Max Roach described Jazz as “a very democratic musical form.” It “comes," he said,"out of a communal experience.” These forms express, what Albert Murray called, “the ancestral down-home voice at its highest level of refinement.” Nina Simone clearly heard those voices and declared, “Jazz is not just music. It’s a way of life; it’s a way of being, a way of thinking.”
The communal experience, the musical forms, the distant voices, do indeed influence ways of life and ways of being and thinking. And all together they constitute a unique collective mentality; an entity that fulfills the individual expression it inspires.
Jazz is a state of mind.
The Hieroglyphs of Oblivion
The American Dream was born in oblivion – the state of forgetfulness that nurtures indifference to much of what goes on inside it and all around it; an indifference that estranges people from one another – a sense of estrangement many Americans feel but don't understand.
Oblivion and the American Dream are the American paradox because they are inextricably tied together to contain and conceal what James Baldwin called the “bitter truth” - the undecipherable hieroglyphs “designed to protect, what they are designed to convey” - and so long as truth is obliterated, all we can do is dream. Real liberty and justice requires pure truth.
Awakening and Rebirth
The physical body is a perishable container. It can be controlled and even enslaved by outside forces. Spirit, however, is an invisible, uncontainable entity that resides in the individual state of mind. And although outside forces can influence and weaken one’s spirit, one’s spirit is ultimately unconquerable. Spirit is unconquerable because it has an inherent power to create and to move, and thereby the ability to transcend all present states, physical or mental.
At times, one’s spirit may seem to reflect only the physical manifestations of one's existence. But one's spirit naturally aspires to reflect one's true self or soul, the expression of the universe’s mysterious ability to re-create itself, regenerate itself, and survive.
So, to be moved by spirit is to be re-born and survive.
Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa, an Oglala Lakota Sioux holy man) said: “The power of a thing or an act is in the meaning and the understanding.”
And so. Why then would people who grasp the meaning of an existent thing such as the Jazz state of mind, hesitate to use its power?
Religious belief has underlying spiritual essences that are often contained in rituals, the signs, symbols, systems, and procedures, etc. people use to release them. People unfamiliar with a ritual have no way to decipher its meaning. And though they therefore misunderstand, they sometimes denigrate and diminish its value to the culture that sustains it.
In the book, THE HEALING WISDOM OF AFRICA, Malidoma Some' describes ritual as "the most ancient way of binding a community together in a close relationship with Spirit...Ritual has always been the way of life of the spiritual person because it is a tool to maintain the delicate balance between body and soul."
"A Reading Man and Woman is a ready man and woman." (Marcus Garvey)
Seeing in the Dark
"I can see in the dark," boasted Nasrudin one day in the teahouse.
"If that is so, why do we sometimes see you carrying a light through the streets" Someone asked?
"Only to prevent other people from colliding with me."
(Story from The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin by Idries Shah)
Shhhhh. Artists at work.
I remember why I stopped going to Jazz clubs. No. It wasn’t because of cover charges or drink minimums or bad music. I stopped mainly because Jazz club audiences have a tendency to be disrespectful of the music and the artistry that goes into making it. I think it's disrespectful for people to laugh and talk so much during performances that it distracts from the performance. The music is forced into the background. I suspect that most Jazz musicians don’t like this and, as a consequence, I believe many of them learn to ignore rude audience. That is a sad situation because a collective mentality is needed to fulfill the individual expression that is the Jazz state of mind, that is of great residual value.
If Jazz is to survive as a form of art and live on as something more than jazzy background sound, those of us who appreciate the art form - the Jazz state of mind - must find the way to upgrading the quality of its audience.
So Shhhhh. Please.
A Beautiful Afternoon
Jazz is a powerful American art form! Its roots are deep in the traditions of storytelling. One of these traditions is described as “the ancient West African craft known as Jaliyaa…a testament to the power of music and words.”
The power of music and words was in full force on Sunday November 23rd at Fais Do Do in Los Angeles California. Chuck Koton of All About Jazz.com says, “If you missed your regular church service, regardless of your brand of religion, you couldve had a swingin' and spiritually nourishing afternoon experience with the Rev Trible.”
Dwight Trible is neither reverend nor pastor in the formal meanings of those titles. And no one in attendance for this Sunday service seemed to care. One attendee, Ujazi Calomee, testifies that, “no one can say I didn't " go to church" today!! Dwight Trible took me there! !!! What a beautiful afternoon.”
Koton summed things up saying it was a great afternoon show with Trible “in great form, as always, testifyin’ about peace love and beauty...ably supported by 3 great musicians who have play with Dwight often, pianist Theo Saunders, bassist Trevor Ware and on drums, Paul Legaspi...And, of course, a Big Shout Out to Ken Moore of Howling Monk who produced the show and the Jazz Cat, LeRoy Downs, who hosted the ceremonies...thank you ALL!”
Mr. Trible is a Jazz man. Jazz is indeed a powerful American art form worthy of determined cultivation. And yes. It was a beautiful afternoon! Thank You for being there!
Bennie Maupin at Fais Do Do by Dee Dee McNeil for L.A. Jazz.Com - October 26, 2014
"The first place I went to find music was at the church, people getting happy, singing and shouting. Because, it's all about the love. We're playing from the heart."
Bennie Maupin is one of our internationally acclaimed jazz icons. I was excited to attend his recent concert. The space was located at the club known as Fais Do-Do on West Adams Street in west central Los Angeles, equipped with a spacious stage, bar, and small circular tables with hardback chairs scattered about. A few padded booth seats were available against the walls and there was a peppering of bar stools for the overflow of guests.
The event was hosted by Ken Moore, affectionately known as Howling Monk by the throngs of people who are familiar with his community jazz concert promoting and his coffee product line. Street parking was limited, but they had acquired the use of laundromat parking for $5 just kiddy-corner from the building.
The small performance space was a chatterbox of excitement as Bennie Maupin casually seated himself behind an electric keyboard, looked out at the sea of multi-cultural faces and nodded to Munyungo Jackson to start the evening with percussive brilliance. He obliged. Gene Coye, on drums, soon added brushes to the rhythm and Darek Oles on bass joined them. In the hushed silence that followed, Bennie stood like a king before his disciples, lifted the alto flute to his lips and sweetly whispered his musical message to us. The concert had begun.
Maupin was born August 29, 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. He mastered the woodwind instruments and established his own style, recording and performing with familiar jazz names like Miles Davis, where he collaborated on "Bitches Brew", "Big Fun" and "On The Corner" albums. He also recorded with Horace Silver and with Herbie Hancock in 1975 as part of the Headhunters group and also with Hancock's legendary Mwandishi sextet; with Roy Haynes, Woody Shaw, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, and more recently on L.A. based John Beasley's Grammy-nominated CD "Positootly." Maupin also recorded with Eddie Henderson, McCoy Tyner and Lonnie Smith ("Turning Point" Blue Note, 1969), as well as Andrew Hill, Marion Brown and with Chick Corea. I'm only scratching the surface of musical giants Maupin has enhanced with his amazing style and delivery.
With a strong bebop and jazz fusion history under his belt, it's no wonder that today's concert reached back to a tradition where saxophone, bass, and drum ensembles were more familiar, excluding the tradition of piano or guitar as part of the rhythm section. It took me back to evenings at Detroit's "Minor Key," which was a beatnik coffee shop and jazz performance space in Detroit. There, you could hear Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Barry Harris, Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, or Dr. Yusef Lateef and many other greats at any unexpected moment. The free-flow improvisation kept the crowds breathless, expectant and humbled at the feet of masters. Bennie Maupin evoked that same type of response and confirmation this afternoon.
In 2006, Maupin released a critically acclaimed album titled "Penumbra", and he gave us a taste of music from that CD. Penumbra means 'a partial shadow', but there was nothing but light on the stage this afternoon. His original composition, "See the Positive" featured Maupin's excellence on soprano saxophone, playing unexpected intervals, beautiful in their own unique way. It caused some in the audience to cry out and clap hands, as though he were a preacher in a gospel pulpit. We got lost in his passion and spirit.
Maupin stepped up to the microphone... "I grew up in the blues; a blues drudged up from Mississippi to Detroit. It's in my DNA. Lyle 'Spud' Murphy was one of my teachers. He taught me composition and arranging after I moved to LA. I've always had great teachers, but I think that out of all of them, when it comes to composition, arranging and orchestration he was 'the man'. He showed me how to simply state something. But everything I play is steeped in the blues," he shared with sincerity.
Then he thrilled us with his gut-wrenching rendition of "You Don't Know What Love Is." The arrangement displayed unexpected time changes, moving from a sweet ballad to the Avant Garde; than blending into a Straight-Ahead Swing. Derek Oles gave us an impressive solo, stroking the melody from his upright instrument and using a two-string pull on those big, bass strings to add harmonics and dimension. I also enjoyed Maupin's composition, "Equal Justice," where he played piano. "Neopheilia 2006" featured his eclectic talent on bass clarinet. Sitting tall on the stage, that instrument is an art piece on its own and begged to be played. Maupin breathed the life into it. Unexpectedly, it seemed as if animal sounds floated from the bell, along with deep, lush melodies that took us to the shores of the African continent in a musical way.
An energetic rendition of "All Blues" featured Maupin on soprano sax and it gave bass and drums a platform to showcase their skills. Gene Coye, for the most part solid but understated, finally took this opportunity to show us his unique talents on the drums and why he's such an integral part of Maupin's current band. Munyungo Jackson is always charismatic and superb on percussion. He embellished two important factors in jazz; rhythm and improvisation. We were enchanted as he tossed his huge, beaded shaker instrument into the air, while playing it in perfect time, catching it in between beats and never losing the continuity of the tune or the tempo. Munyungo punctuated Maupin's musical art with gongs, shakers and sundry percussive instruments throughout the concert and Bennie told us he always loved having the percussionist as part of his ensemble. He said he and Jackson had an unspoken connection, as spiritual as the music itself.
In closing, Maupin thanked Ken, the concert promoter, for getting people to come to 'the hood' on a Sunday afternoon. He told us that music is emotional and is about being yourself. He said that's one of the many things he learned from Miles, Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and mentors like those.
"I learned from them, not just as musicians, but as human beings," he explained. "The first place I went to find music was at the church, people getting happy, singing and shouting. Because, it's all about the love. We're playing from the heart."
He marched us out on 'the funk', taking us to New Orleans, Africa, Detroit, Michigan, Harlem and South Central LA, all in a single tune. Thanks Bennie. We were all feeling the love!
The Jazz state of mind expresses a surreality that is rooted in the strange and complicated American ideas of "Blackness" and "Whiteness." No color in-between escapes.
“I am wondering why I have never heard of your coffee before?? Stopped by a local coffee shop (3 WORLDS) on Central Ave and bought a bag of Howling Monk beans just to support the brother (Akeela)......Much to my surprise I sampled some of the best coffee I have ever tasted!! Kinda saying a lot since I worked for American Airlines for over 20yrs and have had coffee everywhere from the Peoples Republic of Armenia to Havana, Cuba, Bravo and well done. (A.P. 2014)”
In the process of seeking emptiness in the solid or finding stillness or non-action in action the Tai Chi student follows natural law. Students can reach the art’s highest spiritual level; the art’s final stage, by studying and understanding xujing.
Jou, Tsung Hwa described xujing in his book, THE DAO OF TAIJIQUAN, as an enduring state of tranquility achieved through the intrinsic effects of movement. He explains that when external changes occur and thought is given up during the occurrence, an internal calm and sense of emptiness, a sense of peacefulness that is unaffected by change can emerge.
“Give up all thoughts and become tranquil,” Hwa says. “Return to the primal and change the complex to the simple. Pay attention only to yin and yang, changes within and without, changes from action to non-action and non-action to action. As a result, your spirit will blossom and become peaceful.”
The exercise of giving up of thought as change occurs is a retreat into relaxation and though the exercise is natural, it often must be re-learned. In his book, T'AI CHI, Cheng Man-chi-ing says:
“Observe a child. Note how he (or she) breathes – not high n the chest but low in the abdomen. See too, how he (she) meets an accident – relaxed and with no apprehension in his (or her) mind. You may charge this off to ignorance, but, this not withstanding, the child more often than not emerges from accidents unscathed. So perhaps the experience/intelligence clogging the adult’s mind and causing his body to stiffen is really not such an asset after all. Let the child grasp your finger and try to retract it. Difficult, isn’t it? The grasp is firm but not frenzied; there is true energy involved…T’ai Chi believes that progress can be made only if one becomes like a child.”
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This two-volume set, including Over the Line: The Art and Life of Jacob Lawrence and Jacob Lawrence: Paintings, Drawings, and Murals (1935-1999), A Catalogue Raisonne, is the definitive publication on the work of artist Jacob Lawrence. The result of six years of research by the Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonne Project, led by Peter T. Nesbett and Michelle DuBois, the books identify, authenticate, and document over 900 paintings, drawings, and murals created by Jacob Lawrence between 1935 and 1999-over half of them discovered by the project. Over the Line includes essays by eight distinguished art historians considering the ways in which Lawrence's art speaks so powerfully to different audiences and examining for the first time the breadth and depth of his output.
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The Limbless Fox
There is the tale of a man who saw a limbless fox and wondered how it managed to be so well fed. Deciding to watch it, he found that it had positioned itself where a lion brought its kill. After eating, the lion would go away, and the fox would eat its leavings. So the man decided to allow fate to serve him in the same way.
Sitting down in a street and waiting, all that happened was that he became more and more weak and hungry, for nobody and nothing took an interest in him.
Eventually a voice spoke and said: “Why should you behave like a lamed fox? Why should you not be a lion, so that others might benefit from your leavings?”
Something of the African American collective experience is often unexpressed. Something of their individual blues experience is often unexpressed as well. These otherwise unexpressed things do exist however. They exist in the Jazz state of mind. They take form in paintings, drawings, music, literature, and other creative endeavors. They are Black Surreality.
TheartworkofArchibaldMotley,Jr.tellsofsecrets and dreams and discordances; a surreality peculiar to America.
Confusion or Not
We are the essence of a dual consciousness. One consciousness is an awareness of that which is outside ourselves, what is physical, the world around us and the outer spaces. The other is an awareness of that which is within us, what is spiritual, the soul, the mind and other such things. The condition of our dual consciousness is the state of our essential presence. It is that part of the mysterious entity of life that justifies life, establishes a balance that each individual must maintain. When our dual consciousness is balanced, we feel at ease. We have a sense of certainty and confidence. When it is not balanced, we feel uneasy, uncertain and confused.
Genius by Bobby West
Years ago my brother asked me to go to a house party. It was a very nice home with some beautiful-looking people. My brother and his wife started yelling, "Bob, they have a piano!" The next thing you know I'm doing a Motown revue/open mic kinda thing because the place was full of singers and wanna-bees..Suga Pie, My Girl, Tracks of my Tears, Get Ready, etc. Then this sista calls out "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "You're All I Need to Get By," "Heaven Must of Sent Your”
The three-to-four chord iconic hits of Motown were as easy as me remembering my childhood, but THESE were compositions! They possessed hints of a Bernstein musical, Sondheim-like harmonic progressions, moody, dramatic passages and abrupt modulations.
So, in the midst of the party sing-along there was cause for pause! These amazing standouts of the Motown canon were written by two black teenagers who were madly in love with each other: Nick Ashford &Valerie Simpson. They were 18, 19 years-old! Their songs were the chosen vehicle of two great artists who, at least, seemed like they were madly in love with each other. The songs were Genius. (That's all I'm saying'.)
Jazz and the Mind
The mind can be defined, not as physical activity, but rather as the mental activity that enables people (and other forms of life, perhaps) to think, calculate, remember, imagine, etc. in states of consciousness and unconsciousness; to be aware of our earthly experience in a spiritual sense.
An article posted on the internet says: “A lengthy tradition of inquiries in philosophy, religion, psychology and cognitive science has sought to develop an understanding of what a mind is and what its distinguishing properties are.” The inquiries are ongoing. In his book, T’AI CHI CLASSICS, Waysun Liao says the mind is the only part of the human being that does not belong totally to the earth.
All I Needed Was Time
A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story from The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Naasrudin by Idries Shah
The Mulla bought a donkey. Someone told him that he would have to give it a certain amount of food every day. This he considered to be too much. He would experiment, he decided, to get it used to less food. Each day, therefore, he reduced its rations.
Eventually, when the donkey was reduced to almost no food at all, it fell over and died.
“Pity,” said the Mulla. “If I had had a little more time before it died I could have got it accustomed to living on nothing at all.”
In 332 B.C. Macedonian warrior king Alexander the Great brought ancient Egypt to her knees. Macedonian rule of Egypt ended in 30 B.C. when Cleopatra committed suicide in the wake of intense intrigue, questionable alliances, and romantic liaisons with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony of Rome and others. Legends of her exotic beauty and strength have inspired artists for centuries.
Cleopatra’s transition from life to death is captured in a two-ton marble sculpture executed in 1876 by Edmonia Lewis. By most accounts, “The Death of Cleopatra,” is her masterpiece. An article at encyclopedia.com states that “while many sculptures of the Egyptian queen showed her as a power-hungry seductress, Lewis showed the moment of her death, a tragic and vulnerable figure slumped in a chair after being bitten by the poisonous snake she is said to have used to cause her own death.”
“The Death of Cleopatra” was shipped to Philadelphia for its 1876 Centennial from Italy where it was sculpted. So there was Cleopatra on Egypt’s ancient throne, no longer full of life, having contemplated death and having breathed her final breath. Her head, no longer held high, but back and to the side. Her right hand clutched a poisonous asp. Her left hand hung lifelessly; the whole thing what one source described as a “realistic portrayal” that “ran contrary to the sentimentality about death that was prevalent at the time.” Still, a journalist noted that the work “excites more admiration and gathers larger crowds around it than any other work of art in the vast collection of Memorial Hall.”
Some art critics disagreed. One wrote: "This was not a beautiful work. It was a very original and very striking one. The effects of death are represented with such skill as to be absolutely repellant — and it is a question whether a statue of the ghastly characteristics of this one does not overstep the bounds of legitimate art."
Failing to sell in Philadelphia, “The Death of Cleopatra” was moved to the Chicago Interstate Exposition where it failed to sell as well. Lewis returned to Europe returning to America from time to time to sell other work. She became a permanent expatriate in 1880. Her masterpiece was placed in storage. Storage was followed by a time as decor in a Chicago saloon and as a grave marker for a racehorse named Cleopatra. "The Death of Cleopatra" then disappeared until it was rediscovered in the late 1970s.
By the turn of the century, she was, like her masterpiece, "virtually forgotten." Where and and when she died is a mystery. Interest in the life and work of this daughter of a Native American woman and African father was not rekindled until the late 1960s.
Beyond "The Death of Cleopatra, the story of Wildfire (as she was called by her people) is one that is remarkable unto itself and well worth knowing.
Jazz is more than music. It's a way of doing things; an individual approach to one's own perspective that encourages its expression. Henry O. Tanner, an African American artist born in 1859, had to go to France to find an accommodating environment for his expression. The son of an A.M.E. minister, the young Tanner was expected to follow in his father's footsteps. He did, but in a different way.
"I will preach with my brush," he said, and did.
Henry O. Tanner may be regarded as one of the first modern Black Surrealist artists.
Why the free “Black” mind? People of African descent, particularly those in America - people often called "Black People" are the last large group of people to be enslaved. They were enslaved not by chains alone, but also by ideas designed to linger in the mind until they reconciled them in order to free themselves.
A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story from The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Naasrudin by Idries Shah
Sitting one day in the teahouse. Nasrudin was impressed by the rhetoric of a traveling scholar. Questioned by one of the company on some point, the sage drew a book from his pocket and banged it on the table: ‘This is my evidence! And I wrote it myself.’
A man who could not only read but write was a rarity. And a man who had written a book! The villagers treated the pedant with profound respect.
Some days later, Mulla Nasrudin appeared at the teahouse and asked whether anyone wanted to buy a house.
‘Tell us something about it, Mulla’ the people asked him, ‘for we did not even know you had a house of your own.’
‘Actions speak louder than words!’ shouted Nasrudin.
From his pocket he took a brick, and hurled it on the table in front of him.
‘This is my evidence. Examine it for quality. And I built the house myself.’
If there is an American culture, its fundamental elements are as African as they are European. These elements may be thought of as threads connecting people to their ancestral roots; the essence of their creativity and spirituality. When asked who the most exotic American people are, someone replied, "Black People, of course."
What is exotic in appearance is often mysterious and what is mysterious is often misunderstood. What is exotic in appearance is often surreal.
What Is To Be
A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story from The Pleasntries of the Incredible Mulla Naasrudin by Idries Shah
A farmer asked Nasrudin whether his olive would bear fruit in that year.
‘They will bear,” said the Mulla.
‘How do you know?’
‘I just know, that is all.’
Later the same man saw Nasrudin trotting his donkey along a seashore, looking for driftwood.
‘There is no wood here, Mulla, I have looked,’ he called out.
Hours later the same man saw Nasrudin wending his way home, tired out, still without fuel.
‘You are a man of perception, who can tell whether an olive tree will bear or not. Why can’t you tell whether there is wood on a seashore?’
'I know what must be,” said Nasrudin, ‘but I do not know what may be.’
The term “surrealist” was coined by Guillaume Apollinaire when it appeared in the preface to his play Les Mamelles de Tiresias (The Breasts of Tiresias), which was written in 1903 and first performed in 1917. Surrealism generally pertains to artwork, literature, and music, etc. characterized by their dreamlike and, sometimes, disorienting qualities. Surrealism is also the expression of a philosophical movement with the work as its artifact. An article on the history of surrealism describes it as a cultural movement that began in the 1920s to free the unconscious to express itself and help resolve contradictions between dreams and reality. Andre Breton, a leader of that movement, asserted that above all else, surrealism is revolutionary. The article goes on to say that Sigmund Freud's work with free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious was important to the Surrealists in developing methods that would liberate imagination.
(September 20, 1915- February 23, 1999)
Hughie Lee-Smith lived through all but a decade and a half of the Twentieth Century. The African American Registry describes his paintings as expressing “a haunting sense of loneliness and alienation” of the American scene. “Mysteriously, they convey the feeling that something good is missing-and yet somehow about to happen...His vast skies, desolate scenes, and distanced people, his blowing ribbons and colorful balloons, mix realism and fantasy in surrealistic juxtapositions that reflect the contradiction and paradoxes of American life."
"I cannot begin to project the meaning of my work,” the artist said, “for these paintings, at their best, are multi-faceted visual complexes whose many aspects are pregnant with as many disparate meanings as there are viewers…I think my paintings have to do with an invisible life; a reality on a different level."
A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story from The Exploits of the Incomparible Mulla Naasrudin by Idries Shah
The King was in a bad mood. As he left the palace to go hunting he saw Nasrudin.
“It is a bad omen to see a Mulla on the way to a hunt,” he shouted to his guards. “Don’t let him stare at me – whip him out of the way.”
They did so.
As it happened, the chase was successful.
The King sent for Nasrudin.
“I am sorry, Mulla. I thought you were a bad omen. You were not, it transpires.”
“You thought I was a bad omen!” said Nasrudin. “You look at me and get a full game bag. I look at you, and I get a whipping. Who is a bad omen for whom?”
Salt is not Wool
A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story from The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Naasrudin by Idries Shah
One day the Mulla was taking a donkey-load of salt to market and drove the ass through a stream. The salt was dissolved. The Mulla was angry at the loss of his load. The ass was frisky with relief.
Next time he passed that way he had a load of wool. After the animal had passed through the stream, the wool was thoroughly soaked, and very heavy. The donkey staggered under the soggy load.
‘Ha!’ shouted the Mulla, ‘you thought you would get off lightly every time you went through water, didn’t you?’
Forgetting is not a matter of choice or decision. Forgetting is a matter of time. Only the passage of time can completely dissolve a memory. And since the passage of time may be one that never-ends, wanting and trying to forget something may be a futile activity.
"You can’t make yourself love someone," she thought of him.
"You can’t make someone stop loving you," he often dreamt of her and she of him.
And so they drifted apart dreaming of love and one another.
A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story from The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Naasrudin by Idries Shah
An illiterate came to Nasrudin, and asked him to write a letter for him.
‘I can’t,’ said the Mulla, ‘because I have burned my foot.’
‘What has that got to do with writing a letter?’
‘Since nobody can read my handwriting, I am bound to have to travel somewhere to interpret the letter. And my foot is sore; so there is no point in writing the letter, is there?’
And The Beat Goes On
Religion is defined as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural" and as “commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.” Religion is also defined as an organized collection or institutionalized system of spiritual attitudes, beliefs, practices and world views.
The process of organizing or institutionalizing anything, but particularly spiritual beliefs, necessarily requires adherents to the religion that emerges from it to give up some portion of their natural spiritual freedom. And there's the rub.
Rather than having spiritual consciousness expanded by religion, religion compresses it. In exchange for the spiritual freedom, the tenets and doctrines of a religion often gives its adherents another freedom: the freedom to discern and magnify differences between their religion and the religions of others. Others, the people who don’t believe as they do, are often denigrated. They have been condemned for their religion and its underlying spiritual traditions. Religious differences and disagreements have led to hatred and to its extreme expression, senseless endless war.
According to Wikipedia, Indian classical music is always set in a Raga; a series of five or more musical notes that render musical phrases and convey moods that are “more important than the notes themselves because in Indian musical tradition, Ragas are more associated with “different times of the day, or with seasons.” Ragas are known to create trance-like states and to express moods of spiritual ecstasy. These qualities may be examined in Bhairav, Malkauns, Hindol, Dipak, Megh, Shree and others of the thousands of Ragas.
Some Ragas are vocal with no instrumental accompaniment while others use percussion instruments to produce intricate cyclic rhythmic patterns known as Tala. The Tala rhythm begins, develops and returns to what is called the Sam or the first beat of the cycle, which may be considered a musical expression of Samsara: the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
Now you have it. But can you have your cake and eat it too?
Think of life.
Now you have it. But you must live it.
Dance with Spirit!
My name is Kenneth Moore. The Howling Monk website is dedicated to Baby Boomers and cool people of all generations. You're invited to explore A Jazz State of Mind, read and comment, peruse the artwork, watch the videos, and listen to the music, etc.
Howling Monk was founded in Inglewood California in 1998 as a continuation of the family business tradition started by my Grandfather in Chicago Illinois. The name, Howling Monk, is a tribute to the legendary bluesman, Howling Wolf, and to Thelonious Monk, a true genius of the music called Jazz.