< return home
Donate

Community News

Andrew Storm - A Legacy of Love

(The sources for this article include Andrew’s own writing, satsang transcripts, and the memories of those volunteers and staff members who knew and worked with him.)

 

Andrew Storm was a beautiful man. In his life and his death he demonstrated a fierce commitment to the truth of himself and to the awakening of all being. His devotion to Ramana Maharshi, which was confirmed by his meeting with Gangaji, shone through in a softly-spoken, peaceful demeanor, that masked an often turbulent inner struggle.

 

When Andrew was a boy of about 11 or 12 years old, sitting on his bed in Adelaide, Australia, he noticed that there was a monologue running through his head. Somehow, rather than get involved with it, he thought, “If I'm listening to this monologue, then I am not it. So who am I?” He realized in that moment that whatever he thought he was, there was always an “I” that was aware of that. Who he really was, the real “I”, was some sort of conscious point at infinity.

 

Many years later, in 1992, as a Ph.D student in British Columbia, Andrew walked into a spiritual bookshop in Vancouver and picked up a book about Ramana Maharshi entitled, Who Am I? In Ramana’s words he recognized his own childhood inquiry laid out by an Indian sage. He saw immediately that what Ramana was saying was true, and spent the rest of his life in devotion to that.

 

Returning to Australia in 1993, he took up a brief academic appointment in Perth. There he met a woman who told him about a teacher named Gangaji. His curiosity deepened when he learned that Gangaji's teacher was a man called Poonjaji (Papaji), and that Papaji’s teacher was Ramana. “I only knew Ramana through a book and had no idea there was a living transmission from him,” he wrote. After checking out a video of Gangaji and discovering that she was going to be in Bali around Easter of 1994, Andrew decided to make the trip to meet her.

 

In the first satsang Andrew felt like he was on the outside looking in, a mere observer. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, he wrote Gangaji a short letter and put it on the table by her couch before the next satsang. She read the letter and asked, “Where is Andrew?” He raised his hand, and their eyes met. As they gazed into each other’s eyes for what seemed like ages, a connection was made. Gangaji later described this moment:

 

“When Andrew and I met it was Ramana’s grace that arced between us. We recognized that we are allies in this deep exploration of oneself.”

 

Upon returning to Perth Andrew’s life began to change. He quit his part-time teaching job and made a prayer to the Universe: "Whatever needs to happen, let it happen.” A devotee of Ramana to the core, he also saw that he had fallen deeply in love with Gangaji the moment their eyes met. One evening he sat down to write her a letter. “I want to know the Truth,” he wrote, “And I commit to this teaching.”

 

A short time later, while sitting and looking at a photograph of Ramana, or as he is also known, Bhagavan, Andrew fell into a lucid dream. He noticed that the Ramana's expression was changing. He sat in amazement looking at the photograph. It had come alive. When he eventually went to bed, Gangaji and Papaji appeared on either side of him as luminous figures of light, and Ramana appeared at his feet as a very old man carrying a stick. Then Ramana came closer and merged into his heart. In that moment he was one with his beloved Bhagavan, and nothing more was needed.

 

It was not long after this experience, in early 1995, that Andrew first began hearing voices. This was the beginning of a pattern of mental illness that landed him in hospital with a serious diagnosis: psychosis. It developed into a chronic illness that stayed with him the rest of his life. Despite falling into the terrifying abyss of psychosis, and taking the requisite medications that kept it at bay, Andrew’s sweet presence was never masked, nor his true nature ever dimmed.

 

Over the years he made several attempts to come off the anti-psychotic medication, or to get by on a very low dose, all of which ultimately failed. He discovered that by just taking the medicine and keeping quiet the fog of concepts would clear and the clarity of his true nature, the ever-present underlying consciousness, would became more apparent. You could argue that this is an extreme example of how all of our minds attempt to co-opt or wall off the experience of reality. And in that sense Andrew was such an example of what is possible. Meds or no meds, psychosis or no psychosis, the truth of who we are is never touched.

 

Andrew was able to see Gangaji often over the years. He was a key volunteer in helping the Gangaji Foundation to pull off two of Gangaji’s tours in Australia in 2005 and 2006. He became a very dear friend to the staff and volunteers, and came to several retreats in the US. In 2013 he was part of the group that Gangaji and Eli took to Lucknow, India, to where Papaji had lived and taught. “As soon as the trip was announced,” he wrote, “I knew I would be there. Papaji's presence there is still strong, and while speaking with Gangaji in that presence, any remaining doubts about my true nature were removed.” On this trip, which also took him back to Arunachala to the shrine of his beloved Ramana, Andrew realized that he was still trying to attain some state. When he read Ramana’s words, “There is no greater deception than believing that liberation, which is ever present as one's own nature, will be attained at some later stage,” he finally understood that his nature was freedom and could not be attained or lost. It was a magical and life-changing time, that brought Andrew to a quiet peace he could not have imagined.

 

Andrew died in 2016. In his life he provided true support to many who also wanted to discover, just as Ramana had discovered, and he had discovered, the alive peace in core of their being. And in his death he gave a final gift. His loving bequest to the Gangaji Foundation will touch all of us, especially anyone who uses Gangaji’s website regularly. In his will he left the Gangaji Foundation a bequest that is making it possible for us to build a new site in 2019, one that will be more accessible and responsive than ever.

 

We are so grateful to Andrew for the shining light he gave us in his life, staying true in extreme adversity, and for the expansive gift that will share Gangaji’s transmission of peace with people he will never know.

 

We will leave you with his words from an article in 2014:

 

“For Gangaji, who brought Bhagavan into my heart, I have unending love and gratitude. I have little interest now in anything other than staying with this quiet presence. That there is a higher power in charge of all this is undeniable. It's all under Bhagavan's care.”

 

Article compiled by Harriet Watson.
Learn more about giving through bequests here.
 

Watch Andrew in Conversation with Gangaji in 2012