24-11-2016

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Who are you most looking forward to seeing at the 2017 Festival?

There are so many interesting writers coming in March, many of whom I have known of and loved for years and others who were new names to me but reading about them has inspired me to want to try to hear them speak.

One author who I really want to meet again is Jeffrey Archer. A man who has written about many aspects of people’s struggles and dreams including his own diaries when in prison. Jeffery and I first met in 1988 when I chaired my college’s charity fundraising (“College Rag”) at Cambridge University. Jeffrey and his wife, Mary, came to take part in a celebrity chess game where all the pieces were well known people. I recall that Jeffrey and Mary were one of the two sets of King and Queen pieces. They looked so dashing in Elizabethan style royal clothes that we procured for them.

Which book has inspired you the most?

In my life I have been most inspired by not one but by a handful of books, which have been with me for decades, all with the theme of our lives being unique spiritual journeys. This handful includes three which most readily come to mind:

  • Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist
  • Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
  • Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I say a few words to myself which come from Ho’oponopono which is a little known but extremely powerful self-transformation technique. Ho’oponopono originated from Hawaii and was originally taught by Morrnah Nalamaku Simeona. The words are a mantra helping to heal, cleanse and balance oneself inside, rather like a meditation, and they are they simple words which should be spoken a few times out loud:

I Love You

Please forgive me

I am sorry

Thank you

What is your life’s motto?

“Be who you are, no matter what they say.”

And this is really well expanded upon in the words of Friedrich Nietzsche:

“Nobody can build the bridge for you to walk across the river of life, no one but you yourself alone. There are, to be sure, countless paths and bridges and demigods which would carry you across this river; but only at the cost of yourself; you would pawn yourself and lose. There is in the world only one way, on which nobody can go, except you: where does it lead? Do not ask, go along with it.”

[N.B. This quote from Nietzsche forms part of the preface of my latest book, 100 Things Successful People Do, about which I will be speaking at March’s festival.]

Our theme for the 2017 Festival is Journeys. Can you tell us which journeys in your life have been most memorable? 

My most memorable journey has been my own journey of self-discovery over the last 3 decades of adulthood. Notable journeys within this journey include the following two:

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  • Back in the 1990s spending a few months living in Ashrams (spiritual centres) in India which allowed me to really journey inside and to explore meditation, alternative healing and other holistic things. In the same period I also had an eye opening trip to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) where I met with Aung San Suu Kyi, who in 1996 had been temporarily released from being under house arrest, and we spoke among other things about her father and my grandfather (both of whom had been friends many decades ago in Yangon.
  • Going on some amazing summer road trips with my wife and kids in amazing parts of the world such as along the California coast in the San Francisco area or in the west of France either in the Bordeaux, Dordogne or Brittany areas. These were such liberating and free times where we could really feel we were with nature.