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John Wilkinson Interviewed by Kristina Turner
Kristina Turner (KT): Thank you for taking the time to give this interview to Gurdjieff Internet Guide. I would like to begin by saying that I am not very knowledgeable about Mr. Bennett’s work other than through his books, so I would like to begin by asking what you consider to be the most important thing that you learned from Mr. Bennett?
John Wilkinson (JW): It is probably kindness and compassion mixed with drive and great intellect, this not giving up. I got a lot from Polly Bennett, old Mrs. Bennett, from the heart. She was a heart person, and she gave me a lot with her love, but it wasn’t shown as love necessarily. It might be shown as: “Why aren’t you doing this properly”. Or she’d come and see me and she’d say “What’s the matter?” and I’d say “Nothing!”. She would persist, saying, “There’s something the matter!” and I would persist: “No!”. The she would say: “Go up to my room!”. So I’d go up to her room and she’d open the Bible and say “Read this” and I’d read it to her and it would be exactly what I needed to hear. Once I got Corinthians 1.10.13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” She showed me that beautiful passage and I never forgot it because it went straight in. Polly Bennett was fantastic. She could just go straight through all your guard and consequently some people didn’t like her. I adored her because she was so straight. And she, in fact, introduced Mr. Bennett to Mr. Gurdjieff, in Turkey, when he was in the intelligence. She was a wonderful woman, I adored her. So those are the things I got from them. To me, compassion is not soft and mushy. Compassion is very objective: 'This is what you and need this is what I can give you'. There is no sentiment involved and that’s tricky, which is why a lot of teachers can appear to be brutal.
KT: Impersonal love.
JW: Impersonal love, you’re quite right. Last year I suddenly saw that Love, Intuition and Understanding are faster than light and therefore there is no time because time stops at the speed of light. Quoting Mr. Gurdjieff 'Understanding comes all at once!' Have you also noticed how Intuition comes all at once? If we are open to those experiences we have something in us that is beyond time and perhaps it behoves us to find that and to strengthen that instead of being caught in this time warp.
We also need this [life in time], it’s like the Soul needs this incarnation, to work through some stuff so that we can gradually rise up the ladder of True Evolution. I still think that when I die and go to 'The Pearly Gates,' Saint Peter will say “John…”and shake his head regretfully. One of my aims is to work through the Karma so that I can have a clean slate.
Mr. Bennett, towards the end of his life, his heart opened. To me, there is no question about it, something changed. You could tell the difference. He was real, what I would call a real old English gentleman. A real gentleman, with this amazing intellect. I mean, if you’re going to read anything, read his main work ‘The Dramatic Universe’, Particularly 'History Volume 4.
KT: How could you tell that his heart had opened, as you say?
JW: Somebody once asked me how do I know when a man is a saint? It’s a very good question. I met some saints in India. There was one saint, Baba Sitaram Das Onkarnath who I chased all over India and whom I eventually met in Jailhouse Road in Calcutta on a hot, hot day. I had a tape recorder and I managed to get in to see him. He hugged me and then hit me between the eyes and rubbed my forehead. He sat me down and talked to me, and he gave me a mantra and told me to obey my Guru. Then he hit me again, between the eyes, and rubbed my forehead, and then sent me off. He was this thin, really ascetic guy with a huge topknot, he didn’t’ cut his hair. In fact in his ashram they used to sell wigs (laughs). After I’d finished the interview I went back to my hotel room and I listened to the tape and to my surprise the noise on the recording was deafening, people were banging on the door, saying “Why are you talking to this stranger?” I hadn’t heard any of that while I was with him. I was in a 'cone of silence'. You’re in a different space with these people and this is the only way that I can describe it, something changes.
I’ve never met Swami Nityananda but I had a very strong contact with him at his place, north of Bombay where Swami Muktanada's ashram is. Once I was travelling looking for Agastyamuni's cave (There is a legendary cave which he visits every twelve years and wise men come to consult him) and I teamed up with a Sadhu and a professor from Madras university to look for it. We came to this clove plantation in the south and there was this huge, flat, rock which they obviously used as an altar. This Muslim looked after it, even though it was a Hindu shrine, and it was an Agastya shrine. The two Brahmins did a puja [offering], they put some fruit and money and holy water and they prayed. After that I said “Do you mind if I pray?” so I got up and prayed, and I was knocked flat by this huge, (is overcome) this power, and this voice said “What do you want my son?” and I said “I want your blessing, father” and he said “You have that.” And I got up and the Indians were shouting, trying to touch my feet and saying “God is in you, God is in you”. It’s that quality of presence that Gurdjieff might have had.
I met about six people in India with this sort of presence, they usually gave audience (Darshan) to large crowds of people and I was at one of Andamaya’s sessions in Raniket, in the low hills of the Himalayas. I was determined to touch her feet but there were a lot of 'dragons' around, you know, women who looked after her. I gradually worked my way to the front. Everybody was singing as usual, bajans and so on, and I waited and she saw me. She was just sitting there and I think she had a cold and she was throwing her used tissues into the fire because all the devotees wanted her handkerchiefs because they were considered holy. Then there was a disturbance at the gate and the 'dragons' rushed away. I took my chance and jumped up and went over and touched her feet and she laughed. They then came back and I was hustled out. I saw her later when she was dead. The brahmin priests were all bustling about in their robes, these fat guys, and one came over and said “We have lost our Mother” and I said “No you haven’t lost your Mother, she’s everywhere now. What you need to do is to disband your organisation”. We were kicked out very quickly! (laughs) Because that’s what you need to do once the teacher’s dies, unless there’s a successor, but of course it’s and organisation and that complicates it because the people with power and authority do not want to lose it.
KT: What do you think it was that brought about that change that you perceived in Mr. Bennett?
JW: You’re persistent aren’t you? (laughs) I can see auras sometimes and his presence changed for want of a better term. One day he rang me up from Sherbourne House where he had a College (I used to run the summer schools there). And he said “I want to see you”, so I drove over and he was looking very shifty. He was talking about wanting somebody with a strong enough being to help him open this place at Claymont in West Virginia in the US and I suddenly said “You mean me!” and he said “Yes” so I said “Come off it!” but he said no, he didn’t want other people to do it so I went home and really listened to my heart and my heart said it won’t work. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I told him it would not work. He replied “I am taking a risk, one day you will have to also, if one in a hundred get something from this I will count it worth it.” At that time I did not think it good odds but now I do! But I told him that I’d give six months of my life to help him put it together and later I fulfilled that. He died soon after I saw him and others took over the organisation and administration of the school and community.
I was a schoolteacher at the time and I told the school where I was working that I had to do this and I resigned. The chairman of the board came over to me and said “John what are you doing?”. I said “I’ve got to fulfil this promise I made” So he gave me six months unpaid leave. The second time I went over I had to resign.
This Work, which is to do with the development of the inner faculties, doesn’t mean that we do the work, but that we open ourselves to it and it enters us. You have to make some efforts of discipline and that is only to prepare yourself to be like a vessel. Then it [the Work] can enter, and then you work…, not work with, not work under… it’s like a symbiosis occurs which is beyond our ordinary self, beyond our ordinary nature. Our ordinary nature is always fighting it, it’s the ego. We need the ego but as a servant as Mr. Gurdjieff said, not as a master, it has to become a servant, but it’s a bit tricky. It’s a bit like Castaneda’s ally, it’s the ally, and we need him but he’s always trying to get back his power. To me, this is why Satan or the devil is necessary: you’ve got to have the opposite, because if you haven’t got two poles, nothing will happen.
KT: What do you think it was that brought about this change in Mr. Bennett?
JW: I can’t remember exactly, but he went to see the Shiva Puri Baba who lived to about 130 I think, and I remember the interview and Shiva Puri Baba said “Look Mr. Bennett, if you do this I promise you, you will become enlightened” and Mr. Bennett said “Yes Baba, but I have duty to these people”. Baba responded “A lot of your duty is to yourself because if you develop yourself then you are more help to people”. At the time, Bennett was stuck in this mode and I think [after this meeting] that changed and he suddenly saw what Baba was saying. He then started to do his own work for himself.
Ramana Maharishi said a guru must only give a tenth of himself to his disciples otherwise he will be drained. I found that to be very true, when I was running seminars I was giving too much away and I was being drained and so I was less use. If you’re going to be a catalyst, the catalyst itself doesn’t change, but it creates a change and that’s how I see a Teacher to be. The Teacher has to present the student with certain very individual things and if the student takes that up and works with it then something can happen. I don’t know if you know that Sufi poem ‘Knowing’ The punch line is “And He who Knows and Knows that He Is He is Wise let him be followed. By his Presence alone man will be Transformed” Now, to me, that full stop is vital because it’s not only the Guru’s (Teachers) Presence but the man’s Presence in the Guru’s Presence.
But you have to develop your own Presence. This is the Real Work, to develop ones capacity. Mr. Gurdjieff said that Being is the amount you can bear and Teachers will often put you through a lot, so that you think that you can’t bear it. What they’re doing is strengthening your Being, providing you have the capacity or the trust to obey them and that’s the big thing. I’ve been with maybe three what I call Real Teachers in my life, and they put you through the hoops.
KT: You mentioned earlier that you missed meeting Mr. Gurdjieff just, but you met him in any case, would you tell us a bit more?
JW: Have you been to his grave?
JW: Well, if you want go to his grave you’ve got to ask for Katherine Mansfield’s grave. That’s how to find it. There were these two standing stones, menhirs, and someone had planted rose trees there and to me that was horrid because they were supposed to be stark and clean. Anyway, I looked round and he was sitting with his back to the grave smoking a pipe, I think. He was some distance away so I went and sat beside him and he turned around and gave me a mouthful: ”Either do it for real or forget it” (grunts and makes smoking noise). That was one of my meetings with him.
I met Mr. Bennett as well after he died, at Elizabeth’s funeral. I’m not very good in crowds, so I went round the side of the church were nobody was and sat, and Bennett came along with his arm around Elizabeth who was looking very pissed off. And he sat down beside me and I said “Why did you convert to Catholicism” because that is what struck me. “Because I wanted to get the deeper meaning and that makes sense, because I was wondering what the hell he was doing.
KT: You were with Mr. Bennett when he went through the Subud period and the Sufi period and through Catholicism as well, how did these different periods affect your inner work?
JW: Fascinating. I used to live in Coombe Springs for a bit and then I realised I was becoming monastic, so I went and lived outside and came in at weekends. I worked for my father at the time, because I hated my father for what he’d done to my mother. I thought this was wrong so I went to work for him and that took eight years but it was really good. I saw that what I hated in him was actually in me and that I can be in that exact place. My relationship with him changed after that.
Well, I remember that we were suddenly called into the dining room and Mr. Bennett gave this long talk. Sometimes he would talk abstrusely, sideways. It turned out he was introducing us to Hussein Roffe (I think that was his name) who introduced him to Subud and they were going to introduce us to the Latihan, the surrender to God. I remember the first Latihan. I shut my eyes and thought “If anybody touches me I’ll fucking kill them”. (laughs) I was sort of tense. Some people entered it straight away it but it took me a little time before I went into Latihan. I always went in thinking “I’ll do it, God, on my terms” and then one day I thought “Fuck it” and went into the Latihan. (makes a whooshing sound) Then I became noisy and was chucked into 'O' group which was great fun. And then Bapak came, Mohammed Subud, Haji Wijojo We called him Bapak, Father. He had an incredible presence, and he was a Muslim. (Mr. Bennett seemed to be a catalyst for a lot of people: Idris Shah and Subud and Bhante the Buddhist.) Apart from the Latihan, we went into the study of this thing called 'Testing'. You pose a question in a group and everybody would answer the question with a 'Yes' or 'No' and then you’d see how many said yes and how many said no. He called it 'playing', saying that humanity was developing another sense and that this was a way of playing at it like children do to learn more adult things. It then changed into people asking stupid questions and making it into rather like throwing dice. I felt it went wrong and I left for about 18 months, I couldn’t handle it because it was getting to me and I felt it was getting dirty. Mr. Bennett wasn’t there a lot of the time. After 18 months I realised I couldn’t do it myself and by then Mr. Bennett had come back and had started the groups again after parting with Bapak. Certainly Mr. Bennett helped established Subud in the West and it’s still going strong I think, there’s a Subud bank and a big organisation. Bapak was quite special.
KT: You were also initiated into the Mevlevi order. What do you say about Sufism today?
JW: Well I’m not in a position to judge Sufism, only my readings of it. Idris Shah gave an enormous gift to the west in translating what he did. I met Suleiman Dede who was the Sulemein Hayaku Loras, the Grand Sheikh of the Mevlevi Order, he lived in Konya in Turkey. When I met him, I was in Claymont and I was waiting to be picked up to go to England from America when Dede arrived. I suddenly found myself with this tiny, wonderful man who could only speak Turkish. Everybody had gone and so I just sat on the balcony with him and he kept saying “chuk chuk guzelle” which means ‘very very beautiful’, and I just wanted to be with him. The guy who was taking me to the airport came up and said “John we’ve got to go to the airport”. I thought to myself ‘which is more important?’ and I said “No, I want to sit with this man. I might never see him again” so we sat for about an hour. Meanwhile my driver was getting more and more worried. Then the other people came back and it came to an end. I made my farewells and we went to the airport to find that the plane was delayed. It’s quite interesting isn’t it?
He invited myself and Pierre Elliott over to Konya and he initiated us into the Sema, the Turning ritual. He was a sweet, sweet, man. While there he took us upstairs to show us this parchment scroll with all the Teaching Masters from Jalal al-Din Rumi down to him. He’d initiated two westerners and made them sheiks and the people in Istanbul didn’t like this at all. There was a move to unseat him and he wanted to show us that he was bona fide. He had been the chief cook with the last sheikh who had died, and the next sheikh realised that though he was a descendant of Rumi he (the sheikh) wasn’t inwardly fit but Dede was, so he made Dede the Grand Sheikh. Dede said that Rumi had said The Teachings would eventually go to the West.
He invited us to a feast and I couldn’t eat fish at the time (I’d get very sick, even if people put fish sauce in without me knowing) and I remember there was this dish of little sprats, fish, and I said “Dede, I can’t eat fish” and he said “Would I poison you? Eat!” and ever since then I can eat fish. He just said “Would I poison you?” And I thought “Do I trust this man?” and I thought “Yes” so I ate it. He was a tiny, tiny man and again a lovely presence.
KT: You have also trained Aikido. How do you see the connections between Aikido and the teaching of Mr. Gurdjieff?
JW: Mr Gurdjieff said that there is only one God and I’ve heard it said that the only true religion is the path to Enlightenment in whatever form it takes. Morihei Ueshiba was the founder of that particular Aikido school. Morihei Ueshiba had this gift and he wanted to present it to the world. It was more than just a physical activity. I’ve seen some of the early films of Ueshiba and he could almost throw without touching people, so there was something there. And I saw an old tai-chi master who could do the same, they rushed up to him and he just did that (demonstrates), and they flew back about eight feet you know. (laughs) So there was this other power and I had a taste of it in hard training, where I knew where everybody was, even those behind me. He had that quality. The spiritual quality of a Teacher is that he has to have a vehicle to put it across and his vehicle was Aikido. Again what became of it was different schools, and I came through the Tomiki school. Professor Tomiki wanted to make it a sport and his Aikido tended to get a bit hard. To me Aikido is very soft, like water, and you use the energy of the other person so that you’re always inside the turning circle, that’s where you have the control. So I studied the Tomiki Aikido and then, again, I decided to mix the two. The Tomiki school didn’t like it and nor did the Ueshiba people. But, again, I wanted to keep something alive and not get fixed. I’ve always tended to be in trouble because of this. It was myself and a group of my students who decided to form the British Aikido Association. I wanted to keep it amateur. At 32 I left Aikido because I decided to become a school teacher so I went back to college and trained to become a school Teacher at St Mary's College Twickenham in Middlesex England. I was already a trained Hearing Aid Audiologist so I kept my business going in my spare time to help support my family.
I’m a fourth dan black belt, while most of my former pupils are seventh dans now. It’ was the fiftieth anniversary now and I never got an invite, it’s funny. But that seems to be my karma in this life that I initiate things but I’m not recognised. Maybe something in my last life I’m paying off, who knows? And it used to hurt and now I just let it go, it doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t matter.
KT: You’re also a Movements teacher. What do you think is the significance of the Gurdjieff Movements?
JW: Well, for one thing, instead of talking about the enneagram, you are actually involved in the movements of the enneagram. You’ve got three brains and you have to feed the three brains. You’ve got reading, you’ve got the emotional stuff of trying to get rid of buffers and with the movements you can actually take part in it. For me, the movements are the embodiment of the teaching. I invented a whole lot of movements myself. I did the beatitudes and all sorts of things. To my mind it feeds one of the brains and then the whole lot is combined when you talk about the Will. There’s a lovely description: 'The Will does nothing, but without it nothing can be done. To me, that’s a description of God really.
I know that Mr. Gurdjieff was constantly changing things, adding here, altering there, and his family said that this was certain. But then as soon as he died it became fixed. But it wasn’t actually fixed, because he was experimenting all the time. Sometimes he’d sit there and then he’d roll a sweet across the floor to one or another. (laughs)
KT: Do you still read Beelzebub’s Tales?
JW: I haven’t for many years. I read the Tales once a year for six years, eight pages a night, five days a week so it’s really in my bones a lot of it. I was thinking the other day about Hadji-Asvatz-Troov and resonance. I was wondering about how we resonate with each other and our selves, are we in tune or are we discordant? And if I find discordance then how can I help correct that so that the energies can flow? Then I can be a fitting vessel or a servant, it doesn’t really matter what you call it.
KT: After Mr. Bennett’s death I believe you were approached by a man called Gary Chicoine, and I think there were some of you who went along with this man including yourself and Tony Blake, and I would like to know a little more about that.
JW: After Mr. Bennett died, a lot of us were really at sea. He didn’t tell anybody who was going to be his successor, he died soon after acquiring Claymont.
Then Gary Chicoine, we knew him as Narayanasada Shiva, Dadaji, wrote a letter which I’ve still got, saying how the wheels had come off the Mr. Bennett vehicle but because of the momentum we were still going along and that nobody was aware of this. One of our group wrote back and Dadaji replied and then I wrote a long letter to him (I’ve still got all his mail) where I said that I was a bit like a sheep standing up on its hind legs trying to be a shepherd. (laughs) He understood that and said some things that were really pungent so I thought I’d take this man seriously. I worked for two years and then I was acceptable to him. Then I went to America to meet him at Billings Montana airport. I was with Francis Lord Thurlow, a lovely British aristocrat who was with me, and I looked around and I suddenly saw this plump man with an old Stetson leaning over. His eyes got me and I went over to see who I thought was Mr. Chicoine’s pupil. When we were driving back I kept peppering him with questions, and I thought, if this is the pupil what’s the teacher like, because the stuff was coming through very direct. We got there and his wife said that Dadaji had gone up into the Mesa, so we got changed because there’s rattlesnakes and ground cactus there. We walked up the hill and half way up he turned around and said “Do you know who I am?” and I said “No!” (angry voice), I was really seething, I was so angry, I was expecting an Indian, you see. And he said “Do you know, Francis?” and he said “Yes”, so he sent Francis home and he took me into his medicine wheel and sat me down. And he said “What’s the problem?” and I said “You’re the wrong colour and you’re the wrong fucking shape!” And he said “I never said I was an Indian”. (laughs) I spent four months with the man, an incredible four months. To me, he’s a Real Teacher. But he’s not interested in egos and if your ego comes up (makes whooshing sound) it’s chopped. And some people can’t handle that. Some people who are very dear friends of mine turned very bitter and I was very sorry to see that. I was the headmaster of a school he organised in Yorkshire and then I left and I decided to come to Sweden. We knew he was around somewhere but I never expected to see him again. And then 20 years or 22 years later I suddenly decided to go and see him and it was amazing, an amazing meeting.
To my mind he is a real teacher but real teachers don’t compromise.
KT: I understood that he worked specifically with Super Effort. Do you agree with that or how do you see it?
JW: Well, I would say that if you’re working with, working under, really, a Teacher, Super Effort is demanded. I’d never thought of it in those terms, but, you see, a lot of Work people love these terms. They don’t actually know what the fuck they mean. If you’ve been with a Real Teacher you’ll know what Super Effort means because if you’re not there, you’re gone. Am I going to put up with it? Am I going to keep going? And I was there for four months with this terrifying guy and I thought well, it’s either this or I die, there’s nothing else.
KT: I understand, there’s no choice.
JW: There’s no choice. I had to do it. But a lot of people turned bitter and I was very sad about that. He attacks the ego, they all do. And if you’re not prepared for that, forget it. To be with a Real Teacher is a very difficult thing. Or it’s an impossible thing. I’ve heard stories about Mr. Gurdjieff and I’m quite close to the family and some others will tell you about what happened with Mr. Gurdjieff. And I also noticed this with Indian gurus, they had their disciples and then they had their devotees. And they were treated very, very differently. The disciples were treated very, very roughly in one sense, while the devotees, give them prashad and so on. To be a disciple or a student you have to be accepted, you have to be accepted first. It took me two years. Once you’re accepted, then you start the roller coaster. It’s all to do with the ego. There was one time when I was standing waiting with a great friend of mine and he suddenly got up and went away and I shouted at him because he was my partner. Mr. Chicoine came up to me and said “Don’t do that, maybe that’s all his Soul needed in this life time.” Very compassionate. But while you’re there, there’s no compromise. It’s all or nothing with these people, that’s it.
KT: Because that’s what you are asking for.
JW: Or, I think I’m asking for until I meet it and then “What the fuck am I doing here, for Christ’s sake get me out of here!” (laughs) But for me it was either that or death, it was that simple, I couldn’t find how to make the Work Work. I’ve tried seminars, even with Tony Blake, we ran Daglingworth Manor, a shortened form of the Sherbourne course, just to try something different. I went to Alaska, Virginia, Florida, Italy, Germany, Holland, Sweden every year, all these seminars. And I kept coming back to the same impulse again. And then luckily, I bumped in to him again and got some direction.
KT: How do you keep the Work alive in yourself?
JW: It might sound very strange, but you keep changing it. And you find this with the Zen masters, you might say “I’m doing this” and the answer is “Well, do that”. Supposing I am doing a breathing mantra and I have got into the habit of doing it one way and it has become automatic, then I change the sequence. That means I’ve got to keep awake. And so one has to keep constantly altering and changing and moving and yet being open to what seems to be the direction. Because we have in us something, we have in us a compass. It’s called the Deep Heart. It’s like what we call a black hole. All the problems occur in the event horizon, the stuff that’s being destroyed around the edge. Once you’re in the middle it’s different. That, to me, is what the Deep Heart is. All, a lot of, problems are on this edge – all the emotions, the ego and so on. Get past that and you’re in Peace. That wonderful prayer that begins 'The Peace of God which passeth all Understanding.....' You’ve got what I call Tranquillity. But to get past all the turmoil is always the problem and that’s why sometimes you need a guide. If you’re climbing a mountain, you need a guide on certain stretches. And that guide might only be good for that particular stretch. You may need a rock climber guide, then you might need an ice and snow guide. They’re different. Sometimes these guides change of themselves and they become an ice guide or whatever through their own work.
KT: And it’s easy to become identified with the guide, thinking the guide is what you’re looking for.
JW: Well, yes, people are treating Gary Chicoine now as he was 20 years ago and he’s nothing like that. These guys evolve, if they didn’t evolve, then what the hell are they? Also a Real Teacher will never let you become too attached to his person.
KT: What do you think is the most important thing in the work?
JW: It’s to get rid of it! (laughs) Get rid of all the baggage and start again from being a simple human being. I’m here on earth. What the hell am I on earth for anyway? I’m here on earth. I have a body, a mind, I have emotions. I have this other thing, which I know I have, because I can taste Love, which is beyond time. There’s a lovely Daoist saying that goes “Because you have Understanding you don’t necessarily have Enlightenment. If you get Enlightenment it doesn’t mean that you have Liberation”. We just have to keep re-grouping in ourselves. Castaneda does this wonderful thing, he says 'take back my life, give me your death' He calls it 'Recapitulation' Don Juan (his Teacher) made his students do this for months to clear away their past. To get rid of the past. If you’ve read any of the women sorcerers, their books are often the best, they had to do this for months, to clear the backlog of their life and their karma. And it’s a very useful tool, just to, to get rid of stuff.
KT: What kind of advice would you give to young people who are interested in the Gurdjieff ideas but are not connected with any physical groups, and can perhaps not get in touch with groups, except those on the internet? What can they rely on? What can they trust?
JW: The first answer to that question came up when you were asking this. Get a Life. Become effective in some way in life. Whatever it is but try to live with integrity. I think that’s the big key. If we lose our integrity we lose our humanness.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories, but certainly evil is in charge at the moment. In the Hindu view, the Kali-Yuga has just finished and we’re starting to go into the Sat-Yuga, but it means that all this has to be cleared and that’s why 2012 may bring a polar shift for instance, which is overdue, there’s global warming, and supposing humanity is not totally responsible for it, we’re still exacerbating the situation. All the floods, hurricanes, earthquakes show there’s something changing somewhere. There was an Amerindian on television who said, 'Look, Humanity will kill itself, but the Earth will regenerate. You’re not going to destroy the Earth, you’re going to destroy us', and he didn’t say ‘you’, like many of them, he was including himself. Mr. Bennett reckoned that at the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago man should have made a transition from material to spiritual, and he didn’t do it. And since then materiality has gained and gained until you’ve got this amazing greed.
KT: Would you speak a little about your more recent work with Daoism?
JW: Have you tried moving the Chi round?
JW: I do some exercises of moving chi round, flowing up. Also there’s the bone breathing which I do regularly. Perhaps you could find out a lot by getting some books by Mantak Chia.
KT: Can you tell us some more about the 'Eight Brocades'
JW: Well, there’s this guy called Stuart Alve Olson who’s written a book about the Eight Brocades called ‘Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal’. He studied in Daoist monasteries and he talks about 22 hours of meditation, getting up every hour to do five minutes walking and the difficulties he experienced with that. And his teacher, or his teacher’s teacher, was this guy who it’s well-documented lived for 250 years. He had 14 wives, and God knows how many children and he did the eight brocades. They called them brocades because they found them on stone pillars, as if they were silk hangings. There’s eight exercises they do which again is with the flow of the chi and using the breath, and Olson has written a very good book on it. He’s also got DVDs and CDs, so he actually takes you through the eight brocades. I was very impressed with Olson, he had a presence about him. And he did one or two tai-chi moves and I thought, yes, you could feel the power, just the slight moves. You can see from people’s movements where they are, where their power is. So I’ve been doing those for three or four months now.
KT: When do you do them?
JW: At night. You can do them twice a day, I do them once, at night. I also do some sort of yoga exercises and bone breathing and eight tai-chi movements in the morning.
KT: I believe you’re going to China next year. What are you going to do there?
JW: I’m going to China to look at some of the Daoist sites. I’m hoping to go first to one that lies north of Shanghai, it’s the Jin temple, a lovely complex. I’ve got this lovely book, China's Sacred Sites, by Nan Shunxun and Beverly Foit-Albert, a beautiful illustrated book. I also have another one about interviews with Chinese hermits, called 'Road to Heaven' by Bill Porter and I just want to look around Shanghai, in the north and the south, and then maybe go up to the Han Shan mountains. I’m just looking into what’s there of the Daoist tradition and to see if I meet anybody. I’m going to apply for a three-month visa and after that see what happens. I’m just living day to day. I’m looking ahead to China but it might not happen, it might happen. It looks as though that’s what’s there so I’m preparing for that. I’m putting the planning department out to grass. It was very difficult to let it go. Because I used to do morning exercise, midday meditation, evening meditation, fast every so often. What for?
KT: Perhaps you need to go through that stage to get to where you are now?
JW: I’m sure. Maybe you need some sort of discipline, but what I say is don’t fix it. Listen to the Heart or the Inner Intuition which will say “I might try this”. Also follow Mr. Gurdjieff's advice, given to him by a wise man, ‘If you do anything go the whole hog including the postage!!'
KT: Well, thank you very much for your time, John. I wish you well in whatever 2010 brings you!
JW: I would like to say it was a privilege to meet you and your husband and wish you well on your own Path.
If, through some thoughtless remark, I have hurt or offended anyone now or in the past I ask your forgiveness. Or, if I have got some details wrong, forgive an old man's memory. Some events happened so long ago