By the river in India
I LOVE - THEREFORE I AM
Shobha Cameron likes to think of herself as a dancing, singing, free spirit, wannabe angel and
mystic in the making.
Before the age of nineteen,
when she began her studies at the University of Western Australia, Shobha was actively involved in Christianity and sang the protest songs and spirituals of the sixties, in churches and concerts around the city, in her folk duo 'The Greenwoods'.
After graduation, she discarded a career as a medical and psychiatric social
worker, and returned to her true academic love - anthropology - the appreciation of culture within society in its own context - without reference to the rules, rituals or values of any other tradition i.e. without judgment.
Following a relationship and marriage of six years with a lawyer who was not spiritually-inclined,
but seriously involved in politics who enjoyed singing with her in Gilbert and Sullivan operas, Shobha gave up political activism and social concerns for a year of reflection and writing poetry - whereupon she experienced a spiritual 'vision' and left the
This led her to embark
upon a journey embracing Theosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, the Christian mystics, paranormal phenomena, spiritualism and various forms of meditation.
As part of her doctoral research in anthropology into the influence of eastern mysticism in western countries (especially Zen Buddhism), Shobha participated
(in Australia) in the activities of many 'new age' groups with an eastern orientation and discovered Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (now known as Osho) - a professor of philosophy, mystic and 'enlightened master'.
In the seventies, his ashram in Pune, India, was attracting those from western countries and from India,
who were engaged in a search for spiritual understanding.
In 1976, within a few days of reading Bhagwan's book The Way of the White Clouds, Shobha sold her possessions (including her beloved piano) and left
for India. Her psychological travels of the heart and mind are documented in Journey of a Sannyasin.
returning to Australia, she assisted in the founding of a spiritual community (which became known as the 'orange' people, because they wore orange robes) and lived in the 'bush' alone - in the early months of its existence.
Shobha returned to India in 1977
and remained for five years in the Rajneesh ashram. It was a home-coming in the spiritual sense, and she was no longer searching for 'answers'. The nature of her evolving relationship between the 'master' and the disciple, is charted in Journey
of a Sannyasin. Shobha defines a disciple or sannyasin as 'one who is on the quest for enlightenment and willing to learn'.
Returning to the source
As her father was dying, Shobha returned to Australia in 1982 to become part of the blossoming sannyasin community in Western Australia - though in a peripheral role. She moved and worked primarily in
university circles - at times as the only Rajneesh sannyasin in a population of six thousand staff and students.
After performing as a soloist and member of yet another duo 'Heart and Soul' at folk clubs and festivals for twenty years, she returned to her other great love - opera - and recorded a very mediocre
CD of arias and joined the on-stage chorus of La Traviata in order to be able to say 'I've done it' (at last).
Post-India, it has usually been her lot to operate primarily amongst those who have not yet become interested in spirituality or who
adhere loosely to the religion of their birth and are open to new ideas.
She often enters people's lives when they are
at a 'turning point', and departs when they have found a new direction. This is how she sees her 'angelic' function. It is not calculated but happens spontaneously.
In essence, her role is that of a provocateur: to encourage those with whom she interacts to laugh, sing, question, doubt, discuss and perhaps embrace a path which is founded upon uncertainty, inconsistency, paradox
and celebration of the unknown - the path of the mystic.
Mystics understand that we operate in parallel universes - the
material and the spiritual, and that we are not entirely whole until we embrace the spiritual dimension. For each one of us, this is a journey which can only be undertaken alone - though perhaps now and then in the company of like-minded souls, who are on
a similar quest.
The conclusion of the mystic is that god or the cosmic energy or whatever you choose to call 'it' - is love.
The acceptance of our own divinity or 'remembrance' of our loving nature, is a common theme in Shobha's writings, which
emphasise that this understanding can only occur through 'experience' not the acquisition of knowledge.
By discarding all that we know (unlearning), we become receptive to the phenomenon of 'love' - which is beyond words or expression.
At the age of 36, having just returned from
India, Shobha fell terminally in love with Douglas who was 62 and a professor at their university. He had escaped from Oxford and migrated to Australia some years earlier. It was a soulmate union from the first word that was uttered and thirty
three years later, after sharing all that was possible to be shared at the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical levels, Douglas ‘slipped sideways’ at the age of 94 years.
After Douglas’ physical departure, Shobha commissioned the Iraqi sculptor Ayad Alqaragholli to create a work (Je t’adore) to celebrate their love for each other. It now stands beside
the ocean in Cottesloe, Western Australia (see photo gallery), to acknowledge the immense impact that the ocean played in the lives of Douglas and Shobha and their local beach community.
Since his journey sideways, and as a spiritualist, Shobha has been in continuous contact with Douglas and is aware of the role he is now playing in his post-earthly existence to assist the planet in dealing
with its diverse challenges at this time in its history. She is tempted to cut loose and join him in that realm but has been informed that, to her chagrin, it may be another thirty more years before that transition will take place.
Their love is also immortalised in Shobha’s most recent (2017) hardback publication Kissing the Joy as it Flies (which will soon
be available in a softback edition). Extracts from their 3,500 letters (which are drenched in poetry and literary allusion), are interwoven with classical paintings and photographs in full colour and the book is a delight to experience and handle.
It is a testament to their love.
As far as she can understand - at this point in time - Shobha’s only contribution
towards the evolution of spiritual life on planet earth, is to write, to ponder, to provoke, to share her experiences of communicating with others who have ‘passed on’ and sto sing. Above all – to sing.
As a young women, it was Shobha’s dream (if there was ever to be another world war) to go to the ‘front ‘– though there is no longer a front to
go to – and to sing to the troops à la Vera Lynn. She did not feel she had any other possible contribution to make and this is still the case. Music has a way of healing the most troubled of souls and bringing even more joy to those
who are already at peace.
Shobha now sings in yet another duo 'Angelicus' (messengers of god) and their repertoire is punctuated
with many spiritual songs, as well as folk, opera, musicals, hymns and popular music. 'Born to sing' is the bumper sticker on Shobha's car (which is also called 'Angelicus') and she often bursts into song at the ocean where she often begins the day in
the early hours of the morning.