From the roof, I can see coconut palms, stretching out as far as the eye can see, in three directions. To the west, is the Arabian Sea, disappearing over the horizon. It’s gorgeous, and new, but totally posting a podcast is impossible. I take a morning walk to the Goddess pujas (Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Uma) through tropical garden paths, and stroll the bridges over the backwaters, which is totally conducive to meditation, but not broadcasting. Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi) was here for a couple of days, between tours. She hugged us, and gave us spiritual teachings, and passed out rice and dahl for 2000, and generally imbued the space with holiness, and I’d love to say I’ve got a podcast with her coming up, but she was pretty busy. Which is cool, I’m ok with that. Jungle Podcasting is difficult.
But I did want see if I could sneak this little post up through my 3g hotspot. (1 gig for 185 rupees) I had every intention of getting a couple of episodes out much sooner. For those of you that don’t know, I experimented with living in a yurt on a hillside in Marin County. And while that had some of it’s own first world level connectivity issues, it was lovely. Until it wasn’t. There was really heavy rain last month, and a lot of the area flooded, highways got shut down, and the yurt turned into a wet, moldy mess. So we (the gorgeous Somya Devi) and I packed up our stuff in a super big hurry, vacated by the end of the month, and hightailed it out of the country. It was a sprint, and didn’t really leave any time to post the two episodes I have on the hard drive. Now things have calmed down, there is plenty of time for this sort of thing, and the atmosphere is sublime, it’s the technology that’s off. Podcasting is apparently a first world activity. A privilege of sorts. But, I digress, and I’ll leave the politics and social justice talks for people who are better suited.
So, I beg the forgiveness of Vraja Kishor, and Noah Julian, who played their parts amazingly well. They showed up, and shared of themselves, their wisdom, their struggles. I really look forward to you hearing them. And, while at the ashram, I also ran into Prajna Viera. We did a session on location, overlooking the sea, as her husband laughed at us the entire time. It came out pretty good, even if the sound is a little off. So, as soon as I’m back in a place where uploading is possible, that’s not one, not two, but three recordings of conversations with some very brilliant, interesting, and patient people.
There were bramacharis from the San Diego ISKON temple in vrindavan the same time we were there. Young pink skinned boys in clean pink robes. You couldn’t tell which was paler. One brown skinned boy, too. Carlos. Smart kid. He wore glasses, and kept them attached to his head with those sports straps. Monkeys, he explained. The monkeys were everywhere. And they would steal your glasses right off your face. If you were lucky, you could pay the monkeys with bananas, and get them back. Monkeys have a profession. I’ve heard it said that the monkeys are reincarnations of black magicians and sorcerers, and so, even now, they are always fighting with each other, playing tricks on people, causing chaos. By feeding the monkeys freely, and giving enough to all of them, you give them a chance to calm down and be nice for a moment. With just a few bananas a day, you can help free a monkey from their never ending cycle of bad karma. I helped feed a whole grip of monkeys and people at the Hanuman temple in vrindavan, but that doesn’t come until later. We’ll come back to that. The bramacharis, led by temple director Mahan Tattva, were going to all these holy sites in and around vrindavan, and the day we arrived they were going to the Radha Temple in Barsana. We were invited to go along. Jasmine got us an in. So Franklin, Jasmine, and I joined the seven pink young men and the three householders that were traveling with them. Mahan Tattva negotiated a decent price on three tuk-tuks, and we all piled in, and took off down the road. Barsana, for those of you who have never heard of it before (and why would you) is the birthplace and childhood home of Radha, so its considered sacred, and this otherwise sleepy tiny little village has been built up with fabulously ornate and gorgeous temples, connected by little windy pathways that are dotted with smaller, folksier shrines every twenty meters or so. One of the little roads ends up at Radha Kund, a square, murky pool surrounded by gray stone steps that descend into it. Legend has it that Radha used to bathe here. There were no gopis bathing in it today, perhaps we go there too late. At this time of day the kund is only populated by small boys looking for change and monkeys laying in wait, in case anyone dared to eat ice cream on their turf. One of our dudes ended up scratched. Ice cream at the Kund is a bad idea. Anyhow, back to the tuk-tuk. It got more and more rural, as we cruised to Barsana. Up to this point, Vrindavan was as calm and as quiet as we had seen. Delhi was a total madhouse, loud and colorful and dirty and chaotic and magical, like the vomit of God. The road from Delhi to Vrindavan was much like any major road; sometimes busy, sometimes quiet, and dotted with little stores and rest stops. But it wasn’t rural, per se. This road to Barsana, was decorated with those most beloved by Krishna, the cows. Swishing tails, or not, laying in the grass, or not, they increased in number the further down the road we got. As did the smell of cows, of course, you can’t have one without the other. It wasn’t so bad really. Especially as the buildings and the crowds disappeared and the landscape opened up, and the fields of green started to go on forever. The odors out here were far preferable to what we were subjected to in Delhi. And, apparently, cow dung is big business out here. Someone is making bank on cow patties. It would be nice if they would put some of it back into the neighborhood, though. some of the grass and clay huts could certainly use a fresh coat of paint. And then, Barsana. Fabulously rising out of the grass, as we approached. An ancient temple city full of begging salesmen and children that descended upon us as we pried ourselves from our tiny conveyance. Shoes off and safely stashed, we made our way up, following the pink robes and tufts of hair that bobbed devotedly up the ancient street. Holy men and widows and all manner of folks murmured, hawked, shouted at us as we made our pilgramage to the top of the hill, to this most sacred space. A veritable gauntlet. Mahan Tattva, the head gopi in charge warned us, “its holi, people might throw color on you, but its a friendly thing.” He doesn’t know us, clearly. We came for this. And so, we moved slowly up the last set of stairs before the main hall, curious what lay past the scallopped archways. There was Holi, in all its glory. A room full of wild chanting and music, multi colored people jumping and dancing and throwing color in the air. The sad looking monks were pretty attached to their robes staying nice and pink, so we left them in the corner and pounced into the center of the action. The light, soft and pure, was the perfect medium for the rainbow of dust to play inside of. We laughed and danced, and kept winding our way closer to where ever the color happened to be coming from, ‘over there, green! now over there, orange!’ Each dusting a benediction, confirmation from the universe that we were loved. We might have been the liveliest westerners in the joint. We liked to think we were the liveliest westerners ever. People we psyched to see us join in the fun. They were psyched in general, but as we played along, they pulled us immediately into the fold. Kids jumped on us, laughing, strong backed 20-somethings lifted us into the air laughing, even louder when we lifted them up right back. Hare Krishna, Hare Bol, Happy Holi, we bellowed at each other, celebrating whatever Holi is meant to be celebrating, until we were properly covered and needing to claw ourselves out from the throng to get a breath of unpowdered air. The monks nodded and laughed when they saw us emerge, properly dosed. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were a little jealous that they had to sit on the sidelines, sublimely sipping rasa, as we feasted on these sacred but clearly worldy delights, riding the line, walking the edge. I suppose that renunciation is a bitch. Sometimes more than others. They whisked us back down the hill, to drink sugar cane juice and lemon sodas before climbing back into the tuk-tuks that would take us all home to the relative quiet of vrindavan. Try as we might to keep things neat, we got red powder all over the hotel room. Maybe some of it is still there, a fingerprint on that wall, a smudge on the bookcase. Another, secret benediction, sharing the love, worldwide puja.
I find the Duncan Trussel Family Hour Forum to be really interesting. I was on there the other day, and was reading a thread about western magic, and their rituals. There was a practice called ‘The Gnostic Pentagram Ritual’. It struck me that it was very similar to a practice that I do, only with traditional tantric visualization, meditation and mantra. So, I decided to type my practice out, in both the interest of serving people who might find this practice useful, and also as a curiosity for those who simply like to compare spiritual practices cross culturally. I hope you enjoy. (more…)
Its good to be back, talking to you all again. As many of you know, I had an injury last month, and I was pretty much laid up for all of August. I’ve emerged, and I’m pretty much back to normal. I’ve taught a few classes, and built a few websites, and life is getting back on track. A bunch of you called and emailed and visited, and found various ways to be supportive, and I really appreciate it. It was very nice of you, and inpsired me to commit to do the same, if any of my friends should ever suffer a similar fate. Although I hope not. I would certainly prefer if nobody ever got punched in the face ever again, until the time comes that the sun refuses to shine. However, knowing that there will continue to be sickness, old age, and death, there will also continue to be deliveries of juice, and kindness. So it goes, my favorite Vonnegut quote. Which makes me think I should read more Vonnegut, I’m sure he’s got a few other gems. Oh, and it just occurred to me that maybe some of you are not aware of my healing adventure, in which case, you can read this blog post by my friend Elise. She captures a day in the life of a guy with a broken face quite well. I’m also working on a short book, which will be release in ebook form, “So You Broke Your Face”. Again, I hope it has a very narrow audience. And maybe in the future, I’ll email y’all some of the insights that arose from the experience, but not today. Today, I just want to say hi. So, Hi! Oh, and if you want to come to Yin Yoga Teacher Training, a workshop, or have a private yoga lesson, or have me build a website, that would be awesome, because, apparently, hospital bills don’t just go away if you ignore them. Thanks, Love you, Daniel P.S. It was recently pointed out to me that me that the signature line in my email has the quote: There is a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in -Leonard Cohen I am feeling like I’ve learned that lesson as fully as I care to. I feel like, in this lifetime, I really have enough cracks. My face has just about as much light as I can take. If anyone wants to share some other quotes that maybe will promote a lessons and manifestations that are more pleasant and delightful, I’d love to hear them. OM Om
I had a dream the other night. Walking in the woods behind my house, I came across a man. Though he maintained the appearance of an ordinary man, I knew somehow that he wasn’t.
“you’re from another planet.” I told him
He nodded and smiled and walked me into a clearing where his ship was. It looked mostly like one of those sprinter minibuses. The interior wasn’t much different than that of a human vehicle, black leather. There were a few gadgets that i didn’t recognize here and there.
“That’s awesome” I said, and we both smiled big, dorky grins.
“So, “ I ask, “what are you doing here?” reasonable question.
“what are YOU doing here?” he countered, raising and eybrow, and speaking for the first time. A deep voice, with a hint of metal.
I was taken aback, and I answered, “um, I teach yoga, and I help people switch over to green energy”
“Green energy?” he said, and walked over to the front of his truck, and looked for the latch of his hood.
“Yeah, you know, windmills and solar panels and such”
He tilted his head, and it seemed as if he were downloading the information right into his mind, “You know those aren’t very efficient, right?”
A little defensive, I countered, “I didn’t know that, and anyway, its better that the alternatives, better than coal.”
He found the latch, and unlocked the hood. “Right, coal. You guys dig up your planet out from under your feet, and set it on fire. You know that’s stupid, right?”
“What do you think of nuclear power?”
“Oh right, that’s when you dig up the most dangerous materials you have available, on your whole planet, and use it to boil water. Thats really dumb too. You know your people aren’t very good that? Parts of your planet keep getting poisoned with radiation. Its possible that none of your kind will live to see it restored. Those plants should at least have an ‘off switch’.”
I look down at my feet, embarrased. “So, what then?”
He lifts the hood of the truck, and points. There is a sphere on a post in the center, where an engine usually is. Its giving off a dim glow. he lifts it off its base and asks me to hold it. It’s light and study and warm. He takes a rag and some WD-40, and cleans the terminal. I return the globe, and it gets placed carefully back where it belongs. It glows much brighter now, and the air around us crackles, and fills with a slight smell of ozone.
“You can just pull energy out of the air. As much as you need. For free. Safely. With no pollution.” He waves his hand over his gnerator. Its full of swirling colors now, and little sparks of lightning tickle his hand. He’s showing off.
“One this size could run many, many cars. Many, many houses. Forever. Just remember to keep it clean.” He winks at me, smiles, and closes his hood. “They cost about five hundred bucks to build.”
Then he looks at me prophetically, and begins to climb into the drivers seat. “There will come a time when 99 Nikola Teslas will come to this planet, and all energy will be free for all the people, and the need to pollute your enviornment to conduct your business will be a thing of the past. “
“But, wait, I sell the green energy…”
He shrugs his shoulders, “What is more important?”
And I wake up.
And I have to concede, free energy pulled right out of the atmosphere is certainly better that cheaper energy collected by windmills. And even though my green energy project is a nice additional income, i would prefer it if all energy was free for all people. I’m sure when the 99 Teslas show up, I’ll be able to come up with another way to make a buck.
And so I’ve been curious about Tesla, and two videos really stand out for me. One is a documentary, available on netflix, called, “The Secret of Tesla”. The other is a youtube video called “Tesla, Drunk History” by Duncan Trussel. On the drunk history video, Tesla is labeled, ‘The Electric Jesus’. It’s a good name. It seems to fit. I’m ready for him to come back, and bring 98 of his friends.
I entered a writing contest this evening. 100 words. the theme “found in space” enjoy!
“Why isn’t the kettle boiling yet?” he thought, cold, thirsty. Walking into the next room, he saw his error; shiny fire hissed from an uncovered burner, the teapot sat, tepid, behind it. He laughed, moved the pyrex over the heat, and watched that pot until it boiled. Tea made, he ambled over to his cushion, sat down in front of candles and incense, closed his eyes. As he breathed, the walls of his cranium dissolved. The space inside his mind flowed out , and the universe poured in. In the middle of all of creation, he found himself.