A man’s character is a reflection of his many journeys.
On Sunday, July 2nd 1995, I was with my band, The Rainstones, recording our first and only music album at Alvin Lee’s country mansion in Berkshire, England. Suzanne, Alvin’s former spouse and mother of their daughter, was impressed by our performance at the London Orange club in West Kensington, and offered to become our manager. Alvin, dubbed “the fastest guitarist in the West”, was perhaps best known as the lead vocalist and lead guitarist of the blues rock band Ten Years After. His legendary guitar performance at Woodstock Festival in 1969, was captured on film in the documentary of the event, and helped catapult him to international stardom.
Suzanne arranged for us to record at their Berkshire home-recording studio and brought in Pete Brown to produce the album. We were familiar with Pete’s work back from 1980, when he produced the international mega-hit single “Stop”, performed by his sister Sam Brown. Another rising star, a film producer by the name of Jake West, was summoned to produce two accompanying video spots, first to be recorded at the film studios in East London, and second, on the golden country fields of Berkshire.
I was about to turn 28 years old and my investments in the computer business and real estate already netted me my first million. But music remained my first love and finally, it seemed, I was about to succeed also as an artist. I particularly remember that Sunday morning, because I received a call from Peter, the eldest of my three brothers, who informed me that our youngest brother Rado, then aged 21, had taken his life that night by hanging himself from a tree in Hyde Park, central London. He left a simple note, which read: “Be happy for me, I will suffer no more.”
I was privileged to enjoy a wholesome and engaging childhood, influenced by both a diverse cultural upbringing and numerous life-changing circumstances. My mother was born in Slovenia, a republic in the former Yugoslavia, to a simple Christian family. Despite struggling through poverty and illness, she became a teacher of languages and then joined the Communist Party to stabilize her economic and professional future. After my younger brother’s premature death, she lost her purpose in life for many years before finding it again in spiritual awakening and charity work.
My father was born in India, into a wealthy Muslim family of Persian descent. As a teenager he moved to London. There he met my mother, became a successful salesman and, later, a restaurant owner. After three children and six years of troublesome marriage, my mother returned to her home-country, so I spent most of my childhood split between communist Yugoslavia and old, imperial England. I was very stubborn and very independent, but never an aggressive child. I excelled at sports in both primary and secondary school, and learned to play a guitar at the age of 13. At 15 I was blighted by a severe and painful illness, and overnight my life came to an abrupt halt.
The school season of 1981/82 marked a turning point in my life. I was staying with my mother in Slovenia, where I became a first grade student at the pedagogical college in Celje, and dedicated my afternoons to playing basketball for the leading club in town. We won the annual Slovenian youth championship and in the autumn of 82 we were due to compete at the national youth championship of Yugoslavia.
In May, that same year, I developed curious skin rashes and was immediately prescribed a medication, to which my body responded with vigorous hostility. I remember going to bed at night feeling extremely itchy and by morning suffered several painful cases of burning skin. Doctor’s diagnosis suggested an extreme case of eczema, for which there was no known cure. Due to severe and constant pain, I was given pain-relief tablets and advised to turn to the power of the mind for possible solutions. There was my hope, rooted in endless books exploring the greatness of human wisdom.
Years later I realized what a blessing my illness had been. The eczema had caused my skin to react with excruciating pain to just about every sensation, thought, word, or action. This brought about an insightful sense of self-awareness at an early stage of my life, and forced me to deal in great detail with the very essence of who I was. By learning about the self, about how we interact with the environment, and about our deep-rooted ability to influence and co-create our reality, I began to heal my body and embarked on an amazing journey, researching the way we humans form relationships with our inner and outer environments. The many truths I discovered and the lessons I learned were beyond my wildest expectations.
In 1995 my life took a second drastic turn. I had genuinely believed that the whole of humankind shared one common desire to live. My younger brother’s self-sanctioned destruction proved me wrong.
An outburst of endless monologues, mixed with guilt, anger, disappointment and confusion, followed his departure. There were too many emotions to bear. So I began putting thoughts to paper. Through writing I found a release. I desperately needed to redefine my relationship with truth, with life, with who I was, and with what gave my existence meaning and purpose.
After thirteen years of intense introspection, which was driven by my illness, my brother’s death drove me to experience a major breakdown of my values, and I began to question everything. This brought about ever-deepening insights, with a clarity I had never before experienced. In time, I realized I wasn’t really talking to myself, but rather to some greater knowing-ness, which seemed to dwell at the root of all being-ness, and which held immense wisdom. It was impossible to define it, so I called it “the Absolute[i].”
Learning to control my incurable illness provided me with the necessary confidence and tools to go after, and fulfill, my wildest dreams and desires. In 1986, when my father’s restaurant business collapsed, I dropped out of school and took on various laboring jobs. Music was my first love, so I started a rock band and began looking for money-making opportunities. In 1989 I began building home computers for my cousin’s IT company in London and two years later formed my own business, building and supplying second-hand computers and hardware. In 1991, as UK was emerging from the economic recession, I began buying affordable property for rental purposes. A few years later the second generation mobile phones flooded the market and opportunities for financial prosperity expanded exponentially.
At the turn of the millennium I had more money than I could spend and a beautiful girlfriend by the name of Elena. Our relationship was passionate, sincere, but turbulent. Elena suffered from childhood traumas and was desperately looking to settle into a secure home. She wanted us to get married and to succeed where her parents had let her down. As I was hesitant, she arranged for me to see a friendly psychiatrist, a middle-aged woman named Angela, who had been in a successful relationship for over 20 years, and who purportedly spoke to angels. Angela was a total revelation! Softly spoken, and a great listener, she got me talking about myself, and about who I was. She inspired me to deliberate three important truths. First, I am responsible for everything that happens to me. Second, it’s neither my duty nor my obligation to save the world, and third, I am God, so to speak.
Talking to Angela helped me realize, that I must find and walk my own path. I must investigate the truth of who I am, and to follow this truth openly, sincerely and responsibly, wherever it would lead me. Before the end of the year my relationship with Elena ended. I transferred all my businesses to my brother Paul and disappeared to Brazil, with no set date of return. I needed to find my meaning, my purpose, and who I truly was.
For three years I traveled the world. My main destinations were Europe, USA, South America and the Middle East. I rented a house in Barcelona, spent summers in the South of France and circled between the various world capitals. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, and I very scarcely indulged in drugs. Instead, I was drowning my disillusions in young women and constant entertainment. Then, through a chance visit, I re-discovered the Balkans, the land I once knew as Yugoslavia, now separated into several sovereign states. There was romance in the air! The whole region was awakening, and I saw an opportunity to make a difference, to give something back, and to find meaning in my life.
I began investing into local people and to set up businesses. The plan was to build an international chain of companies, which would interconnect people, goods and services across continents, and which would re-distribute a major share of their profits among its employees, and contribute to the less fortunate. I travelled the world, enjoyed the best that life had to offer, and did it all intentionally and in alert awareness. The experiences and the people I met were plentiful and uniquely diverse, and I perpetually summarized my encounters, dilemmas and the lessons learned, in my growing collection of digital notes. I thought I was happy, but deep down I knew there was something missing.
The 2008 world financial crisis caught me with my pants down; literally. Businesses began collapsing and people’s loyalty trembled. Total chaos emerged. I was left with sky-high expenses and no income. Property prices dropped fiercely and I was desperately trying to sell whatever toys I could; the yacht, the cars, the motorbikes, the watches, anything of value. I decided to exchange my glamorous penthouse in the city for a small flat in the suburbs and removed myself from social life, literally vanishing from the scene.
What followed were 9 years of cleansing: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. I continued to travel, and to purge the mess I had made. I kept away from crowds and spent much of my time in solitude; self-reflecting, learning, meditating and writing. I needed to go within, to get in touch with the real self, to re-discover my truth, and my deep-rooted potential.
By 2017 I finished four parts of the unfinished book series, with the fifth in the making. I was nobody special. Today, I am still nobody special. Not to you, not to others and not to most living beings with whom I share the beauty of this amazing planet. But to me, I am the Universe: the infinite potential for abundance and co-creation.
[i] The Absolute is a term denoting the concept of primordial being-ness, the original state of is-ness, from which everything arises. Please refer to glossary.