|In Pursuit of Happiness an interview with Behram Ghista|
|Written by Jan Mawdesley|
Happiness is the one thing all people are in pursuit of and often the one thing most people find is the hardest state to achieve.
Happiness is an intangible and according to Behram Ghista, perhaps the most sought after space of the mind, body and soul that can neither be bought nor bartered.
Behram Ghista has spent most of his adult life, working, studying, mediating and teaching the pathway to happiness and has developed a simple philosophy as stated:"Although we all wish to be happy, lasting happiness can only be attracted and not pursued. The only way to attract such happiness is through a deep commitment to personal growth and learning, as this allows us to enrich and be enriched by all things great and small."
His story begins:
From a young age Behram was influenced by the many sages and seers visiting his father's house in the Punjab region of India. As a child he would sit with his mother listing to the visitors instructing his father in the many ways of the Hindu faith. He became aware that these men all had several things in common; they had a sparkle in their eye, calmness about their demeanor and a particular "glow about their person.
Several years later the Ghista family moved to Africa and although the religious influence changed with the country, people from a wide range of cultures still came to the house as visitors, once again adding differing cultures, opinion and religions to be listened to and enjoyed.
As a young adolescent Behram discovered that, although he was considered to be the "difficult" one in the family, he was also extremely shy. So began his journey into what have now become his beliefs, lifestyle and commitment to humanity.
Discovering a range of self help books at the local shop gave him an insight into how to go about being self confident and these books were religiously studied and the philosophies put into practice. From this came his practice of meditation twice daily, a practice which was to stand him in good stead once he left the family home and group to seek "fame and fortune" in America.
Says Behram, "My father wanted all of life's riches for his children and as my particular calling at that time seemed to be towards the Arts that is the direction I was head toward."
After completing his Bachelors in Graphic design in Lagos, Africa and by dint of arrogance in his own beliefs of himself, his talent and personally arriving at the California Institute of Arts (C.I.A.) he was granted a place in this elite establishment to study Graphic Design. But first he had to complete his Bachelors degree again to C.I.A's specific requirements in order to be able to obtain his Masters degree.
During the course of the next five years he met and mingled once again with a very diverse, powerful, talented and wealthy slice of American "Arts" society and while doing so realized that although these people were always in pursuit of "happiness " all their wealth, power and talent didn't appear to be able to obtain this sought after state of being.
"They certainly did not have the same sparkle, and enjoyment of life the people I had met as a young child had, "says Behram. "Although these wise men were poor in material wealth they had something the people in California could never seem to be able to achieve, for all their wealth - happiness. That sparkle was missing.
"About that point in life I decided that although Graphic Art was not a bad way to earn a living the better pathway for me to travel was the one that challenged me to put my faith in all the other concepts I had studied. "
Much to his family's shock he settled up his life in America, packed a few possessions and returned to Mumbai to eventually take the first step in what has become a remarkable life.
Stepping out into the great unknown with
only some small savings Behram literally headed for the hills in search of a
Eventually coming to Dharamsala in North India he became immersed in the many teachings to be had at this centre. A hill retreat followed and once this pattern was established it was one which was, once again, to become a very familiar and necessary part of his life for many years to come.
Chance meetings with people when he was at the crossroads of which pathway to follow saw him travel to Thailand to study with the monks, Sri Lanka and eventually to Japan, to study in the Buddhist traditions and beliefs.
"Coming into the Buddhist way in Japan simply seemed to be the completely right place to be for me, " says Behram. "I simply felt as if my soul had come home, this was where I should be. "
Eventually the hills and pulsating spirituality of India drew him back again which placed him on the journey he is undertaking today and has been for many years.
He had been made aware through meditation, or in his words, he had become "pregnant", that an event of some significance was about to take place in his life and the impact would be immense.
A retreat and meditation in an isolated cottage in the hills once again saw him moving deeper and deeper into mediation and spirituality - so much so that one night, after meditation, while moving towards sleep he suddenly found himself "out there" in a realm of great beauty and timelessness. The entire experience was one of complete rebirth.
"I was just lying down and leant over to pull my sleeping bag up and suddenly Behram was gone," he says "The entire experience was so absolutely magnificent."
From then on his pathway was to become more clearly defined than ever before.
Once again a chance meeting saw him take up the role of House manager for the Himalayan Yogic Institute in Katmandu, a position he held for some time. During this time he was once again mixing and meeting people from all walks of life.
This saw him start to hold more formal talks on the teachings of the Buddhist faith which eventually led to the desire to hold longer talks combined with yoga and meditations.
One of the visitors to the centre in Katmandu was so overwhelmed with the teaching offered by Behram she then returned to Geneva, establishing the first of the centres outside of India, thereby allowing Behram to travel, taking his particular teachings to a wider audience.
Travelling Europe became the norm for many years until he decided the best place for him to be was back in India, a decision which saw him return to the beginning of the journey - Mumbai to create his own centre for learning.
"I was not in competition with the already established teaching groups in Mumbai, I just simply had the belief that this was where I needed to be and this was what I had been re-born to do, "says Behram.
Since returning to Mumbai for many months each year his Centre has grown and expanded to such a level he is now seriously undertaking the task of establishing his own hill retreat centre.
So how is what Behram teaches to travelers, serious students of religion and people wanting to change their life patterns different to what so many others teach?
Says Behram, "I believe that my journey through life, meeting, watching, studying and learning from people, coupled with life experiences during my travels has allowed me to take a very broad and diverse look at the many philosophies which guide and influence people throughout their lives."
"I teach from a more holistic perspective, introducing into my retreats and lectures humour, laughter, personal contact, psychology, art, drama and the basic skills and not so basic philosophies of learning to be happy."
"The success of my courses all comes back to the simple fact that if a person comes onto the retreat or course and makes even a small change in their life which enables them to be happy, to be more confident in their life journey this is a great thing; for them and also for me. "
"I think also the one thing that possibly sets my teaching apart for many others is that I offer friendship which does not only last during the teaching but also lasts as long as a lifetime if required."
For Behram Ghista the Buddhist teachings and faith are such that the four noble truths of suffering, understanding the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering or nirvana and the fourth truth, that of there is a pathway to the cessation of suffering encompasses all that people strive to change and achieve in their lives.
"It is simple, basic and straightforward," he says. "Once people work with their minds and bodies to understand and walk this pathway, the way to happiness is open to them."
Behram Ghista will be a keynote speaker at the New Earth Festival to be held in Perth in March 26-28. For more information on Behram's Programs visit www.nembutsu.org
|< Prev||Next >|
Melbourne April 19-21
Sydney Sept 20-22
Perth October 17-20
See the website