Saturday, February 20, 2010

On Kirtan, New Orleans, and the Tibetan New Year


I had the good fortune last night to go and hear Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band from New Orleans play for the grand opening celebration of East Side Yoga in Austin. The band performs kirtan mantra chants with a bit of NOLA funk thrown in, and though I lived in New Orleans for a time I had never heard them play. What fun! A great, big spiritual sing along, and so healing. We sat shoulder to shoulder, swinging and swaying to the lush rhythms while Sean, Gwendolyn, and Alvin ushered us into another dimension. Would that more spiritual practice was so drenched in music and love!

When asked, Sean spoke about the Superbowl and what it meant to New Orleanians for the Saints to have won--people spontaneously running out into the streets, embracing strangers, high-fiving between cars, and dancing in the streets of the Quarter all night long. And all of this in the midst of carnival season. What a triumph for the city, five years after Katrina, when so many had left her for dead. I've been thinking a lot about NOLA lately, the city I had to leave but who always resides in my heart...

Themes of union and separation ~ both are important in the spiritual path ~ Shiva Nataraj, dancing the world into existence, unburned by the ring of flames that surrounds him because he is one with it. In union there is no distinction, but only from a place of separation can we see and feel and touch. As the Tao says: "Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations" (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 1). And yet it is an endless dance, for as the Buddhist Heart Sutra teaches us "Form is emptiness; emptiness also is form." We swirl back and forth between unity and bittersweet separation, because that's where learning and growth occur. Learning how to become more and more gentle in the face of fear and injustice and sorrow...

Learning how to love, learning the power of love ~ this was the major message from Shambhala Buddhist teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on the occasion of the Tibetan New Year (Year of the Iron Tiger, 2010), which fell on Valentine's Day this year. How can we express kindness and gentleness when provoked, rather than anger and aggression? Love is the path...

Shiva Nataraj image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

23 comments:

Sacred West said...

kirtan, how beautiful - eastern mix of irish jig and sea shanty, or is that shanti?

that's a VERY groovy Shiva you have there in that picture .. NOLA eh? how sweet .. thank you for sharing this extra dimension of the weekend, of life .. it's a privilege to know you

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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水是聰明者的唯一飲料. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Anonymous said...

好問才能博學。......................................................

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你可以從外表的美來評論一朵花或一隻蝴蝶,但你不能這樣來評論一個人........................................

Anonymous said...

朝著既定的目標走,就不會迷失。..............................

Anonymous said...

Nice post ~ 3Q..............................................................

Anonymous said...

才華在逆境中展現,在順境中被掩藏。.............................................

Anonymous said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。..................................................

Anonymous said...

Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today.......................................................

Anonymous said...

到處逛逛~~來繞繞留個言囉~~~~........................................

IrwinE_若愛Buchholz0723若愛 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。..................................................

asda said...

出遊不拘名勝,有景就是好的..................................................

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玫友 said...

不要把生命看得太嚴肅,反正我們不會活著離開。..................................................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。....................................................................

Anonymous said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

Anonymous said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

來給你加油打氣,祝福大家開開心心。 ............................................................