By Mahesh, dedicated to Abha
I was born in Vancouver in 1934. As a child, I stuttered and was very shy. I grew up in Vancouver, Westminster and Squamish, living with my grandparents. My grandmother taught me a lot about spirituality. Raye was born in 1935. Her mother died when she was very young, and she was raised by her aunt and uncle. She grew up in Vancouver, but interestingly, spent a year on Salt Spring island with her aunt and uncle, going to the Isabella Point School. Both of us had spiritualist upbringings.
Before I met her I was selling real estate and doing log salvaging, so I was pretty busy. I had also been drinking heavily and doing a lot of shady things. My doctor told me, “If you continue drinking, I give you six months to live,” so I cleaned myself up.
That’s when I met Raye. I was 20 and she was 18. I told her I would marry her in two years – and that’s exactly what happened. From the first moment I saw her, I was devoted to her. I followed her everywhere; these days I’d be charged with stalking. I wanted to be with her all the time. She had been very cloistered and had probably gone on only one date before she met me. All the girls in the typing pool where she worked warned her about me. At that time I was going around with five different women, and two of them thought I was going to ask them to marry them. I have no idea why Raye stuck with me. I most likely wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. I wish she was still here.
Back then I wore very colourful clothes – red, pink, bright green, shirts with ruffles – and Raye didn’t like them. Because I wanted to be with her I surrendered, and ended up wearing browns and greys. There were things she gave up and there were things I gave up. We had disagreements, of course, but we always worked things out. We always ended each day with a hug and a kiss, regardless of what went on during that day.
I told her I didn’t want to have any children. She laughed at me – as if it was up to me – but we didn’t end up having children. We spent 3 years (1960 – 1963) camping in Europe in a Bedford camper (a car that I had camperized).
In the early 70’s when we were living on Barnston Island, we went to hear Ram Dass speak in Vancouver. There was a poster on the wall, with a picture of AD (Anand Dass), about yoga classes. I said to Raye, “We should go to that.” She said, “You’re not interested in yoga,” but we did go to the class at 6:30 in the morning. I had never gone to a yoga class before – and I never stopped after that.
In 1974 Babaji came to Vancouver and stayed at the Spruce Street house for 10 days, and we came from Barnston Island to meet him. We stayed for several hours, playing lots of games with Babaji.
During the years that followed there were retreats, satsang, and the search for land which took us all over BC. There were also lots of meetings about raising money to buy land. In the process, the Jai store was started; Abha was a driving force in the store, serving as the buyer, first for the 4th Avenue location and then the Broadway store.
When the land was purchased, SN and Kishori moved from Barnston Island to Salt Spring Island. Abha and I also left Barnston, but we moved to Vancouver. We lived above the Jai store for a while, then moved to a house on 21st and Blenheim. At first we’d go to Aldergrove for satsang (where Sid and Sharada, Sanatan and Anuradha, and various other people lived), and later to 4th and Burrard in Vancouver behind the Jai store. It was during that time that the land on Salt Spring was purchased.
I remember getting people together to pledge money for the land. I matched everyone’s donations, but there wasn’t that much at that first meeting. Abha thought I was crazy the way I threw money around. When the property was bought, I told Abha that as long as Babaji is alive, I’d always help the Centre, but after that, who knows?
We moved to Salt Spring Island in 1990, having had property on the island since the 70s, but we never lived on the land.
Over the years I’ve supplied and run heavy machinery and helped with the rock walls. A lot of the rock for those walls came from my property. Meanwhile, Abha was totally involved in the Centre. She went to a lot of meetings, and she procured beautiful things for the Centre. She loved to make things beautiful.
I got annoyed sometimes about how the Centre administration chose to spend money. I have a business background, and have a different approach to money than some others. I also have a habit of just doing things without going through the proper channels, and nearly got banned from the land when I started making the driveway. (For those who don’t know, the driveway to the school was begun by Mahesh; vehicles used to drive right through the property in front of what is now Chikitsa Shala). Later someone was hired to complete the job – too bad – I could have done it for a tenth of the cost.
All those stories are in the past. My involvement in the Centre is to see it function, and if help is needed, I’ll be there.
The memories I treasure are of Abha. She always looked so beautiful out in the garden. She was in nature and became one with nature in the garden; it was her sanctuary. Her dahlias still bloom every year in the Centre’s garden.
Abha was always with me and I was always with her. We did our own things, but we were devoted to each other – a relationship that I wish everybody had – one of total trust. It was a wonderful trip. To have her interested in the spiritual path like I was was absolutely beautiful.
The original DS members put in karma yoga time and money for the Salt Spring Centre. It was just like bringing up a child. To walk onto the property as an old man and see all the shining faces and bright smiles brings joy to my heart – like seeing a child who has succeeded.