Archive for January 2007

The Idan Raichel Project in Miami

January 30, 2007

What to do on a cool Sunday Night…a million things to do…Then a flash of Inspiration..I want to go to Israel and the music of the sacred chants echos in my mind.

So like in a trace I found my way to the Carnival Center http://www.carnivalcenter.org to hear someone I never heard before. Gut feeling.

There are events that mark your life…this one did it.

I and a couple thousand more were treated to a magical interplay of cultures, sacred drums, angelic voices, Hebrew Prayers and World Music to calm the soul.

From the beginning you could feel a vibration in the air. Beyond my wildest dreams, we took a journey into the heart of Middle Eastern music with Cabra Casey, Mira Anwar Awad, Bongani Xulu, Gilad Shmueli, Rony & Yacov and the magician himself, Idan.

See Idan’s site for more info.
The Idan Raichel Project
Idan, Rony & Me
http://www.myspace.com/theidanraichelproject
http://www.idanraichelproject.com
Here is a press release from his site…

THE IDAN RAICHEL PROJECT

On November 7, 2006, the recently formed record label Cumbancha presented the powerful music of The Idan Raichel Project to the world with an international CD release of The Idan Raichel Project. The global release of The Idan Raichel Project CD on Cumbancha has already generated raves from major media.

Billboard Magazine enthused, “This disc is surely one of the most fascinating titles to emerge in world music this year. The tunes are terribly alluring, and each song definitely has a life of its own. Raichel’s U.S. debut is a multi-ethnic tour de force.” The Times of London raved “The ethnic elements are cleverly rewired with modern grooves to create an ambient journey that thrillingly bridges the traditional and the modern.” The Boston Globe

While recent headlines are dominated by news of conflict and war in the Middle East, an Israeli musical collaborative has achieved success by looking beyond intercultural differences and celebrating the value of diversity. With its blend of traditional Ethiopian folk music, Arabic poetry, Yemenite chants, Biblical psalms and Caribbean rhythms, The Idan Raichel Project has already taken Israel by storm with multiple number one hits and triple platinum sales. On January 30th, The Idan Raichel Project brings their powerful live show to the House of Blues in Chicago for a rare US appearance.

The Idan Raichel Project is the brainchild of Israeli keyboardist, composer, producer, and arranger Idan Raichel, who invited over 70 different musicians from a wide variety of backgrounds to participate in the recordings. In particular, Raichel has long been fascinated by the music of Israel’s growing population of Ethiopian Jews, and many songs feature members of Israel’s Ethiopian community. The recordings also include Arab musicians, traditional Yemenite vocalists, a toaster and percussionist from Suriname and a South African singer, among others.

The Project released its first album in Israel in 2002 and quickly became one of the biggest success stories in the history of Israeli popular music. The haunting Ethiopian chorus of the first single, “Bo’ee” (Come With Me), sounded completely unlike anything most Israeli’s had heard before. The groundswell of interest propelled the album to heights rarely seen in the local music scene and firmly established Idan Raichel as a new type of Israeli pop star. Now a musical icon in the Israeli community worldwide, The Idan Raichel Project has performed to sell-out crowds in prestigious venues in Paris, Brussels, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore and beyond.

http://www.cumbancha.com/welcome.php?_pg=albums/idan_raichel_project&_pgx=press

The Idan Raichel Project burst onto the Israeli music scene in 2002, changing the face of Israeli popular music and offering a message of love and tolerance that resonated strongly in a region of the world where the headlines are too often dominated by conflict. With an enchanting blend of Ethiopian and Middle Eastern flavors coupled with sophisticated production techniques and a spectacular live show, the Idan Raichel Project has become one of the most unexpected success stories in Israeli music today. While he regularly fills large concert halls at home, the upcoming international release of his recordings on the Cumbancha record label promises to introduce the work of this inspirational collective to a wide global audience.

Idan Raichel, the architect of this unique recording project, is a 29-year old keyboardist, producer and composer from Kfar Saba. Idan was born in 1977 to a family with Eastern European roots, and although music was an important part of his upbringing, his parents did not place much emphasis on performing music from his particular cultural background. I think the fact that I didn t have strong family musical roots is what made me be very open to music from all over the world, says Idan. Idan started playing the accordion when he was 9 years old, and even at this young age was attracted to the exotic sounds of Gypsy music and tango.

As a teenager, Idan started playing keyboards, and studied jazz in high school, which honed his skills at improvisation and working with other musicians. In Israel, military service is mandatory for all young men and women, so at 18 Idan was conscripted into the Israeli army. Ironically, it was in this military setting that Idan developed musical skills that would prove essential later in life. Rather then heading to the front lines in this volatile region, Idan joined the Army rock band and toured military bases performing covers of Israeli and European pop hits. As the musical director of the group, he became adept at arrangements and producing live shows, and turned his experience in the Army into a productive and positive one.

After he was discharged Idan starting working as a counselor at a boarding school for immigrants and troubled youth. Notably, the school was filled with young people from Ethiopia who were part of Israel s growing community of Ethiopian Jews. It was here that Idan first started getting familiar with Ethiopian folk and pop music. While most of the young people in the school rejected their own cultural traditions in an effort to assimilate into mainstream Israeli society, a small core of Ethiopian teenagers remained fans of Ethiopian music. They passed around cassettes of songs from artists like Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, Gigi and others, and the exotic, otherworldly melodies piqued Idan s curiosity. I started to hear lots of cassettes from Addis Ababa. Village music, like Ethiopian pop and reggae, or the native village songs, says Raichel. I noticed that immigrants from the Ethiopian community changed their names when they got to Israel. They try to assimilate into Western culture and don t keep their roots. He wanted these kids to remember that they like hip-hop but they are not from Harlem, they like reggae but they are not Bob Marley. The Ethiopians have a great culture that should be cherished.

Idan started going to Ethiopian bars and clubs in downtown Tel Aviv. It was like entering another world, a country within a country that remains a secret from most Israelis. As his connections to the community deepened, Idan began attending Ethiopian synagogues, weddings and other ceremonies, and he began to learn more about Ethiopian music and culture.

Meanwhile, Idan had become a successful backup musician and recording session player for some of Israel s most popular singers. After a few years of helping others gain success and notoriety, Idan decided it was time to pursue a project that reflected his musical ideals, and he began working on a demo recording in a small studio he set up in the basement of his parent s home in Kfar Saba. He thought it would be a good idea to invite a number of different singers and musicians to participate, in order to better demonstrate his different styles and the ways in which he worked with a variety of artists.

Idan had long been fascinated with the diversity of Israel and sought to celebrate his appreciation and respect for different cultures through his music. Because of its open door to immigrants from Jewish communities around the globe, Israel is home to a stew of cultures and traditions, including people of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Latin American and Eastern European roots. Yemenite Jews offer traditions that reflect thousands of years of living in the country of Yemen on the southern edges of the Arabian Peninsula. Israel s Sephardic community consists of people who had incorporated the traditions of Spain, North Africa and the Mediterranean region where they had lived for centuries. The largest immigrant population in Israel consists of Ashkenazi Jews, who had come mostly from Russia and Eastern Europe (Idan s is himself of Eastern European descent). More recently, over 85,000 Ethiopian Jews now call Israel home after efforts to naturalize this so-called lost tribe of Israel through dramatic airlifts in the 1980s and 90s. In addition, there is a large Arab community, which makes up almost 20% of the official total population of Israel.

Idan invited over 70 of his friends and colleagues from Israel s diverse music scene to participate in his recordings. He never expected his musical experiments to turn him into Israel s biggest musical phenomenon in recent memory. Idan created the core songs of his first album as a demo, and began shopping for a record label to help him produce a full album of his own. While most of the Israeli labels considered his work too ethnic and too outside of the norms of the formulaic Israeli pop scene to have any hope of success, one A&R man, Gadi Gidor at Helicon Records, instantly heard the potential in Idan s work and quickly signed him on to the roster. The subsequent album was an immediate hit. The haunting Ethiopian chorus of the first single, Bo ee (Come With Me), sounded completely unlike anything most Israeli s had heard before. Yet, coupled with Idan s richly poetic lyrics of love and devotion and sophisticated contemporary production techniques, the single struck a chord with a wide swath of the Israeli public.

As the interest in the recording began to grow, demand for live shows increased, including an offer Idan couldn t refuse from the prestigious Opera House of Tel Aviv. Given the number of musicians who participated in the recordings, it would have been impossible to have them all appear on stage, so Idan decided to pick seven members in addition to himself who were both versatile and strong individual artists in their own right.

From the beginning, Idan saw the project as a collaboration between artists who each bring their own musical culture and talents to the stage. There would be no front man, Idan says. I would sit at the side and watch things and see what occurs. Every song would have a different singer, we would sit in a half circle and each musician would have a chance to demonstrate what they have to offer. The live show became symbolic of the album, as it brought together a group of people of different backgrounds but each is equal to the other.

This sentiment is reflected in the decision to name the collective The Idan Raichel Project. Says Raichel, If I had called the album just Idan Raichel, people would have thought that Raichel is the main voice on all the songs. I wrote the songs and I arranged and produced them, but I perform them together with other vocalists and musicians. On the other hand, we are not a group. It s something in between.”

In its recordings or on stage, The Idan Raichel Project has featured a fascinating array of participants. Cabra Casey is a singer of Ethiopian heritage who was born in a refugee camp in Sudan during her parent s journey to Israel. She grew up in a diverse immigrant community in Southern Israel, and met Idan when they were both serving in the Israeli Army. Mira Anwar Awad, who sings on the dramatic Arabic-language track Azini, is an Arab Israeli who grew up in the northern city of Haifa. A well-known singer and actress, Awad had participated in numerous musicals and theatrical productions in Israel.

Sergio Braams, who sings on the dancehall inflected track Brong Faya (Burn Fire) among others, immigrated to Israel from the country of Suriname on the Caribbean coast of South America. Braams has infused the spirit of Caribbean music into the Tel Aviv scene, and was the leader of a reggae band for which Idan played keyboards. Braams is a cofounder of and performer in the popular musical review called Mayumana, the Israeli equivalent of the percussion show Stomp.

While The Project has featured many young artists who represent the cutting-edge of popular Israeli music, Idan has also invited a number of elder statesmen who bridge the generational gap and demonstrate the timelessness of the Project s music. Shoshanna Damari was an Israeli singer of Yemenite heritage who had been one of Israel s most beloved singers for decades. Damari passed away in 2006 at the age of 83, after making her last recordings as part of the Idan Raichel Project and participating in a number of live concerts with the collective.

Hailing from a Yemenite community that has staunchly maintained their traditional way of life, 76-year old Yihia Tsubara sings on Im Tachpetza (If Thou Wisheth) along with his son Shalom Tsuberi. The appearance was unique because not only did these firm guardians of ancient tradition allow their music to be blended with modern electronic beats and mixes, they even agreed to perform new Westernized versions of lyrics from the Diwan, the traditional Yemenite prayer book.

The last track on The Idan Raichel Project features South African singer Bongani Xulu, who happened to see The Idan Raichel Project perform during a trip to Israel. He came up to Idan after the show and expressed how much he loved the performance, and Idan invited him to participate on the moving anthem Siyaishaya Ingoma (Sing Out For Love). The song symbolizes the global reach and relevance of The Project’s underlying message.

Idan s right hand man and closest collaborator on The Project is drummer and producer Gilad Shmueli. Himself a respected producer of many popular Israeli artists, Shmueli has played an essential role in the development of The Project since the beginning.

The groundswell of interest propelled the album to sell over 150,000 copies (triple platinum) and firmly establish Idan as a new type of Israeli pop star. His follow-up album in 2005 featured a number of hit songs, including the Ethiopian flavored Mi Ma amakim (Out Of The Depths), and proved that Idan was a unique talent that offered a new vision for how Israelis, their neighbors in this volatile region, and people all over the world, can cherish their own cultural traditions, celebrate their differences and through respectful collaboration create new and inspiring expressions.

Members of the Jewish, Ethiopian and Israeli communities around the world have known about the Idan Raichel Project for a number of years now, and he regularly sells out concerts in large performance venues in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. In November 2005, for example, the Idan Raichel Project headlined at the renowned Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, the same venue from which the Oscars are televised. The Project also gave two well-received shows at the famed Apollo Theater in Manhattan s Harlem neighborhood. While in New York, Idan and members of The Project visited a number of schools and churches in Harlem as one of many regular bridge-building efforts the group has undertaken.

In January, 2006, The Idan Raichel Project traveled to Ethiopia, the land that had inspired so much of its music. Two of the lead singers of the Project came to Israel as children during the migration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in the 1980s. The trip marked the first time they had returned to the land of their birth, and it was also the first time an Israeli artist had performed in Ethiopia. The band was happy to learn that their songs Bo’ee and Mi Ma amakim had earned a fair share of radio airplay locally. The Idan Raichel Project opened the Fifth Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa, sharing the stage with top Ethiopian performers, including the legendary Mahmoud Ahmed. The story of the Project s emotional trip to Israel was filmed for a forthcoming documentary which will be released in early 2007.

In the fall of 2006, the work of The Idan Raichel Project will be released outside of Israel for the first time on the new record label, Cumbancha. Founded by Jacob Edgar, the longtime head of A&R and music research at Putumayo World Music, Cumbancha seeks to present exceptional artists from around the globe whose work merits attention by a wider public.

The Idan Raichel Project, a compendium of the most notable songs from the Project s two Israeli albums, will be released on November 7th, 2006 in conjunction with a special Putumayo World Music collection featuring Idan Raichel entitled One World, Many Cultures. The Putumayo album focuses on cross-cultural musical collaborations and also features appearances by Willie Nelson, Ziggy Marley, Youssou N Dour and many others. A portion of the proceeds for One World, Many Cultures will go to support the nonprofit organization Search For Common Ground (www.sfcg.org), which works to transform the way the world deals with conflict – away from adversarial approaches and towards collaborative problem solving.

The international release of The Idan Raichel Project promises to bring even more renown to this inspirational recording project. Along with the release, The Idan Raichel Project plans to embark on a significant international tour that will bring them back to the United States, Europe and elsewhere to present their powerful and entertaining musical message to new audiences throughout the globe.

Hi-resolution photos, detailed biographies, tour dates, music videos and other materials are available for download at:
http://www.cumbancha.com/albums/idan_raichel_project/press
http://www.myspace.com/theidanraichelproject

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Celebrating Human Greatness

January 25, 2007

U are Great
Dear Family of Light,

Have you thought about your Human Greatness? Who is Great? Ask yourself have you done something great in life? Just being born is Greatness. The magic of U, as a Human Being interacting with life, a galaxy, computer systems, life trails, unknown wisdom, tax codes, little kids who sing, a sunset that makes you smile, a homerun and God’ sun coming up each morning is Pure Greatness.

The idea that your universe is created by your thoughts, pure intentions and the love you share is a revelation of science and energy medicine. Everyday science and technology invent something great. We see trip to Mars, new miracle drugs and every six months you need a new computer. Things change fast in a Techno World.

Where is true Greatness?

When we are born we learn greatness in action, just the art of learning to walk is a miracle for a 1 year old. We have hidden talents, powers and old memories, but what about the original nature of light, me as a soul. Inner greatness is tapping into the innate qualities that are the spiritual DNA of the soul.

Last night I saw President Bush, at his State of the Union address acknowledge a man who saved the life of someone on a New York subway. Imagine jumping on to the tracks of a fast coming train and pulling someone you don’t know into the center rail as the train speeds over. Great courage, a little crazy and tremendous faith. Greatness in action, a hero and an example of what each one of us has inside.

In the world today there is a compelling need for greater leadership at all levels. This is not just a call for greater leadership in business and politics, but a call for human greatness itself.

Are the qualities that underlie greatness intrinsic to everyone or are they a gift of the rare few? Everyone has the potential to be great, no matter your skin, language, or educational challenges.

A definition from the world of Google.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&channel=s&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=sMB&defl=en&q=define:greatness&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title

Definitions of greatness on the Web:

• the property possessed by something or someone of outstanding importance or eminence
• enormousness: unusual largeness in size or extent or number
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
• Greatness is a vague concept that is heavily dependent on a person’s perspective and biases. It is a term that is often used, however, by people trying to emphasize a thing’s superiority. In Europe the most lauded rulers were given the attribute “the Great” (e.g. Alfred the Great).
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatness

That seems a limited way to see the true spiritual greatness that lies within each soul.
How do we emerge such greatness and what would that look like in society today?

It can be said that greatness is not a single act, but a way of being that nourishes the self, others, and the community. It is intrinsic to every human being, arising from the unique expression of innate qualities such as love, peace, bliss and wisdom. These qualities are the seeds to human greatness, and the true expression of these qualities is human greatness itself. When we awaken and express the simple essence of our being, we are able to create an extraordinary life, a life of greatness that leaves a positive mark on the lives of others, society, and the world. It is like a gentle rainbow during a spring rain, nature expressing itself via color and water.

I saw a movie called Freedom Writers, where a teacher, (Hilary Swank) goes into a segregated LA school and finds a world of pain, gangs and gunshots. It is a real story and a reality we are living right now in many parts of the world not only LA. Some places in South America a book would be a dream for a little boy.

The movie is amazing because it shows how one woman changed the lives of these kids letting them find the greatness within them and her. True greatness is when we see beyond the color and race and free the light that wants to shine.

She gave them new books, shared stories of Anne Frank and took them on class field trips. They were able to see how someone really cares about them. They found Faith, a power that they could succeed and the world was never the same. They started to write their thoughts in journals and a certain type of greatness emerged. Things changed for the better and paradigm shift occurred.

The power of words, reading and writing was their ticket. It is a freedom they never had and showed them new way to express the anger and pain inside. A ticket to inner greatness, a release of ones true potential. Inspiration.
When now it is a movie and book. See
http://www.freedomwriters.com/ http://www.youtube.com/beheard

Today, January 25 our Spiritual University in America is launching a special initiative in New Orleans called “Celebrating Human Greatness”. It is an invitation for a positive revolution in awareness. Its goal is to discover in all human beings the exceptional and the essential and through that invite all Americans who engage to recall their natural sense of optimism, confidence, and contentment. How many hero’s emerged out of Katrina? True Greatness was witnessed on the 6 p.m. news. The people make the city and the city reflects its people.

You have a voice, a story to tell and it needs to be heard. It all begins with a conversation, and an open heart. The consequence is that a dialogue begins and we start to see the greatness within each one.

If you consider it, we really create our world and our future through our thoughts, words, and actions and by connecting with each other, sharing knowledge, stories and building relationships – something happens in world consciousness.

The intent with Celebrating Human Greatness. is to raise “questions that matter”–for our families, organizations, and communities and to seed the evolution of the knowledge and wisdom that we need to co-create the future. We “grow what we know” individually and collectively. We notice the possibilities for mutual insight, innovation, and action that are already present, if only we know where to look. As our collective awareness of what is good, great, and beautiful in the world grows, we become powerful resources for bringing forth the future at increasing levels of scale.
“Creating a positive future begins in human conversation. The simplest and most powerful investment any member of a community or an organization may make in renewal is to begin talking with other people as though the answers mattered.”
When people come together and have a dialogue about life-enhancing themes, magic happens. These conversations naturally evoke the participant’s best qualities. The participants are so excited by their discovery that they want to share their realizations with others.

A series of questions will be offered to stimulate the conversations. The questions will encourage people to reflect on aspects of their own greatness and then follow up by sharing their stories and insights in conversation with others.

The experience of these conversations are like “seeds” that the participants take and plant in their own social circles – their homes, workplaces, book clubs, schools, and other places that they meet their friends. The more people think over and discuss this topic, the more attuned they are to the greatness in and around them.

To love in spite of all is the secret of greatness. And may very well be the greatest secret in this universe. Love and Respect is the greatest healer which opens your Heart to celebrate your true Human Greatness.

Join us in Celebrating Human Greatness.

Here is a press release about the Launch.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: 813-987-2525 OR
INFO@HUMANGREATNESS.ORG

New Orleans Chosen as the Launch City for
“Celebrating Human Greatness”

New Orleans, LA, Jan. 25, 2007 — New Orleans has been selected as the “launch city” for a new national initiative, “Celebrating Human Greatness”. The launch, which will take place over two days (January 25th and 26th), will pay tribute to the significance of New Orleans in the hearts of the American people and highlight the stories of human greatness that have emerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The premise of the Celebrating Human Greatness initiative is that greatness arises from the unique expression of innate human qualities such as love, peace, and wisdom. People who awaken to and use these qualities in action are able to create an extraordinary life that leaves a positive mark on others, society and the world. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Not everyone can be famous but everyone can be great because greatness is determined by service”.

The first event, Thursday January 25, 2007, 6 to 9pm at the Le Boucherie Coffee House on 399 Chartres Street (French Quarter), will be facilitated by New Orleans native Keith Woods, currently Dean of Faculty at the Poynter Institute School for Journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida. He will interview Chris Rose of the Times Picayune.
http://www.laboucheriecoffeehouse.com
http://www.poynter.org ~ http://www.timespicayune.com ~

The second event, Friday, January 26, 2007, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, NOLA, will also be facilitated by Keith Woods. On this occasion he will interview Lloyd Dennis, Motivational Speaker and Columnist.
http://www.ashecac.org ~~ http://www.lloyddennis.com

The stories of human greatness revealed by these interviews will kick off a 2-hour conversation among citizens of New Orleans about the qualities of character arising in ordinary people that precipitate achievements of greatness. The conversation will involve the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen both the individual’s and the group’s capacity to heighten positive potential. The stories that emerge will focus on the qualities and experiences in people’s lives that lift them up and offer hope. The Celebrating Human Greatness initiative will subsequently go on to hold a series of conversations in other cities across the nation.

“We are very much looking forward to the conversations that will take place in New Orleans, a city that has truly elicited unity, love and courage in a very difficult time,” states Shireen Chada, one of the organizers for the event.

Attendance at the event is by invitation only as space is limited. The guest list includes State Senator Ms. Ann D. Duplessis, numerous leaders of community organizations and local businesses.

The national initiative, Celebrating Human Greatness is being organized by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization (www.bkwsu.org) along with local and national partners.

For more information call 813.987.2525 or email at info@humangreatness.org or visit the Celebrating Human Greatness website at http://www.humangreatness.org.

The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization (BKWSO) offers people of all backgrounds an opportunity to deepen their understanding of universal principles and innate values. It acknowledges the intrinsic goodness of every human being and helps individuals to rediscover their own goodness. The organization encourages and facilitates the development of spiritual awareness, attitudes, behaviors, and skills through a process of lifelong learning. BKWSO is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation in the USA.

The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (www.bkwsu.org) is headquartered in Mt. Abu, Rajasthan, India. Internationally, there are 8,500 Brahma Kumaris meditation centers in over 100 countries. The BKWSU is a non-governmental organization in general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and in consultative status with UNICEF. It is also affiliated to the UN Department of Public Information.

See more at ~
1. http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/whatisai.cfm
2. http://www.theworldcafe.com/about.html
3. http://www.brahmakumaris.com

Quotes on Greatness

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” Wilma Rudolph, Three-time winning Olympic gold medalist “Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force; that thoughts rule the world.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“…there is another kind of greatness that tends to be more quiet by nature, one that generally escapes the headlines… (It) has to do with character and contribution as distinguished from (the greatness) which has to do with notoriety, wealth, fame, prestige or position. It speaks more about people’s motives than about their talents; more about small and simple deeds than about grandiose accomplishments. It is humble.”
Stephen Covey, Everyday Greatness

“Not everyone can be famous but everyone can be great because greatness is determined by service”.

Martin Luther King Jr.

“He changed my performance,” Smith says of his son Jaden, “You know, when you really capture your greatness, there’s going to be something childlike about it. There’s going to be something at play, not at work, and watching him I rediscovered that thing that made me successful with The Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air]”

Will Smith, Actor
Tuning in to New Orleans live webcast –

~  Thursday, January 25, 2007- 6:20pm to 7:20pm (Sister Mohini thoughts
and Keynote Interview) and again from 8:20pm to 9:00pm (Plenary Session)
– US Central Time Zone

~  Friday, January 26, 2007 – 4:20pm to 5:20pm (Sister Mohini thoughts
and Keynote Interview) and again from 6:20 to 7:00pm (Plenary Session) –
US Central Time Zone

For latest information on the webcast please visit our website:
www.humangreatness.org

To access the webcast please download the free Real Player version 10 if
you
don’t have it already. You can obtain it using the web link below…
http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/categories/plug/real/real.shtml?intro2

At the time of the webcast, please use the weblink below to watch and
listen. Note that this link will only work at the time the transmission
is in progress, not before.
http://webcast.bkwsu.org:9000/ramgen/broadcast/USA.rm

If you would like to test your system before the event then use the
weblink below.
http://webcast.bkwsu.org:9000/ramgen/test/shiv_ratri_jayanti.rm

Who is Brahma? World Meditation Peace Day 1-18

January 17, 2007

Father of HumanityOn January 18, 2007 more than 900,000 Raja Yogis from around the world will gather in meditation and loving mental service for a day of Silence and Peace. Imagine it as a day to serve the world with your powerful thoughts and connect with the Seed of the Human World Tree. The power of my mind transcends the limits of time, the universe and space. Let me share with you a unique story of a man named Prajapita Brahma who has changed the world of many souls including myself.

In 1986, my life was in disarray, I had just had a NDE in a car crash and somehow God was sending me a message. Seeing my life flash before me and then traveling to a land of peace and silence gave me new insight to the mystery of the soul, God and Nature. My life has never been the same and to this day I still dream of this man who inspired millions to understand the truth about and Time and souls in a new clear way.

The year was 1936 and the world was in conflict. There was a need for a new vision, a spiritual awakening and God had a plan.

What if you were to receive the news today that you were going to be granted a Divine Vision…. That happened to Dada Lekhraj in an ancient city in India.

Divine Visions

Dada Lekhraj born 1876 had a very humble beginning as the son of a schoolmaster. Born in a middle class family, he rose quickly in his profession through hard effort, honesty combined with cleverness and focused intellect, to become one of the richest men in India. He was a very pious, humble, accurate, disciplined, noble, Godly, spiritual minded and devotee of the highest order. He was trusted and respected by all people who knew him, including kings during that period. His diamond business was instrumental in creating crowns and special jewels for the Royalty of India. He was an ordinary person in the sense that he was neither a mass leader nor a politician; neither a saint nor a scientist. But he was a man with special qualities.

Dada was contemplating a life of retirement as was the custom when you reach 60 years of age. A life in complete devotion to God and service for humanity.
But little did he realize that something out of the world would happen in his life. Something so extraordinary and amazing that his life would never be the same. He was stunned by a series of divine visions that took many years to understand, but as God works in mysterious ways he had the faith that he was being chosen for a special task.

Dada was sitting in the back hall of his bungalow with a group of fellow disciples of his guru, he began to get a strange feeling and an experience of lightness. He recognized these unique inner sensations as the onset of a spiritual encounter, but still he didn’t understand the cause or why it was happening. Yet there was exquisite sense of heightened perception, a new clarity of mind and vision. A powerful intuitive grasp of reality was growing in him. He went to his meditation room to get away from the company of his visitors. As he sat alone, absorbed in the incomprehensible manifestations of a peace, new levels of his being was emerging. He was filled with a divine intoxication and waves of bliss surged on him, drenched him in ecstasy. He had gone beyond all consciousness of his body; he was a pure soul, pure light, floating in an ocean of bliss. Then a revelation: a vision of the four-armed deity of Vishnu, the symbol of the perfect man and woman. “Hum So, So Hum, I am you and you are me.” He didn’t understand.

Few days later, Dada received a double revelation: first a vision of Shiva Paramatma ( The Supreme Soul whose eternal form is a Point of Light ), This Loving Light seemed to be an Ocean of Peace and Bliss. Shiva was manifesting Himself on Earth as he promised many years ago. When the World reaches its most degraded state, I, Shiva must return to restore balance and peace to my children. After this vision he saw a great war on earth with natural calamities and many souls suffering. Dada was crying and didn’t understand what this all meant, but deep inside he felt that peace that only God can give.

The vision of Shiva (meaning world benefactor) helped him to understanding his own identity. The Supreme Soul is a Point of Light. His children, souls are also tiny stars, sparks of conscientious light. We the souls take bodies and play out our roles on the stage of the physical world, while Shiva remains in His eternal form in Nirvana. By taking birth and rebirth, we forget ourselves, we become trapped in the body and lose our peace. God knows the entire cosmic play, the beginning, the middle and the end of the drama, the Alpha and the Omega. At the end of the play, He-She comes and tells us the story of life and teaches the ancient Raja Yoga to become Kings again. Raja means king and it is a mastery of the inner kingdom. Perfection is possible as Brahma became the perfect example of service to God and the World. Abraham or Brahma means the Father of Humanity.

Dada saw very powerful bombs with guided missiles that created havoc on earth. Gigantic fireballs, cities in flames, war and suffering were raging everywhere. When he received these visions, America had not dropped the first atomic bombs. What did this all mean?

Dada also saw civil wars mainly in India, culminating in an awesome wave of natural catastrophes: floods and tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanoes, nature was out of balance. Dada began to tremble uncontrollably witnessing the scenes of this great world wide transformation. But there was no escape. Then the silent aftermath. Dada, who had never shed a tear, was weeping now. “Oh, God, please stop this, please stop this!” he cried. “What a terrible war! Please, now show me your other side, your beautiful form.”

In the midst of this chaos, Dada saw a group of people dressed in white meditating on a mountain top. He could see a wonderful light leaving their 3rd eye and traveling to a world of peace and silence. Then these lights returned to the world of heaven. It was like deities being born on a new earth again. A Golden Age where love and peace was the rule. All memory of the past is gone and the cycle spins eternally.

With these visions, everything changed for Dada, even his name. God said, “Now you will be Brahma.”

Brahma Baba, as I like to call him, could not apply his mind to his diamond business any more. It simply had no interest. He decided to wind up his affairs. He had owned his shop for so many years, and yet it all looked so strange to him, so meaningless. He walked down the aisles of his jewelry warehouse, looking at the trays full of glittering diamonds, millions of dollars worth of gems, gleaming symbols of the greatest wealth, and he felt that they were simply stones, worthless hunks of mineral.

Later, Baba saw the moment of his uncle’s death. He saw the soul leave the body, exiting through the forehead. Life energy, rising like mercury in a thermometer, moved up from the toes and concentrated in the head. In an instant the soul departed. Thus he understood the process of death. Only the body died, not the soul.

These visions continued periodically over several months. They gave him new insights into the innate qualities of human souls, revealed the mysterious entity of God and described the process of world transformation. The intensity of the messages conveyed by the visions was such that Brahma Baba felt compelled to wrap up his worldly business and devote himself to understanding the significance and application of this revealed knowledge. Although the visions ceased, their Source remained with him for the next 3 decades, guiding his transformation as well as that of those around him.

Brahma Baba’s Legacy

70 years have passed since Brahma Baba received those visions. Who could have guessed – besides those touched by similar visionary experiences – that the young women he placed at the forefront of the institution he founded would now be on the world stage, sharing platforms with political and religious leaders at the highest level, and leading a lifestyle revolution currently followed by nearly one million people from all backgrounds of culture and religion, race and society? Or that millions of others – at this time when loss of integrity in human hearts and minds has plunged so many into despair – would be taking benefit from the teachings he transmitted, finding empowerment in the present and hope for the future?

The living skills that Brahma Baba taught have stood the test of time. The young women that he put to the forefront, now in their eighties and nineties, have become beacons of love, peace and happiness in a world increasingly troubled by disordered relationships, greed, addiction, anger and violence. They are now angels waking amongst us.

Brahma Baba passed on in 1969 at the age of 93. The Tower of Peace on the Madhuban campus is a tribute to the invincible spirit of this ordinary human being who achieved greatness by rising to the challenge of the deeper truths of life.

Last night I was watching the news and saw a documentary about the future of war and it seemed the visions Brahma Baba had, I was watching on TV.

What impressed me the most about Brahma Baba was his understanding of the need for women to be spiritual leaders. He never said he was God, only an instrument for the Supreme. He only saw the good in each soul and for 14 years he isolated himself in Karachi to study this new wisdom from the highest source.

When I walked into the Raja Yoga center in Bogotá in 1986, I saw the photo of Brahma and when I looked into his eyes…I felt I knew him before. Deja Vu big time.
Chills ran up my back and here I was with Dadi Janki, a spiritual leader who knew Brahma since the beginning. She saw him in action and today she is considered one of the most stable minds in the world. A true example of walking the talk, peace is your birthright and now is the time to receive it again.

Another aspect of Brahma’s teachings is the need to purify the soul on all levels. Purity is deeply connected to self respect. Since a little kid I wanted to be a priest, but as I grew up, I lost some faith in the Church and didn’t agree with the idea of hell. Reincarnation for me was a fact, not what we hear from the pulpit today.

I took the Raja Course in 2 days and was invited to a spiritual retreat in the Colombian mountains. One of the last lessons is the disciplines of a true Raja Yogi.
They told me waking up early in the morning is helpful…now I sleep 4 hours a day and like clockwork my eyes open at 4 am, sometimes I stay awake till 2 and wake at 6 am to go to my song divine class. We call it the murli and it is like God’s love letter to me. I have found that taking an hour for meditation and reading something spiritual before 7 am gives me so much peace, wisdom and power, my day goes by like a breeze.

My teacher at that time was an Australian named Ken O’Donnell, he now runs the BK Centers in Brazil and is an amazing musician, writer and biz consultant.
We were talking about purity and the need for deep soul consciousness. He told me he had been practicing celibacy for 10 years and I couldn’t believe it.
What now I have to give up sex? At that time I had a girlfriend who I loved very much. But I had jealousy and sometimes it was hard to trust her because she was not always honest. I knew if I got married, I would be divorced in 3 years looking for the next one. Deep inside I knew true freedom was being pure and simple. I did not want a ball and chain and one day I had a dream where I saw myself as an angel of light taking all these beautiful women to get married with God. From that day I decided to become pure, it has not been easy but the freedom you feel seeing everyone as a soul and not needing to take power away or give my power away has been a blessing. It seems that this kind of courage attracts God into your life as you are going against the grain. My friends at first thought I was crazy, but deep, profound change can only happen with a pure, honest and clean mind.

Brahma Baba showed us that we can become angels, perfect men and women in balance with our ying/yang and live like brothers and sisters.

I have a golden ring on my finger that was given to me by Dadi Janki many years ago. This is my magic ring to see each one as divine beings of peace.

May this day be blessed with peace, love, purity, power and wisdom. Once we were all this and one day we will all return to innocence.

Enjoy the sounds of a new creation. U becoming a song for the Universe and a melody and harmony of love and bliss.

From the heart,

Lucho “Prakash”

Visit this site for guided meditations.

http://www.bkwsu.org/whatwedo/meditation/meditationexp.htm

==============

Once there was a Unique Man…..

He had a series of Visions in 1937 and his life changed forever.

He saw the Future and understood the mission.

We have to change so the World can change. We must focus on God.

He saw a Vision of God and the Future Deities.

He saw a Vision of the Tree of Humanity and saw this time as the planting of new seeds.

He was special to millions of souls, his friends called him Baba.

He was a Perfect Instrument for God, the Eternal Light.

He surrendered to God everything and become Adi Dev, the First Man….

Brahma Baba gave Women the Power of Love.

He gave us Light, Peace and Purity.

He is showing us the Way Home.

Can we see the Eyes of God?
Can we experience our true eternal nature? Brahma showed us how.

There once was a man named Brahma and He knows who You are.

Brahma Created a World Wide Family.

Today this Family covers the world.

Today His Memory stands as a Tower of Peace and He created heaven on earth, a place of visions called Madhuban, the Forest of Honey.

On the 18th of January 1969, Brahma left this plane to the Subtle Regions where He continues His work.

On January 18th, Millions will gather for a day of Silence and Meditation….

Once there was a Unique Man named Brahma Baba and He is with us today and everyday.

Join us in a Celebration of Peace, Love, Transformation and Happiness….Om Shanti.
==========================000000===============================

For Immediate Release

World Meditation to be Held Around the Globe-
January 18, 2007

Worldwide (January 18, 200): World Meditation, January 18 200. Millions of people around the globe will stop to meditate today to focus on inner peace and healing for the planet.

World Meditation Hour began in 1978 when people from all over the world were invited to collectively meditate for one hour for world peace. Over the years this practice has become very popular and has spread to over 90 countries around the world, currently attracting nearly a million people. In many cities, public World Meditation Hour programmes (enhanced by music and commentaries to help guide your thoughts) are held either at the local Brahma Kumaris centre or at a nearby public venue. #rd Sunday of the month.

Our outer world is a reflection of what lies within our collective inner worlds. By directing our thoughts in specific, positive ways, we have the potential to guide the world towards becoming a more loving, peaceful place.

January 18, 2007 is a particularly significant occasion, because it honors the 38th anniversary of the death of Prajapita Brahma in 1969, founder of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. As a result of a series of visions in 1937, Brahma Baba, as he is affectionately known to thousands of Raja Yogis around the world, founded this unique Spiritual University.

The University’s students honor January 18 as a day of silence and meditation for world peace.

At the Headquarters in Mt Abu, Rajasthan, India, more than 20,000 yogis will be uniting in a day of silence and spreading vibrations of peace and love to all humanity.
http://www.brahmakumaris.com

World Meditation invites people to take responsibility for creating inner peace and power while reflecting on our role for world harmony. Add your peace to the world and join millions sharing light and peace for our planet.

Come and share in the personal experience of Brahma Baba’s vision of a new world founded on the values of peace, harmony and love. And see how he inspired and continues to inspire people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to make that vision a reality. Is it possible to learn from ancient wisdom? Can you spare time to meditate on peace? Discover your essential qualities and attributes through the wisdom of Raja Yoga Meditation.

Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University is an international organization working at all levels of society for positive change. Established in 1937 it now carries out a wide range of educational programs for the development of human and spiritual values throughout its 5000 branches in over 100 countries. The University is a Non-Governmental Organization in general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and in consultative status with UNICEF. It is also the recipient of seven UN Peace Messenger awards.

Main International Site.
http://www.bkwsu.org

For more information on the Brahma Kumaris please visit –
In the UK- http://www.bkpublications ~ http://www.brahmakumaris.org.uk
Oxford
http://www.globalretreatcentre.org.uk

In India – http://www.brahmakumaris.com http://www.bkinfo.com

In Peace Village, New York
http://www.peacevillage.com

In Long Island, NY –
Global Harmony House
http://www.ghhny.com
In Australia
http://brahmakumaris.com.au

Some Spanish sites.
Spain
http://www.aembk.org
Perú
http://www.bkperu.org
Colombia
http://www.bkcolombia.com
Argentina
http://www.bkumaris.org.ar
Brazil
http://www.bkumaris.org.br

Selected sites in Europe

Germany
http://www.brahmakumaris.de
France
http://www.rajayoga.asso.fr
Greece
http://www.brahmakumaris.gr/
Sweden
http://www.brahmakumaris.dk/se
Denmark
http://www.brahmakumaris.dk
Portugal
http://www.brahma-kumaris.net
Italy
http://www.bkwsu.it
Casa Sangam Retreat
http://www.casasangam.it

Turkey
http://www.meditasyonyapalim.com

Russia
http://www.brahmakumarisru.com
Korea
http://www.bkkorea.org

Philippines Retreat Center
http://www.bktagaytay.com

New Year Thoughts and Who is Shiva?

January 9, 2007

Dear Family of Light,

In ageless times, we awaken our real mission. While all is in transition

Visions of the past and memories of the future.

2007 comes from Sevens Heaven and a year of Transformation and Determination welcomes your call. No fear to fall, just fly with new wings.

~~*~~ They have been there all along.

Stop the world around U… become still as a star beyond this world.

Sit next 2 God and Feel His~Her Energy soothe your mind.

Sometimes we need controlled amnesia to forget the past and remember who I really Am. A flying bird with the wings of a condor.

I Am Light, Peace, Love, Bliss and Power.

A Flower is awakened like the Lotus above it all. Call your ancestors, there love has never died.

Honor who U are and stop doing what U don’t like, flow like a river and be love in action. Use your mind to heal the world –then U will heal in the process.

A few days ago I got a great email. It was about a woman who had a vision of Shiva. Many years ago, I also had a vision of Shiva.

I was sitting on that same sacred mountain in India and was going thru some turmoil. I had a book and opened it to any page and the words came out.

“Be still and know I am with you…As the Sun of Peace come to me and be free.” I am Shiva.

I was watching the sunset and felt myself leave my body as a star of light floating into the sun. When I came out the other end, all was released. I was clean and pure, like a massage of the soul and showing me who I really was.

Every now and then I reemerge that vision to remind me of my mission.

Who is Shiva?

The first worship in the copper age years before Christ was to Shiva, the Seed of the World Tree, the Benefactor and the Light.

Shiva also means “One who purifies everyone by the utterance of His name” or “the Pure One”. The name Shiva is the Holiest of Holy names and for me He-She is alive and well. He is only a thought away. Tune into the right signal and receive the transmission.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva

So back to the email and the visions of Shiva…

Enjoy and have a blessed New Year,

From the heart,

Lucho

============)))))))((((((((((((((((================

 

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way to Nirvana

by Sharon Janis

http://www.spiritual-happiness.com

I am neither the conscious nor the unconscious mind,

neither intelligence nor ego, neither the ears nor the tongue

nor the senses of smell and sight,

neither ether nor air nor fire nor water nor earth.

I am consciousness and bliss. I am Shiva! I am Shiva!.

 

– SHANKARACHARYA

Chapter Twelve

WHO IS SHIVA?

 

IT WAS MARCH, 1980, and I had been going to the meditation center in Ann Arbor for nearly a year. By this time, I’d moved into a large house owned by one of the local devotees. He wanted to make it into a kind of annex, where people could live with others who were also on the spiritual path, without having to follow the strict schedule of the meditation center itself. We called it “Mike’s House.”

There were four or five people staying in the house at a time. The owner lived in the basement, and rarely came upstairs. He was a complete recluse. I hardly ever saw him, even though we were living in the same house. Mike was quiet, pale, and seemed unemotional, with an odd sense of humor to boot. He reminded me of my sister’s nerdy boyfriend from high school, who had once developed a plan to take over the world by blowing up Australia with anti- matter. I couldn’t figure out if Mike was a potential psychopath or just a good yogi, spending his time in silence and contemplation, but he was always respectful and friendly to me, so I wasn’t too uneasy about it.

Then there was Hari, who lived there for a while during my stay. I had never met anyone quite like Hari. He was thin and had a very flexible, yogic body. You could tell he practiced hatha yoga, the physical exercises, because when he sat in the lotus posture, which is like crossing your legs with your feet on top, he seemed to do it perfectly.

This guy was passionate in an unusual way. He may have been a contemporary version of the archetypal “mad lover of God,” or possibly, he was totally nuts. I guess I think of him as a little of both.

Hari was always falling in love. His heart was so open that he would walk through the woods nearby, weeping as he hugged each tree. He would feel love- energy flowing into him from the leaves and would lie on the ground embracing Mother Earth.

Hari used to tell me about this clear, blue light, the light of consciousness in the space of the head. He explained that the bones in his skull were somehow blocking his flow of kundalini, the powerful force that is said to move up through the nerve centers along the spine. I had not yet learned too many details about the ancient science of kundalini, and so this all sounded a little far-fetched to me. While we were meditating or chanting at the center, I’d occasionally look over and see him undulating with his hips, as though a spigot there turned on a flow of energy that seemed to move up his spine and into his head.

Hari fell in love with a different woman every week. He would become totally obsessed with each one, worshipping them as manifestations of the Divine Mother. When I moved out of the annex, he fell down to the floor and grabbed my ankles, shouting, “Goddess! Don’t leave me!” I guess you could say I was flattered. I had certainly never thought of myself as the goddess type, and this was my first experience of being worshipped! I couldn’t imagine that he wasn’t faking this whole divine love thing to some degree, but looking back on it now, I can’t imagine that he was. For him, the experience was very real. Maybe it also had something to do with drugs.

I never saw Hari take drugs, but occasionally we spoke about them. By age seventeen, I had stopped taking anything more than an occasional pipeful of pot. And now even that had fallen away. Drugs did not seem to be necessary or accepted on this spiritual path.

One day, it was announced at the center that a holiday called Shivaratri was coming up in two weeks. Shivaratri means the “Night of the Lord,” and is a widely celebrated holy day in India. The meditation center was going to celebrate with an all-night chant of the powerful mantra, Om Namah Shivaya, which means “I honor Shiva, the source of the universe.”

I thought to myself, “I can hardly stay conscious when we chant Om Namah Shivaya for ten minutes during the evening programs. How on earth am I going to chant all night?”

Along came Hari with a suggestion: peyote, hallucinogenic cactus. I had never taken peyote, but thought it would be a challenge and adventure, and accepted his offer. Hari bought eight grams of peyote for me, and meticulously cleaned it all, He then was kind enough to boil the cactus for six hours, so I could drink the drug without getting sick from the plant fibers. Peyote was known for its side effect of nausea. We hoped this process would protect me from a potential puke-fest, which would have been really out of place in the holy and peaceful meditation hall.

I was a little nervous while drinking the nasty-tasting brew. After all, once it’s in, it’s in. Each sip made my body convulse, as if someone were shaking me violently. Finally, I managed to choke it all down, and went to the chant. As I sat in the meditation hall, my vision became more acute. I could see the colors in the picture at the front of the room glowing brightly. Through the dim lighting, it was still possible to see some faces. I began to see a bright yellow glow emanating from some of the people sitting around me.

Then, for the first time, I experienced my personal power in a tangible way. There was a wonderfully strong, bright, deep golden radiance surrounding me like a big ball. My personal power. My will-power. My aura. I could see it in my mind’s eye as a bright golden light. My focus changed from that of the physical body to this explosion of power that was also there. I could feel the energy pulsing through me so vividly. It seemed to be a new perception of a force that had always existed inside and around me, though perhaps not as powerfully as in this moment.

I perceived the same glow around other people, and noticed a few lines of light-energy stretching across the room from one person to another. My intuitive understanding was that these represented the strands of relationship. I saw some particularly strong energy lines connecting from one of the married people sitting up front to a woman who was not his wife, and wondered if there was a deeper relationship going on between them that I wasn’t supposed to know about. The thought made me smile. I thought, “This must be what it is like to be psychic — watching people pretend to be one thing while you can see through to who they really are or what they are really thinking.”

The chant began at 8 pm. and continued until morning. In the deep dark hours of this holy night, I had the most subjectively REAL experience of my life.

Soon after I closed my eyes, the inner show began. I saw myself as a white bird with large, expansive wings. I could feel myself flying, becoming aware of how familiar it was to soar so freely.

The sensation awakened memories from my childhood. I used to fly every night in my dreams. I’d fly to distant lands, gliding through the sky. This had been one of my main modes of transportation in dreamland. But as I grew older, I had found myself unable to fly as high. My dreamtime flying abilities declined like an elderly person’s ability to run. I kept getting lower and lower, slower and slower. At one point, I was unable to soar at all. I could only hover above the ground. One night, while floating from my bedroom down the stairs around age eight, my feet touched the ground, and I had to walk down the rest of the steps. After that, I couldn’t fly anymore. Even in the dream state, I grieved for the loss. And here I was after all these years, soaring through this expansive space of personal consciousness with huge, white wings. It was breathtaking.

I saw amazing things that night.

At one point, there was a scene from what I assumed was a previous lifetime. I was a young, bald monk wearing light blue, silky robes. A man who seemed to be my teacher at that time was also in the vision. He was oriental, and quite old and thin. I can still see his kind face in my mind’s eye.

This was interesting to me, because I had been recently having thoughts about being a monk. Right after I started going to the meditation center, they had showed a video about the rites of passage involved with becoming a monk or swami. I had never, ever had any thought, in any way, shape or form, about monkhood before this. They would have had to call me “Swami Atheistananda!” Yet while watching this video, I had been surprised to find a deep longing inside myself to renounce the materialistic world in favor of a contemplative, monastic lifestyle.

After this inner vision, I again became aware of the chant that had been moving through me. Even without any kind of drug, chanting can be totally intoxicating. The powerful rhythms, deep breath cycles, and open-hearted devotion, put the mind in a uniquely peaceful and fertile state.

Throughout the night, we were chanting the mantra Om Namah Shivaya, over and over. I started to contemplate, who were we really singing to? Who was this Shiva? Was he just a Hindu deity, or was Shiva an integral part of my universe in some way? Who’s name was I chanting? The peyote had created a more intense focus on my actions. I was no longer content to sit and simply sing this phrase without deeper contemplation. I was filled with a determination to know what it really meant.

 

Traditional image of Shiva

In my mind, I began to repeat my own mantra along with the chant:

Who is Shiva…?

Who is Shiva…?

Who is Shiva…?

My voice continued to chant Om Namah Shivaya with the group, but my mind was splitting its attention between the two lines:

Om Namah Shivaya…

 

Who is Shiva…?

 

Om Namah Shivaya…

 

Who is Shiva…?

 

After several hours of this focus, I experienced another shift. With my eyes closed, I could see and feel the expansive world around me. As I watched, this world began to fold in on itself, as one might fold in all the flaps of a box to flatten it. I perceived a large, multidimensional area of the world and my various points of interaction with it, which kept bending and folding in. Flap after flap of this reality I’d been living in moved from being multidimensional into flat, two-dimensional, compact forms.

 

As this folding process took place, I began to see faces of people from my life. Some stood out for a moment, while others passed by in large groups. Some manifested symbolically as a particular type of person or relationship. I acknowledged each recalled presence with a silent Om Namah Shivaya, as they appeared and then folded in with everything else.

I saw people I liked, people I loved, and people I’d had a hard time with. But in this space, I loved them all. Each one was precious, a special part of my experience of life on this planet. I repeated the mantra with as much care and intention as I could for each person, each face or archetype that appeared before me. Every one received a well-wishing repetition of Om Namah Shivaya, as they dissolved into the psychic void. I knew something important was taking place, and participated with full attention.

Now there were several things going on in my mind at once. Externally, I was chanting the mantra; inside, I was repeating “Who is Shiva?” and, in my vision, I was saying the mantra to all these faces from my past. It was my way of thanking them for whatever role they played in this life and universe that now seemed to be undergoing a massive transformation and collapse into itself. It was as though a black hole had appeared in reality, drawing in everything that was familiar to me.

I wondered if this was it, if this was the end of the world as I knew it. I wondered if I would ever be able to, or would even want to recreate that construct of reality again. Even if I desired to put all the boxes of that life experience back together again, would it be possible? This was new territory, and by now it was profoundly out of my hands. There was no congressman to write to, no friend to confide in. There was no turning back, because the land I had come from no longer existed – never to return.

Everything I knew had been stripped away, folded up and dissolved into the black nothingness. It was obvious to me, watching this reality folding in on itself, that none of it could have ever been real. It was like seeing a sideshow disassemble after the carnival; watching the tattooed man washing off the ink, and the sword swallower reset all the retractile devices in his swords. I had been fooled. I had been so gullible and naive. I had fallen for the illusion of this world. I thought things were important and they didn’t even exist! I should have known better. How could I have fallen for all this again!

As soon as the idea of again popped up, I slipped into the awareness that this had all happened many times before, perhaps many times before. Then, the final folding of the universe took place, to the farthest reaches of anything I had ever conceived. It all folded in and smashed through the entire physical universe, until there was only flat, infinite darkness.

But right in the middle of this vast darkness was an amazing, still point of light. It was like a star or a small flame with no flickering at all. It was more peaceful than anything I had ever known. I knew this was the seed from which had sprouted the entire world, including who I thought I was and every thought and idea I’d ever had. This point of light was my innermost source, the source of all. Everything originated from that point, and now, had folded back into it. So this was Shiva, the source of the universe!

For a moment, I wondered if this point of light existed in me or if I existed in it. But then it was so obvious. Both were true. In this place, even opposites coexisted perfectly. I remember thinking that, for many people, this experience is available consciously only after they leave the physical world. I knew without a doubt that I had been there before. In fact, this space was absolutely the most familiar place I had ever known. It was familiar in a deep way that nothing else had ever come close to. I later found a poem by T.S. Eliot that described this experience wonderfully.

 

At the still point of the turning world.

Neither flesh nor fleshless;

Neither from nor towards; at the still point,

there the dance is,

But neither arrest nor movement.

And do not call it fixity,

Where past and future are gathered.

Neither movement from nor towards,

Neither ascent nor decline.

Except for the point, the still point,

There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

I can only say, there we have been;

but I cannot say where.

And I cannot say, how long,

for that is to place it in time.

 

—T.S. ELIOT

 

Resting in the presence of this still point, I was suspended in a space between me and not me. There was just awareness. I was somewhat conscious of the personality and circumstances I had been living in, but I was not identified with being those circumstances.

 

I wondered if I would ever go back to the illusion. It didn’t seem possible to return to things as they had been, because it was clear when everything folded in on itself that it would never reappear in exactly the same configuration. If the seed of my life sprouted again, it would be a whole new illusion, a new life-dream, a new flower on the branch of this soul – although I might not realize it from within the mirage. What a play!

 

I hoped I would never be fooled again. I wanted to stay with this peaceful light and not jump back into the mirage. Well, not only did the mirage reappear again, but it has reappeared in new and different manifestations again and again throughout this dance I call “my life.”

 

After seeing this “faceless face” of God, I no longer considered myself to be an atheist.

Journal notes:

This is an attempt to capture the depths of this experience in words:

 

 

How can the Ultimate be described?

 

The mind always tries to categorize and organize,

 

Yet when it turns toward That

 

and ceases to manufacture its intellectual illusions,

 

it is shattered, dissolved,

 

or deflected by defenses arising from

 

…a distorted sense of self-preservation

 

…a fear

 

…a passive submission to the sleep state

 

…a bright silver toy, dangled above

 

To distract one’s attention

 

and re-crystallize,

 

re-solidify,

 

re-move one’s awareness

 

from the process of dissolution,

 

turning one back

 

– again –

 

thus maintaining the underlying,

 

fundamental process of oscillation.

 

The continuous oscillation of contraction

 

and expansion, being manifest through

 

infinite dimensions

 

of cycles and frequencies,

 

Patterns upon patterns

 

upon patterns.

 

The highest, most infinite states of expansion

 

and the most compact states of contraction,

 

being (not becoming!) one,

 

in a simultaneous, eternal…

 

Symphony?

 

Void?

 

Bringing into one’s awareness the highest truths

 

whose very being form a total lack of knowledge,

 

a lack of mind.

 

A state of awareness far beyond the world

 

and universe.

 

Not beyond in space,

 

but right under, or under-lying

 

in an all-pervasive, enfolded kind of way.

 

Yet it is really not enfolded…

 

IT IS

 

And nothing else is.

 

It’s not that this array of worlds and universes is not,

 

but only that point of infinite space,

 

time, knowledge, love and emptiness IS

 

Manifest as the point of light

 

Shimmering in the darkness,

 

A symbol of a state of transcendence

 

over the illusions

 

that bind one in so many ways,

 

and on so many levels,

 

to contraction…

 

or to the cycles of expansion and contraction,

 

as these cycles underlie and maintain

 

the qualities into which they crystallize.

 

Thus all of these qualities,

 

and their underlying cycles,

 

and the time flow that sustains them,

 

and the infinite other dimensions of pattern,

 

are all contained within this point…

 

Yet they’re not really there at all,

 

for the point contains nothing,

 

perhaps like a channel of unlimited potential

 

that is always manifesting, pulsating, creating,

 

yet which never moves or changes at all.

 

It is we, who by interacting with this potential,

 

manifest or create these patterns

 

of world or universe.

 

And yet we ourselves are,

 

at our most fundamental level,

 

completely one with both that potential

 

and its manifestation

 

or lack of manifestation.

 

Om Namah Shivaya

 

I honor Shiva, the source of the Universe.