That’s how I came to know him: through Duncan Callister.
Duncan Callister was a lawyer from Portland, Oregon who came to Tokyo in the 1980s, imported by the company called “Life Dynamics,” which was run by a man named Bob White.
Bob White was a successful businessman, a man who had a knack for making money. Duncan Callister, as it later turned out, didn’t have that knack, but he was a good trainer.
Life Dynamics put on Life Trainings, where people were put into groups whose purpose was to strip everyone of their defenses and liberate them from their egos. Many people got very high during the trainings, but the high didn’t last. And so eventually Life Dynamics, and all the companies like it, went out of business.
I went to the Life Dynamics training in 1982, as I recall, after Eiko Tsuzuki and her boyfriend (whose name I can’t remember) told me about it. And that was where I met Duncan Callister, who had quit being a lawyer a year or so before (“it was so boring!”) and had gone into the life training business. And that was where I met Nanda Kumar too.
Duncan Callister was a really handsome young guy in his mid-thirties at that time, a sort of charismatic leader who attracted many people to him. Nanda Kumar was one of his students—one of the people who had participated in one of the early Life Dynamics trainings, and then started coming to later trainings to back up and support him.
For awhile Nanda had even worked for the Life Dynamics organization, getting himself hired into a paid position, but after a few months he left. And he started his own organizations, which was called “Breakthrough Seminars.”
The reason he called it Breakthrough Seminars was because all kinds of people who came to the seminars kept having “breakthroughs.” This was very much the heyday of the New Age, back in the 1980s, and Western people all over the world were into consciousness growth. Most of the people who attended Nanda’s seminars were Westerners living in Tokyo; not many Japanese participated. As far as consciousness growth was concerned, the Japanese were way behind the Westerners.
Nanda didn’t actually teach at the seminars himself. He was just the organizer, the facilitator. He would gather the students together and then hire some high-priced trainer from America or Europe to come and teach them. Or maybe he would hire the high-priced trainers first, and then try to gather all the students together. And apparently that’s what got him into trouble.
He overextended himself. He hired very expensive trainers (one of whose names still sticks in my mind: Chuck Spezzano). And he would put them up at first class hotels. And…to make a long story short, he just couldn’t bring in enough money to pay for all of that.
He and Gabrielle, as I recall, had one young child, a daughter, and Gabrielle was pregnant with their second child when Nanda suddenly died. Though he was very young, he was under terrible pressure, and in the end his heart couldn’t take it; in the end it was a heart attack that killed him.
As Gabrielle told me later, he went to a doctor one day because he had been having chest pains, but the doctor sent him home with a couple of aspirin or something, told him it wasn’t serious. And the next day he dropped dead.
Gabby told me that she was sure he had a premonition of what was coming, because he had kept saying, “I’m going home…I’m going home.” It was almost as if he had been singing a song, she said. He just kept repeating, in the weeks before he died, “I’m going home…I’m going home.”
I had not yet begun my studies of biology in those days, and so I was really shocked when Nanda died. That was because back in those days I thought that death was real. I believed that Darwin’s theory of evolution was true. And what that theory meant, of course, was that death was real.
But now, of course, after studying biology for more than 30 years, I know that death is not real; I know that life isn’t what it seems to be, that it just can’t be what it seems to be, because whoever designed life was just too smart. If you know your biology, then you know that all that Darwinian “life created itself by accident” nonsense is nothing but ridiculous propaganda, and you know that the truth is that something designed life, and designed this entire Universe, from the ground up, to support life. And you know that whatever did it was so smart that it must have had a good reason for everything.
I know that now, but I didn’t know that then—back then when Nanda Kumar died. Back then I thought that you lived for awhile, and then you died, and that was it. And that was why I was so depressed for most of my life. I mean, I just couldn’t deal with it: you were born, you suffered, and then you died. But…why? What was the point? And, of course, there was no point. That was what the Darwinians taught, and that was what I had to deal with. And I just couldn’t deal with it.
But before he died Nanda put me in touch with A Course in Miracles. As I said, I don’t remember whether he actually gave me the book or just told me about it, but I do know that without him I never would have found the Course. Or I dont think I would have anyway. But if I hadn’t found the Course I would never have found my path,
Which leads me to believe that one reason Nanda Kumar lived was to make sure that I got my hands on that book. That wasn’t the only reason he lived, to be sure, but that was certainly one of them. That’s what the author of A Course in Miracles says: he says that “no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in the plan.” There’s a plan unfolding, he says. And the older I get the more I think he’s right.
He’s dead now; he died very young, when he was only thirty-five years old. But before he died he told me about A Course in Miracles. Or maybe he even gave me the book (actually, the set of 3 books). I can’t remember for sure. All I know is that he was the one who arranged for me to come into possession of the book that changed my life.
Or rather, he was the one who arranged for me to come into possession of the book that could change my life, that might change my life, if only I could believe it. Fortunately I don’t have to understand it, because no one can understand A Course in Miracles, not really. But I do have to believe it; if that book is going to work for me, I have to believe what it says.
Nanda Kumar wasn’t a student of that book himself. I don’t think he ever read it, or read very much of it anyway. His wife was the one that was into it; she was into it in a very, very big way, or so I remember.
Her name was Gabby; that’s what everyone called her. It was short for “Gabrielle.” She was a young German woman who met Nanda, a Telugu Indian, in Tokyo Japan. They met sometime in the early 1980s, I think, which was when I knew them too.
It seemed as if I met them completely by chance, but according to A Course in Miracles, there is no such thing as chance. “No one is where he is by accident,” the Course says, “and chance plays no part in the plan.”
And that’s what I’m feeling tonight, as I write these words: I’m feeling that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in the plan.
I’ve never felt that way before. Why? Because I wasn’t ready to feel that way, obviously. Nothing can possibly happen for you until you’re ready for it to happen. And that brings me back to the subject of Nanda Kumar.