Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Little Help From the Devic Realm

Whew! Yo, feeling hot these days? I'm feeling like I'm back in India, where you can barely manage to stay in your body, feed yourself and pour buckets of water on yourself and the floor all day. I haven't been able to concentrate on projects during the days, but do try to keep appointments and commitments, and do some work into the late hours. Here in northern NM we've been getting some good monsoon action on a regular basis, every day or two, and even a slight hint of fall, but we're still in the high 90s every day. Crops are doing extremely well locally, unlike much of the country. Interesting that much of the drought is hitting areas of concentrated GMO mega-farms. I tend to think that we may be seeing effects of elementals working on various planes and places, even though we barely acknowledge their existence any more in conversations and writings, even in the 'alternative' and 'awakened' circles. [Cue Gore Vidal: "The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism."]

I was visited by relatives over the weekend, and given a box of old letters and photographs and items, many 70 years old. Many revelations ensued on examining the contents, images and words never shown nor spoken before I left home and all family to pursue 'my destiny'. I was deeply moved by seeing my parents, young and in love, and their super cool rustic log-and-stone cabin in the high desert where I was conceived. I was weirded out seeing some of the assholes that made my childhood disturbing and incomprehensible. 
But, I really broke down upon seeing two photos of myself and my first dog. Brought home as a puppy when I was 4-5, she was my best friend for 10-11 years. When my dad passed away, I became so distraught, spaced out, overwhelmed by new responsibilities at age 14 that I completely neglected my loyal dog friend. She was eventually taken in by a neighbor, even more shit came down in my life, and she just disappeared from my awareness amidst the traumas and turmoil. I have felt, and carried, guilt over that for 50 years, and seeing her photo just broke the dam. At least I can put her up on my altar now, along with my other lovely familiars, and honor her spirit in the eternal present. 

I have written about some teachers and gurus, and I want to continue with that before I'm done here with this earthly plane. But, another aspect of this that I need to get off my chest is the reality of non-human teachers. This is the kind of shit that drives even animal-rights activists and animal-biology scholars crazy some of the time, though there is a growing minority that has no problem with it.

One of my trips to India was a two-year study financed by a huge fellowship. I applied and was one of 5 recipients in the country for this prized award. I had a 9 year old feline buddy, very bonded, and there was no one close to care for him. His name was the Hindi word for 'messenger'. So I loaded him up and carried him on the plane, and the crew even let him sit on my lap (this was the 80s). That trip I lived very well, with all the amenities. He lived with me in Varanasi and the Himalayas, and became a well-known curiosity among the locals and a friend of all the musicians, masters and students. (He had been sleeping next to drums and veenas and singers since a kitten anyway.)

Then, back in the US, he traveled in the van for some time as we both adjusted to the culture-shock. At some point it became apparent that it was time for him to go, as certain events had taken a toll on his health. I did my best to keep him comfortable and safe, with medicines to ease his pain, and the day approached. Though very infirm, I carried him into my friend's house, and when we were alone he suddenly stood up and rose to his full height and put his head against my forehead and held it there. He spoke into my mind that he was grateful that I had taken him to India, that we had been together many times in many forms in many lifetimes, that he was a very advanced shamanic teacher, and that I was to take this understanding he was passing to me and manifest it into work with other animals and in passing on awareness of non-human sentience to other humans. 'Blown away' doesn't come close to describing my state afterwards. He passed during the night next to me in the van, and was buried under a tree in the forest in Washington state. 

In the early 90s I was 'kennel manager' for the town/county animal shelter for 3 years. We tried our best to hold animals way way beyond the proscribed time. One mama dog just stole our hearts, but wasn't getting adopted for months. So, what to do? I took her home. I hadn't had a dog since my childhood. She understood I had saved her life, and became fiercely loyal and protective. She was given the name of an Indian goddess. I was later to be living on the road a lot, in between roofs, and she traveled well and enjoyed the musician-companion life. After a few years, just before another extended trip from NM to Cali for gigging and work, she got ill, but seemed to recover. We hit the road, and bummed around Cali in the car, her sleeping nights in the car while I crashed at friends' places, and she kept all my instruments and stuff safe from thieves roaming the streets in San Fran for many weeks. As my couple months were coming to a close, and we would soon head back to the next assignment in NM, I noticed that her energy was starting to really wane. I took her to a vet, but they weren't thorough, and anyway I only had one more recording session to do and we could get back to my vet friend in NM soon. The session finally got done, and as I jumped in the car, I saw that something was seriously wrong. I headed right out onto the freeway, pedal to the metal, going east, praying. I drove through the night and got to Bakersfield at dawn, where I pulled into a vet clinic parking lot. I brought her in as the vet unlocked the door. Some tests were done, and I was told that her liver was destroyed, probably from anti-freeze. Then it hit me. My asshole neighbor's car had been leaking in front of my house back in NM and I kept telling him to fix it, but he kept blowing it off.

What this incredible dog had done for me was serve and protect me while we lived in the car for two months, while her liver was completely shot and she was suffering intensely, knowing that I needed her guardianship, and when she finally understood that her job was finished and I would be going home, she let herself be relieved from that duty and allow nature to take its course. I carried her back to the car and we began our last journey. I sang to her at the top of my voice for a hundred miles, and when we pulled off on a dirt road for a piss-stop, with compassion for my sorrow and torment, she left her body as I turned away for a moment. I always stop there on my way across the desert for a moment of remembrance, and her ravaged body was placed on a mountain-top in the Mojave. From her I was given perhaps my most profound teaching on seva, selfless service.
You could say that shit like this just comes from imagination and anthropomorphism. That is, until you get the fierce grace to witness and experience the reality and power of our animal allies in the proper state of receptivity. 

It is the same with the elementals, the kachinas, the devas. They still want to return to the state of being our allies, our servants, our teachers. We knew them once, and they await our call and invitation, our invocation. Some have been doing that for some time now, and maybe a trust has been regained. I don't think we were ever the ones who made war on the devas, but their, and the Mother's, pain and trauma has been enormous, so we need to really get clear and be clear on this matter. Our fierce and uncompromising support and love is both the key and our only hope. This is also the process that will deal with the wetiko problem. Not to minimize it, by any means, the wetiko problem is not just a human-predation phenomenon, and maybe it never was. The whole web of life has long been under attack. It just was not readily apparent in the local focus of the tribal and pastoral societies, but it should be obvious now what we're up against. It's a war, a multi-dimensional one, whether we view it in spiritual terms, temporal terms, or don't want to see it at all. One example is the situation of the Sea Shepherd Society now being involved in the African rhino protection - with former special-forces warriors armed with night-vision goggles, drones with infrared video tracking as well as automatic rifles - hunting down endangered-species poachers. That's a big step up from petitions and protest signs, and probably just the tip of the iceberg of what's coming.

As a footnote, you may or may not know that, as the Japan dolphin-killing season is set to begin on Sept. 1st, there is a group of islands 100 kms south of Tokyo whose inhabitants have declared full citizenship to the dolphins in their waters surrounding them - Japanese Island of Toshima. They are spreading the word to the rest of the country. It's time.          

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One Awesome Day, 2012

9th August, 2012  Link
Have you ever read a horoscope that said "someone out of your past will show up"? I didn't read that, but I had a double whammy today. Sure, it's a personal thing, but it is so bizarre it seems worth sharing.

I have a long-lost first cousin (40 years+?) who was quite close in my childhood, greatly admired, a few years older. Being an only child, I looked up to him as a big brother, who once even loaned me his Jaguar for a week during high school. I dragged him to see the Jazz Crusaders, the original Staple Singers, flamenco and other groups in the 60s. Then we drifted off into separate worlds, as usually happens. He was of the only side of my 'family' that didn't disown me in those days. Still, we lost touch, both of us traveling internationally and around the US, living life in different universes.

He caught up with me last year via another cousin, and sent an email. Finally, this summer he and his girlfriend are working as rangers and guides at an Anasazi site in the southwest, and he took a few days off to come see me. He had been writing me that he had a box of 'stuff' from my mother who passed in '82, and he had kept it for me for 30 years! So I've just started reading my own letters from India in the 60s, and a whole bunch of other fascinating material, including photos.
Me at age 6

But, what's bizarre is that he came with his lady-friend whom he had mentioned had spent some time in India in the 60s too. My cousin knows practically nothing of my travels and studies, just a few anecdotes over the years. So we meet in the plaza in town, he introduces her, we talk for a bit, and I asked her where she went in India. She says "Ayodhya". I say, "oh really? I went there once for a couple weeks". She says "oh really, why?". I answer that "I went to visit a drum master/swami who was teaching some American students". Her jaw dropped to the floor and she replied "Swami Pagaldas was my teacher/guru for 6 years!!" She said my name, I said her name, and we both looked at each other dumbstruck.
Passport 1968

She was the ONLY female non-Indian who seriously studied my instrument - pakhawaj/mridang - ever. I had stayed in her house in Ayodhya, learned from her teacher for a couple weeks, had tried to search her out for 40 years, and gave up hope of ever finding out what became of her. And she's my long-lost cousin's girlfriend!  We're talkin 7 billion to one odds here...ok, 3.5 billion. We had practiced together, ate together, drank 'bhang' made by Swamiji and sat all night in the Shiva temple on Shivaratri (my first). All her guru-bhais (from Pagaldas) died prematurely in the mid-80s except for one (who I re-found 3 years ago - by running into his sister, whom I'd never met, in the woods on Maui!!!).
Pagaldas (L) & ZM Dagar (R)

Mridangacharya Swami Pagaldas ('servant of the craziness'') was the greatest living repository of the ancient Sanskrit drum poetry tradition. He may have been the greatest who ever lived, as far as we know. The drum poetry consists of thousands of invocations, descriptions, celebrations, etc. of all the deities and mythologies of India in the form of both spoken and played rhythmic compositions. These have been handed down for centuries, nay millenia. I only possess a few, and they are only given to the very advanced students, and are the most difficult to execute correctly. One Hanuman composition actually took me 5 years to master, so you get the idea.

So, some kind of crazy grace and serendipity has brought me together with a guru-bahin (sister) who I had no idea was even alive. Makes me wonder if this is part of the timewave or something that happens to people very late in life or, hell, just beats the shit outta me...?? Another thing is that, reading my own letters, I see that I was saying exactly the same things 40 years ago that I write about now. Same words, same shit, different decade; war on the environment, war on culture. And I'm still talkin' "crazy talk". It could be depressing, but with this over-the-top synchronicity it feels like something else is blowing in the wind, something unknown, undefinable, unimaginable. Maybe something wondrous? 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Simply Living

A short post today, primarily to feature a couple of videos that pretty much sum up the essence of what I have attempted to convey on this blog, on a personal level and a shared universal  vision of human harmonization with the sacredness of life in its many forms of infinite beauty. 
I remember John Lash recently speaking of receiving, from Gaia, a possible future epitaph for humanity - "Perished by the failure to observe beauty". I hope these small offerings leave you touched by the beauty you hear and see. And may we all give ourselves time to observe the many awe-inspiring encounters of sundara appearing daily in the rest of our time here. Om Satyam Shivam Sundaram.

Probably 15 years ago I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting the Scottish brother Dick Gaughan at a small venue in Albuquerque. We shared some tobacco during the break and spoke of sacred musics of the world, and it was a simple roots-grounded one-heart appreciation of our shared love of the real music. He's now also in his 60s, and this is a newer song penned by him....lyrics follow. 
The days and the hours swiftly turn into seasons
The weeks and the months quickly turn into years
The present is coloured by memories of childhood
Of heartache and happiness laughter and tears

I've flown and I've driven long miles by the million
Through desert and forest and high mountain range
Through pastures of plenty and dark city byways
A life on the move in boat, car and train

Thirty five years of singing and playing
Thirty five years of life on the road
Laughing at tyrants and spitting at despots
I've danced in the footsteps of men like Tom Joad

They've called me an outlaw they've called me a dreamer
They said I would change as I aged and grew old
That the memory would fade of the things I had lived
That the flash fire of youth would slowly turn cold

But I raise up my glass and drink deep of its flame
To those who have gone who were links in the chain
And I give my soul's promise I give my heart's pledge
To outlaws and dreamers and life at the edge

So here's to the vision that binds us together
That tears down the walls that would keep us apart
And here's to the future where dreams will be honoured
And the fierce flame of freedom that burns in our

The fire is still burning the future's still calling
To follow the dream till the end of my days
Wishing's for fools but dreams are for outlaws
Laughter's for lovers and tears for the brave

I raise up my glass and drink deep of its flame
To those who have gone who were links in the chain
And I give my soul's promise I give my heart's pledge
To outlaws and dreamers and life at the edge

And this following video, the reason for this posting, I found referenced on John Lash's website. It hardly requires any comment, but I would simply add that elsewhere Kevin Richardson states unequivocally that it all happens through total attention on intuition, a lesson learned through experience. 
Looking forward to throwing down some Orissa tribal rhythms in a solo performance with fire puja next Friday night at the 3-day Tribal Vision Festival  - "ceremony/music/dance/art/sustainability", featuring Paul Stamets and cast of thousands.
It's really very simple