One morning in early May in 1954, I was walking to the railway station to catch the train to London, to spend the day with my boyfriend. I was twenty years old, and anticipating the ‘Good Time’ ahead. It was one of those perfect mornings that we are sometimes gifted with at this time of year in England. Every leaf and flower was glistening in the sunshine, and the birds were singing their hearts out in full chorus. The world suddenly seemed to me to be a very happy place full of delight.
But halfway down the road as I was tripping along, a thought suddenly came to me out of nowhere. This was only a moment in time. It would not last. It would come to an end. It would inevitably be followed by less delightful times. Nothing lasts. Nothing goes on for ever. In that moment I was faced with this unwelcome and sobering realization.
Six years later I reached a point of crisis. I was asking more questions. What is the point of this life? People are born, grow up, educate themselves for some work in the world, grow older, become sick and then die. For what? It made no sense to me. It was clear there had to be something more, something that would give purpose to all this living and dying. But what?
After taking a look at the Catholic Church, which I had left in my early teens, I found no inspiration there. It was the early fifties and the current belief was that technological progress was leading us all towards Utopia — but I had strong doubts, remembering Hiroshima as just one example.
I visited the local library in the hope of finding some kind of answer to my questions. A book literally fell off the shelf into my hands entitled The Decay and the Restoration of Civilisation by Albert Schweitzer. As I read it, I felt how this book echoed all the doubts I had had about the way the Western world was going. So I turned to Eastern philosophy and religion instead, as well as reading C.G. Jung, Krishnamurti, and many other authors too numerous to mention. There was a certain desperation in my need to find a true answer to life, and I said to myself that if I could not find it, if life's just a mad play with no rhyme or reason, then I could see no reason for going on living.
I moved to Cambridge, leaving behind friends, family and job to find better libraries so that I could continue my investigations. After a time I came to the conclusion that Buddhism was a way that I should try to practice. At that time, apart from The Buddhist Society in London, there were no groups or Tibetan Centres or Zen Centres existing in England. It was a very lonely road I was traveling. I knew no one else even slightly interested in my search. And attempts to practice Buddhist meditation only gave me severe headaches!
At a certain point, I gave up the search, went back to London, got married and for some years led what appeared on the surface to be a ‘normal’ life, even getting involved in the animal rights movement. From time to time I would be drawn to contact ‘New Age’ groups and Buddhist Centres that were then starting up; I went on several meditation retreats. But none of these groups were ‘It’ for me. My husband did not share these interests, but sensibly put no obstacle in my way. We had many interests in common but this was definitely not one of them.
In 1984, I finally came to the end of going to groups and Meditation Centres. But I could not let go of the feeling that SOMEWHERE there must be a Way that answered my longing. Soon after then I came across Irina Tweedie’s book, Chasm of Fire, which opened my eyes to the extraordinary depth of her relationship with her Guru. I realized that I also needed a true Guru — but where was I to find such a being in London?
I subscribed to several ‘New Age’ magazines thinking that I might find some clue that would lead me to Him. In one such magazine, I read a brief review of two books, Enlightenment of the Whole Body and Love of the Two-Armed Form, both by
Da Free John. I had never heard of this author before, but was so intrigued by the review that the following weekend, I went to Watkins Bookshop in London to look for His books, coming away with a copy of Easy Death.
After reading the first few paragraphs, I felt a strong transmission from the printed page like nothing I had ever felt before. I could feel that these words were without a doubt the Living Truth. I was incredibly excited, and rushed up to London again the next weekend. "What else have you got by Da Free John?", I asked. While I was paying for the books, I picked up a small card from a pile on the counter and found that it was an invitation to the opening of The Laughing Man Institute (Da Free John's educational organization) in London the coming weekend!
My excitement was later tempered with doubt, as I recalled all the groups and teachings I had so far been involved in, ending every time in disappointment. I resolved to keep an open mind; so I went with the intention of checking out the people and the feel of the place, without being overly optimistic.
The day before I arrived there, I was involved in a most dramatic clash with someone at my place of work, such that I left the building feeling broken up, as if my arms and legs did not belong to me any more. The next day, I arrived at The Laughing Man Institute in the same vulnerable state. After glancing around the very conscious attractive space that was the Dawn Horse Bookshop, I found myself downstairs in a darkened room, awaiting the showing of a video of Da Free John speaking. I did not immediately feel anything in particular that day, but I was sufficiently impressed by the people there and the whole feel of the place that I signed up to take the introductory course on the Teaching that was being offered. I also bought some more books.
A few weeks into the course, a video of a talk by Da Free John was shown entitled "The Fire Must Have Its Way" (video excerpt here, text here). At a certain point into the video I felt a strange but very pleasant feeling between my eyebrows, as if an electric charge was plugged into that spot. When I looked at the Guru, I felt completely overwhelmed with Joy. His bodily expression of total Happiness and Freedom were such as I had never seen before in any man or woman. He was SO attractive. I knew in an instant, without a doubt, that He was the Divine Being in human bodily form. It was completely obvious. He was the true Guru.
Afterwards when I walked to the station to catch my train home, I felt as if I were walking along, six feet off the ground! I was completely ecstatic. At last, after nearly twenty five years of seeking, I had not only found my Guru, but in addition, a community of devotees in London, only a few miles from my home. This was truly remarkable, and the perfect answer to my prayers.
Two months later, when the course was finished, I became a devotee. Very soon, my whole life changed, and I moved to London to live with other devotees and participate as fully as I could in the life of The Way of the Heart. It had been a long, lonely road, but Beloved Adi Da had finally found me, and I did not have to go anywhere anymore. I only had to understand and be with Him for eternity.