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Anthony's Story continued

1912 - 1919
1919 - 1939
1939 - 1940
1941 - 1945
1945 - 1946
1946 - 1951
Reflections on Brooke Rule
1951 - 1970
1970 - present
Visiting Sarawak 1983 &1991

After Sarawak

When the intense and energy consuming period of commitment to Sarawak and the anti-session movement came to an end, my life entered a new phase in which more of my time could be spent with my family, first in London and then in Sussex.

During this time, in the mid-nineteen fifties, I twice felt prompted to hire the Royal Albert Hall:

  • First, for a meeting to rally support for the British Liberal Party, which provided an important point of balance to the polarization between the Conservative and Labour Parties.
  • Secondly, for another meeting, organized by Catholic and Protestant leaders, on the theme: "A Christian Challenge in a Changing World". People came to London in motor coaches from all parts of Britain to participate in this discussion. On both occasions the Hall was filled to capacity.

However, new projects and my personal spiritual quest would soon again have me traveling.

Meeting with former Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai

While traveling with a view to helping to establish a first world people's conference, I was courteously received by former premier Chou En-Lai on 1 January 1960. He generously extended the promised 15 minutes to a whole hour and lent me a big overcoat for my winter visit.

It was a time when the "outside" world was beginning to show real concern about China's burgeoning population. Prime Minister Chou dismissed this issue with a disarming smile, saying that the Chinese system saw no such problem and could provide ways of keeping its entire population busy. He continued to speak for the rest of the time about the situation in China while I sat and listened. Although, he said, he would not be a part of any such conference, he left me with his "good wishes".

While our exchanges took place through an interpreter, I noticed that he listened intently to what the interpreter was saying and he intervened once to correct him on a point of detail!


With Chou En-Lai
.

World People's Conference

In the second week of May 1960 a small but significant conference took place in Geneva, attended by about 30 people, among whom were former Prime Minister Kofi Busia, of Ghana, Doctor Otto Nathan, a long-time associate of the late Professor Albert Einstein, and Abbé Pierre, founder the Worker-Priest Movement.

A very dear Quaker friend, Engineer Walter Voelker from Philadelphia, chaired and largely organized the conference together with a colleague, Dorothy Hutchinson of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, who wrote it up in a report. This report (click here for full text) stressed the responsibility and the power of the individual "to make unrelenting war on war and war on misery, the great enemies of mankind" , and the need "to think and act as 'universal' men and women". It calls on people of all ages to feel challenged by the urgent needs of their fellow men and women and affirms that serving these needs can be seen as the moral equivalent of war, appealing to all that is heroic in man and offering "man's only satisfying self-fulfillment".

Under the heading "29 Individualists Ask World Peace" the international edition of the New York Herald Tribune (printed in Amsterdam) published a report on this conference edited from the New York Times (click here for full text).

Walking with Vinoba Bhave

In the course of my spiritual search I walked for a week in December 1959, touring the Punjab District of India with Vinoba Bhave. Bhave was a wealthy landowner and became notable throughout India for walking from village to village, making over portions of his land to the poor. He was well known throughout India as Mahatma Ghandi's 'spiritual son' (with Pandit Jawarhalal Nehru his 'secular son').

Vinoba Bhave's method of spreading his vision was to start early in the cool of the morning, walking to the next village, urging self-giving as a basis for social reform. Clearly his message acted as a powerful challenge to other wealthy landowners and the evidence of his influence throughout India was unquestionable.

We would spend the heat of the day resting and go early to bed, to rise before dawn to continue the pilgrimage the following morning.

The week spent walking with Vinoba Bhave was certainly most unforgettable as well as a challenging experience. At the end of the week and on parting with him he generously gave me the title "shanty doot" (Ambassador of Peace).

Meeting Meher Baba

Another memorable encounter in 1960s was with the Indian Guru, Meher Baba, seen by many as the Avatar. I was one of those who were deeply impressed by his teaching which in all respects reflected the love that he personified.

He was in seclusion when I resolved to make the pilgrimage to meet him. This involved a long journey by train from Bombay, ending up with a three to four hours journey by bullock cart. I had no way of knowing if I would be received into his presence. Actually, I simply went straight into his open arms as the most natural thing to do.

Changes

After 25 years of marriage to my wife Kathleen, we underwent an amicable divorce in 1965 and I subsequently joined the Findhorn Community based in a caravan park at Forres, Scotland.

Findhorn, founded by Peter and Eileen Caddy, is committed to individual growth and transformation, and from a community of 15 individuals when I joined it in 1965 it has become a widely known international conference centre, regularly hosting transformative conferences with themes appropriate for our globalising world.

 

 
Anthony and Gita Brooke email : optubrookiana@xtra.co.nz