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.