Reflections on Brother Wayne
by Gorakh Hayashi
I met Wayne Teasdale about 8 years ago when he came to interview to teach a course at Columbia College Chicago that I was co-ordinating. We immediately resonated in spirit and energy. After 2 weeks, he asked if I would meditate with him once a week in my office. I was a little surprised but agreed.
Our initial depth connection then was in and through the space of silence. I was a little more than surprised to find myself 8 years later organizing a national inter-faith conference to honor his memory and his vision. Wayne had a way of forming deep and lasting bonds with people that would somehow further his dream of the unfolding of good on the planet. A core principle of Wayne's I would say was to establish strong personal friendships with people and get them involved in the work. A correlate of this was to form powerful ties between people so they could co-create from a place of one heart, one mind. When the individual proposal I had made to present at the World Parliment of Religions was not accepted, Wayne suggested that I present with the New York Interspiritual Dialogue Group. I did this, and after a memorable Barcelona cafe conversation with Kurt Johnson, it became clear to both of us that we were somehow meant to further Wayne's work together. Kurt played an absolutely key role in the manifesting of the Common Ground conference and the ISDnA initiative.
For Wayne, furthering the evolution of world peace always began with individuals connecting at the heart level and then noticing how Spirit wanted them to manifest from the place of oneness. It was neither planned nor organized.
The resonance came first and the rest (usually from a place of unknowing) would manifest naturally and spontaneously.
Wayne's intuition and love for oneness also manifested in his respect and honoring of all individuals and forms of life. When we would have meals together in his neighborhood, HydePark, he would invariably greet and honor the people who would wait on us with such respect and fondness, like old friends, as, indeed they were. Quite often when we would return to his apartment to chat, the buzzer would ring and it would be a street person he would know by name and personal history, whom he would respectfully invite to return at another specific time to talk and share.
Wayne's love and valuing of animals is legendary. Whenever he would call our home and leave a message on the answering machine, he would always say, "And many blessings to all 4 Hayashi's, including Precious, the other sentient member of the family" (Precious is our beloved terrior swa spaniel.) For Wayne, the highest spiritual teachings, such as "equality consciousness" or "see God in one another" were a matter of ordinary daily practice.
Another life and lived principle of Wayne's was to keep a sense of humor and stay light as much as possible. When I learned that Wayne's cancer had returned, we were organizing a faculty show-case in our department.
Wayne had often talked about how much he enjoyed putting on skits at the retreats he and Russell Paul would offer. He particularly raved about his imitations of different types of meditators. I thought maybe sharing these skits with our faculty might help take his mind off of his health challenges.
Wayne enthusiastically agreed and made us laugh until we wept with his presentations of "meditator resisting a sneeze" or "meditator watching the clock." His state was so light and free that I was a little surpised when he whispered to me as I hugged him good-by later that evening: "Pray for me, Bill. It's going to take a miracle to keep me alive."
I believe my deepest learnings from Wayne came during the weeks of his experiment with a radical chemotherapy treatment at the Univ. of Chicago hospital. I would visit him after his daily treatments and sometimes, when he felt up to it, we would meditate together. At the end of one particularly deep meditation, he looked absolutely radiant. He said to me: "Bill, I thinkI have just had a vision. I saw that I was a Buddhist monk in a past life in some mountain monastery and that somehow I got too close to the edge. Somehow I fell over, and at first I was frightened, but then I relaxed, and you know what, when I hit bottom it was all alright. What do you think it means?"
I knew then that when Wayne decided it was time for him to let go, everything would flow naturally and easily. And, indeed, it did. Wayne died peacefully in his sleep with a smile on his face.
At one point in the hospital, I asked Wayne whether he had any core teachings he wanted to share. He thought for a few moments and then beckoned for paper and pencil. He wrote out the following two statements:
God is infinite sensitivity
In the Divine, there are infinite possibilities, and the greatest of these is the will to LOVE
As life would have it, I discovered during this period of supporting Wayne, that I quite suddenly and unexpectedly needed open heart surgery myself. My mother had died when I was 14 of unsuccessful heart surgery. I had fervently prayed to Jesus to save her. When He hadn't, the only explanation I could come up was that I had erred in not completely turning it over to God and instead had imposed my own self-will. I was in a quandary what to do. On one hand I had a beloved wife and wonderful 11 year old son I wanted to live for. On the other hand, I didn't want to jinx it by being unsurrendered and willful again. I reflected on Wayne's teachings. If God was, indeed, infinite sensitivity, I could ask Him what He thought. God suggested that I go into my own heart and see what it wanted. In this space of simple, open receptivity, I knew immediately that I wanted to go on sharing life and history with my dear ones. Wayne had also said that the greatest of God's possibilities is the "will to love." This gave me permission to bring full clarity and strong resolve into my intention to live as an expression of my love for my wife and son. As you can readily see, Wayne's core teachings offered me tremendous support and guidance at a time of deep personal spiritual crisis.
Finally, Wayne's transition has taught me a lot about on-going Spirit and the evolution of life work and purpose.
At one point in planning the Common Ground conference, I had a conversation with Joyce Beck, co-founder of the Crossings, where the conference took place (see www.thecrossingsaustin.com). She told me that this had never happened before but she had had a visitation from Wayne letting her know that all would go well. She also shared that Betty Sue Flowers, one of the conference presenters, had also been visited by Wayne, but in her car. When I said to Betty Sue, "I understand Wayne was in the backseat of your car," she responded, "Not in the back, Bill, but right next to me in the passenger seat."
I myself distinctly heard Wayne's voice reassure me at one point when I was really stressing about conference details, "Keep it light, Bill, keep it light." More recently, at the first year memorial service at Wayne's gravesite, people reported a coyote peering forth from behind one of the head-stones, a reminder of Wayne's trickster identity.
And, just a few weeks ago, during a conference on Mysticism and Global Transformation in California, after a friend of Kurt's had anticipated an appearance from Wayne, Kurt, Loch Kelly and I were awed and delighted to see a magnificent falcon, Wayne's favorite totem animal, suddenly swoop down across our path in a lower coastal area where such birds do not usually appear.
All of this is simply a way of saying that when one has a clear vision and purpose, supported by Divine love and will, one will always show up to make sure it happens. Thank you, Brother Wayne, for continuing to be with us to play and co-create together as one heart, one vision.
With deep respect, love and gratitude Gorakh Hayashi