We all want to know about the person behind the curtain. Are they cool and credible, or a soulless persona? Are they wild things all free and edgy, or packaged and presented like white bread? Who is Robert Rabbin? Best to decide for yourself. As for backstory, see below.
In terms of where and who I’ve been, I’ve cobbled together a list of milestones; a milestone meaning a significant and transformative experience or event. I’ve organized these milestones in a chronology that is reasonably accurate, if not in fact then in spirit. I’ve always put a premium on experiences that expanded, elevated, and transformed me — these were the results I sought over more conventional metrics of achievement. I cannot say if any of these milestones were mother and father to who I am now, because I’ve had too many lives to draw a line of certainty from this cause to that effect, from one life to another. I’m also guilty of not caring to meticulously separate the what-actually-happened-and-when wheat from the you-just-made-all-this-up chaff. Anyway, and I side with the Gypsies on this: one ought never let the facts get in the way of a good story, especially if the story is colorful and compelling. Thus:
May 16, 1950 – c. 1954: born in New York City to Irving and Arline Rabbin, the second of what was to be five children. In later years, an astrologer told me I was an alien from Pluto. I never told my parents, as I was their favorite, and I didn’t want to alarm them any more than I did on a daily basis. Spoke my first word, why, which was heard by my mother, who told me this years later. I can say that this word and an intensely questioning nature have been the sand in my oyster ever since. Moved to Italy where the family lived for two years, until c. 1956.
c. 1957: gave a talk in class in which I said my family had been on the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria when it collided with MS Stockholm on July 25, 1956 — and then sank. I apparently detailed great horrors. When my mother next went to a parent-teacher conference, she was aghast to learn about this from my teacher. My mother’s version of the story was, yes, we were on the Andrea Doria, but in 1954 — two years before it sank. Be that as it may … I suppose this event signaled the beginning of my storytelling fetish.
c. 1961 – 1964: back to Italy. Played soccer, drove vespas, traveled throughout Europe, visited too many museums. While recuperating from a broken leg in Cervina, I experienced an expansion of my consciousness, an awakening to the immensity of existence: I needed to know the truth about myself and the world. The seed of self-inquiry was planted in the soil of why. Oh, and I discovered I like showing off to girls.
c. 1965 – 1968: Forced to endure bar mitzvah, Magnolia High School, drums, sports, student government, ran the Anaheim “McCarthy for President” office in 1968. Worked after school in my best friend’s father’s meat market — still have scars.
c. 1968 – mid-1973: aikido and zazen study in Humboldt County, northern California, along with the poetry of Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Verlaine, and others; Castaneda’s books about don Juan, and, um, what do you call them? Oh yeah, psychedelic substances; enrolled in several colleges but mostly forgot to go to classes, played intercollegiate soccer; worked as a mason’s apprentice; traveled in Scandinavia, ran with bulls in Spain, lived on a hashish-infested houseboat in Amsterdam where I met travelers coming back from India, worked in a bakery in Frankfurt, worked with the Israeli Air Force in the Sinai Desert; was a mountain guide and resort chef in the Sierra Nevada mountains; read Autobiography of a Yogi; trekked overland from Paris to New Delhi, survived a knife attack in Turkey, a mob in Iran, heavy doses of hash and opium in Afghanistan, and a jealous six-foot-tall Danish girl in Pakistan; wandered around India meeting seekers and sages and several hundred million Indian citizens, hung out with Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) at the ashram of Neem Karoli Baba, endured a month-long vipassana (mindfulness) retreat with S. N. Goenka, arrested and briefly imprisoned due to mistaken identity while staying at the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba, became horrendously ill and spent a month in Goa, fasting on oranges.
Sept. 1973 – Dec. 1984: entered the ashram of Swami Muktananda; received mind-blowing, heart-opening, and circuit-shorting shaktipat, kundalini awakening; years of intense spiritual study and practice, which made one hour seem like a year, and one year like a minute; numerous “mystical” experiences of self-transcendence; managed an ashram in New Delhi when Indira Gandhi was assassinated; managed and produced programs and retreats in India, Europe, and the U. S., including a month-long retreat for 1,500 people outside of Paris; learned lessons about group dynamics, management, and leadership as a foundation manager and VP, that would later translate to corporate leadership coaching and consulting.
Jan. 1985: started post-ashram life.
1986 – 2005: lived in San Francisco, Marin County, Manhattan Beach CA, and Austin TX; founded Hamsa Institute for Enlightened Leadership; wrote pioneering column called “The Corporate Mystic” for The New Leaders newsletter; taught meditation and self-inquiry; mentored individuals and coached executives and their teams in leadership and communication — years before the “coaching industry” of today; produced personal and corporate retreats; produced Brilliant Business documentary; gave lots of talks and interviews; presented workshop at the 75th Anniversary Conference of American Management Association, spoke about “what’s next” to the master coaches of the International Coach Federation; published books and many articles; became a fire-walk instructor; founded TruthforPresident and Radical Sages to incite spiritual activism. Presented Radical Sages talks at TheThird International Conference on Enlightenment; gave opening keynote at Inner Directions Gathering.
c. 2005 – 2011: keynoted at conferences in Sydney and Melbourne, then moved to Australia in Oct. 2005; created Speaking Truthfully and The 5 Principles of Authentic Living; wrote books and articles, gave many masterclasses and talks; met so many gorgeous people; discovered my deep love for teaching authentic self-expression.
then emerged fully in early 2016 to begin a new phase of life. Yes, I am thriving well past the use-by date predicted by doctors, owing to my contrarian nature and who knows what else. More to come . . .