An online collaboration with Vishnu Verdier
An online collaboration with Perth Kabbalat Shabbat.
Once long ago I dreamed of playing music. Music was the only thing that made my heart sing. I played everything – recorder, guitar, flute, I even played the bagpipes – and yet throughout that time if there is any other interest that stuck with me it was the spiritual.
I seemed weird and out of place
I did not see myself as being particularly talented in the spiritual world, but in some way I was always interested – meditation, magical rituals, yoga, tarot cards etc. The only thing I remember as a particular ability was the ability to drop into nothingness – to stop thinking, to not really be present or conscious of the world around me. I never saw that as particularly special, but looking back on it I begin to see that perhaps it was not so common. At the time I certainly seemed weird and out of place and somewhat overly righteous for my own good – perhaps a little self-righteous as well.
Throughout these years my interest in music never waned. It shifted from instrument to instrument and a little from style to style, but it was always there as an undercurrent when it was not the main focus of my life.
There was always the assumption that music is an impractical career direction
I never really seriously considered music as a career though. There was always the assumption that music is an impractical career direction and one should do something more practical with life. I started studying engineering, and ended up stopping – because I realised that engineers don’t have time to play music – you see it was always there, even if I didn’t believe in that direction and didn’t seriously follow it.
I had a sudden experience of divine love and the existence of God, but I did not find it so wonderful.
In my late teens I began to seriously explore yoga and meditation. These weren’t new to me, but I took a more disciplined approach with daily practice and started attending retreats and celebrations (which incidentally had a lot of music in them). After some time I had a sudden experience – a realisation of divine love and the existence of God. This is something that I had seen others talking about and thought must be a wonderful thing, but I did not find it so wonderful. Yes it was ecstatic and passionate, but no it was not calm or peaceful or truly happy. I always felt like I desired more – that my spiritual yearning was never satisfied.
There was something beyond Love
It took 10 years of searching, of muddling around with different spiritual techniques and ideas before I managed to resolve this emotional mess that my spiritual experiences had made of me. Eventually through my own contemplation I realised that there was something beyond passionate love (a radical concept for me at the time, though looking back on it I think it should have been obvious). I realised the experience of Oneness, connection to all things that created in me a sense of contented joy and peace. Since then I have felt like I am on the right track in my spiritual life, and can focus a little on other areas of life. It didn’t solve all of my problems, but this experience of Oneness does continue to give an underlying Joy to all of my life since.
This experience made me want to be a spiritual teacher. I wanted to help others with their spiritual journeys in the way that I had never had anyone able to help me, so I spent the next 10 years searching for an understanding of how to help others with their spiritual journeys – obviously it is not just a matter of telling people to do what I did, to do things the way I do – that would be a bit stupid. It needs to be giving people what they need – the answer to the particular problem that they are facing.
I’m not sure my temperament suits being a Guru.
I still want to be a spiritual teacher on some level, and I still think I have something unique to give in the realm of spiritual guidance, but I have come to feel that something about my personality doesn’t lend itself to being a Guru. I am passionate, emotional, imperfect in so many ways. I do not have that perfect calm peaceful demeanour that we have come to expect of our spiritual masters, and I don’t think I ever will.
And so I came back to music. Music has always been there for me, and perhaps it provides for an even deeper way of communicating spiritual truths. We can talk about them, and meditate on them, but when we can communicate them directly through art and music perhaps that can touch people in a gentler, easier to comprehend way, and give them an experience that would otherwise be hard to find. And besides music is much better suited to my temperament. Musicians are allowed to be passionate, emotional, imperfect. They are not expected perfection, only the ability to take people on a journey to some part of themselves that they would like to experience.
Musicians are allowed to be imperfect
And so here I am bringing the two worlds together – my two life passions of the music and the spiritual in an attempt to create music that uplifts and teaches spiritual truths. It seems like the right thing for me to be doing, but I am scared – partly it is a fear that can be positive – a kind of excitement like performing on stage – a pressure that can drive a good musician to perform better and put more of their passion into the show. But the other half is a genuine fear that I am not good enough to succeed, that I have no understanding of how to be a successful, popular musician (as I will need to be if I am to touch the world and to make a difference to the spiritual lives of people), but I am ready to try. Here I am stepping up to the world stage in an attempt to bring inspiration and the experience of Oneness to all.
A collaboration with Jennifer Renee Hannam. Online Collaboration as this is Corona time..
Charnushka was our Klezmer band when we were in fremantle. Here are some videos that we still have from that time. It was fun.