At the age of around 45, my dad Paul, a highly creative yet practical man, experienced what can only be described as a spiritual mid-life crisis.
Cecily-Anna Bennett

21 Mar 2016 - 1:49 PM  UPDATED 21 Mar 2016 - 1:49 PM

It took hold slowly at first, with a reading of Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins – he of the impossibly white teeth and disproportionally large chin. But before we knew it, my Dad was plummeting head first, all gullible defences down, through a cloying library of self-help literature. From Conversations With God and The Celestine Prophecy to The Explorer Race – it was as if his neural pathways had altered irrevocably.

My dad, Jewish by birth, became a Jewish-Buddhist, obsessed by the esoteric and metaphysical. He stopped worrying about material things and began his ascent, bobbing unfettered through life in a sea of idealistic ideology. 

When you have a family to support, the path to enlightenment is a selfish one. My mother worried more, as my dad worried less. No one was safe from his joyous embrace. Love, he said, was infinite, and it was his mission to spread it. He started The Lift Club – designed to break down social barriers in small spaces, such as elevators. He even sang Grey Skies Are Gonna Clear Up (in his professionally-trained operatic voice) as he rode up and down the lift at Chifley Tower, handing songsheets out to suits, in a bid to get them to join in.

After his first therapy session, he told us he had a wonderful time; that he and his therapist, a kind-faced man called John, hugged.

He was undeniably lovable, but absolutely bonkers. We made him get help. After his first therapy session, he told us he had a wonderful time; that he and his therapist, a kind-faced man called John, hugged. What could we do? “The Guru” was here, and he was here to stay.

And yet, while his relentless positivity would suggest nothing could shake him from his fluffy cloud of happiness, aspects of my father’s personality stayed the same. I made the mistake of interrupting him once when he was concentrating on his work as a graphic designer. “GET OUT OF MY OFFICE,” he roared. “You know, that’s not very Guru-like behaviour,” I reprimanded him. “I think you ought to be called The Cranky Guru.” It’s a moniker that’s stuck.

A study by researchers at University College London found that people professing to be spiritual were more susceptible to mental health problems. Having lived with an esotericist for much of my life, I feel I’m qualified to share a few of my own observations.

1. When you’re spiritually enlightened, you only have room in your brain for that which aids ascendance. 

“Daddy,” I ask one morning, cruelly ambushing him with a general knowledge quiz. “How old am I?” He pauses. There is an uneasy silence as he searches his brain.

If you were to look inside his head at that moment, you’d see perfectly stacked jars of memory with various labels: Metaphysics. Spiritual Transcendence. Meditation. Third Dimensional Reality. The shards of glass you see? That’s the jar labelled “Your firstborn’s birth year (1981)” It’s smashed.

“Ummmm… 42?” he replies, not looking at all sure of himself.

2. Spiritually enlightened beings get a buzz saving bugs.

“It’s a giant bush cockroach,” I scream, hysterically; a result of my pathological fear of six-legged creatures. “KILL IT!”

“No!” My dad replies, obstinately, ferrying the object of my disgust into a safe nook (or perhaps a cranny). “I’m not hurting him. He’s my brother.”

3. Spiritually enlightened beings don’t know where the saucepans go

They can wax lyrical about how polarity mediation is key to higher consciousness, but ask them to put away a saucepan, and they freeze. Even if they have lived in the same house for more than thirty years, the correct location of various kitchen implements will remain a mystery. Spatulas will be thrown in with the spoons and serving dishes with the wrapping paper. The vegetable peeler will end up in the bin, never to be seen again.


And yet, for all my complaining, I know I am lucky. I am extremely proud of my lovable dad. He dedicates himself to trying to make the world a better place; a kinder place. He has a Facebook page where he shares his wisdom with his 5000 disciples – I mean, friends. He has published a book, The Cranky Guru: Adventures in Metaphysics. He is endlessly compassionate. Plus, having a Guru in the family is incredibly useful. He has the answer to everything. Allow me to demonstrate.

“Daddy,” I say, “Can I ask you a few questions?”

“Of course, darling,” he replies, beaming. “Ask away.”

“What is the meaning of life?”

“The meaning of life is to find out who you are. Everything we do is associated with coming closer to the energy of oneness. It’s known as infinite intelligence. All the experiences we have in this life are challenges. The objective is to move towards positivity.”

“Why do people die?”

“People don’t die, because life is eternal. The idea of death is only associated with third dimensional reality. Consciousness never dies, even if the body does.”  

While his relentless positivity would suggest nothing could shake him from his fluffy cloud of happiness, aspects of my father’s personality stayed the same.

“What is the secret to success?”

“The secret is to be who you are; to be able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. It’s not about money.”

“What came first, the chicken or the egg?”

“Neither, because time doesn't exist – it’s a human construct. As Einstein said, ‘The only purpose of time is so everything doesn't happen at once.’”

At that point, we pause, as Donald Trump’s ruddy face appears on the TV, the sound turned down to a murmur. ‘Now there’s a f*cking lunatic,” he exclaims.

You see, no one, no matter how enlightened, can be love and light all the time.

It’s called being human.  

Image courtesy of Flickr/Magalie L'Abbé.


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