Greetings. I am on the plane back from Germany, just having performed with the Bennie Wallace 10 piece band. We did 2 concerts, but last night’s concert was at “Semperoper” – an unbelievably prestigious, beautiful concert hall, very much like Carnegie Hall – only much older and historic! Pics on myspace.
Before I go on (and this is not lip service) it was an honor to play with these 9 very, very excellent musicians. Yes, every one has a spark of genius, and it was a wake up call to never stop in the quest for excellence and musical understanding, ability and humility. I am honored that these guys would have me play with them as a peer.
I watch my mind during my tours and gigs, and not only try to play great music, but to grow mentally and spiritually. There are always tough moments for me when I travel. They are mostly internal, and they give me the chance for growth.
2 nights ago, I found myself listening to some talks by Alan Watts on my laptop – he’s a well known scholar of Buddhism and eastern philosophy, and he was a key figure in explaining eastern ideas to westerners. He’s got this dry English accent and wit that make him fun to listen to. A night later, I stumbled on a “teachings of the Buddha” alongside the Bible in my hotel night-stand droor. Yeah Germany – you’re getting hip! As always, teachings were appearing before me as I needed them.
The previous tour in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky brought up in me a lot of “aversion”, a feeling of “pushing away”. Please don’t get me wrong if you were there and enjoyed the music – playing the music was a blast. However, I experienced this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was just wrong and dealt with dissatisfaction, fear and doubt more than usual. Bravo – it pushed me out of my comfort zone, and resistance to the present moment arose. Time to grow!
We all do this when we are on line waiting for a slow cashier. It’s a “no”, a push that we feel inside. So I felt “no, I deserve more money, better hotels, more recognition, more publicity, easier travel” and so on. I made myself unhappy for much of it. I was grasping for “something better”.
In contrast, last night I stayed at the Hilton in Dresden, played with stellar musicians, in the most prestigous place I have ever played, got payed well and ate like a king. My feeling was, “wow ,of course this is cool, but it simply is what it is. I am here. So this is what I have been grasping for? It’s still me and my guitar, my mind, my fingers and I have to do my best. This is just as much NOW as Kentucky was NOW. Different, but not really, because I am always here in the NOW!”
It’s very hard to describe, but I saw a MAJOR flaw and built in guaranteed misery for all of us humans in the whole grabby-grasping for the things we want, and the pushing away of the things we don’t want. And magically, a book on Buddhism appeared in front of me.
I want to be serene more than I want anything. I guess I still want the pleasure, but there is a wide-awake delectability when there is calm, peace and acceptance. It’s a joy that is quiet and still – and always there if the tornado of the mind chills out!!! It’s a greater pleasure than a vacation, money, or ego inflation. It is the backdrop of inner peace.
The little Buddhism book from the hotel says many perfect things, but here’s the one closest to what I felt when I looked at this push-pull in my own mind:
“People grasp at things for their own imagined convenience and comfort; They grasp at wealth and treasure and honors; they cling desperately to mortal life.
They make arbitrary distinctions between existence and non-existence, good and bad, right and wrong. For people, life is a succession of graspings and attachments, and then, because of this , they must assume the illusions of pain and suffering.”
Can YOU see that attachment to the “good things” leads to misery when they are not there? Can you see that grasping to re-create a past experience is the hell of grasping, and that the present offers all that you’d need? Can you see that getting a nice big fat ego boost and enjoying it makes you thirst and kill for the next ego boost, which vanishes like a mirage?
Thank you life, for being the greatest teacher of all. See you tomorrow.