My mama say baby be careful
If any body comes to say I love you
My papa say baby I warn you
If anybody comes to say I love you
Now you asking me to trust you
Tell me how am I supposed to
When I know this love don’t last
~ Asa Subway
Imagine a scorching hot summer day, a blistering sun rising higher and higher into the sky. You’ve been baking for weeks in this weather and your skin is brown, armoured against the UV with a waterproof 5,000 SPF screen, hat and shades. The river’s surface roils gently in the inexorable flow to the ocean. Feet and hands and your ass cool in the water, but you dare not move a muscle, or your exposed skin will sizzle on the black rubber of your innertube. Your iPod shuffle, in its ziploc baggie, moves to the next song in your tranquility playlist and strains of Joe Walsh’s album, But Seriously, Folks rise in your earbuds.
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This is a clever and quite lovely mashup of science, astro-physics, meta-physics, spirituality and rhythm. A dance floor Tao of Physics. I think I’ll let these bodhisattvas of science speak for themselves…what a wonderful collection of muses, of musical musings they give us…and John Boswell, the head musician and producer behind the Symphony of Science and this vid.
–noun Buddhism .
a person who has attained prajna, or Enlightenment, but who postpones Nirvana in order to help others to attain Enlightenment: individual Bodhisattvas are the subjects of devotion in certain sects and are often represented in painting and sculpture.
Listen very closely to this song, to the underlying rhythms. What’s that sound, the shsh sshh shsshsh?
This mantra is Ide Were Were, from Deva Premal’s album Love is Space. Listen closely. There’s a hint right at the start. Depending on the fidelity of your sound system, you may not recognise it. The sound quality of the video reproduces just enough fidelity to hear it, though the source becomes clear at the very end.
I’ll give you the lyric, the story it tells and some background on Oshun, the West African goddess, while you continue to listen.
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A day of sunshine and warm summery breezes, moving conversation and revealed transformations, a day of intimacy and worries unburdened, of gratitude and the most difficult of life’s moments shared… A day not so much impervious to the hardships, the horrors, the blues, but one that finds itself on the other side of them, finds the lessons in the experience, the beauty of the beings that survive them, and discovers the rainbow of colours beyond. A day of music, and plenty, and love.
I love the bluesy inflection of this Paul Simon pop tune. The lament flows through me; I find the beauty in the blue, its truth, and realise the slide has ended for me, ended a while ago.
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Yesterday the people of The United States of America marked Memorial Day. It’s a day of baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, of families and communities gathering to celebrate the arrival of summer. It’s a day of flags and bunting and red, white & blue and national pride, and a day to memorialise the millions of men who’ve died in the service of their country. It’s a day about bravery, honour and sacrifice. People talk about the heroes of freedom, liberty and, in these post 9-11 days, security. There’s even a little bit about peace.
Every country I know has its Memorial Day. Australians observe ANZAC Day on April 25th. Here, in Canada, we stand for a minute of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Remembrance Day, the moment when peace was reached at the end of World War I…”the war to end all wars.” Remembrance Day here — with poppies pinned to dark coats on a usually grey chill fall day — is a much more somber affair than the weekend long summery celebrations that happen in the US and down under.
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Mmmmm… a day of cloudy wet so a retreat into a tub of hot water with salsa & tortilla chips and a good book about one of my favourite subjects, Stephen Mitchell’s The Second Book of the Tao (Dao, Tao, same thing, same pronunciation: Dao).
Hmmmm… the liner notes of this book explain that the most widely translated book in world literature, after the Bible, is Lao Tse‘s Dao de Jing, or Book of the Way, the Chinese classic manual on the art of living. Interesting. I love that book for its gentle, mystical wisdom. I go back to it time and time again, always finding something new.
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Who are you? Are you the sum of your experiences, your actions, your memories? Are you your dreams, your plans, your aspirations, the person you’ll someday become? Are you your past, or your destiny or your present?
The best films in any genre are always the ones that touch on essential human questions. What is it to love? How do you measure success? Will the everyday man find the courage to rise up and be a hero? What is the nature of goodness, of evil? Is there something divine at work in the universe?
Among the questions that fascinate me most, though, is the one confronting Jason Bourne. Who am I? At yet another moment in time ripe for another re-invention of self, I’am asking: who am I?
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My first mistake today was climbing into the bathtub and picking up the May 31st, 2010 edition of Canada’s weekly news magazine, Macleans, rather than the copy of Stephen Mitchell’s The Second Book of the Tao, in which I’d thought to have a nice, long spiritual soak along with the hot water, and possibly bubbles. My second mistake was not putting the magazine down after reading On why Christians should try to convert Muslims, instead continuing on to Mark Steyn’s editorial, We’re too broke to be this stupid. My third mistake was rousing myself from the bathtub with said periodical and making my way to the computer where I found the latter article on the Macleans website and posted a thought-provoking, sublimely malicious comment.
I learned how to write in political forums. I learned to be precise and ruthless with language to escape the mockery of others. I learned to heap artful malice upon the ideas of the fools who debated with me. Politics engenders a distinct and unsubtle flavour of anger, hatred, derision and spiritual malfeasance. Political minds spin lies, bend statistics, toss in red herrings and strawmen, and omit the truth in order to sustain or obtain their agendas. Often these are agendas to which they no longer have a personal, moral, objective or subjective allegiance. Most importantly, people who immerse themselves in politics lose themselves to the false spiritual belief in doing wrong for the greater good. That wrong can be as simple as intellectually beating someone up in front of an audience to make themselves (most likely) or their own ideas (least important, generally) look smarter.
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I downloaded this song, Revelations, over a year ago. I can’t recall playing it since, though iTunes insists it’s been played 7 times before. Yesterday it came on while on my way to my chiropractor’s. Something about it haunted me. I wonder if I’d ever listened to the lyrics before. Really listened to them. Revelations, the apocalypse, judgment day: these concepts of the end time are so prevalent in this western culture I live in that even I sometimes forget that there’s any other way to think about the cosmology of existence.
I played the song over and over again. It’s hauntingly beautiful. The lead guitar line, with it’s gentle repetition of falling notes, the lilting voice, the weepy electric guitar that so achingly fills the void left when the voice trails off, and the soft percussive padding on animal skin that flows throughout, lonely and aware, to the final fade. I could listen to it just for that, and were it not for the lyrics, I would have only listened to it once.
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