The Wind of Fate

Maho_Beach_with_Christmas_Tree_(6543935627)

Hugo, Harti and I ran the bar, and despite it being packed beyond capacity, everything flowed like in a perfect trance. People sang the Indian lyrics to Jim’s songs. At one point he stopped midway through a song from the album ‘Comin’ and Going’, but it continued with the voices of the crowd, Jim’s teary eyes and smile hidden behind the long hair swaying in the smoky air as he gently danced in silence.

Jim continued on his tour, playing his music, until he passed away a year later.

(from: Bury my Heart at the Wounded Knee)

Back in London I focused on my studies, and on sampling as much as possible of what a multicultural society has to offer. My interests lay with the Asian cultures and in particular ancient India and the Himalayan regions.

After visiting a series of lectures at the Theosophical Society in Baker Street, the Celts (… and much more) also came on the horizon of my consciousness and thanks to Rupert Sheldrake’s work (… and many others), I began to wonder how things may be connected in the bigger picture.

Beyond that my hosts, Alan and Michelle Newman, supported my education by allowing the generous use of their library, opportunities for endless night time debates, and involvement in their family’s traditions – from Sunday Salmon Bagels to traditional Hebrew funerals.

Alan’s grandfather had been Chief Rabbi in Budapest before the war; Michelle’s fled Russia and walked barefoot to Nice. Michelle and Alan were in no way orthodox (they were actually representative of the classical liberals with a dose of good hippy), but undoubtedly rooted in their culture. As a born&raised Austrian, the insights I gained were invaluable for understanding my own cultural heritage, they have left me grateful for the lessons, and allergic to all kinds of brainless anti-Semitism – or better: any kind of generalized anti-anybody.

Alan had travelled the Far East extensively during his youth in the late 1950s and early 1960s. India, Burma, Laos … but not the Himalayas. So when he realized my intense interest, we made it our hobby to plot a long expedition with “our finger on the map”. As Tibet was totally out of bounds in 1990, we planned to go from Delhi by bus to Bhutan and then on to Nepal, down to Calcutta and further south to the Andaman Islands.

Well, to cut a long story short: we did it. Only that the ‘winds of fate’ ultimately carried us on a long journey through Tibet as well. There would be so much to tell, but here and now this shall suffice: the mountains, vast plains and endless skies, the turquoise, the dry paintings, the stillness, the faces, the ‘otherness’, daily life, and spiritually inseparably interwoven … yes, there must be ancient connections between those ‘native cultures’.

Or, as a monk whispered in broken English to me in a hidden courtyard of Gyan Tse monastery: “We hold the male point of the earth, and they the female“, words that made no sense to me until many years later in the desert lands between the four sacred mountains, between the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Mesa Verde. I leave it to the experts to debate the “who, what, when, and where”.

There are many and essential differences between the cultures, but what they certainly have in common are that they have been misunderstood, misrepresented and used as a ‘plain of projection’ for Western societies disoriented search for genuine spirituality. The half-witted ‘Esoteric Industries’ would be severely depleted if one took the Tibetans and Indians off the shelf.

Life continued busily between studies, work, and intense socialising. I started to teach and continued to travel whenever possible. Australia happened along the way, and the quality of life there almost made me too complacent to move on. But after several months, and a Christmas on the beach, I felt totally lost. The war in the Balkans was in full swing, and I could not get any news in Perth.

Homesickness struck with undeniable force, and I became a pain in the butt for all those around me. So, it was time to return home to Austria. But sometimes you seem to fall off the tracks, miss a step, and I could not stop. I stayed around to replenish my funds, but when an internship at a New York/Queens fringe theatre offered itself I dashed off. Well, the US seemed the obvious way to go. What a disaster.

New York in 1992 turned out to be my “hellfire ride”. Substance abuse, homelessness … you name it. I was then not strong enough, too naive, to withstand the forces of that place. It was very educational as well. But I was glad to escape in one piece – with the help of an old Sicilian cab driver – but that is another story.

This seemed to be the end of the road. I withdrew to my family’s home in the little village and licked my wounds. Books for company, humans I shunned. It took some months until an old friend from childhood days, Andi Bär, decided I was being ridiculous and dragged me into his car. He said he would take me to a place where he went fishing with a friend of his, and that it would be good for me.

I fell asleep, and awoke as we passed a pond where flocks of birds landed and took off. Swans glided cross the dark water to the birch rimmed shore, small fields and large woodlands around, and a big, big, sky.

We had just passed Geras on the way to the Castle Primmersdorf by the Thaya. There, with Vesna’s and Jon’s artisan colony I found work, a home, a library, and the stepping stone across the border to my Bohemian neighbours and ancestors. It became the home base on my ‘Green Reservation’.

Onwards now, we need to get to Diné, better known to us as Navajo – the land of the people.

(To be continued …)

Credits

Image Title Author License
Maho_Beach_with_Christmas_Tree_(6543935627) Maho_Beach_with_Christmas_Tree_(6543935627) Richie Diesterheft CC BY-SA 2.0

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