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What Matter Age?

What goes around, comes aroundThere’s a funny saying about things that go around coming around. Usually it’s karma, an eye for an eye and a sow for a reap—the great spiritual law of the universe that dictates bad things for things done badly, good for that done gladly. But inspiration goes around as well, and more like a fire than the predictable arc of an arrow—leaping, dancing, taking light as it spreads; a force that creates and multiplies rather than destroys. A blog comment by a reader inspired me to write an entire post in return, a list of childhood memories which beget and became My First Meme, a charming, illumining anecdote on age, meditation and self-transcendence at Sumangali.org:
Age does not matter. Until his passing at age 76, Sri Chinmoy proved that to me. Through his life of meditation and self-transcendence he showed me that perhaps I am not as limited as I think. I hope to continue forgetting how old I really am. I hope to feel amused, rather than bound, if I do happen to remember, and grateful to Sri Chinmoy, especially if others find it funny too.
The torch is passed, the wheel turned. And so it goes...

What Matter Age?

I can relate to the sentiments above in so many ways. At age thirteen, and in my first year in High School, I would at times be mistaken for sixteen or older, not because of my size, but my attitude and demeanour. I was overly serious and “adult,” something of an grown up trapped in a child’s body, and for the most part related to my elders better than my peers. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless it is making you miserable. It was and then some. Now twenty years on and thirty-three, I find age to be a bit of a joke. I have reached a kind of dim, twilight zone, like a purgatory between youth and senility, where I have to stop and think to remember my age. I still can not believe I am in my thirties, and for that matter during my twenties I could not believe I was not a teen. This is only because of meditation. With the regular practise of meditation—in which I am certainly no expert, but hopefully an advertisement for: a poster-child for meditation’s slow-dawning felicitation to experience life in the ever present, ever lasting now—I again feel as I did before those forgettable, teen-aged years. Like a child. Like myself once more. Musing upon the inevitable forward march of age, I am reminded of learning to drive recently—several years ago in fact—in which getting over the insistent feeling that I was an impostor acting as a grown-up—driving seeming like such a grown-up thing to be doing—was far harder than getting a handle on the rules, firm grip of the wheel. John Gillespie, postmanLikewise my career. After years striding the streets as a postman—a card-carrying job for loners, introverts and others who wish to drop out of the ‘nine to five,’ or in my case, approximate a wandering, meditating monk, composing poetry while roaming up to thirteen kilometres a day, I exchanged hair shirt for one starched, press-ganged into a pre-press job with a design company, and rejoined my last seen at university, career-making peers on the cusp of their thirties, threshold or over of marriage, mortgages and children. What a joke it all was. Feeling like a child trapped in a far too big body I had to get head around idea of being an “adult,” or at least its outer appearance; joining serious colleagues in serious decisions about heavy responsibilities and pressing problems—not to mention getting in line for performance appraisals and promotion, a necessary evil when regular, expensive overseas trips to supply my meditation habit—or self-enlightenment sanity excursions as I subtitle them—were a necessity. Throughout my extended tour of the five-days-a-week world of adult duty, I was always keenly conscious of the illusory nature of it all, of its secondary status to the pursuit of my ageless, real identity. Funnily enough, and this is a very real letter of recommendation for meditation, I find that people value a person who can bring a child’s touch to a serious situation, a person able to laugh and to joke, remain good-natured and even-tempered when others do not. I was genuinely moved by the extent my colleagues showed their appreciation when it was time to move on from that job—their sincere, heart-felt sentiment running to pages on hand-made leaving card. Not to mention all of the hugs I had to dodge. In feeling like a child still, I in truth should be grateful to my mother, whose raising of me was anything but conventional—I am “old” enough, or at least wise enough to appreciate this now. Now sixty-five and looking barely fifty, she is a guileless, child-like woman, and as far away from adult politics and game-playing as is possible; it is I her child who has to point out the alternative interpretation of occasional, unintentional faux pas. Her youth-like, light of heart qualities I once mistakenly sought to uproot in myself, leave behind in a wrong-headed, head-strong rush to “grow up”—early, regrettable attempts at self-transformation with a labourer’s pitchfork, rather than the meditation’s gentle pruning. Sri Chinmoy by Pavitrata TaylorBut most of all, I can relate to Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of self-transcendence—transcendence of mind, belief, achievement and of age. In this respect alone I have so much to be grateful to my meditation teacher for. Initially self-taught in meditation—I am something of an autodidact in most things; a good quality when one remembers to be humble, or the much that one does not know—I have come to learn that meditation is so much more than a moment of peace, or a silent mind only in a silent room. Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy of the child-like heart, of living as a child rather than living childishly, has re-invented my life in the most remarkable ways, transformed me in a fashion I once could not imagine. Compared to my former self, you could say I am re-born. Photo Credits
  1. Teh Google
  2. Mail model John Gillespie, Post News, Dec 2003
  3. Pavitrata Taylor

Howard Jones: Best-selling Buddhist Pop Star

The musical beginnings of British popular artist, vegetarian, practising Buddhist and master of 1980‘s synthesiser-pop Howard Jones were auspicious, although he probably didn't recognise it at the time. A piano player and teacher from an early age, he was involved in a car accident which left him injured. One of his students—and later wife—Jan Smith, who was in the vehicle at the time, claimed compensation on his behalf, and used the money to buy him a synthesiser—a Moog Prodigy. He was actually sent two by mistake, and liked their combination so much he paid for the second. Thus a synth-pop legend was born. Howard Jones would appear initially on stage with a mime artist named Jed Hoile, performing improvised choreography whilst doused in white paint. It seems the world wasn’t yet ready for New Wave synth-mime, and Jones made the big time sans improvised mime artist—although Jed was brought back for a special 20th Anniversary retro set in 2003. The mid-eighties saw a frenzy of albums and top 40 hits in both the UK and the US for this so called “respectable” face of pop, and the single Like To Get To Know You Well, an unofficial anthem to the Los Angeles Olympics, was huge around the world. Jones also had one of the best haircuts in the business, described by one authority as a peculiar early 80‘s combo of mop-top and dyed spikes. Despite sudden fame, fortune and eight million albums sold, Jones remained true to his ideals, promoting strong feelings for animal rights and and against human excess. His first album, the platinum selling chart topping Human’s Lib, is both a reference in title to the animal liberation movement and the moksha of the Buddhist and Indian religions.
Look in better places gonna look inside Gonna get higher something is pulling me on Breaking down the old ways feeling no regret Gone are the shaky sands Ive been building on Hunt The Self
Jones’ second album, Dream into Action, also successful, continued a long-standing advocacy of vegetarianism, with the track Assault & Battery pulling no punches:
Children’s stories with their farmyard favourites On the table in a different disguise
Another song from the album, Hunger For the Flesh, was a lyrical treatise on the Buddhist Noble Truths, Jones singing from the heart about karmic attachment and rebirth:
They came here for to dance To learn and not to cling Holding onto life As if it were the important thing
Is There A Difference continues the album’s strong Eastern theme, lyrics based upon Chapter 20 of the Tao Te Ching (The Way of Life). A former Christian, Jones was introduced to Buddhism by a friend and never looked back. A devotee of Nichiren Buddhism, a thousand year old Japanese off-shoot noted for it’s focus on the Lotus Sutra and the belief that realisation of the Buddha-nature is in the present life, he chants daily for an hour in the morning and thirty minutes at night. Twenty years since the peak of his fame, Howard Jones continues his musical quest for enlightenment, releasing Revolution of the Heart in 2005 with a strong lyrical message for inner human change, or to quote the musician himself, “in fact a revolution of the heart.” [kml_flashembed movie="http://uk.youtube.com/v/XD3qA54Fn_Q

On a Roll

He’s been in the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the BBC and The Guardian, the pop star your Mum used to like now an internet phenomenon in the papers your Mum likes to read. Rick AstleyRick Astley, baby-faced British two-hit wonder from 1988 still baby-faced and viewed 15,000,000 times on YouTube—somebody’s got to be “taking the Rick” for sure? The phenomenon is called “Rickrolling,” and if you just clicked that link you’ve been “rolled” as well.

Definition of Rickrolling

To quote the Urban Dictionary, ’rolling is:
To post a misleading link with a subject that promises to be exciting or interesting, e.g. “World of Starcraft in-game footage!”  [...] but actually turns out to be the video for Rick Astley's debut single, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” A variant on the duckroll. Allegedly hilarious.

Rick Astley on Rickrolling

But what does Rick have to say about it all? You wouldn’t get this from any other guy...
For his part, Astley was nothing if not modest about his new cultural role. “If this had happened around some kind of rock song, with a lyric that really meant something -- a Bruce Springsteen, "God bless America" ... or an anti-something kind of song, I could kind of understand that,” Astley said. “But for something as, and I don’t mean to belittle it, because I still think it’s a great pop song, but it’s a pop song; do you know what I mean? It doesn’t have any kind of weight behind it, as such. But maybe that’s the irony of it.” Astley would never put the song down, mind you. It’s just that, as he says, “If I was a young kid now looking at that song, I’d have to say I’d think it was pretty naff, really.” (Wikipedia on “naff”: British slang for “something which is seen to be particularly ‘cheesy’ or ‘tacky’ or in otherwise poor aesthetic taste.”) “For me it’s a good example of what some of the ’80s were about in that pop sort of music way. A bit like you could say Debbie Gibson was absolutely massive, but if you look back at it now ... do you know what I mean?” Yes, I think we do. But even still, with all the renewed attention to his work and his — albeit 20-year-old — image, does Astley have any plans to cash in on Rickrolling, maybe with his own YouTube remix? “I don’t really know whether I want to be doing that,” he said. “ I’m not being an ageist, but it’s almost a young person’s thing, that.” “I think the artist themselves trying to remix it is almost a bit sad,” he said. “No, I’m too old for that.” Astley, who will be touring the U.K. in May with a group of other ’80’s acts, including Bananarama, and Nick Heyward, Heaven 17, Paul Young and ABC, sums up his thoughts on his unexpected virtual fame with characteristic good humor: “Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it.” —David Sarno, L.A. Times

Bressa Creeting Cake: Palm Singing

Quarter acre sections; a sky tower that doesn't really go all the way to the sky; spotlessly clean suburbs; rolling, semi-green, semi-bald hills covered in sheep and mountain bikers; speedos for fashion rather than the beach; xylophones; a calypso beat, and druids in a city where almost nothing is older than 150 years—just some of the eccentricity galore in this irrepressibly happy, undeniably strange music video from Auckland, New Zealand band Bressa Creeting Cake—the only group with a truly awful pun for a name to win a national music award. Or to describe Palm Singing in the words of the band:
“A very happy holiday song full of gaiety, summer, and love for one's fellows.”
Strange backyard rituals around a bonfire aside, who on earth could possibly bad-mouth that? My friend “Krazy Karl” was once a member of this band—before he made a stand for sanity. I need no longer wonder where the “Krazy” came from... In New Zealand, the concept of “six degrees of separation” may not have been invented, but it always applies, and my crazy musician friend and Bressa Creeting Cake are just one example:
  • I work with the guitarist from semi-famous rock band Garageland;
  • I went to school with semi-notorious rock band Shihad;
  • Jemaine of HBO comedy show Flight of the Conchords was in my film classes at university;
  • A workmate was trying to sell a concept for a board game named based on this very concept—that you can connect one person to another through six degrees of separation or less.
Here in the land of four million people and forty million sheep, everybody really does know everybody...

ABC News on the passing of Sri Chinmoy

A video and news story from ABC on the passing of Sri Chinmoy on Thursday, 11th October, 2007. Download link
Oct 12, 2007 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Spiritual guru Sri Chinmoy, a peace activist who inspired his followers to feats of extreme physical endurance, has died at the age of 76 at his home in New York, a statement from his organization said on Friday. Chinmoy, who suffered a heart attack, died on Thursday. Chinmoy was born in India and in 1964 immigrated to New York, working in the Indian Consulate. He later started a meditation center that eventually spread around the world. A statement issued on behalf of Chinmoy's followers said he had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded to former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Friday. He was a strong supporter of the United Nations and his charities sent food and medicine around the world. Chinmoy's followers were said to take on a regimen of vegetarianism, humanitarian service and extreme physical challenges as a way to inner peace. He set an example by running ultra-marathons before switching to weightlifting. Acolytes said he was capable of lifting airplanes and had written more than 1,600 books of prose and poetry in his quest for world peace.
Read more: ABC News: Peace activist Sri Chinmoy dead at 76.