“Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death.”
– Anthony de Mello
I enjoyed a few brief moments of glory as a competitive skier and was considered a prospect for the Canadian Olympic Ski Team. I liked to fling myself off ski jumps, soaring through the air like a bird. What has this to do with enlightenment? It was a good preparation for the spiritual journey, which is often like jumping into vast, empty space, with nowhere to land.
In my early thirties I thought I had the world by the balls. I had written a best seller and was a professor at one of Canada’s most prestigious universities. Once I got over my terror of speaking in public, I loved teaching and had my ego massaged to grand proportions. Unfortunately none of it made me happy.
My book on The Group of Seven soared to the top of the Canadian best seller list and became one of the most successful art books ever published in Canada. Soon after I published another book, Landmarks of Canadian Art, which was Gift Book of the Year. I became the darling of the Canadian art world, invited to give lectures across the country, appear on talk shows, and host art conferences. Being “world famous in Canada” was still not enough.
I fell in love with filmmaking and gave up the comfortable security of academic life to travel the world, making documentaries on art, nature, and solar energy. I edited the films while living in the Canadian backwoods next to a forty-foot waterfall. Many of the films won awards and I had dreams of moving to Hollywood. God loves it when you make plans.
In the midst of all this frenetic activity I happened to attend a yoga class. To my surprise I discovered an inner peace and calm I didn’t know existed. Before long I gave up the film business, moved to the US, to become part of a fledgling spiritual community called the Kripalu Yoga Ashram.
For the next ten years I was an integral part of the Kripalu community as it grew into the largest residential yoga center in the world, with over 20,000 visitors a year. I led programs on yoga, health, and personal growth, and thought I was well on my way towards enlightenment.
When my wife Fran discovered she had Stage IV breast cancer in 1989, we moved to Hawaii, where we built a beautiful estate overlooking the ocean. Fran explored every alternative healing modality maginable, but they didn’t save her. It was an extraordinary gift to walk side by side with her in the dying process.
Soon after Fran’s death, I met Linda, who helped me to heal and open to love in a way I never dreamed possible. Over the next ten years we lived in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, creating the home of our dreams each place we went. We made more than enough money to live comfortably on.
In 1996 Linda and I founded the Ramana Retreat Center on 100 acres in New Mexico, dedicated to the great Indian sage Ramana Maharshi. We had grand plans for a sustainable community made up of like-minded friends, but circumstances soon turned the dream into a nightmare.
After moving to Charlottesville, Virginia, I set up a practice as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. My focus was on Transpersonal Hypnotherapy, helping others to awaken to who they are. What I discovered is that I was the one who benefited even more than my clients, by entering into a deep place of inner peace.
I bought a 130 acre farm in Virginia and slowed down for the first time in my life. I became shepherd to a flock of sheep and goats (plus two cows and ten chickens). I helped birth lambs, milk goats, and pull calves from their mother’s uterus. The animals led me to into the silence I had been searching for all these years.
In 2006 I moved to Maui, where life continues to unfold in a joyful process of writing, teaching, playing in the ocean, enjoying a good glass of wine, and a wonderful community of friends. I live in gratitude for whatever is showing up in life–good or bad–knowing that all is unfolding with exquisite perfection.