This music is a mixture of Arabic/North African and Spanish influences. We tend to think of Spain as being a land of Catholic uniformity, but let’s not forget that much of the Iberian peninsula was ruled by Muslims for several centuries. Prior to the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492, Spain was a land of rich and complex mixing of cultures and religions — Christian, Muslim, and Jewish — that produced amazing heights in science, philosophy, art, music, poetry, and mysticism.
Following this morning’s post on Sachal Sarmast, a friend from Pakistan shared this video with me from Sachal Studios — a reinterpretation of the classic jazz piece “Take Five,” made famous by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Even if you don’t know the name of the song, you’ll probably recognize the melody. But something about hearing it played with sitar and tabla just makes you want to smile… and maybe get up and dance!
Apparently this has become one of the top selling musical downloads on iTunes. Once you’ve listened to it, you’ll see why.
In recent years, the movie industry in Pakistan has been struggling. And many of the country’s best studio musicians once employed in the industry have been forced to find new outlets for their talents. This is one of the more delightful examples. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Maybe it’s worth a trip to iTunes…
A few qawwals for you — the ecstatic devotional Sufi music of India and Pakistan — composed by Amir Khusrow Dehlawi, the “father of qawwali music.”
The first is performed by the late master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. If you’re not familiar with his music, then you have to give a listen. And if you are familiar with his music, then you know to give a listen…
A translation of the words sung:
You’ve taken away my looks, my identity, by just a glance.
By making me drink the wine of love-potion, You’ve intoxicated me by just a glance;
My fair, delicate wrists with green bangles in them, Have been held tightly by you with just a glance.
I give my life to you, Oh my cloth-dyer, You’ve dyed me in yourself, by just a glance.
I give my whole life to you Oh, Nijam, You’ve made me your bride, by just a glance.
And next, a song of Amir Khusrow Dehlawi performed by Niyaz, with lead singer Azam Ali. Also a must listen…
A translation of the words:
Arise and prepare to rejoice
Let the wine take root in our cups
As would a flower in the soil
Let us become intoxicated with bliss
For till when shall we dwell in sadness
Those drunk with love
Will break this unending wheel of sorrow
For the treasures of the beloved
belong to those celebrating with us.
A friend recently introduced me to this music video by Dr. Satinder Sartaj. Soaring Sufi vocals, uplifting words. And if you pay attention to the video, you realize that he features Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians… a vision of universal spirituality.
I am unable to understand
what name to give
this Player of swirling universes…
It’s been too long since I’ve shared a video with you. This was sent to me by a reader, and I thought I’d pass it along. This is Shankara’s Nirvana Shatakam mantra, sung so sweetly by Uma Mohan. Watch for a few minutes and bring an easy, gliding meditation into your day…
Something about Pachelbel’s Canon is profoundly healing to the heart. It doesn’t matter if it’s performed in a classical style or in it’s most syrupy New Age version with dolphins in the background — it always works its soothing, healing magic.
Thought you might especially appreciate this unique one-man performance…
I’m back. I want to start by thanking everyone who sent good wishes for my mother’s health.
The past couple of weeks have been among the most difficult of my life. Because of my mother’s brain cancer, she has been losing functionality and making erratic, potentially dangerous decisions, so we came to the difficult decision that we needed to check her into a nursing home. Having to face that choice was in itself wrenching since my mother has always been a very independent woman. Then I had to rush to establish power of attorney and take over her finances, track down all her bills, go through her paperwork, all while dealing with insurance and medical bureaucracy and, of course, visiting with my mother, comforting her, helping her to get settled in to her new environment. Then, in the midst of that, my uncle, a sweet, quiet man, died of a heart attack! The whole period felt like an intense meditation on aging, loss, and death — with way too much bureaucracy thrown in. (Some day America will get a sane healthcare system.)
But, through all of that, I was also blessed to have some profoundly moving conversations with my mother. Even amidst her surface mental confusion, she still speaks with an inner wisdom about what she is going through as she knowingly approaches her own death.
I may write more about this in the future, but it is all still a little too raw in my thoughts right now. And I still have paperwork to fill out.
Here is what I posted on Facebook recently:
Went to help my dying mother:
forms, frantic phone calls.
And sweet, meandering talks
on how to wrap up a life.
Back home, the last of summer’s roses.
I’ve been listening again to Ramananda’s CD “Secret Language: Rumi – A Celebration in Song.” Lines of Rumi poetry set to liquid grooves, with tabla, sometimes a breathy flute. When I first listened to the CD a few years ago, I didn’t at first “get” it. It was one of those CDs I had to listen to two or three times before I found myself saying, Wow, this is wonderful! Strangely, most of my favorite CDs are that way…
…every need brings in what’s needed
pain bears its cure like a child
If you receive the Poetry Chaikhana via email, you may have noticed that the links to listen to the music selections stopped working last week. CDBaby changed the format of their web site, and the “Listen” links in the Poetry Chaikhana emails no longer work. As a temporary solution, I have changed the links to take you directly to the CDBaby web page for the CD, and there you can click to listen to individual music samples. But I’m not satisfied with that as a permanent solution — too many steps.
When I have the time, I may have to completely redesign how the music selections work in conjunction with the Poetry Chaikhana. And it’s possible I’ll need to change to using Amazon.com for the music selections, instead. I like supporting the smaller company and the independent musicians and artists CDBaby represents, but it looks like I’ll be able to get the whole process integrated into the emails more easily with Amazon.
This is the realm of the passing away. All that
exists does not for long.
Whatever comes into this world never stops sliding
toward the edge of eternity.
Form arises from formlessness and passes back,
arising and dissolving in a few dance steps between
creation and destruction.
We are born passing away.
Seedlings and deadfall all face forward.
Earthworms eat what remains. We sing not for that which dies but for that which
Whatever comes into this world never stops sliding
toward the edge of eternity.
Yesterday was a strange day of famous deaths. I woke up and found out that Ed McMahon had died the day before. Then I heard about Farrah Fawcett’s passing. In the afternoon, checking out friends’ comments on Facebook, I started to see messages about “Michael” and “Thriller.” Were they saying that Michael Jackson had died too? A few searches on the Internet, and I found out that, yes, Michael Jackson had unexpectedly died. To add to that, I then was told that the actor Jeff Goldblum had died by falling off a cliff, only to find out later that he had been injured but did not die.
Now, I can’t say I felt a really strong personal connection to these famous figures, but by the end of the day I could feel the world’s shock, especially over Michael Jackson’s death. It would seem strange not to mention such a significant death in today’s email.
In his personal life, Michael Jackson seemed eccentric and haunted, and accusations raised troubling questions. But frankly I don’t know enough about the private man to comment or pass judgment. His genius as a singer and dancer can’t be denied, however. I remember his performance at the Motown awards, singing “Billie Jean” wearing a single sequined glove, and sliding a smooth moonwalk across the stage. A revolution exploded in music and dance at that very moment, the repercussions of which are still reverberating through pop culture today.
Michael Jackson is one of those rare figures, like Bob Marley, Elvis, John Lennon, a defining figure for the entire world. There is a reason that we call the ultra famous “stars.” They are like the planets in astrology; they embody for the world a certain archetypal energy. But that makes normal human relationships next to impossible for these people. We relate to the archetypal aura and not the person. Culture bearers are adored by millions and intimate with none.
This archetypal role they play is also why their deaths are so traumatic to the world. Archetypes are, by their nature, eternal energies of the soul. So when a person embodying a particular archetype dies, the world feels a rupture, the planetary psyche feels disoriented and fragmented. How can that which we instinctively know to be eternal disappear from our midst? But what really happens is that the archetypal energy is released, returned back to each of us. Having seen it enacted outside of ourselves, we are again reminded to look within ourselves for those same qualities.
So, today, sing! Hooo! And dance! Maybe try a moonwalk in socks across the kitchen floor…