I am an original West Coaster. I grew up in Coquitlam (a suburb of Vancouver) back when it was still rural. The natural world was always a fascinating playground to me. As a child there were few fences and the neighbourhood children played everywhere. We especially enjoyed playing in the forest and a ravine near our homes which had a year round stream with trout. Our family went family camping every summer for several weeks each year. Every summer vacation our family explored the paved highways of BC, and Washington State. Religion was not a part of our family life. I occasionally went to church out of curiosity as the Boy Scouts of which I was a member encouraged it, but the concept of “God” was not a daily part of my life.
By the time I was twelve years old I had become disenchanted by the growing consumerism I saw everywhere. All the new suburbs and malls appalled me and were destroying all my old childhood haunts. It seemed that everywhere the natural world I loved was being destroyed. I knew I could not stay in the city. I wanted to live somewhere on the coast away from the city. Nevertheless I continued living in the suburbs while I went to High School with the idea of becoming an engineer.
I spent my grade 12 year running a mixing board for a high school rock band that played every weekend and practiced all week. Becoming a “Rock Band” member conflicted with life at home with my parents so I rented a house with 3 friends. This became one of the many party houses common in the early seventies.
However I quickly tired of the party lifestyle and began visiting a local health food store and decided to become a vegetarian. I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Fasting also became part of my health regime. My mother had started taking Hatha yoga classes so I read Kareen Zebroff’s books on yoga and nutrition and started a daily yoga routine. Around this time a friend and I decided to become initiated in the TM society. I was now 18 years old.
After high school I got a job as a technician for the phone company and worked in Sechelt. While working in Sechelt I continued to live in a cabin at the upper end of the Pitt River beyond the suburbs of greater Vancouver. Commuting daily from Pitt River to Sechelt on the Sunshine coast gave me 1 hour twice every day to meditate, do asanas and make and eat a raw food meal while riding on the ferry.
I met my wife Patri and we got married in 1976. What a blessing it is to have a life partner to share and experience life and learning. I started my building contracting company in 1979. Our daughter Kirti was born in 1981. What an amazing experience it is to raise a child. We are blessed again with seeing our granddaughter Takaya growing up now.
In 1983 we moved to Salt Spring Island to be in a more like-minded community. When we finished building our house we were invited by Raghunath to meet Babaji at the 1985 Easter retreat. His clear precise answers to all questions and the love and acceptance in his eyes convinced us this was a man to follow. Our family immersed ourselves in the Centre. Satsang, Sutra class, Bhagavad-Gita class, dish shifts, work projects Easter and Summer retreats became a major part of our lives. We feel so fortunate to have received Babaji’s teachings.
In 1994 I was asked by Babaji to become a pujari to help with the Centre’s yajna ceremonies. Yajnas are very powerful and it is a great privilege to help perform the various ceremonies whenever possible.
In 2002 Kirti and I had the opportunity to travel in India and visit Sri Ram Ashram. What an amazing oasis in rural India. Seeing the children in their home and school and being able to work and play with them was a special lifetime experience. We also got to see the ashram revert to a normal routine after Babaji left.
One of the best lessons from Babaji is the concept of Karma yoga. Selfless service is something everyone can participate in. No matter what traps we fall into along our life journey we can always get back on the path with Karma Yoga. I used to visit Babaji every retreat with a list of questions of what to do with my life and he always replied ‘just keep doing what you are doing.” That is: make conscious decisions, stay focused and strive to do the best that I am able.