It all started with a dream…
I looked down at the strange glyph-and-code phrase on the napkin from a Sunset Strip bar and translated it (in dreams I have mad powers of understanding and communication)…
According to this dream, these were the same words found on a similar napkin given to the guitar player of Agent Orange by their singer, Gabby Hayes, the night they both died. At least that’s what it said in my dead rock star guide book that I was using as a connect-the-dots map while I toured around LA. And yes, I dream in color.
C’mon, you’ve had this dream too, right? Well, that sacred napkin rune was enough to wake me from this dream, excited and contemplative. Thankfully, no one in Agent Orange has actually died, and Mike Palm looks nothing like Gabby Hayes (but does have slight resemblance to Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers, whose name sounds a little like Cory Haim, who had just died the day before I wrote this… is that my subconscious making intricately tricky connections?).
I’m sorry… where was I? Anyway…
“Chip” is not on my birth certificate. It was bestowed upon me at birth, though, and although it lacks the respectability of being on that important document, I do consider it my ‘real’ name (mostly through familiarity, not by winning any cool points). This is not my exclusive party; a great percentage of my friends refer to themselves with names other than the moniker that claims first chair on their early paperwork.
Imagine, if you will, being in a position of such great respect (or in a mind-numbing ego trip) that you would answer to the name Guru of the Blissful Refuge. There are two important things you should do to earn such a name, and I’m going to let you guess what they are.
That’s right, first you’d need to become a guru, and then you’d need a pretty groovy pad, so groovy in fact, that you could label it not only a refuge, but a blissful one at that.
Recently some words from someone who actually does answer to the name Guru of the Blissful Refuge (that’s him in the picture, for reals) jumped into my consciousness and held a forum there. The good Swami, a devotee of Bhakti yoga, was a highlighted subject of a recent documentary on modern yoga practices, called Enlighten Up. The film’s premise was to take a new comer to yoga (or at least our westernized concept of it) and steep him in it with the goal of discovering enlightenment. The filmaker and director, herself a long time practitioner of yoga, hadn’t apparently tapped into this cosmic happiness yet. We’re to suppose then, due to her failure at achieving whatever ‘it’ is, she’d try to see what she was missing by getting a newbie to find ‘it.’
Although beautifully filmed, the movie fell tragically short of its intended premise. Or did it? There was a fascinating final interview with the aforementioned Guru that so blatantly laid out the differences of western thought and the original concepts of yoga, it was a little shocking when the film’s subject, and the film’s director, missed the point entirely.
Enlightenment, like fitness, wealth, heck, success in general, is a very individual pursuit in our culture, often using fancy language like “actualization” to veil a selfishness in the quest. We seek enlightenment, we search for it, we build personal campaigns to find it (and make documentaries of the process). It is a path to rise above. That seems to be a very Western goal, this rising above. We find all sorts of ways to attempt it, and we have very strong judgment calls on the value of the goal. To rise above at the suffering of others, through greed, domination or violence is bad. But rising above through this supposedly benign pursuit of enlightenment would wear a more positive badge. We’d call it ‘good.’
But to the bhakta, one who follows the bhakti marga – the bhakti way – ‘enlightenment’ has nothing to do with searching, finding or rising above. In fact the root of yoga, the actual meaning of the word, is to ‘come together.’ In their case, to come together with God. BUT, do not make the mistake that God is referred to as a literal higher being, one that coming together with would mean ‘rising above’ the riffraff of humanity. It is much simpler, and way more bonding then that. The many bhakta referenced in the movie never once called God ‘him’ or ‘it,’ but rather ‘everything.’ God as the ultimate Tribe, free of many of our western religious ideologies. We don’t ‘rise above’ to understand our relation to this tribe, this planet, this universe… we simple ‘come together’ with it.
John Lennon was onto something.
So how did the Guru answer the redundant questions of ‘what do I do and how do I do it?’ He repeated:
What does this mean?
“As much as possible, try to get rid of what you are not.”
The basic Bodytribe Premise is to ask WHY. Everyone in the fitness industry will give you their version of How and What, but who the fuck is asking WHY?! And yet we need to. Thankfully, the Guru of the Blissful Refuge agrees…
“It’s not important what you are doing. It’s important WHY you are doing. You can prepare food for just consuming. You can prepare food for someone you love. And you can prepare food for your Ishta, your Bhagwan… the Lord. So the action will be the same, Physically. But inside it is different. If you are forced to do some cooking for someone you don’t like, then you will do it… you will cook. But you won’t enjoy it.”
“You came to meet me…
You could have come by cycle, you cold have come by car, you could have come by elephant, you could have come by foot. To reach here, there are so many directions. That depends on you, where you are present. Because… you are the most, or let me use my word, most-est, important person under the sun.”
Or, as Lennon wrote…
Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low, the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won’t you open up your eyes?
My mystic dream napkin made perfect sense:
You are not Anyone, you are Someone.
As Someone, you are not just Anyone,
You are Everyone.