The search for happiness fuels human life. There are so many places to look: the world says it is to be found in a Volvo, wife, three kids and a picket fence; there are countless workshops, techniques and seminars selling ‘happiness’.
I have come to learn that happiness sits quietly inside my own being. I discovered this simple truth through the blessings of an enlightened master. In the modern world of personal ‘development’, having a guru is seen as a quaint echo from another time. What a shame. We currently live in the era where celebrities run workshops, we’re all encouraged to own our power, and our spiritual attainment is measured by our ability to manifest a pain-free life filled with investment properties, smiley relationships, and parking spots. Everyone has written a book, is a teacher, channel, or life coach. The deep relationship with a spiritual master has slipped by. ‘I can do it on my own’, is the modern mantra. However, becoming enlightened under your own steam is like giving a monkey a typewriter in the hope that one day it will write Shakespeare. If you want to get a grip, get a guru.
I am quiet today; indrawn. Sitting in nature, the gentle arching sky takes my breath away. My heart is soft; I am remembering someone who, although long gone from this world, still perfumes my life with his love. Tender memories flowing into awareness; softly, tears fall.
In 1980 I met a most extraordinary person. He was a wild man from the East, a guru. At the time I was a young acting student with a deep desire to find out who I was, consumed with understanding life and the creative process. I was fascinated by life itself, asking what it is to be a human being, really, what makes life worthwhile and what is the point of life. I was also awash with dreams of transforming the world through theatre and deep stories; I was not looking for a guru. Having had a tumultuous upbringing made me rebellious, intense and a compelling actor. Although life hurt I was proud of my pain: my inner world often a silent scream, acting and creative expression helped relieve the pressure. This inner experience fuelled my enquiry. It was a silent, often painful journey. Then a chance meeting with a spiritual teacher changed everything. I became able to connect to a wisdom beyond my mind, emotions, the past the present and the future. I saw that love flowed through my veins. In the depth of this place, a new life sprouted; visions for the future arose entwined with the divinity of all life. He opened a new viewpoint for me: I wasn’t just human, I was also a soul. I sensed a world beyond the accepted view of reality. ‘Ah, so this is what it means to be truly human’. A deep question was answered.
Something deep within stirred at the very sight of him. He was the embodiment of a grand vision I had buried deep inside of myself, lost in the chambers of sadness. His presence fanned the embers within my soul igniting a recognition of my own divinity. He saw into the very soul of me, encouraging magnificence, while also seeing the way I felt displaced in the world. I desperately wanted to belong. He showed me home was beyond culture, family, society, money, wealth, or fame. Home was on the inside. I could belong anywhere. He normalised me.
He came from a tradition of masters endowed with the ability to activate the divine intelligence within a seeker. It was an awakening whereby I came to experience my true nature. It wasn’t just opening my eyes: rather, I discovered the thousand eyes of God within me. He spoke to the depths of my being in a language beyond words. His central message was, ‘You are divine. A world of inner perfection lies within every human being. Your journey is to remember and live your life from that standpoint’.
This awakening has given form and direction to the last 34 years of my life. Through pursuing a deeper understanding into the warp and weft of its true nature I have come to see and understand the world in a way that leaves me stunned with gratitude, and awe for what it is to be human.
After initiation, my inner journey began. I felt like Dick Whittington setting off for London, full of hope and great expectation. He gave me a parcel of goodies for my trip, wished me well and sent me on my way.
Waking up in a world asleep at the wheel is a challenge. I became besotted with the process of self-development, fascinated by the paradox of divinity and humanity. I explored many types of processes and modalities. Researching science, medicine, optimal performance, quantum physics, mysticism, therapy, I devoured books, workshops, visited healers and energy workers. Personal growth became ‘my thing’. I spent a lot of time going down a lot of rabbit holes exploring the inner worlds, untying this knot, and that trauma.
At times I got lost in getting found. I felt like the monkey with the typewriter, vainly trying to connect to my inner Shakespeare. It has been the rigorous input from my guru that has again and again pulled me back to true north, often hearing his echoing words, ‘You are divine. Live your life from that standpoint’. While it is fun knowing the workings of my mind and personality and diving into the strange world of karma, studying my true nature is where the real juice lies.
How did this impact on my practical world? While there is a lot to be valued in the inner pursuits, he also said one must be responsible in this world. As an adjunct to acting I began a business, developing a range of products which sold in 13 countries. Making money and living the high life is fun. However, it can be a fine line to walk: making it in this world while having a foot in the other world/s. The world often distracts: people, parties, places to be, restaurants to be seen at. Modern life: there is a lot of noise, but little music. Music is made in a deeper place. Again and again meditation and spiritual practice guide me to the deeper place. In this place I make the best choices for practical life, how I spend my time, who I hang out with, the projects I take on.
Unfolding the blessings from my guru is a journey. I have not always appreciated the gift of awakening. At times I have struggled and wavered, denying, enjoying, railing, loving and avoiding the magical place within. I felt ‘different’ from everyone else: my mates wanted to party and go to the pub. I didn’t find pleasure in those activities. It was like I was sailing on a different ocean, under an achingly beautiful blue sky, while everyone else was happy playing on the beach. A doorway into a rare and mystical world had been opened; people, beings, energies, uplifting trilling sounds abounded; I was at home. In this place I was deeply nurtured, enlivened by an exquisite energy.
He showed me the value of mystery, meditation, selfless service, and pondering life’s biggest questions. I have come to see the universe in a leaf, and that happiness is not dependent upon whether I have a Volvo in the garage. My inner monkey has put his typewriter away, and finds happiness in meditation, ice cream, and chocolate. That I pursued worldly success and barracked for Collingwood caused him no concern; a master is a dear thing. Continuing to examine the thread and fabric of this precious life in search of what brings me truly alive, leaves me deeply happy. I know there is nothing to fix, nowhere to get to; just a life to celebrate, and to feel oh so grateful for. He died in 1982. I still feel him with me.
Thank you, Baba.
Julian Noel, founder of Shine, vision holder, leader, connector. Presenter. Consultant. Coach. Facilitator. Maker of unreasonable requests. Sacred activist. Shine is a community that supports people to act on their inspiration, find their true purpose and helps them do what they love to do. We are creating a world where everyone shines.
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