Compelled to Create – Conscious Evolution, Memory and the Why of My Music

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I think it’s one thing to know that people suffer and that they experience desperation due to the way they are treated in society; it’s another thing to be crushed under the weight of racism, sexism, and classism and feel those mental walls of ignorance closing in on you like a very real prison.  That is how I felt growing up.  Even in my own home, my dad tried to eradicate my Asian cultural behavior, he tried to lock me into a subservient role as a woman, he showed hatred and fear towards me for both of those identities.  He didn’t want me to know my power.

That is the most meaningful realization I took with me from those experiences: I am powerful, and all of these attacks on me really have to do with preventing me from wielding my power.  In a racist, sexist paradigm, any powerful person who is not white or male is a threat to the powers that be.  The choice they want to give you is to either play along or be destroyed.  Well, neither of those choices is good enough for me, pardon my saying so.

What it will take to end this cruel system is for people like me, who know both sides of the story, and have both disadvantage as well as privilege near to hand, to stand up and refuse to compromise.  I will not accept any of the options where we have to tolerate a certain level of craven selfishness on the part of our leaders, and a certain level of hideous misery for those they rule.  

People wonder why Bernie Sanders cares so much about the economy; it is because he can see that our current way of life is slowly but surely transforming this world in to a vast concentration camp, and whatever he has to sacrifice to put himself in between us and that ghastly possibility is worth it to him.  He is a Jew who doesn’t believe in God anymore.  Why?  He is a Brooklyn Jew who put his heart and soul into Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights movement.  Ask yourself ‘why?’.  

We are fooling ourselves if we think it can’t happen to us in the United States; 2008 should have burned itself into our memory as a lesson in how that system works.  They just did it to Greece.

The only option that we should accept, the only option that I will accept, is the option where we all care about each other, where we all come into the future together on a level playing field.  This is called compassion in Buddhism; the realization that what happens to one of us is what happens to all of us.  Our destinies are intertwined.  The Dalai Lama says that a smart selfish person realizes that having compassion will benefit him or herself more than being egocentric.  Our contribution to the world decides what kind of world we will be living in.  We all have to live on the same planet, and in the same environment.  Not only that, but what we do to one another will always endure in our memories.  We have to live with that at the end of the day.

People go on and on about how consciousness is such an important evolutionary development, well, memory is a big part of that.  We see that animals like elephants who have long memories survive better because their elders can guide the herd to water in times of drought and make other decisions based on long term experience that turn out to be better decisions in the long run.  

Human beings pride ourselves on our consciousness so much.  We should at least have some respect for the power of memory and its enduring qualities that define our species.  A global apocalypse that convulses the planet in famine, war, and disease is definitely going to have a huge impact on the collective memory of the survivors, no matter how materially comfortable they may be.  What do we want to experience?  What kind of future do we want to have?  

The only conscionable future – the only future our consciousness, including memory, can tolerate – is one where we all arrive together, mutually benefiting and supporting each other.  These are the words I was born to say, these are the ideas that keep me writing songs and these are the messages my career as an artist is meant to convey.

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Gratitude and The Sacred Feminine

Gratitude and The Sacred Feminine

Mother Earth is hurting
And everyone is searching
For that feminine energy
– India Arie

As we collectively heal our culture, we are conscious that to heal is to deepen our capacity to honor the sacred feminine.  One realization after the other, our appreciation for all the facets of the feminine unfold.  The Holy Mother Durga gives way to the Sacred Bitch Artemis of classical European mythology, and then to the Passionate Tutu Pele of Hawaii and all the faces of the Changing Woman of the Navajo mythology.

One facet of the feminine that is still not yet fully appreciated in our culture is our ability to receive.

It is sacred to be helped.
To be loved.
To be fed.
To be taught.

In the Vedic system, our left side is the feminine, receptive side.  Our right side is our masculine, active side.  Each of us has the power to give and receive.  Not only that, but our health and wellbeing depend upon a balance of forces.

In the trajectory of American history, it has been a part of our national story to take pride in our rugged individuality. Because European Aristocracy was such a toxic and abusive system, it really was necessary for independence from the prior system to become a prime value in our culture.

Moving from abusive dependence to a wholesome interdependence is a transition still in process.  

To truly move into balance, we must value our power to receive as much as we value our power to create and give.  The student who receives the teaching is just as necessary to a true transmission of insight as the teacher is.

We also need to recognize when someone taught us.  Maybe we were afraid and they consoled us.  Maybe we were wild and reckless and they tamed us.  Maybe we received their teaching in private, and don’t have to acknowledge them. Maybe we received their teaching through our own suffering, and we don’t want to acknowledge them.  True humility dictates that we acknowledge their contribution to our lives, anyway.

When we have been inspired by someone, we say thank you.  As the Tibetan Buddhists, teach, when someone says they made it on their own, you know that’s not true.  We’ve all had help since the day we were born and took food from our mother’s bodies.  The only honesty is to acknowledge all we have received, with gratitude.

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