Restaurateuring as an occupation began unexpectedly for the author. He had taken an opportunity, while financially independent, to resign from work in applied science and so be able to invest himself fully into searching for life?s mysteries. Vegan Eyrie, the first restaurant arose from an encounter with a spirit during a dream the author had on his first forty day fast. The theme of this fast was to seek the essence of life, life?s origination and hopefully therefore its Creator. About three weeks into the fast he was told by the spirit to begin a restaurant on the bottom floor of his house in Kalorama, about 50 km. from Melbourne. Apart from domestic cooking he had no experience in this field and the house site and its location seemed impractical for a restaurant. He thought the dream was a mind contortion resulting from him not eating, but there was something strong and real about the spirit and it?s proposition. While still in the dream he replied to the spirit that if this message was real and not an obsession, he would oblige the proposal if he was "cornered into it" in real life. From that point the dream encounter went into the back of his mind and was almost forgotten.
On the thirty fifth day of this fast he had another spiritual encounter, this time in daylight while fully awake in a village near his home. Briefly, the experience was firstly an encounter with an entity which shut out the light of day. In a state of total darkness but in broad daylight he had a vision of his body from within itself. It was as though he had eyes within all parts of his body and could see his arms, legs or any part or all of his body around himself. A voice from within the darkness directed him to look at himself. "Look how decrepit you are" was one statement. The body he stood in appeared wounded and decaying as though it carried more scars and wounds that he had acquired during his life. He understood then that his body represented all the bodies of his past mothers and fathers and it was their wounds and scars as well that he could see. It was a vision across his genealogical ages. "Just let that body go and you can have a new one as soon as you do" was the next invitation. Not realising who was speaking to him, he could find no reason to not accept the proposal. As his thoughts manoeuvred into acceptance a new voice intercepted "Are you following life or are you following death?" The agenda of the fast was to find life so without hesitation he responded "I am following life". At that moment the darkness began to lift off and formed into a matt-black sphere, maybe 20 cm diameter in front of his face. He noticed that one of his knees was bent - he had unknowingly begun to slump to the ground. The daylight reality had returned and as the sphere moved away from him, across the road, through a hotel car park and into a valley, the second voice returned with "That was death. In the beginning there was only life; humanity brought death to life; as it was in the beginning, it can also be again in the future". He continued on with his business for the rest of the day as though nothing much had happened. On the forty first day he realised that the experience provided the answers he had sought and so he broke the fast to bring back the vision. He had been given a mandate - to work towards the reality of heaven on earth where death had been rendered optional. (He had not realised until documenting these details on October 6 1997, seventeen years after the event, that what he had taken to be the voice of the spirit of life, or a messenger, was possibly the Creator?s voice since this was the prime petition and hope within the fast?s agenda).
Some three months after the fast had ended a letter arrived from his past employer from whom he was receiving royalties - his only source of income. The letter notified him he had been accidentally over-paid by what amounted to be a year?s modest income at the time. The money was not to be returned, but no more would be paid until new sales had balanced the debt. This became the "cornering" action leading him to recall and verify the dream. Within one week of receiving this letter the open-house, donation-only restaurant began with no advertising except for a few verbal invitations. The exercise of bulldozing a car park, constructing a few tables and chairs and renovating the kitchen looked like the proof of madness to some people close to him, but guests did arrive for opening night and continued to come until he sold the house nine months later. The vision which the author received on the thirty fifth day became the major alchemistic ingredient of the restaurant. It was the power that sustained the hope that the self-inflicted destitution and misery of humanity and the world was curable. The restaurant to this day emanates from this first restaurant and is a channel of the vision.
The restaurant names have changed so as to keep pace with the stage of the project.The Good Friday Vegetarian Restaurant opened in Mildura Victoria in November 1982 some 2 years later. This exercise was again an instruction from a dream. Again it was perceived by observers as an act of madness because of the opinion that an exclusively vegetarian restaurant could not succeed in a relatively small country town. As a search for truth, the name was an alchemistic component which would hopefully synchronise the restaurant project to the most significant period of Christendom. In this way it was a form of antenna with which to probe and hopefully uncover more detail of the event.
Although it was hoped Good Friday would be the end of the road in the search for truth, it ended up as a new beginning which transformed into the Wolf & Lamb Vegetarian Restaurant in Lismore NSW seven years later. Again, the wolf & Lamb theme was invoked as the alchemy to reach the new kingdom prophesised by Isaiah. Instead it led only to the edge of the abyss Galamilyee Vegetarian Cafe. Galamilyee (See Bibliography) is claimed to be an Australian Aboriginal word (Pilbara region) announcing a legend which encounters the extreme reaches of the universe. The legend has a number of common details with ancient legends from Europe and the Middle East such as the "gateway to Eden" and the Greek and Egyptian legend of the River Styx - the great abyss or the river of death.
The reason for using this word for the name of the cafe was to invoke the state of no death and no oppression up to and including the edge of the universe - up to the edge of the abyss and so leave no ground on which to spill blood and to inflict misery and suffering. From this point there is no coming back unless death and oppression are truly natural phenomena (the food-chain etc.) and not simply human generated conditions. To reach beyond this point there must be some way of crossing the 'river of death'. The 'bridge' over the river was postulated as possibly the nexus between human existence and heaven; the closest point the physical universe (as carved, sculptured or construed by human consciousness) nears to the realms of divinity; through here 'heaven on earth' (heaven in the universe) can transform into human reality. The earth (the universe) must be re-strengthened and cleansed of the poison and litter of death and misery before it can be unconditionally continuous with the realms of divinity. One prophesy has it that a thousand years will be necessary to repair the damage. Although this may appear as an unrealistically long time to persevere, it should be considered as being within a reality where immortality increasingly prevails.
In 1996, the author completed a ten month journey (hopefully) crossing the abyss. Galamilyee was where the journey began with another forty day water fast. It continued to Jerusalem and other parts of the world and on return to Australia in April 1996, a dream presented a scene of a deserted desert beach running left and right. In front was a bare mountain range. Behind was the abyss across which he had travelled from Galamilyee. The choices were: to return to 'reality' across the abyss, go left, go right, climb the mountain range for another horizon, or remain at the site of arrival. To climb the mountain for a new horizon was the choice made. The adoption of this quest immediately empowered the re-opening of the restaurant - there was a new hope to explore in continuity to the previous hopes. The experience at the desert beach did not clearly indicate a name describing the theme of the new project. The restaurant re-opened and operated nameless for about 3 months. People came even though no sign apart from turning on the lights was shown. The word ashram (Sanskrit: haven) appeared in the dream, but the restaurant?s premises had already been proclaimed and announced ashram before and during the Galamilyee period. "Ashram" therefore seemed more of a point of focus for the restaurant activities rather than the instruction for a new name. If the journey has truly emerged on the other side of the abyss, it seems essential that the word describing the extent of haven be empowered to exclude beings not-of-heaven. Until this word and purity is found, the restaurant continues with a provisional interim name 20,000 Cows Vegetarian Cafe. In 2004, the term 'Cafe' no longer appeared appropriate and was replaced with ASHRAM written in Runes to draw more on the original meaning as "sanctuary". The first night of operating under 20,000 Cows Vegetarian Ashram, the restaurant had an all-time record, even though this change would not have been apparent to all but possibly one or two guests. From an alchemic perspective, this change and the guest record does not appear as unrelated coincidece. This 20,000 Cows name derives from a conservative estimate of how many animal-free meals have been served since the project began with Vegan Eyrie. 20,000 creatures have not been requested to be killed and not even generated because there was no market demand. The sanctuary is access to the spirits of these 20,000 creatures. A second 20,000 Cows Vegetarian Cafe opened in Byron Bay in December 1996 within an old whale, then cattle slaughter yard. After helping initiate this restaurant, the author in a day dream asked "where to from here?". "The greatest slaughter yard in the world is Mt Zion Jerusalem. Put a restaurant there" was the immediate answer. The next project is in waiting. The Ark Vegetarian Restaurant operated independently but with the same theme and mainly supplied by 20,000 Cows opened in Byron Bay some time after 20,000 Cows Byron Bay closed. It's history was also an impacting, but short one.
At the time of documenting these thoughts the world is still in crisis. All that remains is our faith that there is a way out of here, our hope that we can make it, and our physical abilities to carry out the task - our charity. Many, if not most of us are trapped in the circumstances that prevail and can do little more than hope. Some of us invest our hopes with those who are still actively working to manifest liberty. Liberty is won at the price of perpetual vigilance.
The author believes the restaurants have survived because of these hopes. People did not keep coming just because the food tasted good on their taste buds. They came, albeit mostly subconsciously, because the food and the environment contained less death and suffering and so nurtured, or at least revitalised, their own essence of life and hope for peace and freedom. To this extent the restaurant trades hopes by way of the food.
Our transactions with one another, be they sharing thoughts, having love affairs, buying and selling, are either love or tyranny. If they are love, permanent liberation - however small - flows from them. They are therefore therapeutic and salvific. If they are tyranny, they exploit the inherent weakness in ourselves and compound it by trading lies, useless items, 'poisonous' food and disastrous 'love' affairs. We become deeper incarcerated in our weaknesses.
The project enshrined in the restaurants is an applied philosophy with the motive to transact love. There is no rest until the fulfilment of the motive's highest hope - heaven on earth and the invitation by the Creator to eat from the Tree Of Life.
The "Passover Me'n'u" an observation of human behaviour by the same author includes a deeper discussion of these and other points. Some of this discussion is presented in the preceding chapter There are some ideas on starting your own vegetarian restaurant next chapter.