Catalyst for change
CATALYST FOR CHANGE
This story is reprinted from an earlier book twenty years ago
It's an od story but many have asked for it
I travelled twenty thousand kilometres before I realized the best journey is within. I could not have begun my spiritual journey had it not been for my constant need to escape the reality of my life. That desire was stronger than the fear of the unknown. When I left New Zealand I didn’t know what I was running from or who I was becoming. I was a ‘bonehead’, someone living way below their potential.
Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs were the tools I used to suppress my anger. This self-infliction symbolized my zero love and self-respect. I loved anarchy. I hated any authority. I had no idea why.
Are you in a drama because you enjoy the entertainment?
In 1982 I was twenty, had $800 & was scared shitless about leaving New Zealand. I had told my friends I was going & pride prevented me from breaking my word. At the airport my father said “You know if you get into trouble..., you’re on your own”. Harsh but wise words & certainly not what I expected.
The step from fear to bravery is only falling forward
I had felt alone for a long time as my other five siblings left home. I was used to escaping within myself & in other ways. It was my way of dealing with the frustration of not being heard. When I did express my feelings they were perceived by my parents as answering back & I was punished ‘for your own good’. I learned to cry quickly to stop the physical pain. This wasn’t as anguishing as my frustration & wounded pride. I took pleasure in slamming my bedroom door & entering a safe haven by emotionally escaping into comics & books.
Long ago, while smoking a joint, I realized I was experiencing the same safety bubble. Anything could happen & I would feel OK. My visual world came alive & I slipped into a reality where I was my own best friend. I became my own muse. Marijuana was my trigger to that place. I had found the link to why this felt like an antidote from reality. I don’t believe the herb is physically addictive but it was psychologically addictive for me. It helped me access a memory of comfortable numbness. If other intoxicants such as shopping, control, sex, working or television had mimicked that feeling, I could easily have chosen one of them as my habit instead. It is important that people understand why they choose their addictions, where they come from which makes them easier to let go.
My most intense periods of change have been whilst participating in workshop situations where intoxicants were banned. Without drugs to suppress emotions the only way out is through.
For me addictions were about lack of self-respect, not living to my potential and giving my power away. Giving them up was easier when I realized this. It takes the heart to make the choice and cooperation with the mind to decide to let the addictions go. Wanting to give up was not enough, it’s admirable but without action is weak.
Dreams without action are just spasms in the brain
I needed to give up for myself, not for someone else. It wasn’t about resisting my habit, as this can cause persistence. It is about doing something else.
This, like every problem, is about loving ourselves more. We have to be able to accept ourselves before we can really accept & love another. Self destructive behaviour affects not only ourselves but all our relationships. Whenever we release an addiction or other negative habits the act inspires others.
I found journal writing a necessary part of personal growth. It helped me clarify any confusing feeling and I felt safe about expressing them. Also, I found it necessary to inform those in my close community of my change, otherwise they related to me in the way they knew, which was usually an old pattern. Recreating myself with these people gave me room to be the fresh, new spirit I found myself to be.
This gave them a chance to grow too. Once you know “the truth will set you free but it will piss you off first” others may benefit when you share your insights. In stating my boundaries I gave others a chance to say how they wanted to be treated. Set boundaries of personal respect by limitation or invitation. Usually it is family and loved ones who breach the boundaries most.
A boundary defines the individual, without this you invite invasion
I lived a totally superficial life, one of seeking pleasure & escape from pain. I moved to Brisbane and sold dodgy paintings door to door, pretending to be the artist. Then ice cream from a Mr Yummy van in the suburbs. Finally, I sold vacuum cleaners which were so expensive I eventually talked customers out of buying them because I knew the financial commitment would strain their relationships.
Greed comes from a belief that more equals happiness
The people I worked with were only motivated by money & though I owned every electrical appliance invented, I knew there was more to life. At 24 I gave up financial security, the dream of a BMW, a distributorship & to retire by thirty so I could travel around Australia. In a sense I retired then. The more things you want the more you have to work, where as if you want little then there is more time for play. I chose to follow my heart and ending up designing the perfect life of travel, art photography & the exploration of who I was. I believed that if I lived my passion, then I would be supported.
At that time I was disillusioned by my inability to control my mind from the distraction of sexual thoughts & was disgusted by my recognition of this reflected in the conversations with men I was meeting. While I understood animalistic nature I was amazed at what my mind would throw at me. Having been unfaithful in my first relationship I decided to turn off my sexual desire & become celibate for a year. If I was going to love this species called women I wanted to know what made them tick.
When women realised that I wasn’t a sexual threat they opened up quickly & I felt like I was included in some special club. I learned to listen & felt quite high that I was experimenting with a new way of being. I was growing as a person by making choices rather than coming from an old recording of who I thought I was. It is important to understand that we all have sexual desire but that we do not have to act on every impulse. If you have ever been manipulative over sexuality issues try voluntary celibacy.
One day in Darwwin I was walking without a shirt through the grounds of the casino and I had a realisation. My mind was totally engrossed in formulating excuses & reasons should I be confronted by someone who objected to my being there. I was worrying about a future which didn’t exist, which left me no time to enjoy the present.
Worrying won’t change the future & feeling guilty won’t change the past
The highlight of my childhood was the two years I lived in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, North Borneo while my father was a teacher & my mother a voluntary nurse. I was the only white kid in my class & I loved being immersed in another culture & language. In 1968 passsing through Bali, I recall standing on Kuta beach as a eight year old holding my Dad’s hand. We were watching a beautiful sunset & there were heaps of travellers sitting around small fires enjoying the vista.
“Look son” Dad said, “These are all drug addicts”. Having no idea what he was talking about, at that moment I decided I wanted to be one!
I headed back to Borneo, Kota Kinabalu to look up old school friends.
My final destination was to be England, with a stop to surf on the east coast of Sri Lanka. This involved hiring buses to get me through land mined roads & bombed-out, smoking villages. There I heard amazing stories of India, a country I had never considered visiting. But it was the way speaker’s eyes sparkled when they spoke about it that convinced me to go. I flew into Trivandrum a smallish town and was at the beach in 30 minutes quite different from the usual shock of a big city. I got sick which is normal. Even though life doesn’t appear idylic I felt really comfortable and having never even considering past lives I realised I felt, normal like I’d lived there before and know I realise I’ve lived there many lifetimes.
I did the usual Goa experience but I knew there had to be more to life than that so I went to Bombay, located the black market, sold my camera & continued on to England.There I quickly tired of what I perceived as depressed and superficial people, which was probably a reflection of myself. I longed for India, where the fragility and transience of life mirrors its vibrancy, energy and colour, where I knew I was alive. My life here seemed deadly dull.
Sad & lonely, I hitchhiked north around Scotland & because a blizzard changed my direction I found myself at the Findhorn Foundation near Forres. A year earlier a dear friend mentioned a book she had read, The Magic of Findhorn, & somehow that two-minute conversation reappeared. She told me of a spiritual community which communicated with plant spirits & grew humongous vegetables, although now they grow people. Why was I being led here?
Intuition is spontaneous perception without conscious reasoning
In hindsight I believe I was experiencing my first miracle of coincidence & although I felt resistance I was also curious. I had no money for workshops or accommodation & was prepared to sleep in a barn. The only things I had to offer were two loaves of bread & a tin of sardines; two gifts I had received previously while hitchhiking. My loaves & fishes.
I was impressed that people were hugging each other, which was something I had not seen before, but I was sceptical & spent that first week trying to arrange a lift out of there. There I met Ambrose, an Irishman who convinced me I should partake in the ‘Experience week’ workshop starting the next day. Promising to repay the fee, with no intention of doing so, I stayed for another week.
I had never witnessed anything like it. There were fourteen people from around the world who really wanted to be there & then me, a soul who just ended up there by ‘accident’. I couldn’t believe the amount of perceived problems I was seeing surface in the others. Though depressed & lonely I denied this & believed I was just a happy-go-lucky traveller.
A week later, at the closing circle, Ambrose confronted me on wasting everyone’s time as I hadn’t partaken in the encounter in any real sense. Feeling separation & overwhelmed with rejection, I started to cry. He hugged me later & said I was halfway there. Halfway where? With the workshop over I felt frightened of the outside world & afraid of leaving such a safe & nurturing place. I headed for a zone I felt comfortable with, drugs & London.
My friends there believed I was getting brainwashed into a religious cult but that wasn’t what I felt. Maybe my brain needed a good wash & for the first time I followed intuition & returned to Findhorn to cleanse my mind, body and spirit. I chose a week of ‘processing the past’ & a week of ‘developing a new life’.
Growth occurs when you realise the heart is in conflict
with who you think you are
While the course was truly beneficial it was my connection with Judith Pintar, an American Celtic harpist, which brought about my most profound changes. Judith constantly confronted me, asking what I felt not what I thought. I had no idea I had suppressed my feelings for so long not even knowing what a feeling was. I needed support to feel emotions without being punished.
Feeling is more important than thinking &
listening is more important than speaking
I started to be honest with myself & examine feelings with full intensity. I had always used humour as my safety valve. Whenever things got too deep or too real I threw in a line of wit to deflate the pressure. Judith’s confrontation denied even this form of escape.
She made a huge impression on me & my growth became my focus. To symbolize this drastic change I reclaimed my given name, Gerar, and released the name, Paul, which resembled the old me, a name I had chosen aged five when I wanted to conform with a name normal people could pronounce.
I felt like a new person & was starting to get in touch with my feminine & intuitive self. Everything I have allowed myself to be I owe to my spiritual awakening at Findhorn. It offered me a safe & nurturing place to explore who I was and who I wanted to be. My real journey was just beginning. I felt alive and awake. For so long I had been sleepwalking.
Time is the concept which removes us from the present
When you travel alone you give the universe a chance to guide you, to feel where you’re supposed to be or who you’re supposed to meet & the messages to be shared. It’s the intuitive feeling of being in the right place at the right time, that you’ve been led to a specific point on the planet with a chance to discover who you really are & why you are here.
I have not bothered to seek answers from gurus but have relied upon looking within for my truth, which is where true change begins.
When Angels whisper, write it down
Gurus, priest, prophets and books may contain many answers on any quest but they may not necessarily be your truth. Many people become dependent on others as their source of wisdom without acknowledging their own higher self. However, it is possible that in following another’s wisdom you create the space for your own truths to arise. People have always searched for answers. Maybe they haven’t been asking the right questions or listening with enough attention. Many people, like myself, have found insights through experimentation altered states of consciousness.
This is witnessed in two distinct types of sadhus in India. A sadhu is a renunciate who, with few possessions, chooses a life of wandering, seeking enlightenment through experience, yoga & meditation. One type uses drugs, the other does not. I got the sense the sadhus I met recognised I was like them from an alternative reality, time or life.
Your path is the shortest distance to where you are going , mind , body or spirit
Extended drug use restricts growth and evolution past a certain point. Continued use tends to make you paranoid, lethargic, slow & stupid.
Taken occasionally & in moderation it is possible to avoid dependence & addiction. Unfortunately many of us end up taking more the following day to disguise the feelings of our bodies trying to detoxify. Smokers & caffeine addicts know this feeling well.
Psycho-active drugs, in moderation, can take us to a different reality & offer opportunities to learn or create. What we do with these experiences & how we relate to all others we meet is a good test of how the soul is evolving. It is how we respond to those we are not attracted to which shows our true ability to love and accept others.
The evolution of the soul was the immediate tangent of discussion with Hannah, a native Californian I met at a party in the Napa Valley. A series of coincidences led to our meeting. We married in Kathmandu & moved to New Zealand to explore a life of growth together.
Marriage; a word, sentence or chapter?
We shared many wonderful times & created a scenario where we depended on each other in an unspoken way. I did the practical survival things like the building, maintenance & driving of the housebus we lived & travelled in. We loved to discuss & intellectualize the process of growth which evolved through our honesty & relationship. The development of dependency gave me security from my biggest fear, losing her, which ultimately happened. My fear of losing her held me back from ultimately loving her.
The opposite of love is not hate, but fear
It is not surprising that animals can sense fear & love, yet we ask our partners to only see our love & disregard our fears as irrational. As we create them, they are real. We are beings with incredible power. What we imagine, can become reality. When we have a thought, no matter how wonderful, scary or irrational it is, if we hold that thought we create it as a possibility in the universe. I came across a line from the biggest drug of all, television, & it changed my life drastically. It was from L.A. Law.
“If you can’t receive, then giving becomes manipulation.”
When I read it I reacted suddenly by casting it out as valueless, but I later came back & questioned why I was so quick to dismiss it.
I never saw myself as having trouble receiving. It seemed that what I wanted was more love & attention & I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting that when I was giving so much. Maybe I didn’t need more love, just to be open more to receive what was actually there.
If givers won’t receive & receivers cannot give, then nature is out of balance
I actually became physically, emotionally and spiritually drained by the process. If I was truly giving without wanting anything back, I would not have been drained. I deceived myself that it was unconditional love but it wasn’t. What comes out of unconditional love is a never-ending supply and it is pure; no strings attached.
The inability to receive reflects a belief that you’re unworthy of love
Feeling I was unworthy of love came from my childhood. How could I feel worthy when I had resented my parents & the way they disciplined me? The process must be embraced before it can be understood and released.
The act of love is wanting to nurture the spiritual growth of another so much that it can even mean sacrificing your attachment to that relationship, which can ultimately lead to separation.
Tantra, sex without a destination
Friends couldn’t believe it. They said that if there were two people who should be able to work it out it was us. In hindsight I don’t see separation or divorce as a bad thing. It was an opportunity for each of us to explore our independence and aloneness.
Pain is a catalyst for change
In times of pain we are given the best opportunity to create a new way of being. It is the soul’s way of encouraging us to evolve &, if we resist, the pain persists until we change.
The intensity of pain equals the degree of attachment
It took me a while to change from needing her to wanting, then eventually accepting the new reality.
Acceptance is the art of letting go.
I learned that with any wanting comes anxiety & potential pain. Changing wants to preferences is one way to lower our expectations. Relinquishing preferences by replacing them with acceptance is a way of peace. Wanting something produces just that – the feeling of wanting. It does not produce what you want as the focus is on asking the Universe for the experience of wanting. To relieve myself of the self-inflicted misery of wanting the love of others I try and release my attachment by channelling my love as appreciation. If I don’t want then I am not disappointed.
Desire attracts the anxiety of wanting and rarely the object
When Shah and I became close we created many fantasy futures which felt good at the time, but I realize that I set myself up for more pain & misery when they didn’t happen. Life moved on & the dream was gone.
When we try to possess someone we manifest pain & call it love
Then I was offered the gift of hope which is the most destructive hook you can give to an ex-lover. It is offered to cushion the blow to the ego to reduce the immediate pain of detachment but it just creates more longing or fantasy of possibilities which in turn usually carries more pain. It would have been easier to have learned the reality of no longer being wanted so the healing process could begin & get on with life.
It is so easy to improve our vision of the perfect partner each time but the quest is better discarded for living in the present, following our own dreams and being our own ideal rather that needing or wanting another to feel complete. In the words of Oscar Wilde
“To love yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance”.
Rejection by another is inevitable so we rationalize our imperfections to seek clarity for our bruised egos. Everyone changes so much after their Saturn Return that by the age of thirty most people are starting to be who they are and know what they want. Any relationship before the age of 30 should be seen as practice.
For now I have given up looking for Miss right
& am now looking for Miss right for now.
Sometimes trying to be perfect stops me from being so. Everyone has a different ideal to which they are attracted irrespective of who we change into. As long as I learn & grow from each relationship I can see, taste & share the beauty created but ultimately through death abandonment is inevitable and we must feel complete in ourselves.
Love is divine, experienced through feeling and thought.
It is never permanent and exists only in each moment
With further reflection I remembered my father had nightmares after having, on only one occasion, caned a boy at the school. He was a well-respected teacher for twenty-five years. Yet he, a lovable man, could punish his children in a similar way while our mother watched.
A book, For Your Own Good, by Alice Miller, reflected on childhood discipline. There were excerpts from seventeenth century child-rearing books. I saw the comparison with the way our family was raised. These techniques included ‘taking the wilfulness out of children’, and the belief that if you ‘spare the rod you will spoil the child’. As a child I saw my parents as monsters and made up a story about them. I spent the rest of my time looking for evidence that I was right. It was easy to find, and had nothing to do with reality.
It is the significance that we give our thoughts that allows them to persist
On a later trip back to Findhorn I met a friend who was assisting in past life regressions through hypnosis. I was curious to explore who I’ve been before but he couldn’t get me out of this life so he asked me to stay in it and explore my childhood and, particularly, get in touch with a time when my father was about to punish me.
I was asked to go inside my father’s body to examine his feelings, & it blew me out. It was Love. He was loving me as best as he could. This changed my attitude of anger towards my parents forever. It was the missing link in the years of confusion. I was given the opportunity to say all the things I would say as an adult, through the child, to my father. Still under hypnosis and feeling years of frustration & anger, I ripped a pillow into tiny pieces.
Forgiveness is giving up the desire to resent or punish
I apologized for withholding my love from my parents, which allowed another level of communication to take place, & my father could nearly hug without getting too freaked out about being close.
To withhold your truth is to deny opportunities to grow
Some folk are accused of being selfish for choosing spiritual paths in life. While I would not recommend the belief in the fearful judgemental God of the catholic tradition it did give me a sense that wherever the truth lay it wasn’t in what I was being taught & so turned inside for what felt like my truth. Spiritual growth can appear to be a selfish act but we are all one spirit and who we become reflects on everyone. Helping the planet is best realised by becoming the change you wish to see in the world.
To love someone is to encourage their spiritual growth. Giving money to a church or attending confession every week does not necessarily mean one has embraced a spiritual life. How can one God grant eternal salvation in a dream world called heaven to some people whilst being prejudiced against others, sometimes only because they believe in a God with a different name. Have you considered that you are already in heaven & if you feel you are in hell it is your own creation.
I have learned a lot from being born into my family and seen how words have the power to create hell. I know those whose favourite word is ‘should’ and have watched them anguish over the ‘shoulds’ & the anxiety & disappointments they attract because of their attachment to outcome.
The ‘shoulds’ created expectations and rules which set people up for pain when things weren’t as they should be. Pain is self-created because of a thought pattern we choose. The more those thoughts are reaffirmed, the longer the pain lingers.
If your expectations are causing disappointment,
reconsider your strategy for happiness
To believe in ‘shoulds’ you must believe in a right & wrong way. William Shakespeare wrote a great line for Hamlet:
“There is nothing neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so”.
Our brains tend to believe what we tell them & I have witnessed this thousands of times while teaching others to play didgeridoo or to juggle. It is not possible to teach them while their underlying belief is like a neon sign in their brain telling them “I can’t juggle”. First it takes saying the words “I can juggle I just haven’t had enough practice yet”.
In Mumbai, India while having a conversation with an artist friend we were discussing dreams & life. I had said that finally I had completed every goal I had & the last had been to complete this book project. I no longer even had a fear of dying for my life has been so full & complete. Three days later, I contracted malaria and was given an opportunity to leave this body yet chose to live, after all I had not found the love of my life & now feel that all of my experiences were just a prelude to the adventures my heart would allow. In my twins Kiva & Rimu I found my true loves & my teachers.
Sickness is a healing & I feel quite honoured to have had the chance to die as it gave me a new perspective on what it is to be truly alive and choose to be here now. It gave me a new sense of gratefulness & passion to love like I’ve never been hurt & fulfil my dreams. While recovering in hospital in Australia I said I wasn’t going back to India. Like many of the teachings from India they don’t seem to become lessons until you have left the country for a while. Within two weeks of leaving hospital I had booked another flight back to India. Life in the west just didn’t really provoke me enough anymore.
To a new friend at a small rave party in Bollywood, I related how frustrated I used to feel when I had tried to discuss childhood pains with my parents. Each time I had brought up deep issues they were met with comments like, “Have you noticed the clouds today, maybe we’ll get to play golf”, or “Have you noticed the new flowers in the garden?”
I had presumed they were just avoiding the pains of deeper issues until someone suggested that maybe my parents were more onto it than I perceived. In their comments was an answer that I wasn’t hearing.
To stay in the present & notice the clouds & f lowers, here & now.
Life as a traveller is a choice and I choose it every day & would rather die living my ultimate dream than be zapped by a TV. On many occasions I awake & have no idea where I am or even what country I’m in & I savour those moments of unknowingness, until the din of reality dawns.
Most people who have travelled will say that it was the best thing they ever did & they usually wish that had started earlier. This is also true of the spiritual journey. Some people bang their heads against a wall for a long time before they realise that they could stop & do something different.
Decisions come from the mind & choices come from the heart
Once while living with the actors & musicians from a renaissance fair in Massachusetts my friend Bodge the Queen announced she wouldn’t eat because she was broke. Knowing I was leaving the country & noticing I had an extra $10 I gave it to her which she promised to repay. I said it wasn’t necessary but if she found herself in a similar situation & she had an extra $10 that she could give it to them instead. Years later when I next saw her she handed me a $10 note which she insisted I take back. The money had passed through & helped eight people & came back to her.
Receiving is a gift to the giver
We all deserve healing & many people have been in self destructive relationships without being aware of what a healthy relationship feels like. I have let go of my childhood misery story & stopped giving my family free rent inside my head. I no longer feel anger at my parents or feel indoctrinated Catholic guilt. Others’ feeling are entirely theirs & one cannot give offence, only take it.
To feel guilty is to accept pain for believing
you are responsible for another’s feelings
Apart from healing our souls, our bodies need loving. The standard diets in the west, combined with an ill spirit, produce many of the cancers we see. The public consumes what advertising convinces them they need. Dairy & meats are usually poorly combined with carbohydrates, canned, frozen, preserved & processed foods. The food value is destroyed through fermentation in the digestive tract & this produces toxicity.
Most of our fruit and vegetables are grown in chemicals & sprayed or radiated to a state where bugs & bacteria won’t eat them. If you are serious about living then eat fresh organic food & fight against the introduction of genetically modified foods. If you’re not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
Our physical health is a direct reflection of our internal state. Our bodies create disease to show us we need to re-examine our lives. Consider the Chinese symbol for crisis, which is represented by two symbols one for danger & the other for hidden opportunity. Treating symptoms doesn’t work & this is the basis of western medicine. It is like repairing a car every time a reckless driver has an accident.
When will we stop treating the vehicle & examine the driver?
I enrolled in the ten-day silent meditation technique called Vispassana which has brought freedom to millions of people. Like all techniques, quotes or philosophies, a portion can only be grasped by intellectualizing a tangent, but to really understand you need to indulge your spirit in the experience; to observe, feel, grow & change. Vippassana courses are by donation with centres in most countries.
Misery is experienced because of attachment to cravings for pleasure & aversion to discomfort. This happens until you train your subconscious mind to only observe our reactions and remain equanimous.
I cannot recommend the superficial complacency of ignorance being bliss. Do you believe you are divine already? What is more important, a shiny car or a glowing heart? Look for the guru inside & feel what the truth is for you. Guru is the Hindi word for teacher. Next time you look into a mirror try spelling the word G.U.R.U.
For me, life without integrity is a lie, but then part of my technique is being the first to admit.........maybe I’m wrong.