I am an explorer, teacher and writer about our human consciousness and everything that happens in it i.e. all of life. My approach is about getting in touch with experience in a palpable way and exploring it with interest and curiosity to find out and understand what’s going on. This is called inquiry or diamond inquiry, and is the central practice of the Diamond Approach. This form of exploration leads to a whole path of discovery and development, which is the path of the Diamond Approach.
I am originally from South Africa, but am currently based in London. I teach Diamond Approach groups, work one-on-one with students, and teach courses on inquiry. I believe this practice has something vital to offer people now, something that they are looking for.
I have worked in the past as a consulting actuary and a Board member. I was a founding partner of LeapFrog Investments, a world leading profit-with-purpose investor in Africa and Asia. I currently sit on the Finance Committee of the Ridhwan Foundation.
I started on the spiritual path early in life, coming from a lightly Catholic family, with an open-minded father who introduced me to Transcendental Meditation in my teens. Through my twenties I tried many things. I practised and came to teach Centering Prayer and Reiki, I practiced Ignatian spirituality for a couple of years and even joined the Jesuits for a year. I had many very deep experiences both wonderful and difficult. But through all of this I didn’t find that anyone actually understood the spiritual process. Trust in God. Keep at it, they said. But even while something real was obviously happening, none of the explanations made sense to me.
Having left the Jesuits and despairing of what would happen next, I stumbled across a book about the Diamond Approach, with an endorsement by Ken Wilber on the cover. Reading AH Almaas, I was astonished. He described in unmistakable terms the inner states that I had experienced, and then went on to talk about the associated psychological issues and how to work with them. There was a breadth, depth and clarity unlike anything else I’d ever seen. No bullshit, and nothing I had to believe or take on. It made such a difference to be talking about object relations, not evil spirits! I applied to join a group in the US and went back to work as an actuary in South Africa to pay for this extraordinary journey, travelling several times a year on retreat.
Why do I keep at it?
I love the ongoing adventure of inquiry. It never ceases to amaze me how diving into where you are, getting fully in touch with your experience and exploring it, can bring to light the most unexpected possibilities. I’m still astonished at being able to become conscious of layers of my development all the way back to the very beginning, and the specific ways that this history impacts our deepest potentials. I know for myself that even very difficult experience can open up with time and transform. The richness of what it is to be a human being is quite without limit. The process is beautiful, personal, and at times deeply challenging. And neither I nor anyone else on this journey has found an end yet, so it’s a real life long adventure.
There are three formal educations that I’ll mention here.
In 1992 I completed a Performer’s Licentiate in piano from the Trinity College of London. I started lessons with a piano teacher at age 6, and continued on and off to my early thirties. Playing music is a great training for spiritual work. You engage your heart to feel what the music is conveying. You engage your mind to understand how to give expression to the meaning through phrasing and interpretation. And you carry it out using your body as the instrument. So it works the whole person!
I qualified as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in London in 1997. While actuarial science might seem unrelated to consciousness, actuaries learn to think about long term, complex real world phenomena, like mortality patterns, in a structured mathematical way. These phenomena have many influences: cultural, medical, environmental, socio-economic, technological, personal, genetic and so on. I think the development of a person’s consciousness is a similar kind of long term and complex process. And, the very first time I personally encountered the diamond quality of mind, that palpable sense of clarity, sharpness and hardness was actually in preparation for actuarial exams, over a decade before I even heard of the Diamond Approach!
Finally, there is the education and formation I have received through the Ridhwan School itself, as a student in an ongoing group for about twenty years, and in the eight years of training to be a teacher and ongoing training since then. This training involved a deep reading, all in the original, from Freud to all the major object relations theorists, self psychologists, body-centered psychologists, as well as many spiritual teachers. The reading was coupled with personal exploration of the territory and the exploration of the immediate, felt sense qualities of consciousness in one’s self and in guiding others. This combination of the psychological and the spiritual or phenomenological elements of experience is the hallmark for the Diamond Approach. It’s impossible to convey the richness of being taught by so many deeply realised teachers and of being with my fellow trainees in this profound process. I feel the deepest gratitude for having been able to do this.