Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Choices We Make, Graces That Are Bestowed

Mother orangutan clings to last tree in her forest before being rescued from palm-oil plantation bulldozers
Played a gig this last weekend with an extremely talented young Bengali woman singer of Tagore songs - 'Rabindra sangeet'.  It was a sold-out performance at the major jazz club in the state, with minimal advertising, and ended with a standing ovation and encore calls.  The lady artist concluded her set with the following song, widely known as a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi's:

        "Ekla Chalo Re" - Rabindranath Tagore, 1905

        If they answer not to thy call walk alone

        If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,
        O thou unlucky one,
        open thy mind and speak out alone.

        If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the

        O thou unlucky one,
        trample the thorns under thy tread,
        and along the blood-lined track travel alone.

        If they do not hold up the light when the night is troubled

        with storm,
        O thou unlucky one,
        with the thunder flame of pain ignite thy own heart,
        and let it burn alone.

Having had only an hour's pre-gig sit-down with Smt. Kamalini Mukherji (to get the talas for the songs), I was as blown away as the audience by her consummate skill at deeply expressing the emotions of the extraordinary range of Tagore's poetry, which she first translated from the Bengali. The lyrics and the melodies (sung with awesome vocal chops) draw on both the classical Dhrupad tradition as well as the iconoclastic Baul folk style. Quite a rare mix, and worth checking out if she performs in your area. 

Back at the home front, my beloved friend recently pulled a precious old volume from my bookshelf titled The Earth Spirit: its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries - by John Michell, 1975 - and read again to me the first few paragraphs. 
I think it's worth reviewing, just for context here in this post-2012 time-warped, incomprehensibly crucial and spiritually demanding moment in the life of the planet and all sentient beings....

"The first men, by all traditional accounts, lived in perfect harmony with nature and the gods. Of their own accord, said Ovid, without the compulsion of law, they were honest and true. There was no punishment or fear, no judges or soldiers. 'The earth itself gave all things spontaneously, and men were content with its uncultivated produce.' Plato in his Laws refers to Hesiod's myth of the age of Chronus, when 'all that life requires was provided unasked and in abundance', the reason being that the men of that time were ruled not by other men but by spirits, these corresponding to the eternal element in human nature. The men of the age of Chronus were wanderers, living under the direct guidance and protection of the earth spirit, following the migratory paths of their ancestors, vitally concerned with the cycles of animal and plant life, the progress of the seasons, the movements of the heavenly bodies. Perambulating each year the wide range of their native territory, they traced the steps of the gods who first created it, thus living out a cosmogony in which every spot, every feature of the landscape had its mythical significance, reflected in the activities that took place there. Time was cyclical, not linear; creation was a continuous process, and the spirits that promoted it were ubiquitous and eternal.
Before civilization sets in, the earth is the one universal deity; not the material earth, but the spirit by virtue of which, according to the ancient philosophers, it is a living creature: a female, because it receives the power of the sun, is animated thereby and made fertile. The body of the earth, like the body of a man, is corruptible and subject to change, but its spirit is unchanging, and therefore the essential nature of this planetary being is spiritual; indeed, Porphyry states that the physical earth is merely a symbol of the earth as it really is. The orthodox view that survived into the middle ages from prehistoric times is expressed by the alchemist Basilius Valentinus: 'The earth is not a dead body, but is inhabited by a spirit that is its life and soul. All created things, minerals included, draw their strength from the earth spirit. This spirit is life, it is nourished by the stars, and it gives nourishment to all the living things it shelters in its womb. Through the spirit received from on high, the earth hatches the minerals in her womb as the mother her unborn child.' Man in his natural state, enjoying the abundance of the virgin earth, considers any proposal to violate it, or to modify in any way its superficial appearance, to be sacrilegious as well as superfluous….
The oldest and deepest element in any religion is the cult of the earth spirit in her many aspects. Especially to wandering men, nomads, pilgrims, itinerants, tramps and half-wits, she is the mother, and they, her children, partake of her sanctity. The pious duty of settled people is hospitality to travelers, for they are acolytes of Hermes [Hanuman?], the errant spirit of earth, who, as Mercurius, is also the Virgin…"

Earth Spirit is a unique and exceptional book, both for its text and the many photos and illustrations. John Michell is the notable author of View Over Atlantis, City of Revelation, The Dimensions of Paradise, The Lost Science of Measuring the Earth*****!, Confessions of a Radical Traditionalist, How the World is Made: The Story of Creation According to Sacred Geometry, and many many other important works. He has been a major influence on my life since the 70s, and was a wonderful chap to meet in this world.

I am personally making spiritual/mental choices each day and each moment. I do not avoid the dire developments and predictions regarding the earth's, and our own, apparent fate as it appears according to the scientific data. I do not keep myself from mourning the terrible suffering everywhere, from the children of Palestine and Syria to the dogs in China and Korea...It is immeasurable and the intense reality of our time. I do, however, and at the same time, celebrate every precious moment of the love and creativity that surrounds me, and will do so till my last breath.
Hell, I was absolutely certain that the entire world was going to cease to exist, either by nuke madness or Shiva's pralaya, on a particular date in 1969. I sat on the banks of the Ganga till the sun went down, then made a chai and food and drummed till the wee hours. That was one terrific meditation.
I recently played with an extraordinary group of musicians and drummers in Atlanta (from around the country and world), and it involved 10 solid full days of exquisite rehearsals, collaboration, gentle and fervent brotherhood and mutual admiration all around. (I was also the only non-Indian, heh, but that's the norm.) Among the group was my new bro, Amit, a mind-blowing sitar maestro and jazz guitarist, based in Prague. Looking through some of his YouTubes, I came across this interview about a musical collaboration based on the Bhagavad Gita. Now, that is a subject around which there is much confusion, both world-wide and in India. In this interview Amit gives the most excellent take I have come across on that which is called "Arjuna's Dilemma". See if what he is saying resonates: This whole thing has been, and continues to be, obfuscated by so many pontificators, it has driven me crazy, and I personally know this gentleman is both a wise traditionalist and a hip philosopher, and also funny as hell if you're lucky enough to hang with the dude. And I am just relieved at how someone finally talks some straight sense around this subject.

"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true"  -  Thomas Paine

Hope all your lives are graced with love and creativity for the duration. Onelove, bholanath
ps - Hanuman Jayanti coming this full moon! 


nina said...

I would love to see the video of the Tegore performance and the ATL rehearsals.

Now, the book. You have to wonder what happened? We know something dread came about, creeping into the hearts of some vulnerable human beings. It always could have been so wonderful, to this day!


Dublinmick said...

Come to the center of the earth, and there you shall find the Philosopher's Stone - Basilius Valentinus (Fifteenth Century Alchemist)

Anonymous said...

via Homer..

To further explore the instructions in the Gita it is advisable to listen to and understand the positions of other major players in the history. Such as grandfather Bhishma.

Grandfather Bhishma, when compared to Arjuna, has in truth already accepted and actively lives the same conclusion Arjuna eventually reaches through at the end of the Gita.

Bhishma is not at all confused or overcome by sentiment as to what is his dharma. His eventual death is one of the most outstanding transcendental events in the Gita.

After all is said and done, Arjuna hears not only the Lord's instructions but His opinions as well, and the awaited CHOICE comes in the form of Krishna's final words to Arjuna, the words pertaining to the ultimate truth of what is free will - "now you choose."

This is not a metaphor and
neither are our very own individual lives, our souls, metaphors. Our individual souls are in truth equal in quality to Arjuna's, Bhishma's and even Lord Krishna's.

Srila Prabhupada..

"We do not interpret the words of Krishna by saying, "In my opinion, the battlefield of Kuruksetra represents the human body."

"The Vedic injunctions are self-authorized, and if some mundane creature adjusts the interpretations of the Vedas, he defies their authority....[Vyasadeva's] work, the Vedanta-sutra, is as dazzling as the midday sun, and when someone tries to give his own interpretations on the self-effulgent sunlike Vedanta-sutra, he attempts to cover this sun with the cloud of his imagination."

"Some spiritual teachers say, "In my opinion you should do this," but this is not a guru. Such so-called gurus are simply rascals. The genuine guru has only one opinion, and that is the opinion expressed by Krishna, Vyasadeva, Narada, Arjuna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the Gosvamis. Five thousand years ago Lord Sri Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita, and Vyasadeva recorded it. Srila Vyasadeva did not say, "This is my opinion." Rather, he wrote, sri-bhagavan uvaca, that is, "The Supreme Personality of Godhead says." Whatever Vyasadeva wrote was originally spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Srila Vyasadeva did not give his own opinion. Consequently, Srila Vyasadeva is a guru. He does not misinterpret the words of Krishna, but transmits them exactly as they were spoken. If we send a telegram, the person who delivers the telegram does not have to correct it, edit it, or add to it. He simply presents it. That is the guru's business. The guru may be this person or that, but the message is the same; therefore it is said that guru is one."

Jaya Sri Guru Gouranga!!!

bholanath said...

In the case that this might be of some importance to the readers, the person in the video is not a "guru" or "rascal". He is a musician and a mature human being with life experience. I am a musician, a mature human being with life experience also.
The problem here is that I would not have posted this clip were it not for the fact that what is stated is precisely the experience of this writer.
As stated above, "Our individual souls are in truth equal in quality to Arjuna's, Bhishma's and even Lord Krishna's." The last chapter (11th) of the Gita is 'revelation chapter'. Revelation did not end 5000 years ago with Vyasa, nor 2000 years ago, nor 100 years ago. As I have previously written about in this space, in the presence of a mahasiddha some years ago, this writer "experienced/witnessed" the revelation, through the recitation (speaking in Sanskrit) of the 11th chapter, of the "Universal Form" (what was requested by Arjuna). The result of that was exactly what the gentleman in the video describes: "seeing the vast truth, beyond the limited conditioning, undoing the past, recognizing what the universal nature is [of Self],...eliminating the past conditioning so that you can be free of it, be totally clear of all of that, so as to see what is really happening..." My entire life history and personality up to that point in time was completely erased, and I began the journey to true Selfhood from that moment.
This is not metaphorical, or "opinion". I am not a metaphor. I am. I have had religious folk of every persuasion argue against revelation, in general and specifically, at me for 40 years, and all are free to believe what they wish, based on what someone else tells them is true - gurus, scriptures, or bloggers who claim that "God talks to them". I also have no more reason to believe the historicity of Mahabharata any more than Yahweh's "telling" OT "prophets" to likewise "kill them all!". In addition, Vedic civilization was invaders, conquerors, and colonialists; and the history is written by the 'victors', as always.
The last thing I'm interested in is convincing/teaching anyone of anything they have not experienced themselves, nor responding to charges of 'blasphemy'. I have had 108 zillion incarnations, millions in India, and spent this lifetime processing and integrating all that, karmically, spiritually, psychologically, and through creativity, and every action in this moment-to-moment life.

Today is second day of Spring Navaratri (9 nights of the Goddess). Yesterday was for Kali, today - Tara. Tara - "ruling lady of speech, like a wish-fulfilling vine around your devotee, you who grant all the accomplishment of all goals, everywhere adorned with all the naturally perfect prose and poetry, you who grant realizations." - Tarashtakam
"Tara is not only the power of speech but the ability to discern the taste or flavor of things, the esthetic mind. She allows us to perceive the essence of all things...Ugra Saraswati (Tara) gives us victory in all debates and contests of knowledge, but for this we must be devoted to truth, not merely to our own opinions." - David Frawley
She is who spoke, and speaks, the revelations to which I am referring.

Jai Jagadambe Ma!

Anonymous said...

"Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things."
Denis Diderot

The revelation, the unfoldment of that moment, the sudden entry of sheer stark consciousness that changes all ...