SPIRITUALITY: Life in perfect harmony; Ever had a time when one thing seems to lead to another and, suddenly, everything seems to make sense? It happened to Clive Leighton.
It was the number plate that did it, steaming along the shores of Loch Lomond clamped to the front of a black BMW X5.
Vanessa and I were in Scotland in June on the first day of a two-week driving tour. The first night was spent in a castle, built on Robert the Bruce's former hunting lodge, overlooking Loch Lomond. I was rereading a long chapter on the wanderings of Jesus in The Quest by the English mystic Muz Murray. The Bible loses the Christ for about 18 years during which time he probably did more than knock up tables and chairs with his dad.
Murray's research shows a man who travelled the silk trail and became an initiate at a Tibetan monastery where copies of an ancient manuscript talk of a seeker called Issa.
We have a friend, Janet, whose surname is Issa. Noting the coincidence over breakfast we took a stroll in the grounds.
We hit the road to Obanand within a minute the black Beamer appeared emblazoned with the number plate: 15SA.
Suitably spooked we drove north through the Trossachs to Oban where we boarded the ferry for Mull. Every few miles we passed giant blue roadsigns declaring: Bear.
Bear is the contractor which maintains Highland roads - we've always referred to our youngest son Richard as the Bear. After an hour on the ferry and winding our way along Mull's single-track roads we checked into our harbour-front hideaway at the island's capital, Tobermoray.
A stroll along the harbour revealed that the local theatre was giving a one-off performance of travelling Tibetan monks within the hour.
If the monks had travelled from India, the least we could do was cough up a tenner and walk 200 yards. After all, this would be our only chance.
The monks were raising money for the monastery their order had lived in since being expelled from Tibet by the Chinese in the 1950s with the Dalai Lama, who they protected as a boy.
Waiting for curtain-up I chatted to two old ladies, one a local, the other an Englishwoman, an islander for 20 years. She talked of a friend who lives 200 yards from us in Sutton Coldfield.
The show was noisy, colourful and great fun, a spiritual scene-setter for next day - our first visit to Iona.
The tiny Hebridean isle was the landing place for St Columba who brought Christianity from Ireland to Britain.
Iona is a spiritual gem: decked in lush greens with rugged rocks and sandy coves and offering some of the clearest energy on the planet.
Stepping off the ferry Vanessa looked at the noticeboard: 'Oh look, the monks are performing here tonight . . .'
Minutes later I saw a guy I recognised from a week I had spent a year earlier at the Findhorn spiritual community, on the Moray Firth, where I was due to return in two days.
We visited the abbey and spent time in the chapel, thumbing through the book listing the hundreds of names of Friends of the Community of Iona.
Our favourite spot was the north beach, an open expanse of white sand, rock and dunes where we walked then snoozed.
Next day back on Mull we set off for Calgary. We arrived at the dunes and walked the headland before trekking back to a bench on the sward overlooking the sea. I always read inscriptions on benches and bless whoever has passed on.
This seat, with a magnificent view across Calgary bay, was dedicated to a four-year-old. Little Christopher, the legend said, 'found his little pieceof heaven here on earth on this beach'. And for a few hours, so did we.
Across the winding coast road lay the most beautiful tiny cemetery, nestled into a meadow littered with cattle.
We decided to find Christopher's grave but before crossing the road we discovered a hidden gem. A woodland art walk with a healing circle, sculptures, standing stones and 'flying' wooden crows.
We enjoyed the walk, found a woodland cafe and bought a picture of 'our' beach at Iona for pounds 18.
Calgary in Canada was named after this beautiful bay when a Scottish general built a fort there. An old schoolmate has lived near the home of the famous stampede for many years.
Little Christopher wasn't in the cemetery, but we said thank you anyway for a wonderful afternoon.
That night in Tobermoray we swapped tales with other guests. Up and away early next morning, the day of the Venus transit, when the planet of love crossed the face of the sun.
Real Scots weather - dark and foreboding - shrouded us, the first car to board the ferry. As the bow doors opened at Oban we were struck by a blinding shaft of light as the sun beckoned us north to Fort William beneath the shadow of Ben Nevis, then east along the dark shores of Loch Ness. I had spent a week at Findhorn the previous summer after reading In Search of the Magic of Findhorn by Karin Bogliolo and Carly Newfeld. Armed with a manuscript written by friends looking for a publisher, I wanted to show it to Karin's husband, Thierry, the owner of Findorn Press. But he now lives in France and visits Findhorn only occasionally.
A year on, we book into an eco house - it turns out to be where Karin stayed to research her book. We went for coffee and saw a notice board. 'Tonight,' it declared, 'a performance by Tibetan monks . . .'
At breakfast next morning another guest appears - Thierry Bogliolo, who is celebrating his 50th birthday.
After breakfast we were lucky enough to see Eileen Caddy who founded the community 40 years ago. Eileen was made MBE this year - one white-haired old lady honoured by another.
We talked to Thierry about our writer friends, and another friend who is a musician (the day we arrived home one of the writers rang out of the blue for the musician's website and phone number - then, within the hour and before he received a call, the musician rang us).
Thierry kindly loaded us up with books, including one on yoga for addicts, and a set of yoga cards for children.
Vanessa finished off the holiday with her final session on yoga for children course in Yorkshire, and I was due to send Reiki healing to my nephew, a recovering heroin addict.
On to my sister's at Turriff and a few days of family healing, then back west with my niece Emma for a weekend at Inverness, taking in the darkness and remarkable shafted sunlight that peppers the Loch Ness shoreline.
Farewells in Turrif, then south into the Highlands to Braemar. We strolled around the village which, when the snows fall, is cut off from civilisation by snowgates. I said to Vanessa this would be a great winter retreat to write a book just before we pass a cottage with a plaque boasting 'Here RL Stevenson wrote Treasure Island '.
We walked in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth at the Highland Games royal showground then I sat to send my nephew some healing. I had never worked with an addict and the session left me exhausted.
Late afternoon we decided to trek in the woods and met an enchanting 70-something Dutch woman called Elizabeth whose sparkling energy instantly refreshed me. She is a 'Friend of Iona' and her name is in the book we had thumbed days earlier.
In the woods we discovered the foundation stones of a long-gone cottage. A sign declared it is the homestead where John Brown would bring Victoria to visit a woodland family. Now we were in the footsteps of a second Queen.
On to Perth through the Highlands. In the city we bought beautiful, polished hermatite stones - another pounds 18 gift - and advised the sales girl of sacred sites in England she wanted to see with her boyfriend.
Edinburgh: 'You just can't park here - it's a nightmare,' I was warned by a Scots friend, but we found a spot first go that was fine for two days.
We walked into town and saw a sign for a Hare Krishna meeting. Nice people, a lesson from the Bhagavad Gita - with some passages read in the original Sanskrit - and they fed us. The orange-clad Scot who led the evening used to work in Brum and did Hare Krishna work in Sutton Coldfield.
Rosslyn Chapel was the following day's destination; we didn't have directions but we met a couple in a bar who knew.
We followed the directions after breakfast and got hopelessly lost. The universe teaches us all to follow our intuition, so we did and found the gem of a 14th century structure.
Rosslyn Chapel was built by the Scottish Sinclair family who arrived in England as the St Clairs with William the Conquerer. They were Knights Templar and the building is the world's most exquisite example of Templar workmanship and esoteric coding in stone.
We enter the chapel to the deep, resonant sound of what we thought was a recording of the Om sound, reverberating through the ancient vaults.
Then the noise stopped. We soaked up the energy - it is crystal clear in this place. The noise droned back on again. On entering the sacristy, the most ancient part of the chapel built in the early 1300s, we find two guys playing didgeridoos.
We talked about the sacred Om - in the beginning was the word - sound, vibration, mantra and the sonic origins of the universe. We asked their names: the bigger of the two - a pony-tailed Australian giant, standing easily 6'5' - was . . . Bear.
So, we had followed the signs from Loch Lomond, and here we were. The pair were there for that morning only, and had written months earlier for permission to play.
To England and, within an hour of our return, the phone calls from our writer and musician friends - the first contact with either of them for months.
We then ploughed through a mountain of junk mail. Our reward was a CD sent by my photographer friend Karen. I had given her Reiki and as a thank you she sent me the disc - of Tibetan monks playing the huge pipes we had heard on Mull. The horns have an eerily similar deep vibrating drone to the didgeridoo. A home-made CD cover showed a beautiful scene from the Trossachs, yet she had no idea we had travelled to Scotland.
A flick through the local free newspaper revealed that our Scottish Tibetan monks were playing next week - in Sutton Coldfield.
Before we had set off north I tripped the mileometer on the car. It had travelled through its limit of 999 and came to rest on the drive at . . . 666.
Another revelation. The final synchronicity - while at Findhorn we learned that a Channel 4 film crew was spending the summer there. After The Post's two features on spirituality were scheduled for November 6 and 13 I discovered that two films were airing two days after each publication date, with a third to come. See The Haven, Channel 4, 8pm Monday.
Connecting the links of events can lead to some remarkable synchronicity
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Nov 13, 2004|
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