There’s a chance you’ve already been rocked by this video of brand new father Chris Picco singing the Beatles’ famous “Blackbird” to his son Lennon James Picco from the side of his incubator. For a few days, it was just father and son after mother, Ashley Picco, passed away in her sleep following an emergency C-section. Continue reading
It’s taken me a few weeks to digest a question I’ve been living with. “What just happened?” It was a two-and-a-half day whirlwind of positive energy and happiness sprinkling of love, peace and community. An outstanding example of how 2,800 people can come together in authentically supportive community. It was hectic and overwhelming at times, and joyful and inspiring at others. “It” was the yearly World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, instigated by author and world traveler Chris Guillebeau.
As I’m approaching the launch of my book, Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, I’ve been sharing with people that we are all hippies at heart. People often turn up their nose and say emphatically, “I’m not a hippie.” I smile. I’m talking less about hippie in a lifestyle sense, and more about hippie at a core value sense. Then it struck me. The people who come to WDS are the hippies of this generation.
The WDS credo of “community, adventure and service” is this generation carrying forward the values the hippies birthed back in the 60s. Hippies were considered counterculture, revolutionaries who stood for peace, love and changing the world for the better. Radical for the time. WDSers stand for living remarkable lives in a conventional world and being of service, as they lovingly plot their world changing. Hippies were known to live alternative lifestyles and many WDSers definitely live alternative lifestyles.
Hippies stood for the very values that are currently part of the popular conversation. Do you live from a place of gratitude, include music and art in your life, and see how being in community and of service, are fulfilling why we all are here? You are a hippie. Do you meditate, do yoga and continue to do inner transformational work? You are a hippie. Are you a seeker, exploring spirituality and contributing to being a co-creator for a conscious planet? You are a hippie. Or maybe you value organic living and sustainability and are compassionate, showing reverence for all living creatures. You are a hippie. At the core of who we are as human beings…we are all hippies.
As I reflected a bit more, I began to see that WDS is a mini return to the “summer of love”. The 1967 convergence on the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco of up to 100,000 people, is credited for having initiating a major cultural and political shift in the world. It was a revolutionary time, with the energy and excitement of the era translated to the world in many ways, most memorably, through the music of the times. At WDS, music and collective group energy was alive, as we took over the zoo for our love-in opening party. We took over a zoo! 2,800 of us sitting in the open amphitheater Woodstock style, spread out on the grass, dancing, talking and connecting, as we were being entertained by MarchFourth, a colorful marching band whose outfits are a throwback to the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band attire.
Back in the 60s, we lived sharing music and art when coming together in community. Today, WDSers have the power to spread both the individual and group message and energy to millions of people worldwide in a matter of seconds via technology. And they do. One of my unexpected favorite speakers this year was Jia Jiang, whose “rejection therapy” talk demonstrated how powerful stepping outside your comfort zone for fear of being rejected can be, as it often produces the most amazing life affirming results.
For me, the interesting parallel between the 60s to now is actually written in the heavens. Back in the mid-60s, Uranus (planet of revolution, rebellion and sudden change) was conjunct Pluto (planet of transformation, rebirth and breaking with tradition), igniting an inescapable time-release charge of radical transformation in culture and individuals. Before this time, the human potential for enlightenment of “all people” had been reserved for an occasional saint or guru. Back then, this taste of expanded consciousness germinated a cultural seed, giving birth to a new kind of individual. Suddenly it became an expansive possibility for everyone, and hippies were the first to get that. Right-on.
In my understanding of astrology, what happened during the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in the 60s, would manifest globally as soon as these two planets reached their first square. If you haven’t heard, we are in a period where we are experiencing seven exact squares of Uranus and Pluto, starting in 2012 and ending in 2015! Supercharged times of revolutionary and sudden changes at the core level of both individuals and institutions. Where have you felt this in your own life?
People often wonder where have all the hippies gone? They became lawyers who sued for protecting air and water quality and for damages from chemical pollution. They began changing the world by starting companies that produced products that were Earth-friendly, ecologically-sound, technologically advanced and socially conscious. I see Portland as a progressive hub of this energy, alive and flourishing. And it is spreading out into the world at gatherings of people like the World Domination Summit.
An ageless example of what WDS stands for was 84-year-old Bob Moore, founder of “Bob’s Red Mill”, as his deep understanding of the value of working in community was reflected in his “Put people before profit. Share with those who helped you build it.” This consciousness allowed this visionary Aquarian to give the company to his employees, handing it over to them on his 81st birthday. Cool.
For those of us WDSers who actually lived in the 60s and got to be part of this shift in consciousness, it’s incredible to see what was known to a relative few worldwide back then, but which is now alive and part of the big earth shifts. Consciousness and spirituality are embraced as part of who we are. Yoga is done by millions of men and women everywhere daily, and meditation is encouraged for inner peace, the only place world peace can start from. Creativity is the new keyword in education, business and life. Connection and person-to-person sharing are still alive, even in a technological world that is often credited with creating isolation.
This is the real reason people come to Portland each July, to meet face to face with amazing people they want to connect with. WDS is a strong and powerful community. It is a growing community. It is for people of all ages, all ethnicities, from all walks of life. It is a love-in, a peace-in and a groovy way to spend a few days in absolutely, awesomely inspiring company. Power to the people. Until next year’s return to the summer of love. Peace-Out!
Images of MarchFourth and Bob Moore courtesy of Armosa Studios
“The word ’improvisation’ to me means to never stop”-Pandit Ravi Shankar
Today as he turns 89, I sit here wondering, how can I or anyone else capture the soul of a man who was born to be a musician; a man, whose childlike curiosity even today about so much that is beyond music is so endearing. His penchant for perfection still courses through those frail hands at 89, only to display flashes of his genius in the lightning bolts of melody that resonate through the air in concerts-now on a special baby sitar created especially for him. And this after he had lost his hearing in one ear many years ago.
And the word improvisation took on a new meaning as well! It didn’t just mean never to stop, it meant never stop going with the flow.
It wasn’t easy-Ravi ji even tried to run away because the strict discipline got to him, but better sense prevailed and the maestro returned. The most important lesson
The constant hype about
And though he greatly influenced
In fact I hated that loud and drug infested aspect of music. I had walked away from watching Jimi Hendrix because he was being obscene and set fire to his guitar. It was such disrespect to the instrument. Discordant music makes me physically ill. I have been a composer myself and I love to experiment all the time, but whatever I composed or experimented with was based on Indian music, be it classical or contemporary. But you will notice that I have never jammed with any jazz or rock artist. I am personally not interested in fusion music. It is very fashionable and popular today, but it will be forgotten soon. It is more of a gimmicky thing to sell records. I don’t want to criticize, but personally it’s not my thing.
It was exhausting work, but I would go back to
Perhaps one of the milestones in
The second concerto, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and conducted by Zubin Mehta was more complex. I conceived about 36 Ragas for its 4 movements, displaying some longer (Lalit, Yaman, and Desh) and the others in shorter form. Zubin asked me to put some hot chilli in the composition, so I did that by using scales and Ragas which were difficult for Western musicians such as Lalit, Marwa etc and Talas having 51/2 and 131/2 beats (matras).
ARPAN was performed at The Royal Albert Hall – in memory of George Harrison, was very moving. Anoushka conducted it.”
There are only three concertos for sitar and orchestra and all have been written by Ravi Shankar. The latest piece captures the essence and soul of
I was in
Over the years, I have seen Pandit Ravi Shankar battle life threatening illnesses, and do farewell tours each time to return once again to everyone’s joy-he is constantly teased about it, but Sukanya says she continues to encourage him to compose because music is his life. The man, his music, the world stage and audiences of different ages and eras, are inextricably bound by love of music and love of the man himself, year after year. I have seen the intense love, the tears in the eyes of the people, each time he walks on stage. The entire ambience changes with his presence. It’s as if everything morphs into a more divine, more resonant, more soulful version of itself. The entire auditorium just flows with love. How often do I wish we could replicate that in a world full of jealousy, envy, one-upmanship, non inclusion where people rejoice in the failures of others, and we often find ourselves overwhelmed by a world today of economic imbalance that has seen, violently tragic consequences and loneliness; where depression seem to be rampant.
This discrimination is something
The Sukanya I know today is very loving, intensely loyal, generous, giving and thoughtful and I’m proud to call her my friend. Much as I love everyone in that household Sukanya knows she is the one I have the softest corner for.
In all the hullabaloo that surrounds Raviji and has surrounded him through the years, people have come and gone out of his life but Sukanya has remained that one constant pillar of strength who literally snatched him from the mouth of death a couple of times and nursed him back to health and vigor. I have also seen her brim with joy as
The last time we met we were talking about getting him to start a blog. Perhaps then so many who have waited for years to reach out and connect with this fascinating, very lovable man would be that much closer to the truth of Ravi Shankar-a truth that has often been written in the way someone has wanted to write it-never in the words of Ravi Shankar himself.
Many happy returns of the day
According to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two remaining members of the Beatles, Transcedental Meditation helped stabilize their band. (Read more about it here.) They will be performing at a concert on Saturday to raise funds for the David Lynch Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating children meditation techniques in school.
This newsstory rocks. It combines my favorite musicians with one of my favorite film directors, and they are both dedicated to a spiritual practice that has become inseparable from my everyday existence.
Though my influence is not as far-reaching as The Beatles or David Lynch, I have become an unofficial PR for meditation among my limited circle of friends. Having started meditation about a year go, I now can’t imagine going through the day without meditating at least once or twice for twenty minutes at a time.
I fully support the efforts of The Beatles and the David Lynch Foundation. The idea of thousands upon thousands of school children closing their eyes and listening to the silence within them gives me tremendous hope. Considering that the next generation will grow up in an even faster and more complicated world than the one we are living in now, meditation at an early age seems less a proposal and more a necessity to simply keep one’s sanity intact.
I can’t imagine a better panacea to the evils of the world than an entire global community focusing on the silence of their own inner peace. The battle is won one young mind at a time, one Beatles concert at a time.
Join the meditation revolution. Start learning meditation today.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have joined forces with the David Lynch Foundation to promote meditation. The CNN.com article