Friday, April 21, 2017

Where's the One?


The spiritual problem of our times is that too many people are asking “Who’s Number One?” and not enough are asking “Where’s the One?” Having just come from a Cuban rhumba workshop, I found myself as often, playing a pattern on the drum without clearly understanding the grammar and syntax of the whole language. “How does this fit with the song? The dance? The other percussion parts? And for God’s sake, where the hell is the One?!” (Meaning the first beat of the patterns that establishes a sense of home. The rhythmic equivalent of key in melody.)

The teacher was patient and first tried to relate it to the clave pattern. Clave is both a simple instrument (two sticks struck together) and a crucial function in the music, the short pattern around which all the other patterns are built. The teacher explained the clave is the key to the lock and if you don’t have the key, you’ll break down the door.

And there you have it. This man comes from an extraordinary tradition of spirit and soul and harmonious relationship expressed through carefully cultivated (over centuries) music and dance that coordinates the various rhythms in the body, the various feelings and emotions, the different faces of Spirit. It connects one not only with one’s own breath and pulse, but with the fellow players and dancers as well and also with the natural world and also with the spiritual world. In short, the whole glorious pageant of creation made audible and physical and visible through music, song and dance. You could feel all the long line of fellow musicians and dancers and spiritual beings behind this man and that’s where his vitality and humor and radiant joy came from. He has the key and can not only open the door, but invite you in as well.

When I look at the pale jowled faces and lifeless bodies and unhappy expressions of the Republicans with all the money and power who think they are the winners. I can’t help but feel pity for the state of their bodies, minds and souls. They have the money, we have the joy. By we I mean the convocation of these poorly-paid but rich- with- the- privilege-of-teaching-children teachers gathered in one of my sacred homes, Hidden Valley Music Seminars, with a special accent on getting a taste of the rich traditions from the Hispanic diaspora and beyond. Why do people spend so much time envying the rich, when paradise is right around the corner in the Rhumba dance class?

So yes, these people with the outward political and economic power need to be held accountable so they stop threatening the actual lives of those of us who just want to get on with the party, but let’s do it from a place of strength. Since they’re missing the key to open the door to their own soulful promise, they are breaking down doors everywhere. How can we stop them? How can we help them?

I believe they need to go to prison for their crimes and kept locked away to stop them from doing so much harm and hurt in the world. But in my prison system, they’d be learning drumming and dance from the African diaspora, singing Bach, Mozart and Bulgarian folk songs, dancing until they have discovered each part of the body below the neck. Once they learned the key to their own happiness doesn’t lie in money or the power to hurt others, once they learn to ask “Where’s the one?” more often than “How can I be number one?”, they could be released on probation and sent to teach children. All of this funded by the money they stole from the people.

Off to my next class.

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