Posts Tagged Sri Chinmoy

Narada Michael Walden’s Let the Sunshine In: Light Descended

IMG_0247Many of you know through my Tweets and Facebook entries that I attended and have been supporting my friend Narada Michael Walden and his Let the Sunshine In Benefit which took place on Memorial Day evening.

Narada asked me right after his incredible show, “What was the highlight, what was the best part for me?” I was speechless, and I felt somewhat incomplete having failed in a moment to find and express words. The reality is I was overwelmed by the greatness and goodness of the evening. There were so MANY highlights. Now I am ready to attempt to answer that question.

Let the Sunshine In
10+ standing ovations.
The Olympics of Music, with every artist breaking a world record.
Perfect string and horn arrangements as Narada recreated and brought to life so many hits from five decades with the original artists who peformed them.
The house band: has any one stage featured better?
The backup singers: sheer brilliance under Claytoven Richardson’s leadership.
The production: Narada’s impeccable, tasteful and pristine imprint on everything.
The Love: we all felt it coming from Narada’s Sunlit Heart.
Christopher Rodriguez in the house – we send him our love.

Nothing in my life has matched my experience of Let the Sunshine In, the benefit concert staged by the great record producer Narada Michael Walden for Christopher Rodriguez, a young Oakland boy paralyzed by a stray bullet in a senseless and random act of gun violence. It was a night I will always remember and cherish.

Why was it amazing? Simple: Narada is a consummate perfectionist who has realized Music at a very sublime level. He is like a High Priest, a Guru, and it’s no surprise that he has been the force behind more than 50 hit records that have enriched the lives hundreds of millions of people around the world….recorded by the likes of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand and many others. With three Grammys and an Emmy and recognition as a Top 10 Record Producer of All Time by Billboard Magazine — it is Narada’s spirituality-infused life that makes his work important now and forever.

Narada knows how to make great musicians and great music sound better. He knows how to connect music, spirit and audiences. He knows how to put it all together. And the performance on May 25th was powered by a giant engine:

A 16 piece backup band with the likes of Chuck Leavell, keyboardist with the Rolling Stones, Jim Horn, one of the most influential horn arrangers in pop music, and the great keyboardist Frank Martin, who partnered with Narada on the music that was performed. Two bassists, three guitarists, four keyboardists, two percussionists, six horn players (including my friend Premik Russell Tubbs), and it goes on and on.

Minna Choi’s 60-member Magik*Magik Orchestra backed up the artists with a gorgeous palette of texture and color, and featured exceptional students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music led by Maestro Michael Morgan, musical director of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra.

And a production team with pros like Merl Saunders Jr., Tim Jahnigen, Vadim Canby and Kimrea who made everything work for the audience and featured artists:

Sting, who sang several of his brilliant songs, including Fields of Gold and joined in a joyous operatic duet with the incomparable mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade.

Madame von Stade, who performed a breathtaking version of Ave Maria. I loved her beautiful spirit and grace.

The great Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis who performed many Fifth Dimension hits, including Up, Up and Away (a song they wrote), Hair, and One Less Bell to Answer. I grew up influenced by the awesome musicality of the Fifth Dimension so hearing Marilyn and Billy brought back a special magic.

Chris Botti and the incredible violinist Lucia Micarelli surprised us with a duet that touched the Gates of Heaven.

We were graced by the great R&B legend Gerald Alston of the Manhattans who performed Shining Star. And by the contemporary jazz acoustic guitarist Earl Klugh who elevated us to a serene place with his classic performance of Living Inside Your Love.

So many others joined, like Mandolin jazz/bluegrass fusion virtuoso Dave “Dawg” Grisman, singer Lisa Fischer, the incomparable Mary Wilson, and Dale “Satchmo” Powers, who invoked the great Louis Armstrong in a performance of What a Wonderful World. With Narada leading the way, the performers just kept hitting the home runs and the audience was overjoyed and overwhelmed.

And the great Bobby Weir and friends jammed it out and lit up Davies Symphony Hall.

So there were superbly great performances. Why was this a significant event? It all starts with Narada Michael Walden.

We met in 1973. I was an aspiring guitarist and Narada an extraordinary drummer. He joined the path of Guru Sri Chinmoy along with Mahavishnu John McLauglin and learned meditation, and I joined a year later at Narada’s invitation. In those days Narada was washing dishes, giving drum lessons and developing his career. His humble beginnings were short-lived, however. For he soon joined the Mahavishnu Orchestra, met Jeff Beck, recorded with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Jeff Beck, launched a solo recording career, launched a production career, and 11 years later, earned a Grammy as Producer of the Year. Along the way he catapulted the careers of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, relaunched Aretha Franklin’s career, and recorded over 50 hit records for many of the artists who appeared at the concert, including Shanice and Tevin Campbell.

In his life he has collaborated with a who’s who in music because if you’re a really great musician, you probably want to know or work with Narada Michael Walden. Because music always sounds better when Narada is involved.

Narada is aware of Perfection and it’s an intuitive thing. He knows what music can be and should be, and he takes us there. That is a rare place where goodness and greatness meet together with the penultimate peak of musical satisfaction. That’s where Narada lives all the time, which is why so many people like me and the more than 150 people who made this show happen – were deeply grateful to support his work.

So history was made on May 25th in San Francisco at Let the Sunshine In. We were witness to something sublime, soulful, and spiritual. We heard great music and felt Narada ‘s humility, Narada’s love, Narada’s ability to bring Heaven down to earth. And being the giant and generous Soul he is, we all had a chance to participate as performers, as volunteers, and as audience members. We sang Give Peace a Chance and Let the Sunshine In. We were one soulful love fest for sure.

Welcome to the great Song of Love that is Narada’s life. Welcome to the great Spirit who we know as Narada Michael Walden.

We join with Narada in supporting Christopher Rodriguez and the idea that music can inspire youth and should be part of their lives.

And we celebrate the great work of the Narada Michael Walden Foundation. I say, “Rock on!”

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IBM Cognitive Computing: Precurser to Rise of the Machines

21704566Looks like we’re going to need Arnold Schwarzenegger back as Terminator now that IBM is moving forward with their cognitive computing project.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding a $4.9 million dollar research project at IBM that will bring together neurobiologists, computer and materials scientists and psychologists from several universities to make electronic circuits that mimic brains and the synapses that occur in the body.

Dharmendra Modha, the IBM scientist who is heading the collaboration, noted, “There are no computers that can even remotely approach the remarkable feats the mind performs. The key idea of cognitive computing is to engineer mind-like intelligent machines by reverse engineering the structure, dynamics, function and behavior of the brain.”

There is also the Soul…the manifestation of the Cosmic Source in each of us. I’m all for science, but I’d love it if there was more enthusiasm in the world for exploring the wonderment that is the Soul.

The awareness of the Soul can be perceived by becoming more conscious. Through meditation and the inspiration of spiritual teachers, we come closer to knowing our own Soul and connecting with our own Higher Reality.

At he age of 21, I came into contact with and became a disciple of Guru Sri Chinmoy. Through his life and teachings which include the practice and quietude of meditation, I came to a deeper awareness of my own life. There emerged a personal awareness of the inter-connectivity of inner and outer existence, and a conscious awareness of the Source. In my own professional work, this awareness manifests as intuition, inspiration, attention, quality, dedication, determination, kindness, caring, enthusiasm and a belief that everything is possible if we only apply ourselves to a goal.

Can we build the experience of the Soul into brainiac robots? Likely not. We might be able to program core morality, but others will be able to program robots as weapons.

I keep hearing from my buddies in the Bay Area who are atheists that there is nothing more to life than beings like us. That bewilders me having dedicated three decades of my life to exploring and knowing God in deep and intimate ways.

In any case, if we build machines that can think, we better practice more kindness because in the hands of the wrong people those machines might be rather difficult to manage several decades down the road. Thankfully by that time, I will be pure Consciousness and Bliss, beyond the physical.

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Online, Offline and ‘Inline’

32140518Until the Internet we lived our lives offline, connecting in person and by phone. The Internet opened up a new platform for online connections through social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and microblogging platforms like Twitter and Jaiku.

There’s also another platform, the next platform for personal exploration. I call it ‘Inline.’ The Inline platform is accessed through meditation and contemplation and doing so regularly enables connectivity to consciousness itself.

Consciousness is the inner spark or inner link in us, the golden link within us that connects our highest and most illumined part with our lowest and most unillumined part. Consciousness is the connecting link between Heaven and earth,” says Indian Guru Sri Chinmoy.

For geeks like me who are already conversant in offline and online media, inline exploration is both an opportunity and a challenge to know Cosmic Consciousness. Some feel Twitter gets us to group consciousness in the online platform. I think meditation does that same on the inline platform.

I try to explore the inline platform early morning and late evening. Ultimately, it might be our destiny to know it and live there, too. Who knows, by going deeper within, we may get some great ideas for living more peacefully on Planet Earth.

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Live Powerfully and Soulfully Every Moment

93apulakThe myriad and most profound lessons of my life I owe to decades of personal study with the multi-gifted and remarkable Guru Sri Chinmoy. Among those lessons I try to recall through daily meditation is one I reflected on today.

Live powerfully and soulfully every moment.

Living powerfully is engaging with all of yourself and staying laser focused on the (immediate, short, medium or long term) goal 1000%. When that occurs a “Higher Energy” can channel through you.

Living soulfully is consciously feeling and “knowing” that you’re merely an instrument for the activity occurring through you. And in that consciously soulful state, that higher energy “Voice” expresses itself through whatever you’re doing – inventing, creating, thinking, aspiring, speaking, dreaming.

“He who soulfully listens can powerfully speak.”
-Sri Chinmoy

San Francisco is such a hot tech town for innovation, invention and sheer brilliance, seeming to manifest in all its aspects. I was feeling today many of my friends who are drawn to and living here and how they are nurtured by this unique spot on the planet. They really thrive here and I’m understanding how I do, too. And I wondered how much of it is because unconsciously or consciously, so many are living powerfully and soulfully — often at the same time — and success simply comes to them.

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Bloggers Burning Out? Balance is Key

21062633I often preach to my staff and consultants the importance of quickly moving from idea to implementation. And I do see a spark of divine illumination in those who can see and feel ideas and immediately move them into manifestation. When that process is spiritually based, it’s often stress-free. When it is forced, it can be highly stressful.

That said, there is a core spiritual awareness that is fundamental to one’s peace of mind while working in a high stress world. In my case, I developed a deep inner connection to and I was blessed to spend some three decades meditating with and learning from Guru Sri Chinmoy. Among many illumining things, I discovered how and why Spirit can energize and replenish my physical, mental, intuitive and creativity being, and balance the 24/7 nature of my work these days.

Even, so, it’s a daily challenge balancing the insane pace of my own business and creative life with time for meditation and strengthening my own inner faith, spirit and awareness. There is a choice at every moment to sustain or burn out.

So I was not surprised to read Matt Richtel’s story in today’s NY Times about a burnout occurring among bloggers. The 24/7 nature of the always-on Internet and blogosphere combined with competition among leading technology sites for the ‘exclusive story,’ in particular, has affected the well-being of some leading writers like Om Malik and Michael Arrington, who report high stress, unhealthy lifestyles and heart attacks.

The issue here is one of balance: how do we balance the need to deliver to loyal readers and monetize our lives, with the need for peace of mind, health and wellness?

Spirit Fulfillment – from whatever your Source – is key. Maybe that’s the love of your family. Maybe it is a particular religious faith. Maybe it is atheism as a belief system. Perhaps it is studying meditation with a spiritual Guru. Maybe it’s Bikram Yoga. Or a nature hike. Or sky diving or surfing. However you get there, it’s important to try.

Exercise is instant wealth. Work out, walk, run, swim, cycle, and regularly. Exercise will energise and awaken you in every way.

Diet is key. Cut out the sugars, caffeine, processed foods, wheat, and meats and replace them with green foods. Drink wheat grass juice once a day. Go meatless and organic.

Discipline. Stay on whatever program you come up with and integrate it into your life, one day at a time.

Ultimately, by balancing through spirit, exercise, diet and discipline, your work-life will be enhanced, your stress will be balanced by all kinds of good stuff, and you’ll live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

For more ideas on health and wellness, visit Dr. Mark Laursen’s website.

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Spirit: An Inner Journey

spirit-of-space-iii_1024x768Since the passing of my spiritual teacher, Guru Sri Chinmoy, many of my close friends have been devotedly exploring the inner connection with Spirit through meditation, for that is the place where we can now find our Guru. Over the past several weeks, my own quiet explorations take place early in the morning – between 3:30 am and 6:00 am. For now, I’m just going with it. Given my schedule and business life, the challenge is sleep and I’ll cover that in another blog post.

Mediation for me has been a deep source of personal learning and satisfaction. I began over 30 years ago learning from Sri Chinmoy and the early results were more light, peace and personal calm. Over many years, I sought to absorb, understand and internalize his teachings on aspiration and the spiritual journey of life. Today, as a result, I find myself exploring more deeply my own self-awareness and aspiring for a deeper God-awareness. One could say they are two sides of the same coin, and one blends into the other. But being consciously earth-bound, self-awareness is akin to knowing myself in ways that engender a more soulful and conscious expression. And God-awareness is the silent journey into higher, deeper Cosmic Realms and to places far beyond earthly, mental perception.

What is terrific about inner discovery is that so many people are doing it. These beautifully God-resonant people live in God-resonant places like Sedona, Arizona, Maui and elsewhere. Some have been blessed by spiritual teachers and others explore and discover on their own. And many of these terrific souls often spread what they have learned and experienced.

My amazing spiritual brother Ashrita Furman breaks Guinness World Records to inspire us to self-transcendence. The luminous Mia Margaret Angelica spreads ‘light’ through a deeply inspired life as an author, photographer, and harpist. Self-help gurus Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and others, share secrets to success and personal satisfaction. Oman Ken, Bruce BecVar and Lani Star, all deeply soulful musicians, express spirit by composing and performing soul-elevating songs. An incredibly visionary artist, Trea Christopher Grey, paints spirit effortlessly and writes inspirational poetry. Swami Swaroopananda has created Heaven-on Earth through an 11-acre spiritual sanctuary and meeting place he developed on Maui.

During a life just passed, my own teacher, Sri Chinmoy, was prolific as an author, poet, composer and painter. He left us with a vast body of work that will take many lifetimes to fully explore, understand and manifest. And I have been fortunate to witness my own spirit come to life as a business person, composer, musician, author, and peace advocate.

Spirit is truly an inner journey and once we start exploring, it’s fun to share through our good works and meet others doing the same. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with you somewhere in the Cosmic space or at a God-resonant spot on Planet Earth.

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