Road block after road block

Having read Nehru’s ‘Glimpses of World History’ (letters to his daughter from jail) when I was fourteen, I had great difficulties with the myopic, self-centred theories being purveyed in the universities, e.g. the domino theory of geo-politics for South-East Asia. One academic in the Sixties advised his students that, if they denied the domino theory, they could not expect to pass. So, even regional politics affects academic disciplines. As the French say, a learned fool is sillier than an ignorant one.

Having made some progress in my studies, I could not ignore the need for a career for long. When I looked for work as a new graduate, I was told (this was in the mid-Fifties) by major firms in the private sector that they could not take a risk with a foreign ‘executive’. They did not know whether the Australians below me would accept me in a superior role.

In the process of trying to place me in the private sector, the head of the university’s graduate office and I became firm friends. We used to drink together regularly, as we both enjoyed good wine … I tried all manner of small businesses not listed by the graduate employment offices in the university. All that I could find were clerical, marketing, or other kinds of unskilled work, provided I understood that I could not progress to management level.

Eventually, the new head of the graduate employment office suggested that I return to Malaya. I did casually give thought to working in Malaya, but then I was married to an Aussie whose ties to her family were as strong as I had been warned by my immigration contact. I also liked the Australian and his environment. There was a sense of dignity to every Aussie (blacks excepted for the time being) and a sense of freedom in the country.

After two years of searching in vain, I looked to the public sector. I was then told by the head of the government psychology unit that I was too black. He explained that I was acceptable as a student counsellor but, after three years, I would be transferred into the general field. He felt that his Australian clients would not accept a “black fellow” (as they would see him). He would not accept that in Britain, coloured psychologists had been reported as being in demand by white clients. This conversation was later confirmed by a former employee of his.

So there I was, thinking that with my studies completed, I would be about halfway to a career of some sort. In reality, however, halfway is twelve miles when you have fourteen miles to go (I cannot remember who said that!). I was becoming desperate about starting a career. I did not know whether my marriage would weather another economic shock. I had to take off soon. And there was an opening in Canberra. I would take anything offering a career of some sort.

So I joined the federal public service. … I moved to Canberra, the national capital. However, my wife then refused to join me there. I could not blame her; the place was a dump; a village of less than fifty thousand people, with government employees forcibly transferred from Melbourne and other cities. Many a marriage broke up as wives either refused to move to a physical or cultural desert, or went back to Mum after a short while.

My wife and I subsequently obtained a divorce in peace and harmony. She had had a terrible life too, I realised; she had not deserved the financial and residential uncertainties that marriage to a foreigner, especially a poor one, had brought. It is also possible that, just as love makes time pass, so time can make love pass.

But I felt let down again, but not as deeply as previously. The palmists were proving to be correct, at my expense as usual. In the end I could only hope that my wife found the peace and happiness that was also her entitlement.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ show how unfairly I was being treated by the Cosmos; did I really shape this destiny through my past lives? If not, who did? To what end?

More importantly, what were the lessons I was expected to learn from all these ongoing roadblocks? It was only during my early retirement, after being kicked around at work by a racist and some tribalists (those for whom Mass had great weight), that I came to realise that my experiences had a discernible and coherent pattern.

Every road block, every knockdown, led to more learning; but at a very high price. My 6 books, 4 of the 5 non-fiction ones having been recommended by the US Review of Books, confirm this conclusion. Indeed, all my books have been reviewed most favourably – by senior academics, other notable persons (such as the Religious Affairs Editor of ‘The Australian’ newspaper – see ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’) and professional reviewers.

As fire hardens steel, so did my tribulations strengthen my equanimity: if not the Cosmos, then the spirit world knew where it was taking me. That is probably why I write as openly and honestly as I do. It is a matter of deep faith.)