Our beloved Gauti, Robert Westfield, passed on earlier this month at the age of 74, and was remembered and celebrated in a memorial at the Ashram on the 23rd February.
“Gauti” was our nickname for him. Baba gave him the name Gautama, referring to Lord Buddha. I knew him from Baba’s time. In his youth he had been a distinguished photographer and man-about-town. I’m told that he was a bit of a naughty boy in his younger years. It would only surprise me if he weren’t. Later, he was drawn to the yoga and adored Baba immensely.
He spent around 12 years in the ashram here. When he came, we were really worried about him. He had a life-long battle with substance addictions. But here he straightened up and became, if not exactly a model ashramite, at least a much-loved member of the community.
He had an extraordinary lightness of being, a great sense of humour, and keen intelligence. Just thinking of him, you want to smile. Everybody loved Gauti. His laughter was infectious. He was damned cute.
He was a true child of the ‘60s, so I felt very happy when I found this self-portrait of one of the icons of the ‘60s, R. Crumb who was a famous counter-culture cartoonist.
It is a self-portrait of R Crumb, but it is also the spitting image of Gauti, particularly the third eye!
Gauti’s memorial was filled with love and funny stories. One of the highlights was Nat Gorman’s beautiful and moving poem about him, which seemed to capture him completely. Here it is:
I remember Gauti’s gait, the strident shuffle, the way he moved forward, a little off kilter, a bit skew-whiff.
And Gauti’s gracility, his slightness, his unadorned simplicity, how touching the ground lightly let him skip by, his poise, his pose, his purposeful pace.
I remember Gauti’s gracefulness, a gracefulness skirting clumsy borders edging you to prep to catch a fall that didn’t come, till you knew it was all in your mind, not his.
I remember Gauti’s Grace, he was bathed in Grace, and so very gracious, even facing tough karmas.
I remember Gauti’s gratitude, how grateful he was to have found a home at the Ashram, to put his shoes under an Ashram bed. How grateful he was to Devi Ma and to Guruji, to the Ashramites, his community, his family and friends. How grateful he was to be cared for, to be loved. How grateful he was to love.
I sat with him once, hidden by hedges, by his room, in the sunlight, as he shook his head in wonder at his good fortune with ‘how lucky am I to be here’ refrains.
Where some might’ve seen a cramped barn stall, he saw a palace wing. Where he’d fallen on his feet and set his boots down, by his Guru’s slippers.
I remember Gauti’s glint, that sparkle, his gaze, the sharp lens in soft focused eyes, twinkling with mischief and wisely kept secrets.
I remember Gauti’s Guru. How he loved his Guru.
I remember Gauti’s gumption, his gusto, his guts, how he’d grasp and get on and do things. How game he was.
I remember Gauti’s garb, his guise, his grooming, the cut of his checked cloth, the muted wools and fine tweeds.
I remember Gauti’s glamour, the glitter, the photographer of gorgeous fashion models. The full gloss, colour saturated photos he’d shown me, shot in hot, bright, 80’s light – vibrant, radiant, feverish as a mirror ball on a disco dancefloor.
I remember Gauti’s growth, Gauti’s guidance, the demonstrated comfort in being uniquely himself.
I remember Gauti’s goodness, he was one of the good ones.Poem by Nat Gorman
Rest in peace Gauti. We know that you are swaying in bliss at the feet of your beloved Baba.