Here is what I wrote
a couple of years ago when I interviewed him:
Many of the young Western spiritual
seekers who flocked to Indian religions during the idealistic 1960s and
1970s became familiar with a mild-mannered Australian named Michael Graham.
For Michael, who had embarked on an intense and far-reaching spiritual
journey from the time of his graduation from elite Geelong Grammar School in
the mid-1960s, came to find himself at the forefront of the great migration
to the West of Indian religious teachings and practices.
As one of the first Western disciples of
Swami Muktananda Paramanansa, who was to become a leading figure in America
and elsewhere with his teachings of Siddha (perfect being) yoga, Michael
helped manage his ashram (spiritual centre) in India, with up to 2,600
Westerners there at one time. He also became deeply involved in Muktananda’s
American activities and energetically promoted his teachings in Australia
Yet today Michael is on a different
mission. In 1997 he became a Christian, after being convicted with the
realisation that his 28 years of spiritual practices and experiences
amounted to, in his own words, “a big fat zero” - and he is now working to
persuade other idealistic spiritual seekers that their needs are simply met
by the figure of Jesus, “the fulfilment of all spiritual paths”.
On the eve of his
departure for the United States I asked him for some further reflections.
“A feature of the
American culture is that people tend to be more engaged and interested in
spiritual possibilities than in Australia,” he said. “There is a natural
curiosity. I hope to get as many chances as possible to talk of my 28-year
odyssey, and the renewal and rest I found in Christ. It was so unexpected.
It would have been the last place I’d have looked if Christ had not sought
How does he compare
today’s New Age spiritual seekers with those of his youth?
“There is not so much
interest in Indian religion now,” he commented. “There is a lot of
dilettantism, but not much rigour or discipline. Today you get pop Buddhism
through the Dalai Lama, mixed up with astrology, psychic readings and so on.
It’s Marie Claire spirituality now.”
In his talks to church
gatherings Michael finds widespread interest in his experiences, coupled
with concerns about the inroads that New Age spiritualities seem to be
making, even among some Christians.
“People often ask me of
the dangers involved in alternative spiritualities,” he said. “For example,
they ask if it is okay to meditate. People need to be reminded that in Jesus
we have our sufficiency. We don’t need ‘Jesus plus some kind of
supplementation’. We need to rely on Him intellectually, emotionally and
“But it seems that many
people don’t get this. And that stands in the way of their getting what they
might from God’s grace.”
Many Christians are
discovering meditation. What does Michael think about this?
“Eastern meditation and
Christian meditation are quite different,” he said. “Most forms of Eastern
meditation have to do with creating conditions for stopping mental
processes. Christian meditation, by contrast, penetrates the meaning of
scriptural verses through deliberate contemplation that can also lead to