Saturday, September 13, 2008

Darshan, Part Deux.

Read Part One First, won't you?

So: Darshan. The Light. Spiritual It-ness. Direct transmission. It took having the high holy bajeebers freaked outta me by an actual High Holy to realize I've had my own lil' tap in the Divine Keg it all along. I got this megaswig, right? And once it settled in, I found it tasted oddly... familiar.

Here's my disclaimer: you ain't hearing this from on high, so you might find it a little... simplistic. It's all very layperson-y and basic. I may be a lot of things, but nobody ever called me an avatar. I enjoy a nice meet-and-greet with those masters -- like Mother Meera, about whom I rapped in Part One -- who traverse lofty realms. But, perhaps not coincidentally, I live at sea level. And write really violent shit, like, eight hours a day. So, nutshell: I'm not exactly Floaty Guru material. That's okay - jumping face-first into the dark side of human nature's a necessary job too. Also, fun. The swag is terrific. Free glass eyeballs! But I digress.

Anywho. Here's when I realized I actually had understood Darshan all along. I was turning left into Gate Seven at Warner Bros. The moment was profoundly rote. Swim around in purse for wallet; swim around in wallet for ID card. Meantime, hit button to roll down window, whilst hitting other buttons to turn up music to compensate for the traffic noise. And I accidentally turned the music up a little too loud, and I idly thought, as the sound swept over me, "That's what angels sound like."

No, really. I'm, first of all, not fucking kidding. And also, I am going to embed a youtube video so you can check it out.

So I park my car, and I sit there and hit "repeat" and listen again. And I think: yup, angel. That's what they sound like. I'm pretty sure.

I know - subjective. One woman's Celestial Voice Of Revelation is another chick's Whatever. But I turned this over and over in my head. Thinking that the quasi-religious overtone of it couldn't be an accident. I mean - do I believe there are little Jewy toga-clad harpists flying around singing at God? Um, nyet. But there's a reason the feeling this sound evokes in my body gets instinctively named "angelic" by the lightning-quick name-factory in my brain. Because something in me... opens up. It's a physical feeling. In my chest. Like a book flipping wide, and in the center is my heart. Things start to tingle. I wake the fuck up. I am being visited by something fierce and I know it. Suddenly, where I was crunched up... there's space. Even if I'm resisting, good music finds a way in.

Which: Darshan. Right?

And then I flashed on this night many years ago. The deets are a little too personal for this blog - I'm saving the really dramatic shit for my book deal, I'm sure you understand - but long story circumcised, I was miserable, driving way too fast down Pacific Coast Highway at night with the windows down. Rage was my co-pilot. I was contemplating all manner of bad ideas. So what I did was just... not get out of the car. I drove all the way past Malibu. The thing that kept me tethered to the Here - and, most important, to some shred of common sense (if not the speed limit) - was the song blasting out of the speakers. It was a pop song. U2. Nothing too intellectual. It said what it meant, and then Bono wailed for a bit, and then there were guitars. I drove like a maniac, and the cold wind slapped my hair against my cheeks, and I guess there were no cops on the PCH that night, and eventually the music found its way into me and I calmed down. If Bono'd decided to go all Thom Yorke and make a concept album, it totally would not have worked. If that song had tried to be clever instead of passionate, I would have been doomed.

Fonder memory: a futon on a floor, facing a window, sometime after 4 a.m. College. Me and this guy I liked, lying there in perfect stillness. (We were sober, if caffeinated.) Watching the sun come up while that old Peter Gabriel live double-album played. I think of those couple of hours as the center of the frantic whirlpool of those years. Every baby butterfly in my belly - remember being 17? Remember the constant inner-monologue about how every single everything was wrong with you? - miraculously lulled to sleep.

Like most members of the human race, I've pulled a couplea stunts in my day. Dived into some dangerous/unwise/illegal acts. Generally because I was looking for a way to get at the locked-up stuff inside. And having tried a lot of methods, I can tell you that the most reliable way to get there is music. I dunno, maybe Steve Jobs really is some kind of diety, because I realize now that when I let the Light in, it's often through my iPod.

The song I listen to driving up the coast that magnifies its deliciousness.

The mix Sukha made for my birthday last year, to bring me new love. That worked in 48 hours flat.

The six songs I've heard five zillion times each by now that I put on shuffle when I'm working on my movie script.

The scratchy ancient Chopin recording that is the music equivalent of having buckets and buckets of flowers poured all over you.

The CD I bought in China the week my goddaughter was adopted. The song that haunted me for months, a symptom of a problem I didn't know yet that I had. The CD that got me through the worst month of my life, a prickly, sticky rope in the fog. The songs that are blankets I wrap around myself when I'm lonely. That They Might Be Giants ditty my friend in junior high serenaded me with that sometimes comes on the radio, a time capsule breaking open and spilling out mirth. That song I heard at that Starbucks that one time that stunned me - so I forgot to ask what it was, and I am still fucking looking for it six years later, and it eludes and eludes and eludes me. The song I played driving to the most important meeting of my career. The song my friend recorded when she was still with that other man, that makes me shiver knowing that the worst situations make the most beautiful melodies.

Darshan; n: a glimpse of the divine. And here I was thinking I was secular-Jewly, while I'm pulling the Light lever on a near-daily basis. Taking it like vitamins. Or Ativan, frankly; people always ask me how I can stand commuting to the Valley, and I always just say, "That's why God invented iTunes."

I shared my lil epiphany with some friends. They tried to add to it: "Isn't it even better when you dance around, too?" "How bout those amazing singers in Baptist churches - isn't music better when it's, like, about Jesus?" "What about when you yourself are singing, when the music's coming out of you?"

Nah. Details. Give me a floor and a couplea cheap earbuds and I'm good.

I kinda can't believed I just typed that, it's so damn simple. But it's true. That's the entire deal: music brings in the light. I thought maybe there was a difference between the feeling of "this is right and things will be okay and I am part of something larger" that you get when listening to, say, Bill Withers singing "Use Me" (not emolicious enough? Um, Death Cab for Cutie singing "I Will Follow You Into The Dark"?)... and the feeling you get from the Real Holy Deal bathing your crown chakra with pure two-hundred-proof Darshan Juice straight from India. Can you blame me? Everyone always looks so swoony in the movies when they get whammied by the Light of the Divine.

But I just got whammied last week, so I can tell you: there is no difference. They're the same. I mean, maybe music isn't the thing that does it for you. Whatever that thing is - as long as you're not molesting anybody, obvs - go with it. 'Cause the thing you are waiting for is already here. Dive in, my Highly Attractive friend. Quit waiting for the lighting bolt. It's a marketing ploy. The good shit is exactly what you always knew it was. So eat it up, scrape the sides of the container with your spoon, get in there with your fingers. Don't hold back, and don't hold out for the next thing. There ain't one. I am here to tell you: the tools we were already given are, as far as I can tell, the only tools there are.

This isn't bad news - it's my very favorite kind: practical news. There is no next party: we are at the party: therefore, let us party! Apparently, if there is a God, he's got a sense of humor. He doesn't just zap folk in schul. He zaps them through baseball and the roar of V12 engines and the distant, holy sound of Kanye West.

And if you're like me (and I have this instinct you are - at the very least, you're Very Hot), you've got this amazing Darshan spigot at your disposal. Actually, spigot is far too crude a metaphor for the vast selection. It's like a massive Darshan Microbrew Bar, with a long row of Light on tap. Pick your flavor. Chug.

I mean, think about that. A tiny slice of what I think of as God (that's right, I said it) can be purchased for 99 cents and downloaded to your mp3 player. We live in miraculous motherfucking times, my friends.


xi said...

As an Agnostic, I have constantly told myself that if there anything simple that could truly push me off the metaphorical (and, I suppose theological) fence then it would be music. God, after all, is supposedly infinite and the only thing that has ever had the ability to make me feel infinite is music.

I could write an entire thesis on the subject of God in Music. I will spare you, but I think you're on to something.

Smart people, out of the box ideologies, and poignant thinking make me really happy. Like many other nights, Ms Gamble, you have given me a bit of faith in the world outside my window. Thank you.

Jo said...

Freaks me out when you put into words what I feel. Which you do all the time, ma'am. Thanks for spreading the Darshan, man.

endorwitch said...

hey sera. i know when i am feeling pissed off or upset - if i put on some high energy music with a good beat and turn it up load (doesnt have to be hard rock or metal....just needs to be loud and passionate really) after a while i start feeling better. so yeah - what you are saying makes sense to me. :D

SuinaBird said...

Well, wow. I would have commented earlier, but I am still in the middle of finding Darshan in no electricity and a tree in my house from the kindly Mr. Ike.
I know exactly where you're coming from, and I remember so many things that I have gone through in my life through the flavours of music that were my nutrition at that time. When I was upset for so many reasons that each one was insignificant (but together they twisted my gut), or watching someone eat the daily razorblades of divorce and separation, I used to just watch...twist my hands and observe. Now, well into my 30's I have found that the place to open up space inside has been writing it down in music and hoping it doesn't suck (and not really caring if anyone else thought did)..
Right now, the party I am attending is the one on my street.. Taking care of the kids and the two widows, cooking the food outta the deep freeze before it goes zombie, and watching the moon and the stars without all the streetlights getting in my way.

Thanks for going out of your way to remind us of the divine in the daily.

Now, I have the urge to throw caution to the 100 mile per hour wind, and send you some of my music.
If only it would fit in this stupid blackberry-posty-box-thinger.

Excellent (enormous)post.

KELSO'S NUTS said...

These Eastern mystic posts from a Jewish perspective leave me curious but a little troubled. I don't know how many of you know what life as a Jew in South America is like. 30 odd years ago it was hideous, which is why I'd never watch "Evita" and the combination of Madonna being in "Evita" and also studying that nonsense Judaism for goyish idiots thing, Kabbalah, makes me detest her. I don't find anything to do with the Perons particularly elegant or tragic or charming. They were butchers.

To me the only difference between Madonna singing "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" and Dick Shawn singing "Springtime For Hitler" is that the former is serious and offensive and the latter is funny.

I understand the importance of inter-faith connections and while I like what I'd noticed going to college and grad school in the US in the evolving union between left-wing reform, humanist, agnostic and atheist Jews and the "High Church" preppy WASPs of the Unitarian, Quaker, Congregationalist, Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. I recall reading that more Jews in Connecticut voted for Lamont in primary and general senate elecions than voted for Lieberman. Drs. Howard Dean and Judith Steinberg are just plain cool.

I'm not sold on the Buddhism or the other Eastern stuff because in modern SA, we Spanish-speaking Jews regard our Spanish-speaking Arab Muslims as pan-Semitic brothers, not enemies. We can even bust each others' balls about 9/11 and Hamas and all that for a good laugh. We regard all Middle-Eastern political issues as "cosas de afuera." This is I think the further step American Jews might like to take, and it certainly would be healthy to take. I do get, however, why an Amereican Jew would find it culturally difficult So, the Eastern stuff like the Lama and this Darshan business seem like proxies.

When 1/3 of your friends are Muslims, some are bound to be pretty devout. I've learned a lot about the Koran and the practice of Islam and at least here it's a lot more like Talmudic scholarship than it is like Fundamentalist Islam in the rest of the world or like the Nation Of Islam in America.

Moreover, being Jewish in South America you can't help but understand Catholicism pretty well. My girlfriend reads the bible every day and takes mass every Sunday but the passages she shows me and the Jesus of her sensibilities is far different even from the Jesus of American Catholic sensibilities. Down here, it's all about Jesus being "el dios de amor" (the prince of peace). Every Jew whether atheist or observant whom I know all love the words of Jesus. We just don't happen to believe in anything supernatural attributed to him or to the composite figure he may have represented. We feel that if he existed as a real historical figure, he was a humanist rabbi dead set against the law of Deutoronomy and Leviticus which had long outlived any usefulness by the time Jesus may have lived.

But Catholics here completely separate religion and politics even though there are no separation clauses exactly in most of the constitutions down here. Catholics see no contradiction in believing in a woman's right to choose, gay rights, a varied buffet of sexual pleasures, and all sorts of stuff like alcohol, drugs and gambling and a sincere Catholicism. One part is a set of political views. The other is a philosophy and way of understanding some of life's mysteries and learning some of lessons in leading a relatively selfless and compassionate life in a capitalist world.

I'm giving a cultural overview, not preaching. If you get the same from some of these Eastern ways of doing the same, more power to you.

Remadi said...

I've always said that I didn't know what I would do without music. It's the breath of air that I breathe and gets me through any and every day. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's "Blues for America"

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC.