The Strange Homeless Lady with the Strange Book
A series of powerful synchronous experiences that occurred to me at various important junctures in my life and which reaffirmed for me my sense of destiny and exposed the perfect setup behind a seemingly mundane reality that gives rise to the mysterious unfolding of ones fate.
Here I recount a strange synchronicity that occurred in late April 2004. It was a Sunday night, getting into the early hours of Monday morning. Earlier that day I had just given a talk at a raw food vegan gathering where I was invited as an after dinner guest speaker. It was a busy day and I remember that I was preparing for the talk right up until the last minute. Also I was to start a new job working in a church the next day; so the timing of the synchronicity was especially curious.
The vegan meeting where I gave the talk, was held at a venue called the Green Angels, located in Borough just South of London Bridge. It is, or used to be, as it has since closed down, a well known counter culture hangout. A good place to meet people interested in alternative lifestyles and self experiment. Also it was the kind of place where you would meet a lot of people who were very spiritually interested or mystically inclined. Hence I was invited to speak there that day. There were probably about 70 to 80 people in the room, some of whom I knew, others not so. It was a sunny day and I was feeling good about things. As I arrived at the venue with my flip chart and accessories in hand, I remember feeling confident and looking forward to giving the talk. For this reason and also because I had done a lot of preparation for the presentation the talk went well and the audience were great, I really enjoyed it. The subject matter of the talk was the idea that everyone can and perhaps should think of themselves as the world saviour. I also talked about the role of psychedelic substances in the history of religion and also in relation to the prophesies. I had an intuition that the kind of people I expected to be present in the audience would be receptive to these perhaps more controversial topics. Anyway... things went great and the feedback was very positive.
This photograph shows the talk that is described in this section. The venue called 'The Green Angels' has since closed down. It was a great counter culture hang out.
After the event I hung around the venue chatting to people and answering peoples questions related to the talk more in depth. As it got later and most people had gone home, one of the organizers of the gathering offered to give me and my companion a lift home. So we waited right to the end which was some time after midnight.
We all got into the car and were driving back. But instead of going straight home I decided to go to the house of the friend I was with and have a cup of tea. We were dropped off outside the Seven Eleven shop near Camden tube station. We wanted to get some food to have with our tea. Anyway I quickly selected what I wanted, paid and waited for my friend. A short while past and my friend still hadn't decided what she wanted to buy. I grew a little impatient and frustrated. It was late and I was quite tired. I couldn't understand why it should take someone so long to decide which biscuits to buy, especially when there wasn't much of a choice on offer anyway. So I went to wait outside the shop.
As I walked out I could see a little old lady with a shaved head sitting beside a telephone box on the pavement and holding something in her hand. She was about aged 70, small and had a round boyish looking face. As I walked closer she said to me in a childlike sounding voice, 'Would you like to buy my book?'. I didn't particularly and I didn't really think about what she said so probably had the impression that she was begging. So I said, 'Sorry, I don't have any money'. Anyway, she persisted and continued to ask me whether I wanted her book. I looked at it and was stunned by what I saw. The title of the book was 'WAI WAI', which is my name repeated twice. I felt a jolt and suddenly became much more aware and fully awake. As I turned up to look at the old ladys' face she seemed strangely transfigured, slightly doll or cartoon like and her features became more defined. She seemed to emanate a power and energy that wasn't present on first seeing her and I felt gripped by her presence. I told her that my name was Wai and with the same spelling as that of the title of her book. So she asked me whether I'd like to have it. I said yes and she handed it to me. At this point my friend came out of the shop and came up to where we were. She joined in our conversation and had a real rapport with the old lady. My friend shared with the old lady a child like quality in their manner and speech and so really hit it off. They talked whilst I stood there examining the book. Reading the back of it I learned that it was about a tribe of indigenous people living in the Amazon rain forest called the 'Wai Wai'. Admittedly, not something that I've been very interested in. Anyway... shortly after we said our goodbyes and walked away. After walking some paces down the road, I turned around and looked at the old lady. I saw that she was looking straight at me and nodded her head at me a few times. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and reflected on the incident as I was walking down the street.
This is a scan of the cover of the book that the strange shaven tramp lady gave to me. I was rather surprised to discover that the title of the book was the same as my name repeated twice.
So what does this all mean? I recall that in the car as we were being driven to the Seven Eleven shop, the lady who offered us the lift recounted some experiences she had had whilst on the South American psychedelic brew 'Ayuhuasca'. This psycho-active concoction would be used in exactly the kind of places and by the kind of people described in the book. Also I have a close friend from Brazil who spent her early childhood living with indigenous peoples in the Amazon forest because her father worked for the Brazilian government. I read the book expecting some great revelation to leap out but didn't really receive any profound and meaningful message. It was just a story of an anthropologist's time spent living with a tribe of indigenous people in Brazil's untamed hinterland. It's still a puzzle to me as to what the full significance of this incidence is. Perhaps the real importance of this synchronicity is in its timing. It happened just as I had finished what seemed to me a very significant talk, and just before I was to start a new job working in a church. It could be that this event was the universe telling me that I was on the right track, like a road sign appearing in a long dark and unmarked highway. I suppose I'll just have to wait and see. Maybe one day I'll get the chance to go to Brazil and really learn what this all means.
Further synchronicities involving the Old lady that occurred since the original encounter
I would see the old lady again, but only from a distance, on two other occasions in the two years or so that followed the initial encounter described above. On the first occasion which happened in September, about five months after the time she gave me the book, I was sitting in a Cafe staring out of the window when I saw her walking along the road pulling a small trolley accompanied by a young man. On the second occasion which was two years later, I was sitting on the top of a bus with my girlfriend riding home from the city when I saw the old lady standing on the pavement, trolley beside her, with a large book held against her chest presumably in the process of trying to sell it to a passerby.
What is really strange is that on both of these occasions the timing of the occurrences was highly synchronous in that they both occurred on days when I had a public speaking engagement the same day. On the first occasion I was sitting in the cafe memorizing the talk I would be giving later that day and on the second I was on the bus coming back from having given another talk. Also, when I had first met and spoken with the old lady, when she gave me the book, it was soon after I had left a venue in which earlier that day I had given a talk.
It seems to me that a mysterious process is subtley revealing itself to me through these uncanny coincidences. Especially so, since during the time period when these later episodes occurred, I was not actually doing many public talks, not more than two a year. I can't help but sense that in these synchronicities, the Universe, the Cosmic Intelligence or whatever you want to call it, is providing me with spiritual sign posts and mystic markers on this journey to ones destiny. When these sorts of things happen I am reminded of the mysterious unfolding of life, the hand of providence working behind the scenes and the perfect setup that is physical reality.
And the synchronicity trail continues further. Not more than a year, perhaps six months, after the time I saw the old lady from across the road looking out of the cafe window; I would happen to see the young man who accompanied her on several occasions over a period of a couple of weeks, sitting in the church where I'm currently working and which is a job that started for me literally hours before my first encounter with the old lady. He was definitely the same person, identical in the sort of dress and physical appearance. He had a very distinctive walk, half shuffling and slightly clumsy looking. I saw his showing up at the church as more than a coincidence because of his connection with the old lady but also because the location of the church, in Piccadilly central London, was miles away from where I had seem him with the old lady, which was Kentish Town, North London. So I wondered why he happened to be there at the church. He always sat in the set of pews where the homeless were allowed to sleep. Though he himself looked too clean and his clothes were in not bad shape, so I guessed he wasn't homeless himself. However on closer inspection I noticed something about his demeanor and facial expression, or lack of, that suggested to me that he was a young man who perhaps had some sort of mental health condition. My curiosity got the better of me, so one day when I saw him sitting there, I decided to talk to him to perhaps learn more about the old lady. I approached him, said hello in the most friendly and innocuous manner I could muster, but almost immediately as I did, he seemed startled by me and hastily got up and left without saying a word. I never saw him again.
Update June 2008
Recently, on the 26th of June 2008 and I found myself quite astounded when the synchronicity trail of mysteriously linked happen stances continued to manifest. Another startling occurrence happened which would encourage me in my mission and reaffirm to me that I was on the right track.
On that particular day I was working in the church and there was to be a memorial service held in the afternoon for a very well connected lady who seemed to have a lot of upper class friends. I remember that in the days leading up to the service there was a sense of anticipation that this was going to be quite a major event and from the number of telephone inquiries received about it, I expected it to be well attended, which it was with several hundred people showing up. The Prince of Wales would be sending a personal representative so just from this I could tell it was going to be a posh affair.
The church where I currently work, st James Piccadilly, by virtue of its location, is a place where typically memorial services would happen with some regularity, at least several a month on average. So even though this memorial service in question was a little more of an event than usual, it was part and parcel of the normal routine of working in a busy West End church. So to me it was just another days work. I got into my black Church of England vergers robes and got to work on the event, helping to make sure everything ran smoothly.
The crowd who had gathered filled the church and was generally made up of smartly dressed and well to do looking people with some middle class bohemian looking types. As things progressed I realized that this particular memorial would be something quite different from the norm. The lady whose recent passing away was being remembered by the occasion was a certain Shusha Guppy who was originally from Iran and who married a well off English man. Because of this background, the service was a mix of Islamic traditions incorporated into the Christian memorial service being held in a church. So the service began with a sung recitation of passages from the Koran which was highly unusual and also at one point a Sufi poem was read out.
During the address and talk about the lady's life, which happened to be presented by the right wing conservative philosopher and advocate for the tobacco industry Roger Scruton, there were many references to Sufism and the lady's quite mystical outlook in life was recounted. Apparently the lady's father back in Iran had been a theologian, philosopher and professor at Tehran University who had given his daughter a thorough background in Esoteric Sufi teachings. This I found interesting given that the idea that 'everyone is God', which is a central Sufi tenet, also happens to be a belief I whole heartedly share. In fact much of this website and a major part of my life is devoted to the communication and promotion of this notion. So this mystical aspect to the memorial service made it interesting and pleasing for me.
But what took me by complete surprise was that when I was glancing through the order of service leaflet and reading about the lady, I learned that the lady's husband was an English explorer by the name of Nicholas Guppy. I realized that he was the same person who wrote the book 'Wai Wai' that the strange homeless lady had given to me over four years previously as described earlier. It might have seemed just an amazing coincidence if this was all there was to it. But the highly mystical references made during the service, which put me very much in a spiritually receptive frame of mind and the fact that I had received the strange 'Wai Wai' book on the same day, in the early hours of the morning, that I first started working in the same church, where this memorial service was being held; all of this struck me as quite mysterious and very synchronous. The Universe was giving me a sign, and I was fully receiving it. It was something that I was feeling reverberating throughout my inner and also outer most being. I felt a heightened sense of alertness and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end.
During the Summer Solstice which preceded the memorial service by a few days, I was in the process of making plans and charting the course for the immediate future that lay ahead. I was feeling a closeness to the mystic dimension of life and changes were happening within me that manifested as altered behaviour patterns and an up swing in my motivational levels. Through the occurrence of this uncanny synchronicity deriving from the location, matter and significant details of this memorial service, I felt that the Cosmic Intelligence had given me a nod and a wink.
Update November 2009
The synchronicity trail continues. I discover while chatting with a close mystical friend, whom I had not seen in a while, I learn that she had gone to the same school as Susha and Nicholas Guppy's children, Westminister School in central London and had known them. Perhaps an insignificant coincidence. I thought about it a while then recalled that it was through the same mystic friend, that after following a long chain of seemingly random events, I was led to the encounter with the old lady with the strange book. I remember I had gone to a house warming party of the friend in question where I met an IOP(Institute of Psychiatry) researcher who was studying the mystical mind from a psychological/psychiatric angle. This particular reseacher was quite sympathetic to things spiritual as she fully believed in the idea that 'Everyone is God', after having experienced a full blown mystical episode while travelling in India. Anyway we got to know each other after I volunteered to be a psychiatric case study and it was through her that I happened to come across the Vegan Raw Food Group who a little later on would invite me to do various presentations of my ideas for them. The second of these talks for my vegan friends was on the fateful day when I came across the strange lady with the strange book.
Perhaps I'm simply dwelling on random associations and attempting to see higher meaning where there is none. A sign of overactive Dopamine chemical pathways in my brain and the symptoms of someone somewhere more than half way along the Schizotypal Personality Spectrum. Maybe. But then that's my finite, materialistic and limited rational mind thinking. My infinite, spiritual and more encompassing rational mind thinks that it is meaning that forms the true fabric and over arching super structure of reality and the Universe. That meaning and purpose are inherent properties of the make up of existence not merely something we project upon it. Also, that through seeing reality in this way, if I can decipher the higher meaning behind the superficial appearances and seemingly unconnected happenstances of the journey called life; then this is the key to realizing my true destiny and fullfilling my ultimate purpose.
Following the synchronicity trail and trusting in the hand of Providence, the Will of God or the 'Force' has got me to a place in life which no rational plan could have realized. No one in his or her right mind would have made the decisions that I had made in my life, based on signs from the Universe, trusting the inner voice of my intuition and seeing the significance behind synchronicities. But it is through this process that has led me to a place in life and role to play that I wouldn't swap for the life and role of anybody else. It was through following the synchronicity trail that I discovered that my identity is God and had the amazing fortune to directly experience the truth in the most unlikely of circumstances. It was through this irrational process of trusting in the mystery, fully embracing and accepting the mysterious way that life unfolds, which has shown me riches and rewards that don't really exist in the rational world of commerce, politics and the Scientific Materialistic World View. It for this and other reasons that I fully believe in the significance of synchronicity and the view of a Universe imbued with intrinsic and higher meaning. The sychronicity trails continues to unfold, where it next leads is beyond the limited rational mind to predict so I don't bother.
Update July 2014
My last day of at the church involved lots of saying goodbye to people and taking photographs with people I’d see most working days for the past 10 years. Was it emotional? Well yes, it felt great to be moving on!
There were a couple of very unusual synchronicities which happened that last day at church. As the place was closing up, I was in the courtyard chatting to the Muslim security guard Khan, who was from Pakistan, about the events in Iraq and Syria that were occurring at the time. I specifically said to him at some point in our conversation that I thought some of my ideas would in the future strongly appeal to the younger generation of Muslims and Jews who were living in that region.
Moments later a couple with their infant daughter who had earlier been in the church garden we’re leaving and I said a friendly goodbye to them all. The man who I’d never seen before in my life replied farewell and also said that he hoped my research is going well. This surprised me very much and I asked him how he knew about my work. Apparently a friend of his called Rhona, whom I didn’t know and couldn’t place, saw me at a public talk and recommended me to him and that he was already subscribed to me on youtube. I’d only had about a 1000 or so subscribers at the time. He gave me his card but I’d completely run out of mine after giving so many out during the previous few days.
Afterwards I said to the security guard words to the effect how great and amazing it was that the last member of the public that I would greet in my job also happened to know about and appreciate what I did. This was actually the very first and only time that this ever happened. Later on I inspected the guy’s card and of all places he was based in Tel Aviv Israel.
More strange happenings as I drove home. After tying up loose ends I spent a while taking a whole load of photographs and walked about taking video footage of various places in and around the church with my smart phone. This was for when I’m feeling sentimental in the future, perhaps in my old age. It was late past 9:30pm, getting dark and starting to rain when I set off in my car. It had been a very hot day and the rain felt pleasant.
As I got out of central London and passed the busy intersection outside Camden tube station a few miles from my house and slowed at the light I saw a sight which stunned me. A slightly hunch backed, homeless looking person, wearing far too many layers of clothes for the warm weather, was waiting to cross the road.
It was the schizophrenic bag lady who, in the early hours of the night before I started my very first day working at the church in the Spring of 2004, gave me an old book called ‘Wai-Wai’ which is my name written twice. I was coming out of a shop and she was sitting on the pavement outside and asked me if I wanted to buy her book. I said the title of the book was my name and so she gave it to me for free. It was about a tribe of Indians living in Brazil called the wai-wai.
In 2008 I was working at a memorial service for an Iranian born lady who was heavily into Sufism (Mystical Islam) at the church. During it while reading the order of service I discovered she was the recently deceased widow of the guy who wrote the wai-wai book, an English explorer called Nicholas Guppy.
And now on the day I finished my job of ten years I happen to encounter the homeless bag lady again. Though I’d seen her perhaps a couple of times in the intervening 10 years, from the window of a cafe and passing by on a bus, I’d not done so for a least 3 or 4 years. The timing of this sighting seemed to me very uncanny. I’d already made in my mind around this time, a connection with the book and the World Cup soccer tournament that was then happening in Brazil but didn’t think much of it. But as I reflected on the strange lady with the strange book, there was an amazing sense of closure and a strong sense that life really is scripted. I am as a sleep walker, treading a path that was has already been laid down for me by providence. One chapter ended and another one began.