“When we see the beauty of our own being we are seeing the beauty of the Being that is the One of which we are all part. And when we turn towards that One, love is the natural reaction of the heart.” Krishna Das
“Keep the name of the Lord always radiant on your tongue and mind, it will keep the antics of the mind under control.” Sai Baba
The Midwest Bhaktifest occurred this past weekend in Madison Wisconsin. Attendees loaded up their yoga mats and stretch pants to communally lengthen their bodies and minds on the vibes of music, breath, Yoga, and workshop.
The music was peaked by Kirtan singer Krishna Das, an older rock’n roller (Blue Oyster Cult), who uses his deep devotional voice to lead devotees into their moments of bhakti bliss. His accomplices in music added texture to what was a first class call/response music event. Presumably he is on tour about 350 days a year. This is real devotion to the trade.
However, Krishna Das is not just another musician, going through the rigors of touring. His life was turbulent before meeting up with Ram Das and his guru, and turbulent after, as well. That is another story. Now, KD has the grounding to Be wherever his gigs take him. His commentary is always informed as to what is most important now.
In the workshop setting, KD informed the group that he sat with Zen Roshi Bernie Glassman at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Bernie goes to this sad place yearly to let go of “fixed” ideas, abide in the suffocating suffering, and to heal self and others. KD shared that he experienced the shock of having the sun shed its light on this horrific place. It took a lot of sitting and a few days to just get past that. The sun shines on everyone and everywhere without any discrimination, ever.
In contrast to the those attending and the other musical acts, KD had evoked a desire for a more quiet, respectful, and reflective atmosphere than his counterparts. The dancing and environment was often too sensual and raucous, overstating the gross with little emphasis on devotional succour.
Similarly, Swami Radhanath was appropriately restrained in not exacerbating the exuberance that was the standard bearer of this musical piece called Bhaktifest. When he was performing his bhajans, he instructed the participants in a coordinated and restrained dancing that was tasteful and did not cause distracting indulgence. Swami ’Nath got it going on, with devotion leaving intact. His immediate commitment to the moment of being with the ‘name’ underscored the singer and the song as being one.
Swami ’Nath also was quite the storyteller. And he has some personal details that he shared that really show his path was set early on in his life. He actually hails from Highland Park. Who knew? Otis Redding was in his narration as was his eco village, a model farm community and retreat center. Notable was his leadership in the stewardship of the land and community that effects the quality of life in terms of impact and example. Exemplary water, sewage, and sustainable farming have won his group prestigous national awards.
People, young and older, were in attendance with interesting variants. Old hippies following the Kirtan circuit selling their wares, newly minted New Agers with programs to facilitate consciousness, foodies focusing on the vegitarian/vegan diets of Western yogis, and us, baby boomers grooving on the asymmetrical haircuts, sacred tattoos and fusion music of rap/kirtan. It was quite the scene and an opportunity to interact with different generations and individuals who have worked on themselves.
The methodology of connecting with the ‘Oneness’ of the universe through devotional singing, is longstanding and effective because devotion comes from the heart. Love for the object of devotion flows from the devotee to the devotee. The object is also the doer, or in this case, the singer. The singer is also one with the song. The Oneness abounds when we get our little selves out of the way. Love, of course is naturally indigenous to the chakra called the heart. Love removes the unnatural obstacles resulting in our peace.
Subsequently, the mind, the overplayed tool, is stayed. The Moment of time where this all happens can only be in the Moment. Mind is reduced, connection and ‘Oneness’ abound more easily.
Whether we sing out loud or silently repeat the name that is dear to our heart, if we connect effortlessly, the result is the same. We ‘Be’. Seeing it clearly always assures more success.
Be The Moment, say it, sing it, let it flow unimpeded. It is us.