...and the guru said...why not enjoy living, because you're not dead.
Well, not exactly what he said, but that's the message I took away. This was Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (not THAT Ravi Shankar), leader of a non-profit organization called the Art of Living Foundation. (First time I heard of him, I thought he was Irish: Art O'Fliving.) Six years ago, I went with a friend when the good guru visited Hawaii to talk and lead us in meditation and answer questions about the meaning of life. Then, as he was ceremonially exiting the hall, I offended someone with my quip, "And next week, the Pope."
But yesterday, I saw an ad in our vaguely alternative newspaper announcing his appearance again at the Japanese Cultural Center (of all places). My horoscope in the same newspaper suggested that this would be an "excellent time for you to take inventory of what brings you pleasure....see if you can gain access to an experience that could accurately be described as a blessed state of bliss."
Well, I just HAD to go. The newspaper also had an ad for a concert of Cantonese music, naahmyam, at the East-West Center. Seeking bliss, I dragged the Wizard (who loved it) to this event, featuring a singing style performed in brothels and opium dens in turn of the century Canton. By blind musicians. It was really interesting, but that's another story.
And here it is: Naahmyam is an operatic storytelling style, sentimentally like Mississippi Delta blues or Portuguese fado: I think of it as Pearl River Delta blues. I didn't understand a word of it, but the emotion was conveyed. By Blind Willie McCheong. The Doc Watson of Guangzhou. Or even Stevie Wonder. No, I'm not making fun, it was really cool. Not exactly the state of bliss suggested in my horoscope, but it was certainly worth the attention.
The guru is about a decade younger than me. He taught a head massage which was very like some Taoist qigong techniques I have learned, and then a meditation which was good, but interrupted with some weird "Oms" and guidance that I found distracting. The persons at my left and right in the hall were fidgeting. The meditation ended much sooner than I expected.
Still, his comments and responses to questions were right on.The local person who introduced him talked about "aloha" and "Ha-wai-i". "Ha" is the Hawaiian word for breath (like prana or even qi); wai means "sea" and "i" is spirit. Alo-ha is the sharing of "ha"(which is why it can be both a salutation or greeting and a farewell). I'm not really enchanted with aspects of ancient Hawaiian/Polynesian culture, (kind of stone age, really) but spiritually there is a commonality...breath and spirit...so whether it's a Hawaiian kapuna (an honored elder), Sri Sri, or Hu Lao Shi (my Chinese Tao teacher)...the teachings are similar.
I don't really know what a holy person is. But there are times when you meet someone, are in someone's presence, that you get an energy, a confirmation of things you know to be true. Maybe that's bliss. Maybe my horoscope was right.
6 years ago