Monday, June 6, 2011

22Degrees of Beatitude: the New Album by Tarun Nayar

In the 90s, as we caught the first glimpses of the World Wide Web and Digital Culture, we fantasized a “Global Village;” a world made small by the acceleration of communication; a world in which national boundaries and cultural distinctions are made soft and fuzzy by the increasingly rapid exchange of media. We imagined a Global Dance Floor on which the differences between Folk Music and Electronica blurred, and the idea of Asian Beats, or African, or Latin, would be absurd.

22 Degrees of Beatitude by Tarun Nayar reminds us of that vision-- Global Dance Music for Human Beings. Born of East Indian parents in Montreal, Canada, the tabla player and digital programmer is one of the founding members of the World Beats collective, Delhi2Dublin, that has been rocking music festivals with their electro-acoustic fusion of Bhangra and Celtic folk music for over 5 years.

Nayar describes this album as a chronicle of his own development as an artist and musician over the last 10 years. It is personal and private, and tangibly subtler than the driving beats of D2D. Chill trance beats and mystic voices, from unfinished tracks that collected on his hard drive for years, have been polished and complimented with guest performances on sarangi, bansuri, and other “folk” instruments. It is refreshing that although there are elements borrowed from Hindu, Islamic and Buddhist cultures, from India, Turkey, Bhutan, and elsewhere, the album does not become one more example of “Digital Exoticism” appropriating, for example, an Oriental flavor. The music on this album is difficult to pinpoint by geography. It is truly international, trans-cultural, and like music itself belongs to all of humanity.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dancing for My Life

Since the beginning of this year I have been wrestling with the question of what I do. Who am I and what do I do? Well, to be honest, I have been wrestling with this question for a lot longer than that, but this year, my 45th journey around the sun, the question percolated to the surface and became articulate. I actually openly asked the question: what do I do?

How do I call myself? When asked to fill out an official document what do I write on the line that asks for Occupation?

(Actually, now that I think about it, when a document asks for my employer, for the last decade I have written "Self". That could very well be my occupation as well, couldn't it?)

I have been a Graphic Artist, an Editor and Proofreader. I have been a Handyman and a Carpenter, and I've painted, I've plumbed, I've wired and masoned. I worked my way through college by cooking, and in that role I have grilled and sauteed, I've sauced and souped, I've tossed salads and pizzas, I've gotten up ass-early in the morning to bake bread, muffins, croissants, cookies and cupcakes. For the last ten years I have taught Yogasana, Pranayama, Meditation and Mantra. I am a writer, a poet and a philosopher. I am a painter and illustrator. I am a singer, a percussionist and a dabbler in several other instruments. As a Dancer, trained in the Japanese Post-modern style of Ankoku Butoh, (the Dance of the Dark Soul) I have performed in New York City, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Joshua Tree and throughout the Bay Area.

I am not one of these things more than another. I am not more or less passionate for any one of these activities. On a certain level I feel they are all Yoga. In one way or another all these actions, all these gestures seek to overcome separation. At least that was my intention while doing them. More or less.

But this year, struggling with self-esteem, self-worth it felt necessary to really look at what it is I do, and where I'm going with it. It occurred to me that maybe success eludes me because I lack a clear vision of what it is I am successful at.

I went to this play last week, Crazymaking. A production at the Pomona College in Claremont this play interweaves dramatic narrative, with chanting, sacred sound, and dance. The story of a half-hawaiian woman who struggles with cultural identity and a spiritual connection to ancestry in a material world, the dramatic movements utilized were Hula and Qigung.

I have been studying Qigung, and Gung Fu influenced Hatha Yoga for many years now, but I have only watched Hula. As a dancer I have been moved by the performance of the men's traditional Hula, which is powerful and Yang, full of Warrior Spirit, and although it has called me, I have never had the opportunity to study or practice.

At one point in the middle of the play everyone on stage, including the two young performers who had been practicing Qigung forms at the sides, begins to dance hula. The sweeping, wavelike arm movements of the hula, movements that express wave and wind, echo the movements of qigung. I hear my teacher Zhander Remete, founder of Shadow Yoga, saying "Certain movements of the hands direct the flow of prana through the subtle channels in the body." It suddenly strikes me that Hula and Qigung are the same. Then I remember that the traditional, ceremonial dances of Indonesia, Bali, Java are also believed to be purification practices. They too are Qigung.

At another point in the play the main character is being assailed by demonic spirits that essentially seek to possess her. She is visited by an apparition of Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess, who is both Destroyer and Creatrix. Pele begins to teach her a very simple Hula form. Casana, the heroine, scoffs at first saying "Really, I don't have time for this. I'm being attacked by demons! Can you help me, please?!"

Without speaking, Pele indicates that Casana is to duplicate her movements, which include a solid but gentle stomping of the feet with a sweeping of the arms. As Casana begins to imitate the movements of the Goddess the demons are swept aside and dispelled. Spirit teaches her a dance that defends. The soft sweeping arm movements, that look like Palm Trees gently swaying in an Island Breeze, are exactly the same as simple blocking movements from Tai Chi and Gong Fu.

Not only do the movements of hands and feet direct the movement of energy inside the Body, inside the energy field, they are also able to affect the movements of energy outside the individuals energy field.
Of course. Duh, I think.

In that moment I think "that's it! I am a DANCER! That's what I am!" I can be a healer, and an artist, a spiritual devotee, and a ritual mover. I am a Dancer. Dancing encapsulates everything: the journey from birth to death, expansion and contraction, bloom and decay, the exchange of energy between to Souls, the heavenly waltz of Planets and Moons and Stars, the oscillation of particles at a microcosmic level, the ridiculous, heart-breaking-open dosey-do of Man and Creator.

Then, immediately I think, "I need to find a Hula teacher", and "I need to study more Qigung"

It took my partner, Jaqueline Marie, who provided the Sacred Sound for Crazymaking, to remind me that the point of that scene where Pele visits Casana is not that Hula is Qigung. The point is that Spirit showed her what to do. It was necessary for Casana to trust Spirit, to trust herself and her intuition enough to receive the message from spirit that saved her life.

"Duh." Again.

I knew that. I saw that. But my distrust of myself caused me to jump forward to seeking someone else, whom I deemed to have authority to teach me how to move my body, teach me how to move my Qi, teach me how to save my life.

I have the tools already. I have the arm, the leg. I have the Qi. I know how to get the Qi moving. What I lack is the discipline just to show up with Self and do it. I have been holding out for a Certified Grandmaster of some kind, with a big stick with which to hit me over the head and make me do my homework.

I keep waiting for a Buddha to show up and show me how to be a Buddha. This is why they say "If you meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill him." As long as the Master is continually perceived else where, outside me, not-I, that idea of the Master becomes the greatest stumbling block to my mastery. The ideas I have of Buddhahood, which tend to be a long list of qualities I don't have, hold me back from Buddhahood.

Please say it with me,
I already know how to Dance, I already know how to Save my Life. I already know everything I need to know to be a master, to be a buddha, to save the world. I already know who I am. I have always known this. Amen

No one is looking
I swallow deserts and clouds
and chew on mountains knowing
they are sweet
When no one is looking and I want
to kiss
I just lift my own hand


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Giving My Life To Be a Love Dog

Tirumalai KrishnamacharyaImage via Wikipedia

Several years ago I met a man that seemed quite remarkable. A 'Master' Yoga Teacher in Direct Lineage to the "Teacher of ouor Teachers" Krishnamacharya. He was well known and respected; had just published a book. I attended one of his classes in Santa Monica, and afterward he flagged me down, signalled for me to wait, not to leave until he had an opportunity to speak with me.

He came over to me and gazed deeply into my face and asked, "Have I met you before?"

I chuckled. This happens to me a lot. "Not this time around," I answered.

He seemed genuinely excited to meet me. Commented on my practice which he descibed as beautiful, intentional, authentic. I discovered that teaching Hatha Yoga in a somewhat isolated community in the High Desert, my practice and my teaching had developed in Surprising alignment with this man's teaching. We both believed strongly that a yoga practice must be discovered unique to each person, that ultimately a physical practice must spring from the body like a flower from the soil. We agreed that too many yoga classes were being taught like "this is the right way to practice or the best way, the only way" and were ultimately creating more harm than good. We both taught from the breath, always coming back to the breath. He acknowledged something in me that I was hungry to feel acknowledged. I thought I had at long last found a mentor.

I hosted him at my little Joshua Tree Studio, and later introduced him to Urban Yoga in Palm Springs. While visiting in New York he invited me to drop in on his Teacher Training. A real friendship and mutual respect seemed to be developing.

Then his book really began to take off. He was flying across the country, around the world, giving workshops and Teacher Trainings. Friends I had introduced him to began to tell me how he had begun to talk about "My Yoga" and saying "No one Teaches Yoga the Way I Teach Yoga" Over the next several months I would send him an email asking for his advice, or asking him to put me in contact with someone he had introduced me to. I stopped hearing back from him. I was still on his mailing list, so I would still receive announcements about his upcoming workshops at fancy places that on my meager wage as a Yoga Teacher in an isolated community were way out of my reach.

It happenend again recently. I reached out to him one last time, asking his advice about spiritual travel (see my last Blog) via a facebook message. He received my friend request, but didn't respond to my message. The other day I got a message announcing his latest retreat or workshop.

Ironically, this is not the first time this has happened to me. On several occasions over the last decade as I struggled to carve out a way for myself in the High Desert Community of Joshua Tree, for several years without any Teachers to look to for advice or support, I would connect with Celebrity Yogis from the LA area. They would seem to see something in me; again that acknowledgement. And I would think "I must be something special" because this person who the outside world sees as special, sees something in me. Then I would see them again, and they would look right through me, or act in rude disregard.

Now, don't get me wrong.

I get it.

I get the glaring lesson. I recognize that I was looking for confirmation outside myself that I am something special. I recognize that as long as that confirmation is dependent upon an outside source, it just becomes a source of addiction, a weakness and a dependence. I even recognize that this desire stems from a deep seated longing for my Father's recognition and acknowledgement.

Believe it or not, that is not what this Blog is about.

In addition to waking me up to the fact that I need to provide myself with that acknowledgment, that sense of value and worth, these repeated experiences caused me to examine what it really means to me to teach Yoga. What is it I am teaching, and why?

On the surface a Hatha Yoga class is as it appears, a physical practice. But as one refines the practice of postures its like the tarnish begins to rub off the surface. Little by little we begin to see things just beneath the surface; our attachments for instance, to the "perfect pose," or our own knowledge, or the flat abs or tight butt. Many never make it this deep. For many tight abs and a tight butt are enough.

Some times I even envy those folks.

Scratch a little further and one might notice "I am such a good breather" or "I am so focused, my mind is so controlled right now. I bet I am the most unattached person in this room." I am going to become a Bodhisattva before any of these clowns.

I am guilty of it as much as the next person. I am guilty of getting up in front of a class and teaching from a place of fear and anxiety because i feel everyone in the room is judging me. How egocentric is that? I am guilty of getting up in front of the class with one particularly hot girl and approaching some pose or another with a "Now check this out" attitude. The Goddess is usually right there to knock me down or tip me over every time to keep me in my place. Hot girl is unimpressed but I've learned my lesson. For the moment anyway.

I am reminded of a story I heard Tony Briggs once tell of the first time he took a class with B K S Iyengar. He was excited, and nervous. Looking around the room, all these Yogis and Yoginis were self-consciously stretching on their mats. Posing. Aware that they were being watched. Look how flexible I am. Notice my perfect alignment. Amidst all these peacocks, Briggs chuckles to himself at a frail looking little old man warming up quietly in the back. What is this old guy doing here? Tony thinks to himself as looks around the room "Where is Mr. Iyengar?" Then Tony is shocked to watch as the little old man walks up to the front of the class and introduces himself as Iyengar, and takes the reigns of the entire group. Briggs was deeply impressed by the quietness of the Masters practice. Nothing that demanded anyones attention but his own.

So why am I doing this? Why was I called for this particular path? It is not any easy living by any means, unless you are a Celebrity Yogi, and let me tell you something happens to you when you become a Celebrity. It is true of the Yogis just as much as teen idols and movie stars. Celebrity only vibrates on the material plane, and it is sticky. It has hooks. It creates, again that energy of addiction. It is ultimately that same attachment, that same addiction to the outside confirmation "You are Something Special."

So I am reminded that the reason I chose this path was to remind everyone who comes through that door and unrolls a mat "You are Special." Right here, right now. With out needing to improve anything, without needing to change or fix anything, you are perfect.

You are the perfect expression of Spirit having a Human, embodied experience. The Great Spirit chose You, chose your vessel, your body, with its particular palette of strengths and weaknesses, talents and limitations, for this experience of limitation, of longing, of Love that only you can provide. You are right where you need to be in this moment, just as you need to be. This is not to suggest that there is no room for growth or expansion, just not in the sense that you will be better or improved when you have grown or expanded. This is the nature of energy on the material plane. It either contracts and descends, which keeps us bogged down, resistant or it expands and rises up. The choice is yours.

You have the potential to achieve Self-Realization in this lifetime. That is, to wake up to the fact that you are Godstuff itself, always have been. To become a Bodhisattva is your birthright.

Do not get hung up on the Super Powers that might develop along the way. Patanjali warns that the Siddhis, the apparent Magic Powers can become entrapments in themselves. One might believe that these Super Abilities, like Invisibility or Flying or Psychokinesis might be used to serve Mankind, to save the Humanrace. Again, what egotism. Celebrity, the Power to Charm, to Attract is one such Power, and one such entrapment.

The difference between the Siddha Masters of the Hindu tradition and the Bodhisattvas is that the Enlightened Yogis were interested only in their own Transcendence and Liberation. In the mystic traditions upon attaining enlightenment a Master is released from the Binds of Karma and the Cycle of Birth, Death, and Rebirth. Often they would simply vanish in a flash or leave behind an empty shell. The Bodhisattvas, upon attaining this release, choose to remain in the cycle of rebirth and dedicate themselves to the Enlightenment and Liberation of all sentient beings. If we are all drawn from the same energetic source, the same Godstuff, the same Atman then it follows that as long as one soul remains in bondage we are all bound.

This is why I teach yoga. This is why I will teach yoga in everything that I do, whether it be leading a group of Intentional Beings singing songs of praise, cooking burgers at the local Greasy Spoon, or taking out the Trash, Cleaning the Toilets at an Assisted Living Facility.

What will you Choose?

Love Dogs

One night a man was crying Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with praising,
until a cynic said, “So!
I’ve heard you calling our, but have you ever
gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.

“Why did you stop praising?” “Because
I’ve never heard anything back.”

“This longing you express
is the return message.”

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.
- Rumi

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Musical Mystical Pilgrimage

For years now I have entertained this fantasy in the back of my mind, a very soft-focus daydream that someday I would travel around the world visiting the places of reknown mystic tradition and I would learn the sacred music and the ceremonial dance. My intention has always been that I would get right in there and sing the songs and dance the dances, so I would know them. I would know them in my Body, in my Soul. And by coming to know them all so intimately I would begin to find the thread that binds them all together, the common humanity across cultural distinctions, across borders geographic and linguistic. I would document my work, perhaps as a travel diary and publish. But most importantly I would begin to fuse them into something Grand. Something that would not erase the difference of each culture, of each distinct tradition, not to blend them together in the "Great Cultural Melting Pot" America once claimed to be. But something that would somehow celebrate the difference, the distinction even within a common humanity, and in such a way that we still feel, still know in our hearts that essentially we all desire the same things, Union with the Divine, Unconditional Love reflected back to us by the Universe herself.

For far too long humans have been using Religion to control each other; to keep each other down by creating an illusion of separation, a myth of Lack. We argue, and then battle over resources, and over the slightest differences in ideology and semantics. Growing up my Grandparents were proud members of the Missouri Lutheran Synod, and when I went to their church there was this subtle but understood message that any other Christian Church was misguided, and thus wrong, and thus essentially one step away from being Satan Worshippers. To this day I can't tell the difference one Lutheran from another, or a Lutheran from a Baptist for that matter (except, Baptists tend to be better singers, and have more fun at it), or one Christian from another. At an early age, I had a real strong feeling that "Us" was defined as "Thank God we're not Them".

But I was always curious about "them". Until I discovered I was them. It wasn't until the last decade that I really began to understand that I am "Them" and "Us" because there is neither; there is no Other. In true blissful being there is nothing to be Against. I love when Chogyam Trungpa talks about the "Against" state of mind; "Don't be Against anything." And then Pema Chodron after him. You can't even be Against the Against state of mind. Accepting everything. Isn't that at the Heart of the Christ's teachings? Love is acceptance. Unconditional.

And love is at the heart of all these mystic traditions. It's in the songs, it's in the teachings, it's in the stories and the dance. The divine has been taken out of our hands by a Bureaucracy of middle men, installed specifically to keep us feeling like we can't touch god ourselves, or speak to Her, or see Him, or feel It. We have been raised to doubt our own splendidness. Our own miraculous nature. Our own Divine birthright. And we keeping running and running and running on the Hamster Wheel of Life, trying to gain merits, and markers, like prizes hoping; they will make us feel complete, hoping they will prove to us that we are valuable, that we are worthy. That we are Gods.

Everyone of us has been born with the potential to become a Bodhisattva, to realize our true Christ Nature IN THIS LIFETIME. Not later. Not lifetimes away. You have it in you right now.

It is a terrifying realization. And a huge responsibility. To accept the Truth of your Being might mean you have to give up Beer, or Coca-Cola, or Marijuana or Playstation, or TV. Not because they are Bad, or Evil, or Wicked, but because they scramble the energy, the vibration of your True Self. And your True Self wants to come forth.

Your True Self is talking to you right now. Whispering your name.

There is a Tibetan teaching story about a simple man who chanted every minute of every day the Name of Padmasambhava, the Bodhisattva that brought Buddhism to Tibet. For twenty years, he repeated the name inside his own head. While he slept it was still turning like a prayer wheel.

Until finally the man said "Screw this! I've been repeating the name of Padmasambhava for twenty years straight, and am I any closer to Enlightenment? No!"
And he spat on the ground in contempt, immediately ending the mantra that ran effortlessly through his mind.

He began to return to his daily routine relishing the silence in his head. Then he heard someone call his name. He looked up from his work, looked around, but no one was there. He turned back to his work until he heard it again, someone calling him as if from a far. He looked up and looked farther but could see no one. This happened several times, each time hearing his name spoken a little louder, a little closer. Each time he saw no one, each time he turned back to his work curse the mantra that had addled his brain.

Then it came again, so close he froze. And he listened.

It came again. And he realized the voice came from within himself, and in a flash of Self-reflection he discovered the Bodhisattva Padmasambhava dwelling within him, chanting HIS own name.

Right now your own Buddha Nature, your own Perfected Being is calling your name, wanting to come out and shine forth. To answer the call means recognizing that many of the peanuts you've chased after, many of the merits you've won (at what costs? at whose expense?) are really meaningless. It is terrifying. And your ego has invested so much in that stuff; your ego says your value is equal to all that stuff and without it you are worthless. You don't have to take my word for it. You can take a look right now at yourself, ask yourself what you would be without all that stuff. Not the shelter, not the Wellbeing, but all the accessories and the luxuries. What happens if you just consider giving it all way, letting it go. Notice the sneaky ways the mind (tool of the ego) shuts it down, distracts you. Maybe you're finished with this stupid Blog.

Still here?

Then there's still hope. Hope for us all. Even if its just you and I left sitting here.

So just the other day a made a huge commitment. I acknowledged that I have been given a gift: a gift of telling a story, and singing a song. In a powerful way. In away that speaks to people's hearts. So, I made a commitment with my partner to devote my life to developing that gift, to travel the world and learn the sacred song's of the people and to reflect them back in a way that reminds us that despite our uniqueness, despite our difference we all share the essential Buddha Nature, and that deep down that Christ Consciousness wants to Shine forth. In that realization there is no longer any space for war, for murder, for starvation, for separation.

"When no one is watching,
And I want to kiss God
I lift My own hand to my mouth." - Hafiz

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Leaving The Desert

The sun is just now creeping up over the edge of the horizon, lighting stark relief on another cold brisk Joshua Tree morning. This is the last morning I will wake up here as a resident. I am loading up the back hatch of my little old honda (her liscence plate reads "Be Grace" )and heading to my new home in Topanga, a wee little guest house up on the ridge overlooking the Canyon. I am anxiously moving forward towards a life of teaching Yoga and Making Sacred Music in LA and Santa Monica.
I have been here for ten years now. I helped build the Harrison House, the first Permitted Straw Bale Vaulted Structure in California (check it out at ) For two years I hosted a High Desert Butoh Festival. I opened my own Yoga Studio, Medicine Rock Yoga, which did fairly well for awhile. Frankly, my struggle with marijuana led to its demise, and contributed to the seperation and divorce of my ex-wife and I. I struggled to know myself. And struggled with confidence. Self-doubt plagued me, and cast a shadow over my yoga teaching. 2 years ago it all began to unravel. But I am leaving all of that behind, the addiction, the lack of confidence, the fear of Success.

I've stuck around, and stuck it out. Trying desperately to stay in the area with my kids. I realized recently I was telling myself the story that I was staying here so my kids would not feel abandoned, like I felt abandoned by my Dad after my parents divorced. When I woke up to the fact that it was myself, my inner child I was staying for, trying hard to heal that feeling of abandonment, things rapidly began to shift; opportunities began to open up in LA, and the Universe began to offer me a reflection I did not recogninze. The reflection of a man, gifted and talented, compassionate and caring and capable.

A friend told me last Sunday was what is called Kings Day. It is also known as Epiphany. Kings Day is the beginning of Carnival season, but represents in its most exoteric, Christ's realization that he was the Son of God, and the adoration of the Magi. Its esoteric meaning represents a reevaluation of Masculinity, which may make itself known as a crisis in the Masculine. I was already going through this crisis, so it was only with mild surprise that I learned this event was taking place at a Universal level.

I have been at odds with my Masculinity. I have always doubted my Manliness. I've never felt Macho the way it is represented in our culture, and have doubted my ability, doubted my strength, my power. I feel the weight of collective cultural guilt over centuries of oppression, repression and imperialism represented by the Patriarchy. I have felt guilt and shame over my own sensitivity, both emotional and energetic/intuitive. I have identified with the Feminine, with the Matrilineal tradition of Healing, of taking care, but I realize, at the expense of my Masculinity. I suspect I am not the only man that has lived with this for the last ten twenty thirty years.

I have had my own Epiphany. I have reawakened to the knowledge that I, and every man, am the Son of God. I have remembered I am a Good Dad, and a Good Man, and as I assimilate my sensitivity and intuition with my confidence, my talent and my strength, I begin to embody the New Man, the Radical reeevaluation of the Masculine.

The Mayans have predicted that 2010 is the end of an era, and the beginning of a new cycle, which they call the era of Big Woman Power. This does not mean as fearmongers might suggest that we are moving into a period when men will be enslaved to women. This is a negative fantasy of the Patriarchy that clings to old definitions of Power. The energetic shift into the Feminine will radically change the way we, Humans, perceive power. Our values will radically shift, we will no longer judge value in material terms. The predominant myths will not be tales of the Dynamic Individual. Organized Religions will break down as system of social and political control. Community will reign supreme, and every individual will remember he or she has always had direct access to the divine.

You will hear me often speak of Big Woman Power as I raise a challenge to my Brothers to step up and rise up to the new Masculinity. This is my Yoga. This IS Yoga: unifying the Masculine and Feminine, bringing them into Balance. This IS Tantra. Yoga, by its very nature as a path of Self-Realization, Self-Understanding, Self-Discovery is Political. The end result being a rejection of all external systems of control that keep us down through the Mythologies of Lack and Seperation.

There is No Seperation: you are One with Everything Right Now. You are Divinity Itself caught in a dream of Difference and Distinction. You are the Universe. There is NO Lack: you are the Energy of Abundance, Self-Creating, Self-Generating. But in that dream of Seperation is a Nightmare of Limits, of Not Enough. Wake Up.

"You have been asleep now for a thousand years.
Why not wake up on THIS morning." -Kabir

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Avatar Misses the Mark

I don't really follow the media. Don't follow the news or pop culture gossip. I really enjoy going into a movie knowing absolutely nothing about. So, for awhile there I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about over a movie adaptation of Nickleodeon's Last Airbender Series. But, everyone was saying "You have got to see Avatar!" I was told it was a good to see High, someone said "Whoever made this movie has definitely done ayahuasca!" Indeed, what I saw last night started out as a psychedelic joy-ride. I was reminded of my own psychedelic experiences (2 decades ago) where I felt I could see the life inside everything: watching a rose unfold, a leaf uncurl, the wonder of existence. Yes. I got sucked in. The exoticized, native peoples of Pandora (with their gestures appropriated from tribal cultures of Africa, the Americas, even the Hawaiis) appealed to me. The child in me that had dreamed of (or remembered) running with the Sioux, living in harmony with the Land, with the Web of Life, the young man that mourned the loss of a simpler way of Living, not so far from Center, identified.

Let me make something perfectly clear. I am a tree-hugger. I have felt the screams of trees as they were felled. Decades later, I still experience the wonder of living things, and still experience the movement of Life. As a Yoga teacher and Qi Gong and Reiki practitioner I have direct experience of the "Network of Energy that flows through all living things" Frankly I don't understand critiques like the one posted here ( ) that use lines like this from the film to undermine the authority or inegrity of the film. In fact I can't really comprehend the vehemence, the anger of right-wing criticisms of the film as "Radical Environmentalist" and Anti-Military Propaganda. I don't understand how concern over the environment is anti-christian (when and how did this happen?)

But I must say: Avatar is NOT Radical! Yes there is an exocticized concern for the environment. Yes there is a beautifully graphic depiction of the interpenetration of the Life-Force ("Chi for Complete Idiots" someone described it to me). But when the going gets rough, James Cameron's imagination falters at the critical moment of conflict resolution and the beautiful big-eyed Innocents, that say "This death was not Neccesary" the same peoples that believe "all energy is borrowed" (granted these same peoples would kill a man for being Other, just as the "alien" Humans would) raise a call to arms, and they go to war. They kill. They murder. Within the logic of the film this murder is justified because the Humans/Americans have been codified Bad by there associatiation with the Materialist Military Complex, but this is just a simple role reversal, not a revolution in Philosophy.

Cameron makes empty gestures towards Gaiaism and the Cult of the Mother ("They [the Human/Americans] have killed their Mother [Earth]") but fails to comprehend that the coming of Big Woman Power is a complete philosophical revolution in terms of how we define Power. In the coming Age, in the reversal of Patriarchy, power will no longer be defined in terms of Strength or Force. Power will not be represented in a position of "Against". As we all begin to take our place on the Medicine Wheel, as we step into the Web of Life, and each of us begins to experience directly that flow of life-force that runs through everything, we will see that there is no Seperation, we are All One. There is no Other, no Enemy. To hurt, or wound, or kill anOther is to hurt Myself, to wound all of Life. Power in the Age of Big Woman will not be defined in terms of one individual (the Hero) but in terms of the Collective. It will come from the Heart Center (the Seat of Love, Compassion) not from the Solar Plexus Center (the Seat of Will).

Watching the film, I hated the Military Commander perfectly from the moment he entered the narrative. Cameron did a fantastic job of creating a character that embodied everything I find despicable in Masculinity. However, at no point in the film did I wish to see him killed. I did not feel the need to see him "get his". Cameron's narrative rapidly collapses into the same old recycled hyper-masculine Oedipal trype of Hand to Hand Combat, Man against Machine, Hero against Villain. Granted the Heroine, steps in to save the day, but in purely masculine terms.

Rather, I wanted desperately to see this military man fall to his knees and weep. I wanted to see the beauty of the Tree of Souls touch his heart and break him open. I wanted to see the demon Ravenna, from the Ramayana, in the moment of defeat fall to his knees at the feet of Rama, bowing before the Divine. I wanted to see Giovanni Ribisi's character redeemed, welcomed home to Eden, not expelled once more. This is not the way of the Mother. The narrative failed in terms of accountability: once the HomeTree is destroyed, it is forgotten. The planets attempts to maintain balance are sinmply more violence.

Violence is not the answer! War is not the answer! I wanted to see people walking from the theater with a feeling of the weight of their responsibility to this world, to each Other, to Life Itself. Instead they clapped, and said wee, that was so Coool and so pretty, and left there empty popcorn boxes on the floor where they lay.

Please, people, demand more.