Andy Hill (Part 1)
Director – For Goodness Sake
Andy Hill is the Director of For Goodness Sake, a non-profit organization, which he explains in the interview. He shares how he supports and encourages others on their own spiritual journey by sharing experiences, providing a peaceful and free environment, and seeing the Christ presence. Read on to learn about decision-making and more.
What is For Goodness Sake?
We call it a spiritual center. It's a place where people can explore lots of spiritual teachings without someone pushing them into a system or telling them what to believe or how they should look at the world. People can do their own search, following their hearts. It's a place where anyone can come in and find out who he or she really is.
Do people appreciate having a place to do their own spiritual exploration?
Absolutely! Many people don't seem to have the freedom of exploration and self-examination in their daily lives. So for many people, it's a huge, radical idea. Freedom is encouraged here. I think people understand very quickly that it's safe here to explore, and no one's going to judge them for it. There's so much mutual support. Everybody's happy.
Is there anything you've found to be particularly helpful in assisting people on their individual spiritual journeys?
One of the biggest catalysts for helping others is sharing an experience. People can study books or follow a particular teaching, but if they're not having an experience, nothing's really happening. They just have knowledge that could end up being worthless. For example: a lot of the words Jesus said didn't make sense to people. If people were just hanging onto words, they could be confused. But the way Jesus thought and saw others had the effect of transforming people from the inside. Some of the people who came into contact with him gained a new, more elevated, healing understanding of themselves and the world just by being in his presence, in the Christ presence.
Would you expand on the concept of the Christ presence?
To me, the presence of the Christ shows us, and in fact is, our true nature. Seeing the true nature of a person -- to the exclusion of anything else -- is a really powerful thing. And quite often, people can't articulate what's happened to them. I hear all the time at FGS that people don't want to leave the place. I believe that they have unknowingly gained a glimpse of their true nature and have realized they can be totally at peace. Then they really don't need the place of FGS any more because they're taking FGS wherever they go.
That's how I see the whole venture: FGS happens to be located in a particular building in Truckee, CA, but the essence of FGS is helping people come to a deeper realization and experience of who they are. The important thing is the experience. The western culture way of doing things is that we're supposed to understand before we try. But sometimes it's better just to experience something -- like skiing: you can try to understand it all you want, but it means nothing until you get out on the slopes and experience it.
How has your own spiritual journey enabled you to connect with those who come into FGS?
I grew up as a Christian -- an Anglican in the Church of England. But I drifted away from that and delved into lots of different religions (including Eastern ones), non-religious spiritual teachings, modern-day theories, and on and on. I felt very guided through them and found the teaching that's right for me. It gave me a sense of freedom and peace with a fresh, inspired perspective of the Bible. So I know a fair amount about most of the teachings and books we have on the shelf, and I am able to talk about them on a personal level.
How do you decide what classes or workshops on spirituality to offer the community through FGS?
I seriously pray about every decision I have to make. The Bible tells us, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov 3:5, 6 KJV). That's quite a radical statement, considering the way we normally do things and get in the way by saying, "Yeah, but what about this or that." There are no "yeah buts."
When I let the answer come, there's a silent, peaceful knowing that it's right. I tell people who ask if they can present workshops at our place to leave the idea with me, and I'll pray about it. Then I am totally comfortable with the answer, whether it's a no or yes. I don't always know why it is, but I totally trust it. It's not to say that the answer is always going to be the same; the answer may be different six months down the road. I'm very fortunate in as much as I'm willing to trust the answer from God and stand by it, and nothing can move me. It's like a principle.
Have you had to advertise FGS much?
We make sure our classes, workshops and events are listed in the local papers, on our website, and in our email newsletter, and we advertise farther afield if we have a well-known guest speaker. But we haven't really promoted it on a large scale yet. It's just been standing as a beacon. More and more people are consciously choosing to come in, saying they've heard about it (some from four different people on the same day) and wondered what it really was. Often when they come in they say they're sorry they haven't come in before. I tell them, "Well, you're here now, and you don't have to be sorry for our sakes." It's really been a peaceful unfolding or emergence into the community rather than a forced push.
What effects of FGS do you see in the community?
I've often heard it said that FGS's presence is transforming the community. I think its generosity, openness, and attitude on life have allowed people to act in the world more graciously and less fearfully. I think it's helping people come to the understanding that we can't go out and force change on the world; we have to change from within.
About Andy Hill
Andy was born in and grew up in West London. He trained and worked as a car mechanic and then training instructor at Mercedes Benz in England for about 15 years. He practiced Karate in his early to mid twenties, ran, cycled and played soccer. He learned to ski in his late twenties and was hooked. Five years later, he quit work, sold his house, and went over to France. He bicycle toured around the south and up to the Alps and eventually found a ski area to live in. He stayed for eight years skiing, hiking, biking, and learning to speak really good French.
Andy moved to San Francisco in 1992. He accompanied a bicycle tour group on a Coast- to-Coast ride of the US from Washington to Maine in 1993. Then he moved to Lake Tahoe. He worked in a ski shop during the winter so he could ski a lot and did various jobs in the summer. In 1996, he worked again with the bicycle tour group, touring around a lot of the western National Parks. He went to the headquarters in Minnesota after the tour to help with the equipment and stayed eight years! He ran the head office for one year and then assisted the new owner for another two years.
During the final year, he transitioned into a non-medical/spiritual nursing career, which he did for another two years. Then he worked as a construction carpenter for two years. Andy had the opportunity to come back to Lake Tahoe in the summer of 2004 where he worked construction in Incline Village until he was given the wonderful opportunity to become the director of For Goodness Sake in July 2005. For Goodness Sake actually opened at the end of September 2006.