People who found Peace.
Material success is no substitute for spiritual awareness. Derek Harper tells his story.
I can't remember much of my so called formative years. Just isolated incidents during my school career that marked me as a rebel. In fact my whole school life was a running battle between me and them. They wanted me to work, I wanted to play. I couldn't see the importance of what happened hundreds of years ago or how the economy should work, all I wanted was to get the maximum amount of pleasure out of the time I had available and studying had no place in my plans. Fortunately for many years I managed to pass without doing any work, but the constant fighting took its toll and I was eventually expelled. I had become a teen-age drop out.
I started working for my father but after much searching I got a job in a stockbroking firm because it seemed to give the greatest financial reward for the least amount of effort. It was during this period that I was introduced to the drug marijuana which was added to my other vice of drinking scotch. As time went on and the market crashed I lost interest in my job. My obvious preference for arriving late and leaving early with long lunch-hours in between was my downfall, so when things became slack I was fired. After several months of lying in the sun I was forced to get another job and picked copy writing in an advertising agency because it seemed interesting, easy and lucrative, and because I was beginning to manifest the external trappings of a drug-crazed hippy. My behaviour was getting a bit unusual around the edges.
Big Black Hole
Life was good and I had no pressing problems so I expanded upon my three most popular pastimes of drinking heavily, taking drugs and thinking a lot. The strange behaviour that resulted was considered "creative" and things seemed rosy. But there was one fly in the ointment, a fly that got bigger as the days passed. I was starting to have difficulty in accepting life as it was presented to me as being completely real. I had always been a lit tie dubious of cocktail parties, fashion, marriages and success, but now almost everything seemed a little false and it was becoming so obvious and so powerful that I was unable to avoid thinking about it. I could lull myself into a false sense of security by keeping busy with work and play, but too much dope, too much acid and too much thinking was slowly but surely eroding away the reality that I had come to know and accept. The reality on which everybody and everything seemed to be based was fading away before my eyes and being replaced by a big black hole about which I knew nothing. This situation continued and increased so I stopped taking acid and cut down on dope but it was too late, I had somehow opened a door that I couldn't close.
The more this strange feeling developed, the more my life began to centre around it. I would spend much of my waking hours talking, theorising and thinking about what must exist in place of the life that was now disappearing. But limited by the meagre contents of my mind I was unable to have anything but a vague outline of what this was or meant. I was losing interest in almost everything and was subject to bouts of deep depression and a feeling of being a tittle lost. No one I knew seemed to know anymore about this feeling than I did and most knew even less, until I wondered if I was the only person on the planet to suffer from these unpleasant feelings. The funny part about it was that - I was sure that I was happier than anybody else, it was just these occasional times when things got so bad that I felt like killing myself. I was feeling increasingly alone in a world of my own.
"Be Here Now"
My life by this stage was becoming extremely bizarre. My head was full of confusion on some days and insane, unprompted happiness on the next, but I was drinking heavily and happiness was happening less and less. I remember writing that I felt that I had reached the last three feet of the bottomless pit. I didn't want to go crazy and be locked up but what else was there to do? I certainly couldn't go back the way I'd come, I had burnt my bridges behind me. Just as I was balancing on this brink of insanity and preparing to accept the inevitable, help arrived. I was given a book called "Be Here Now" by a close friend who was aware of my predicament. It was as if I had written it myself or the author had been reading my mind.
And it described my situation perfectly "a very gentle depression that whatever I knew still wasn't enough." But it had the added benefit of being written by someone who was in the process of finding a way out of the hole I was in, a person who was more advanced in the right direction than I was. I grasped at it like a drowning man grasps at straws, I read it daily, carried it always and started to restructure my life around it.
Over the next four months "Be Here Now" and a new girlfriend gave me just enough strength to drag myself out of the gutter I had fallen in. I began reading like crazy any scriptures or other search-orientated books. I had unknowingly embarked on the spiritual path and was climbing steadily upward into greater happiness and peace of mind, only marred by short crashes into deep depression, insecurity, fear and loneliness. But I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and climbed steadily onward. The double boost of being in love and searching for truth kept me reasonably together until more permanent help was available.
In September I met a girl who had also embarked on the 'spiritual path' and after a cross fertilisation of ideas I bought her a "Be Here Now" to help her over the rough patch she was now experiencing. I had already given away about ten of them as I was sure that it could do for everyone what it had done for me, but alas this wasn't so. Some weeks later I called in on her to see how she was going and she showed me a poster about Guru Maharaj Ji, 14 year old Perfect Master. He was coming to Australia and we resolved to go and see him. However he didn't come to Melbourne, but we went along to the Divine Light Mission anyway and on October 12th I heard my first Satsang. Once again I felt as if I'd heard it all before. Everything seemed to fit in with what was happening to me and confirmed my calculated guesses, so I went back again the next day and the next day I received the Knowledge. I didn't know much about it having heard only two days of Satsang and I hadn't thought about service. It just felt nice, like the tail end of an acid trip.
The next day I left to join some friends on a farm near Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. I thought it would be good to get away from it all, but in fact I walked right into it. The farm itself was a physical paradise, lush foliage, red, green, yellow and blue birds flew in the sky and metallic blue butterflies flew at your feet, waterfalls, sunshine, rain, wild mangoes, paw paws, everything. Our days were spent working with our bodies, milking the cow and drifting around in a dream-like, euphoria. It was too nice a place to meditate in and I slowly stopped. It didn't take long for my mind to appear again and in the midst of this beautiful paradise I started to become depressed again but even worse than before. Sometimes I would remember to meditate and I would start to feel better but I would stop as soon as the pain was forgotten. Occasionally I would go to Sydney or Melbourne and would go to Satsang and be inspired to start again.
But slowly and surely things got worse and worse until at times I was too scared to walk or go swimming by myself. I thought that imaginary creatures were trying to kill me. I was really going crazy. I used to throw the I Ching for guidance and twice it told me to seek the company of saints on the path. The third time it said I would receive a sign and to wait no longer or great misfortune would result, and that same day I received an invitation to the opening of the new Melbourne Satsang hall. It was all I needed and I packed my Kombi and left. As Divine Luck would have it when I passed through Sydney I was able to give some ashram premies a lift to Melbourne, and after such a desert being in holy company felt like I'd come home. We spent a week propagating at the Sunbury Pop Festival and when they had to go back to Sydney I offered to take them. I was so delighted with holy company that I drove up and down to Melbourne three times in three weeks to enjoy bits of both until eventually the General Secretary told me to stay in Sydney and do service. I was so relieved at having a Divine home that I accepted with pleasure and haven't left holy company since.
So please learn from my roundabout journey that Heaven is a state of mind and the only way to get there is to do service, satsang and meditation as taught by the Perfect Master, Shri Guru Maharaj Ji.