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Monday, 12 February 2007

From an American author

While browsing around Zaadz a few weeks back I came across Anthony Connolly who is a best selling author. The three novels he has written are: "The Jenny Muck", "Get Back" and "The Obituaries". He is also an essay editor for the journal Tidelines; a produced playwright and has published poetry and short stories. He is currently teaching English at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Anthony's blog on Zaadz features some poems and articles which I found interesting and which touched me. Here is one:


If I had but a few pages to leave this world, to take from a hurricane-ravaged house; a car in the path of a tornado; to take a bullet for; to write in blood, my last ounces; I would write of love and it would be all about you.

What is so important that you want it to outlast you and your kin? What is more than bone, heavier than blood and worth the air in your lungs? What is worth the water in your eyes and the marrow of your arms? What is worth the rush, the last minute, before the fire consumes you and your clothes? From where would these pages, the words upon them, originate, from what book, diary or tome would you tear them thus defacing the depository of their first love?

When we speak of dreams, we speak of something dear, but nearly impossible to prove or make tactile to another, a person who is willing to sit and listen to the story of wonder, the last one, the one clutched from oblivion; listening to you speak of angels, ashtrays and ships ground ashore beaches of bleached skulls and unfurling manuscripts written in illuminated letters speaking of how it is wrong to sail under uncertain conditions, but that is all we have all of us, these uncertain waters and warnings in the sky above the sail of our own fidelity and hope clutching but a few pages scratched upon them our undying, immortal words of love.

If you would like to see more go to:

Thursday, 25 January 2007

It's The Music That Matters

The entertainment industry in the past few decades has given us a lot and also taken away a lot. It has given us great music and great movies among other things but in the scramble for big bucks and big names the more delicate sounds, the subtler voices, the slightly more diffident artistes who are nonetheless very gifted, have been kind of lost. Making it big these days depends all too much, not on real talent but on contacts, on how you present yourself and other abilities which have nothing to do with your artistic spirit.

The internet is turning out to be the good guy here and has come to the rescue of many struggling artists whom recording labels have initially turned down. During my time in Germany for example I kept hearing this song on the radio by a singer called Sandi Thom, (I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair) and later found out from Thomas that she had initially promoted her song through the internet. On account of the numerous downloads and requests by enthusiastic fans, it was soon being played on the radio stations and became so popular that a well known recording label finally decided to release her CD.

One musician I've discovered recently on the Zaadz network calls himself "Artist X". According to his profile, "Artist X is a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist who has decided to release his music anonymously via the internet in an effort to keep the focus where it should be - on the music!" Sampling his songs on the net I found some really nice stuff, inspired by what he calls his "spiritual awakening" and thought I would invite you to listen to it too. I found it quite a pleasing mix of familiar styles and listenable. Artist X claims to have been influenced by Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Phish and other musicians and bands and also by Alan Watts, Eckhart Toll and Ramdass on the spiritual front. Here is where you can get a taste of what he sounds like:

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Healing with Music

A couple of years ago when I was in Frankfurt, my friend Bernd had given me a CD of indigenous healing music titled “Shaman, Jhankri & Nele: Music Healers of Indigeneous Cultures”. Back in India, when I sat down to listen to it, I liked the feel of the recordings which seemed to have kept to the original quality as far as possible without any extraneous elements such as modern orchestration. Then recently, Patricia, with whom I’ve been lately corresponding at Zaadz sent me a link to an interview with the person who produced this CD on music healers.

Pat Moffitt Cook is the director of the “Open Ear Institute” which offers international training and non academic certification programmes centred around the use of cross cultural healing music.

For over 25 years Pat has travelled extensively throughout the world recording and participating in musical rituals and the daily life of other cultures. She studied six and half years with a Chinese/Indonesian grand master of martial and healing arts in Indonesia and the United States. She has continued to work with a North Indian Hindu village healer in India since 1994.

Although she is familiar with therapies in the west which rely on traditional western music, Pat Cook believes in using music which is slightly different, and unfamiliar to the person listening, because it helps to expand the thought process. “We have new ideas come in,” she says, “because we are not conditioned to this yet. We're not as much in control as when we have music that we know about. Also, we don't get bored. I think that music can become boring if it's something that we know so well. So this allows people to step out of their cultural boundaries and expand a little bit.”

Generally speaking, music therapy seems to be based on the principle that certain beats and rhythms can slow down brain processes and in doing so, minimise pain or anxiety. Music is sometimes played in hospitals before surgery so as to prepare the patient for anaesthesia. The type of music normally played before the operation is calming and slow, so as to relax the person whereas on recovery, a different kind of music with a more lively tempo is played to help the person return to his normal state as soon as possible.

Professor Milford Graves, a jazz musician, has also worked extensively with music as a healing tool, besides acupuncture and herbal remedies. His research into the use of music offers evidence that music can actually help people with heart problems. Cardiac arrhythmia for which there is no medication, can benefit from certain kinds of jazz. Playing music apparently helps to steady an irregular beat. According to Graves, in one instance, when an audio tape of such music was played to a person with an irregular heart beat, the heartbeat began to synchronise with the rhythm of the music.

Read more about music and healing:

Friday, 12 January 2007

And this I believe

And this I believe

I dealt extensively with a very angry person this week. Not angry at me really, just angry in general…but it was an invasive anger and it touched me such that I felt wet with it. As I was driving earlier today, I began to think about some of the angry people I have known. I drove past an elderly man sitting on a log at the roadside smoking a cigarette. I had previously made his acquaintance…he is not an angry person even though he lives what I would call a difficult life. A conversation with him will quickly show a deeply seated unshakeable joy for life. I wanted to push out a wide envelope of love that would brush past all whom I encountered. Though his face showed as haggard, the memory of our brief encounter moved me as I passed. I turned onto the interstate.

What if I touch those filled with hatred…those who lash out or even seek to destroy that which is good? What will happen?

Hatred and love are not so very far apart. People with a great capacity for hatred also have as great a capacity for love and good, but that capacity has been turned on its head for whatever reason—perhaps from dealing with psychological pain and disillusionment. I often notice people who love in one area and hate in another…sometimes this brings a violence which is both internally and externally manifested.

If our battle is for peace and our battle is for life then it must begin inside each of us as a battle to love, to care, to touch anytime we are accosted by the energy of love turned on its head…either from within or from without. If we ever want to put an end to any violent conflict this will ultimately be accomplished not by the right leaders nor finding the right compromise when in conflict—it will be accomplished because we loved when we could have hated, we uplifted when we could have oppressed, we cared when we could have been callous, and we understood when we were disbelieved. And this, I believe.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Spiritual scandals

The price you pay for fame and recognition is heavy. Especially if you happen to be in the field of religious or spiritual education. Stories about gurus involved in scandals whose subjects range from sex to money, are hardly unusual. Are the stories justified? Do they prove the person concerned, guilty? No one knows for sure.

Osho was probably the most notorious of the lot and has been a puzzle to everybody except the most devout of his followers. He was capable of moving people to tears when he spoke. He dared to speak his mind on subjects which many gurus prefer to leave untouched, such as sex or money. But then he spoke of freedom and in the same breath encouraged rules and regulations which were suffocating. He spoke of how important it was to keep the mind empty and at the same time owned at least 14 Mercedez Benz. (Does a person who truly lives in the moment and whose mind is devoid of possessiveness, really want to own that many cars!) And like many other spiritual leaders Osho too was implicated in scandals relating to sexual abuse and even suicide among his followers.

So when I posted something on up and coming American guru Andrew Cohen I wasn’t in the least surprised to read the comment which followed it, presumably by a disappointed disciple leading me to a site which provides plenty of information on the down side of Cohen’s character. Are the things they say about him true? Has he been falsely implicated? Who knows. I certainly don’t intend to play judge here. I came across what he wrote, found it interesting and decided to share it on this blog. That I dont plan to take sides is clear from the fact that comments are permitted from readers and are not subject (as yet!) to any censorship.

It is just that sometimes you read what a person has said and get the feeling that his words convey something to you. They touch you perhaps, they make sense, something falls into place. As Hope wrote in her comment on the last blog, making a genuine transition to a new level demands that you leave much of the old learning behind, that you leave the ego behind and often gurus who attempt to do this are torn down by the rest of society. On the other hand it might be that the spiritual leader who sounds wise on paper or in a talk is not able to put his words into practice and ends up taking advantage of his followers. The question in that case, is, does that make his words any less true?

There are musicians who produce songs or symphonies capable of melting your heart and which lead to states of higher consciousness. Knowing that the person who composed or sang a particularly moving piece of music was an asshole, doesn’t really affect the quality of a song, a symphony, a raga or whatever.

It’s one of life’s mysteries and not something which I think I can hope to solve. The bottom line is simply, keep your eyes and ears open and take from life whatever is genuine and what helps you to understand yourself. Above all it helps not to sit in judgement over others.

(If you are really interested in gathering more info on Andrew Cohen's character, check out Sophya’s comment on the last blog.)

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Five Tenets to help you stick to the path

Andrew Cohen is an American visionary thinker committed to the transformation of human consciousness and culture. As a critic of the extreme individualism that characterizes much of contemporary spirituality, Cohen is awakening in people around the world a purpose for living that far transcends egoism: namely, a moral obligation to wholeheartedly participate in the evolution of consciousness itself.

Cohen was born in New York City in 1955. Raised as an atheist, his life was irrevocably changed by a spontaneous revelation of "cosmic consciousness" at the age of sixteen. Haunted by the experience, Cohen eventually abandoned his dream of becoming a jazz drummer and, at the age of twenty-two, began seeking spiritual enlightenment. Moving from the study of martial arts to Kriya Yoga to Buddhism, Cohen's search finally came to an end in 1986 when he met the Indian master of Advaita Vedanta H.W.L. Poonja. It was shortly after this life-transforming encounter, and with the encouragement of his guru (with whom he later parted ways philosophically), that Cohen began to teach.

For those of you who are looking for guiding principles to support you in your breakthrough to a new field of awareness the link below could be interesting. It deals with what Cohen calls the five fundamental tenets of enlightenment: clarity of intention, the law of volitionality, facing everything and avoiding nothing, the truth of impersonality, and for the sake of the whole.

The material in this post is abridged from the biography of Andrew Cohen:

Sunday, 24 December 2006

The Choice Before Us

by Starhawk

This piece was written on February 5th 2003 by a woman who calls herself Starhawk and has become the spokesmen for a contingent of men and women in the U.S. and all over the world, who want to replace the destructive, power hungry institutions which determine our fate today, with more organic structures based on peace and love. The piece from which the paragraphs below were taken was written at the height of the war waged against Iraq by the U.S.

The media and politicians tell us that this war is inevitable that we can’t stop it, that our pleas and protests make no difference. They murmur a constant incantation of our powerlessness, lulling us into a nightmare sleep.

But we can still wake up. We can choose to walk out of the nightmare, and dream a different dream.

All it takes is for each one of us, who cherishes the lives of our children, to refuse to be silent, to say no to war, to say yes to peace.
And to ask ourselves, how have we abandoned our country, our fate, into the hands of callous men who have no compunction about wasting lives?

What spell has been cast that fogs our eyes and binds our hands? What lies have we believed? What power have we let slip away?

Replace the nightmare with this dream: that in the moment that one world power has amassed the unchallenged military might to make its bid for global empire its own people rise up and say “No. This is not what we want to be… we want to join hands with the people of the world and strengthen the institutions that are slowly and painfully learning to solve conflicts without bloodshed, and teaching us to respect our differences. We know that peace must be built on justice and we want peace.

For the complete article: