not care for me or others. At the time a Christian classmate said ‘maybe He will answer your prayers by looking after you after the divorce.’ These were remarkably wise words from a 12 yr old! As the years passed I have reflected on their profound truth and untruth. Untrue in the sense that God as the idea of a master puppeteer, separate from me, a twisted father figure, full of contradiction, hypocrisy and other human frailties is clearly nothing but a projection of the human mind. True in that I would indeed be well looked after following the divorce. The comment however missed the real pearl of wisdom, that somehow arose amidst the pain, anger and resentment within my otherwise typically clueless 12 yr old mind – that I was already being well looked after. As the years have passed I have come to see that I am, always and in every circumstance, beyond the fear, misery and despair, being well looked after. The questions is whether I am willing to receive this nourishing or not. I have seen that life is, for all its suffering, pain and torment, benevolent. Though it may often seem otherwise life, in its essence, is love. This is not a belief – it is a realised truth. The form life takes is a gift we learn to receive including all its pain and misery. I have come to see that ‘all is gift’ is as true of moments of despair as those of elation, as much as I may prefer one over the other. As this deeper truth is integrated life becomes more and more an experience of awe, wonder and delight, regardless of the content of experience.
The family break-up and its prolongued and painful nature gave cause to reject all I had been taught, conditioned and unquestioningly believed. I was bestowed with the gift of a blank slate and great doubt with which to explore the nature of reality and work out life for myself. I was spared the having to live from an out of date hand me down worldview that is the lot of most. The search was driven by an incessant hunger for ‘truth’ with a bias to at first reject outright anything commonly considered to be real or true . At once an immature reactionary stance and necessary if you wish to grasp what is real in a fundamentally delusional world.
My quest to understand the nature of reality began with diving head first into pain, ignorance, suffering and dysfunction. In my teens, perceiving rejection by parents and God Itself, I rebelled against all authority, experimented freely with many drugs, was suspended from school and got in trouble for bullying teachers. Having been a top student and excellent athlete my rebellion found expression in doing the absolute minimum required to get by. I was only allowed to remain at the great school my wonderful parent’s had sent me to by the kindness of a few teachers who seemingly saw something of value beneath the rage and bluster (and on condition I saw an educational psychologist one summer!). I saw the whole game of education as we have set it up as being largely a waste of time which taught me little of value; the truth of this has only been confirmed as I have discovered useful skills such as meditation and what science beyond the out of date disproven story we tell our children. It was clear that the memorizing of lots of mostly useless facts and repeating of other people’s interpretations of literature was a futile endeavour. I had no doubt that I would never have any use for, for example, advanced Maths and resented being forced to learn about which I had no interest whilst avoiding my driving passion, to understand what is real and true. This only stoked an intense anger and fueled a view that life was pointless and humans not as wise as they like to think.
A headmaster commented on one report that I should ‘give more attention to the grind stone and less to the blarney stone’ ( ‘The Stone of Eloquence’ said to bestow the gift of the gab upon anyone that kissed it). Being a self-righteous young man who had noticed that the adult world appeared to have absolutely no clue what it was doing and that most they were trying to teach me had no relevance to my life I ignored him and continued being a lazy smartarse. Looking back I might squirm as I consider the difficulty I created for teachers. I went back to my school in my early twenties to personally apologise and express gratitude to all who endured my behaviour.
As school came to an end I fell in love, deeply and intensely, and for a few brief heady months my life had meaning and purpose. I tasted ease and wellbeing. Believing the repeating unconscious pattern of being rejected to be real I was unfaithful to this precious being and in causing her great hurt I began a first hand exploration into the effects of shame, self-loathing and guilt upon human experience. I also learnt something of compassion. The next two years were a headlong dive into despair and hopelessness, my ambition to live fast and die young pursued with vigour.
I somehow got into a good university where being a smartarse helped with the philosophy however being lazy was perceived as a hinderance by my Professor. Being constantly stoned rather exasperated the problem. On leaving school a peer had written of me in the school yearbook ‘a rebel with some cause or other’. I still considered life to be fairly pointless however I had begun to sense and articulate my cause – to be of use to others. I was still a long way from living it however by a stroke of luck/grace I discovered a career in face to face fundraising which would suffice to begin with. It was a way I could help others and, funnily enough, it was all about the blarney and involved very little grind! Indeed I was so able at persuading people to give money to help others that I did half the work of other fundraisers, flouted the dress code and still doubled the next best fundraiser’s weekly results.
I soon quit university to focus on getting stoned and fundraising. Having had no desire to get a degree it was no surprise nor concern to leave without one. I had a little money in the bank and headed off to South East Asia and Australia with no plan in mind but a vague hope I would smoke less pot as it had become a hindrance to my wellbeing. The threat of a public whipping or the death penalty in SE Asia did not deter what had become my trusted anaesthetic from pain and within 45 minutes of landing in Australia I had scored.
I discovered I could not escape my self – it came with me wherever I went! Soon after arriving in Australia in my early twenties a prolongued almighty depression led to the decision I would kill myself; my long-held belief I would live fast and die young was it seemed becoming a self-fulfilled prophecy. I decided to write a note to my family that would spare them the grief however it soon became clear I was unable to write any words that would truly spare my family. Thus, with no way out I resolved to go into the mess of mind I had created and transform myself. It was about this time that I discovered that the story I tell of myself and of the world, whilst appearing to be merely a description of something ‘out there’ is in fact a causative cocreative process. Perception is creation.
I moved to New Zealand and began a new chapter of my life. I sought help from others for the first time. When I presented one psychologist with my circumstances and how I was smoking too much pot he laughed knowingly and said I was on a ‘hero’s journey’ and all would be well. Whilst this struck me as exquisitely unhelpful at the time, 10 years on I am familiar with Joseph Campbell’s work and see the insight this guy was offering. He implied that my answers would be found within and that there was an archetypal arc to all my foolishness and hopelessness, a light at the end of the tunnel. I gradually came to realise this is true. I ceased pot smoking only to see it replaced with the equally mind-numbing and destructive habit of playing pokie machines. It was at this point that I realised these behaviours were but symptoms of my wish to avoid my pain and the consequence of beliefs held and decisions made earlier in life. I deepened my journey inwards to solve the problem at root. I began to study meditation, martial arts and yoga. I explored diet changes and created my own transformational practises. I read my first spiritual texts and so began in earnest the quest to understand the nature of reality and completely transform my being.
In spite of periods of intense despair and hopelessness and accompanying reoccurrences of compulsive smoking and/or gambling I became one of the best face to face fundraisers and capacity-builders in Australasia and at 25 became the General Manager of the largest fundraising agency in Australasia with 15 offices across 2 countries. Working 80 hour weeks and flying 2/3 times a week became the new distraction from my pain. Whilst this pain was commonly called ‘depression’ and thought to be solely a bio-chemical issue I had a different worldview beginning to form and I understood enough of the unhealthy alliance between big pharma and the medical industry to seek well being from other sources. Whilst my way was also full of ignorance and greed it was at least my own way.
My cause or purpose began to more fully chrystalise. To be of use to others or, as i would now more poetically express it, to be a source of love and truth in the world. There was just one problem – I continued to be a very ignorant guy with anger, judgment and other unintegrated emotional charges barely hidden beneath the surface which caused harm and suffering to people around me. I had a lot of work to do. My study of scientific and spiritual texts deepened as did my practise of meditation, yoga and exercise.
After a few years running someone else’s company I created my own fundraising company at 28 which brought fresh challenge, independence, self-reliance and funded my world wide quest for healing, transformation and awakening. I deepened my spiritual practises, met the closest I have ever had to a spiritual teacher, travelled to academic conferences, energy healing seminars, transformational workshops, meditation retreats, Qi Gong intensives, fasting centres, temples in the Amazonian jungle and intentional communities and monasteries around the world. I interviewed spiritual teachers, quantum physicists, philosophers and futurists from whom I discovered I had to work things out for myself. I read thousands of books, papers and blogs covering multiple fields of enquiry. I meditated for thousands of hours and practised various Yogas. And ultimately I experienced profound transformation.
Whilst I had experienced brief tastes of who I really am prior my journey was given a real kick when I was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 31 which turbo-charged my psycho-spiritual development. I experienced no stress or suffering and sensed this was, like the family break-up and ‘depression’ and ‘addictions’ gift for my journey. I diagnosed my self as having been given a great blessing that would deepen my own awakening and transformation such that I would be able to more fully serve the collective shift. I decided to embark on an enquiry into creating a self-induced healing.
Paradoxically I simultaneously surrendered to my death and to an intelligence greater than my own. In so doing I discovered the reality of what I am beyond thought or the separate self sense. I call this God/Life/This, can offer another dozen terms from other traditions yet would perhaps be best saying nothing about the indescribable. All sorts of lovely insights and realisations flowed such as I am infinite and eternal, death is just an idea, I am not apart from anything and ideas of inner and outer reality are just that. I experienced a taste of both ‘personal’ or ‘Western’ enlightenment – that is the realisation at every level of my psychological being that I am loved, whole and complete, perfect as I am and ‘impersonal’ or ‘Eastern’ enlightenment – where the sense of a separate self fell away and was only experienced as an object within the awareness that was clearly what I actually am. We might say, were it not inherently oxymoronic, that I experienced unitive consciousness. We might say I experienced truth. Each of these great blessings were but beginnings. Neither represents a place of arrival but rather a beginning of allowing the integration of these truths into all aspects of my being. Each is both a death and a rebirth.
The remainder of my life will be embodying and integrating these insights into this life. Any fool can taste ‘enlightenment’, living it, or allowing it to live you, is perhaps the only accomplishment.
I am now an Author, Transformational Coach and Speaker. Some even call me a Spiritual Teacher although I prefer Spiritual Entertainer not least because I have no qualifications or authorisation for the former. Plus I have no senior teacher keeping an eye on me so am inclined to tread carefully. In addition the whole spiritual game is largely an expression of egoic functioning and I believe we are being called to live a new reality in which we are all teachers and our inherent equality is always recognised. I do love being the centre of attention and being a source of love and truth so ‘spiritual entertainer’ suits me well. Thank you Alan Watts for coining the term. I ask that you not project your idealised self nor shadows onto me for I am, as I have hopefully made clear, a flawed human being, working it out and making it up as I go along, just like you. I am definitely not enlightened. I will forever be training in mastery, a novice, a student of life.
In 2013 having begun to see the positive effects of my workshops, speaking and coaching on others I set in motion the process by which I would cease to be involved in fundraising, disposed of my fine wine collection and put aside all that might distract me from finally fulfilling what I discern to be my reason for being on this planet – to be a full-time source of love and truth in the world. In making what could be seen as a financially foolish decision I allowed myself to express the silent wisdom within and follow my bliss and heart, the only path upon which real riches are found. In choosing an inherently risky path full of uncertainty I have given myself an extraordinary chance to embody the only security in life which is to embrace the inherent insecurity, live in unity with life, completely trusting I will be provided for. Finally, my life begins to answer more satisfactorily the question I wrote in my journal 5 days prior to the brain tumour diagnosis – ‘death is certain, its timing uncertain, so, what is important now?’.
In deepest gratitude for the one true storyteller, life itself and all the blessings bestowed upon this one speck of individuated consciousness. To the glorying of and in service of Love and Truth.