260 pages

Published by Eye Books on 1 June 2017

A Raindrop in the Ocean

Michael Dobbs-Higginson


The life of a global adventurer

Michael Dobbs-Higginson has lived the life that Walter Mitty dreamed of having.

Raised in a house with no electricity in colonial Rhodesia, he turned his back on Africa as a teenager to roam the world, studying at a variety of universities and institutions and moving on when he had satisfied his curiosity. He paid his way by working variously as a docker, a logger and an encyclopedia salesman, staying in accommodation as varied as a sumptuous English stately home and the floor of a Canadian public lavatory.

Urged by his quasi-mystic mother to explore the great religions of the world, his ultimate destination was a Buddhist monastery on a frozen Japanese mountaintop, where he conquered gruelling mental and physical hardship to discover untapped reserves of resilience within himself that would set him up for life.

He builds a business career in Japan only to be chased out of that country, in fear of his life, by ruthless CIA operatives. Retraining as an investment banker by starting on the bottom rung, he rose to become an eccentric, kimono-wearing chairman of Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific, and then made and lost several fortunes in a string of business start-ups.

Now facing terminal illness with extraordinary calm, he tells his tales of drug-smuggling, bed-hopping and buccaneering business deals with a raconteur’s panache, while expounding a religious philosophy honed over thousands of years in the East that prioritises balance over winning and losing.





“I have spent my life since my monastic sojourn attempting to be a raindrop in the ocean. I have had a lot of enjoyment along the way, and the process has never been less than fascinating. Having learned to be fully engaged by life, I have not been bored for a very long time.”

Michael Dobbs-Higginson

Michael Dobbs-Higginson is a Rhodesian farmer's son  – and a Buddhist monk, who became an international financier and independent entrepreneur, traversing  the globe from fast-developing Asia Pacific to the capitalist West and back. He is all paradox, which worries him not at all  – powered by curiosity while dogged by ill-health, a devoted family man who was rarely at home, a self-reflective soul and an adventurer and risk-taker, who has enjoyed plunder and survived shipwrecks like his pirate ancestor. 'A full life' is an understatement."

Victoria Glendinning




Michael Dobbs-Higginson

Variously descended from a pirate captain, a Lord Mayor of London and a governor of North Carolina with a 400,000-acre estate, Michael Dobbs-Higginson was born on a farm with no electricity in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1941.

Having studied medicine in Dublin, worked as a newspaper photographer, department store glove salesman and logger in Canada and taught surfing in Hawaii, he enrolled in one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Japan and was ordained a lay monk in his early twenties. He also became a black-belt in the samurai sword-fighting discipline kendo.

He sailed across the Atlantic in a two-man, seven-metre sloop before the invention of GPS, armed with only a sextant and a book of navigational equations. He then moved back to Japan where he set up several businesses before being chased out of the country by unscrupulous CIA operatives.

He subsequently became an investment banker, rising to become chairman of Merrill Lynch Asia Pacific. He persuaded various Asian countries to access the international bond markets and to open their own stock markets to foreign investors. He also served as a financial adviser to the Liberian government and the African Development Bank.

He has initiated various start-up business ventures (successfully and unsuccessfully) and is currently chairman and shareholder of three companies: developing electric vehicles, industrial electric drones and a B2B e-commerce platform for Africa.

With his French wife Marie-Thérèse he has three grown-up children. He lives in Singapore, London and France.

His memoir A Raindrop in the Ocean will be published by Eye Books in May 2017.

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