Posted by: paulbassler | January 29, 2013

In Search of Truth

Unlike many of my friends and peers who went on to college after high school, I choose a different kind of education… world travel. I wanted to see the world and find the hidden truths about life that I thought had to be out there somewhere. I wanted to study people’s cultures, their religions, their lifestyles. I was especially attracted to Eastern philosophies and religions, which is why I set out for India.

How I made it to India is a story in itself, but I did it. Together with my girlfriend (now my wife of forty-one years) and my brother and his girlfriend, we made our way to Kashmir, located in the Himalaya Mountains in Northern India. My hope was to meet some gurus or sadhus and learn about the Hindu religion. Quite by accident, we found a Hindu temple that was apparently abandoned. We learned later that each year during the winter, everyone leaves; being that it gets incredibly cold high in the Himalayas during the winter. We showed up in the spring. We were also told that whoever takes on the operations of the temple each year are responsible for providing food and shelter to visiting sadhus and gurus. A big part of being a sadhu in the Hindu religion is to abandon all worldly possessions and travel around the country sharing and learning from the people and other spiritual leaders. It was the perfect place to be in order to meet the people I came to meet and it didn’t take long before I did.

Over the next four months we met sadhus and gurus from not only India but from countries all around the world. The most spiritual man I met actually came from Port Angeles Washington and was a professor of philosophy at the University of Washington. His name was Adrian Seagler. One morning we were sitting on the grass, under a beautiful tree, enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. Adrian walked into the temple yard, wearing a loin cloth and looking like a guy who was recently released from Auschwitz. He looked like a walking skeleton with every bone in his body exposed. He introduced himself and sat down. As we engaged in conversation, my brother walked up and said, “Look at that beautiful mountain,” as he gazed at the mountain side. Adrian turned and said, “I would never take the attention of my brothers engaged in conversation and throw it up on the mountain.”

Adrian’s demeanor was deliberate, very concentrated and very attentive. He told us he was a fruitarian, believing that fruit is the only thing we could eat that does not kill anything. He also said he had fasted for forty days and nights, as Jesus did, which explained why he looked so emaciated. Just then one of the sadhus stepped out of the temple and yelled “halac bum.” When Adrian asked what that was about, we explained that the sadhu was inviting anyone wishing to smoke hash into the temple. On these occasions, the sadhu did not allow for non-smokers to join the group. Hearing this Adrian reached down and plucked some grass, held it up and said, “Any man who values this more than he does his brother man is not a man I wish to entertain.” After a number of deep, holistic, spiritual comments such as these the rest of us sat back and listened to his philosophy.

As a professor, Adrian was used to lecturing and he spent a number of days with us sharing his views on life. He spoke of Jesus often, but not as one who worshipped Jesus, but as a man dedicated to living the life Jesus led. All his actions, all his words, all his attention was focused on the betterment of mankind, including people’s relationship with one another and our relationship to the earth and environment. When he walked through the streets of the town, people followed him like he was the Messiah. Mothers carrying their babies were asking him to heal their children. People just wanted to touch him. He was clearly loved and respected by the people. Though he wasn’t able to heal them, he did offer people diet recommendations for dealing with their ailments. He seemed extremely knowledgeable about food and how it affects the body. He was the most spiritually dedicated man I had ever met.

When I asked him how long he had been living his life this way he said, “Ever since I learned that thought manifests.” As a twenty-year old kid, that was the first time I heard that, though over the years I came to understand the meaning. Before leaving India, Adrian told us he has “free land” in Washington and invited us to come by.

Months later my girlfriend and I did visited Adrian at his home in Washington. We spent some time with him at his ranch in Port Angeles. When I asked him about the free land, he said the land isn’t free for the people, it is freed from the people. It was forty acres of land with a ninety-eight year old log cabin, surrounded by virgin forest. Adrian did not allow canned foods or any modern day accoutrements. He wanted the land to remain as virgin as possible.

One morning my girlfriend and I woke up and started a fire in the wood burning stove to make some tea. Adrian invited us outside to sit in the lily field. He asked us to turn and look at the cabin and then said, “I’ve been out here for about an hour. A half hour ago I saw the smoke coming out of the chimney from the fire you started. Before that, there were birds flying all around the cabin, up into the rafters where they have nests and babies. They share that cabin with us. Then you got up and SMOKED THEM OUT (he said sternly). Now if you needed the fire to stay warm I could understand that. But it is a beautiful warm morning (about 50 degrees) and you did not need that fire for your survival.”

Before we left, Adrian invited us to stay with him, as long as we were willing to live the spiritually conscious lifestyle he espoused. Become a disciple you might say. As enticed as I might had been at the time, I was unwilling to give up all my indulgences and my girlfriend and I left.

Adrian was forty-five years old at that time. Thirty years later a friend of mine Googled his name and learned that a few years ago, Adrian went into his barn on his ranch at Port Angeles in the dead of winter, took all his clothes off, sat in a lotus position and froze to death.

As for my search for truth, Adrian set me on a path that led to what I was seeking. Thought Manifests is an observation about reality that is profound. Once you recognize the truth of this statement, your life will never be the same.

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