Thursday, January 30, 2014

How Can I Keep From Singing?

"God sent his Singers upon earth
With songs of sadness and of mirth,
That they might touch the hearts of men,
And bring them back to heaven again."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

" It's a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land"
 -- Pete Seeger, If I Had a Hammer

Pete Seeger 1919-2014
I awoke this morning to the sound of Pete Seeger singing  "How Can I Keep From Singing?".  In tears by the time I had descended the stairs, I found a moist eyed Betsy sitting at the computer in the office having found Seeger's version of this 19th century Christian hymn on YouTube.  (I've embedded it below.)   

With a simple accompaniment on his 12 stringer, in a voice clear and true, the spirit and heart of his delivery was as pure as the life of service he led.  His life, and his death at age 94 this week, touched countless millions of us.

If I was the Grand Dude in Charge, I'd immediately canonize this humble and courageous man.   I'd then have him replace that other guy at the Pearly Gates.  They wouldn't even have to change the name plate at the Gatehouse, right?  With harp in hand and a song on his lips, I'm sure that this Saint Peter, like all Bodhisattvas, wouldn't be satisfied until everyone had entered and was singing in the Heavenly Choir.  Tyrants, plutocrats, bigots and hypocrites, of course, might have to work a lot harder at it, but I'm sure Saint Pete ultimately would have them singing in harmony with the rest of us.  Buddhanature is Universal, after all.  

Although some strains of fundamentalism have consigned "singing and dancing" to the hell realms, Sacred Sound in the form of chanting, music and song has always played an important role in the world's religions throughout the ages.   As anyone who has entoned the Sacred Syllable AUM knows, certain sounds resonate with certain chakras.  That AHHHH goes right to the Heart.  It's pretty Universal as a Sacred Sound. (to wit: Allah, Krishna, Rama, Jahweh, Wakan Tanka, Dao, Buddha, Alleluia, etc. -- Amen.)

Over the years, whether listening to the soul stirring call to prayer of a Muslim Muezzin or dancing 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Brother Lefty Tells it Like It Is -- On the Radio!

In a special two hour episode of "Spinning Tales From All Walks of Life", Brother Lefty Smith, S.O.B.* joins host Michael Pollitt on WMCB to share two hours of songs and stories about his journey as an Unrepentant Peacenik and Itinerant Rabblerouser.

Rambling through the terrain of an unusual childhood and his coming of age in the 60's into the world we live in today,  Lefty delivers what Pollitt describes as "heart songs."  His stories are full of the insights drawn from his experiences with the people encountered along the way and his devotion to the examples of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Buddha --and the Hippies.

Claiming "You don't have to die to go to Heaven.  It's not a place, it's a quality of consciousness, a condition of the Heart," never far from a quip or chuckle about the world we live in, Lefty characterizes his music as "Hippie Folk Gospel Music".   Although rusty, even stumbling through the lyrics of his own songs on occasion, the two hours fly by. 

Michael has already asked him to return for more.

The show airs on the web at :

Friday, January 24 at 4-6 PM
Saturday, January 24 4-6 AM
Sunday, January 25 at 1-3 PM
Monday, January 26 at 1-3 AM

(Dates and times are USA EST)

My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*