Vol. I No. 7 Saturday 7 December - 13 December 2002
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Weekly Local Biography

 Robert Morgan

 

Can you imagine a Jewish estate planner who makes it big on Wall Street, but gives it all up to sit in an ashram with the Orange people? A man who finally finds the secret of life is simply that to change the world you first have to change yourself? It may sound a little far-fetched, but that is just a small part of the life of local yoga exponent Robert Morgan.

Robert was born in New York City, the only son of a Jewish insurance broker and his wife. The family were well off and Robert was sent to private school where there were 5 Christians and the rest of the school was Jewish. “I thought that everyone was Jewish!” said Robert, showing that he really did have a sheltered upbringing.

He was a good student, “But I never lived up to my IQ, except for certain fun areas like biology,” he said, showing that he already had acquired an interest in how living beings ‘tick’.

He naturally gravitated to university where he did business (Jewish family, remember) and psychology - “I wanted to better understand myself, and other people. The human mind was always pretty interesting to me.”

After four years in the cloistered corridors of learning he joined his father’s business, becoming the youngest licensed insurance broker and stockbroker in NY City. He spent two years under his father’s eye, but admitted that karate training was more interesting! He then moved out on his own, still dealing in insurance and estate planning.

Around this time he began to be more aware of his environment and its effect on health. His offices got filtered air and water and Robert became a vegetarian. “I wanted to work and play harder - and still look good, despite the 16-18 hour days.”

Health had become his hobby, and he indulged himself by opening up a health food restaurant, combining nouvelle cuisine and health. This was a success and his clientele included Gloria Swanson and Yoko Ono. However, these were small bikkies and there was money to be made in the bond business. He made it too, along with his friends in NY, whom Robert describes as “mega rich”.

He then moved to California and began the next phase of his life, which is still unfolding today. He went to a Whole Life Expo and met the guru’s of the reflexology discipline. He was impressed and undertook study. As part of that he had over 200 treatments himself. “A lot of bodyworkers don’t have the experience of work done on themselves,” said Robert as a way of explanation.

He then met an Ayuverdhic practitioner in Los Angeles and studied under him for three months as well. It was time for Robert to move into putting his knowledge into practice, and so he opened up a reflexology practice in LA and studied yoga, but then re-located to San Francisco. “It was time to move. LA is make believe, while San Francisco is more holistic and into natural therapies.”

By now he was an accepted part of the “alternative” health scene. He continued his reading and found he had an affinity with Tibetan Buddhism and culture and adopted the Tibetan pants and black jackets as his everyday garb.

But America was not where his heart was taking him. It was to the mystic orient and he first went to Bali where he furthered his “self-knowledge” but expanded this by offering health advice to westerners, based upon his own experiences.

His next trip on his voyage of self discovery was to northern New South Wales in Australia, to a small spot called Byron Bay which was initially inhabited by long haired “surfies” but then became a mini-Mecca for the “healthy” set. He bought into a healing centre and initially felt this was where he wanted to be. “I loved waking up and seeing that red ball of the sun - but then India began calling me.”

India was an ashram with the (in)famous Bagwan and the Orange people. There you could meditate in the smoking section, or in the bar, or while lounging around in the swimming pool. Of course, while meditating you had to make sure you didn’t get run over by one of the many Rolls Royces which came to visit! Despite the obvious disparities, Robert did feel that the experience did teach him to be non-judgemental as otherwise this creates anger and fear.

However, after he found that the future wasn’t bright and it wasn’t orange, Robert joined a Kundalini expert to do intense studying of yoga. Unfortunately he fell ill and ended up in a hospital in Goa in southern India. Recovering, he began to do research into herbal remedies. While there he opened up a Tibetan nouvelle cuisine vegetarian restaurant and bookshop. He began to get requests from westerners and Robert would combine western pathology testing, to get the diagnosis, with eastern herbal remedies. “India has all the right remedies - you just have to find them.”

Continuing his search for herbal remedies took him to Kathmandu where he opened a First Aid Post for travellers, advising on the appropriate herbal remedies. “If you could last 12 months in Kathmandu without getting sick was a miracle.” But Kathmandu was not where he felt he should be either. Thailand called - “But Chiang Mai hit me!” Here he found an environment that appealed, and a very skilled yoga teacher he knew.

Yoga is still a very large part of Robert’s lifestyle, and he spends 4-5 hours a day in yoga and meditation. He is progressing in a quasi-Buddhist fashion towards his own personal understanding. “By my own self experience I know (now) that everything is created in the mind. This allows me to understand, accept and move on to the next plane in my existence.”

Robert Morgan - an interesting man who left me with, “A touch of love is a touch of healing.” As a western trained physician, even I would have to agree.


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