Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

Billy Collins discusses the value of getting to the end of a poem and what can happen afterwards

April 2, 2015

As we’ve seen in an recent post about the writing and teaching of poetry, Billy Collins wants the poem he’s writing to complete itself, to come to an end. When he writes a poem, he says meaning is the furthest thing on his mind. He’s just trying to get to the next line, to arrive at the ending. “It’s not a search for insight, particularly. It’s a search to be over with.”

In this interview with Ginger Murchison at the 9th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Billy Collins reveals more about the ending of a poem, how what happens is even more important than the last line of the poem.

During the interview, Ginger Murchison mentions something Billy Collins had alluded to about the end of a poem, and asks him:

What happens at the end of the poem? I want to know about that white space after the last period, for the poet and the reader. You said your poem goes towards somewhere. How do you see that as being more important than even the last line of the poem, that space at the end?

He answers her by describing the significance of the white space:

Well, the white space at the end is just like the white space around the rest of the poem. It stands for silence. And maybe the white space after the end of the poem is a little more silent than the other silences. I think of a poem as an interruption of silence.

He also talks about how satisfying it can be to find the ending to a poem. The implication being, the silence that follows the ending as something new that is created within the writer and the reader.

Once you find it, it’s incredibly satisfying. You found something that didn’t exist before. That the poem brings, calls into existence, through a series of steps, it gains some kind of ground, and out of that ground, there occurs something that had never existed before. It comes as a sort of gain, surprise.

I certainly can relate to that, and described in the previous post how certain poems completed themselves in ways I hadn’t imagined. When that happens, and when a poem enlivens a silence, within and between both the poet and the reader, or listener, it creates a deep feeling of fulfillment.

After hearing a discussion with Bill Moyers and 3 well-known poets on the Diane Rhem show discussing the creation of a poem and the effect it had on an audience when recited, I was inspired to write a poem about this mysterious creative process as something elemental, transcendental.

Poetry—The Art of The Voice, describes the source, course, and goal of poetry springing from and returning to silence, through a poet’s inner voice or consciousness, to a listener’s heart and mind. It also relates to the notion of a writer finding and expressing his or her own voice as a poet.

Another poem I wrote shows how Silence ultimately speaks for itself. See Telling the Story of Silence by Ken Chawkin.

Creation comes about through sounds and silences, expressions and gaps, within which the dynamics of transformation occur. See Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Uni-verse.

For a more detailed explanation of these dynamics in language and creation, see Singing Image of Fire, a poem by Kukai, with thoughts on language, translation, and creation, and Yunus Emre says Wisdom comes from Knowing Oneself — a Singularity that contains the Whole.

George Plimpton interviewed Billy Collins for Paris Review

As referenced by Ginger Murchison, George Plimpton had interviewed Billy Collins for The Paris Review in 2001 after news of his appointment as the new poet laureate by the Library of Congress. He would go on to serve two terms, 2001-2003. Although published 14 years ago, this interview is definitely worth reading:  Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry No. 83.

The interview opens with Plimpton asking Collins how he starts to write a poem. He says he doesn’t write that regularly, much of his time is waiting and watching; he’s vigilant. But when he’s engaged he usually writes a poem quickly, in one sitting.

I think what gets a poem going is an initiating line. Sometimes a first line will occur, and it goes nowhere; but other times—and this, I think, is a sense you develop—I can tell that the line wants to continue. If it does, I can feel a sense of momentum—the poem finds a reason for continuing. The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. The first few lines keep giving birth to more and more lines.

That makes perfect sense. He doesn’t know where he’s going and hopes the poem is one step ahead of him, holding his interest, leading him down the trail to that elusive mysterious ending. I love the different metaphors he uses to describe the pen as a tool to help him discover that something he’s not yet aware of.

Like most poets, I don’t know where I’m going. The pen is an instrument of discovery rather than just a recording implement. If you write a letter of resignation or something with an agenda, you’re simply using a pen to record what you have thought out. In a poem, the pen is more like a flashlight, a Geiger counter, or one of those metal detectors that people walk around beaches with. You’re trying to discover something that you don’t know exists, maybe something of value.

He explains how he likes to invite the reader into a poem with something ordinary, then take him or her, and himself to a place he hasn’t been to yet.

I want to start in a very familiar place and end up in a strange place. The familiar place is often a comic place, and the strange place is indescribable except by reading the poem again.

There’s a lot more to the interview, but he concludes humbly by saying that he’s just trying to be a good writer.

No matter what I’m thinking about when I’m writing a poem, no matter what is captivating my attention, all I’m really trying to do is write good lines and good stanzas.

There’s a reason he’s called America’s most popular poet. He has made poetry accessible to millions of Americans. He continues to write, publish, sell books, teach, and is in constant demand to give poetry readings.

It is a delight to read his poetry. His subtle sense of humor puts a smile on my face. It’s also enjoyable to hear him recite his poems. Seemingly ordinary, they give you a unique perspective on things that were previously unimaginable, and that’s refreshing!

See the previous post: Billy Collins suggests more creative ways to respond to poetry than analyzing it to death. Enjoy the poetic genius and humor of Billy Collins reading his poem “January in Paris” and Billy Collins humorously disagrees with Heraclitus showing how to go into the same water twice.

Cynthia Lennon, dead at 75 (1939-2015) R.I.P.

April 1, 2015

Cynthia Lennon, dead at 75 of Cancer
Julian Lennon’s Beautiful Memorial Tribute

22nd Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival ‏@UMassFilm Spotlight Amherst Alum @GREGREITMAN’s @ROOTEDinPEACE

March 24, 2015

mmff-201522nd Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival
A Greg Reitman Film


UMass Amherst alum Greg Reitman (’93) presents a personal journey of discovery, seeking answers to humanity’s self-destructive cycles of waste, war, and violence in this fascinating documentary. Seeking counsel from famous luminaries and activists, the film asks us how we want to live on this planet and challenges us to examine our own values.

Reitman interviews physician and author Deepak Chopra, music legends Donovan, Mike Love, and Pete Seeger, film director David Lynch, Noble Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, green architect William McDonough, neuroscientists Dan Siegel, Fred Travis, and many others. Greg also returned to his alma mater to show where he first came up with the idea of planting trees for peace. [official site | event poster | MMFF site | Rooted in Peace showing]

This 2015 documentary film premiered at the 21st Annual Sedona International Film Festival, February 21–March 1, 2015. See previous blog post on this Sundance Alum: Greg Reitman’s film, ROOTED in PEACE, inspires us to change from within to transform the world. See the trailer. More news: ROOTED in PEACE to play Martha’s Vineyard and an Iowa premiere at Fairfield’s Sondheim Center.

The Amherst-Maharishi-TM-Connection

Amherst is home to the Transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson. So it seemed fitting for the UMass Amherst campus to be selected as the site for a meditation course and symposium in the summer of 1971.

I was one of hundreds who had attended that one-month Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Another course followed on the West Coast at Humboldt State College, now University, in Arcata, California. Over two thousand of us would continue with the next step in our Teacher Training Course with Maharishi the following year in Mallorca, Spain and Fuiggi Fonte, Italy for six months, from January to June, 1972.

One of the Amherst course participants was Beach Boy Mike Love. I was introduced to him by Charles Lloyd, a jazz musician on the course who became a friend. I used to give them lifts to and from the dining hall. I would meet Donovan years later, and David Lynch, decades later. You can imagine my surprise when Greg told me he had graduated from UMass Amherst! It was great to arrange for Greg to interview Donovan and Mike Love on how they met Maharishi and learned TM, and David Lynch and Bob Roth, director of the David Lynch Foundation, about the transformational value of TM in schools and for at-risk populations. Small world! Full circle!

Wednesday, March 25th, tomorrow night’s showing of ROOTED IN PEACE, should be fulfilling for Greg, as he brings it all back home. He’s worked hard on this film and deserves all the kudos for manifesting this vision of personal and global transformation.

Following the course was the First International Symposium on the Science of Creative Intelligence. Maharishi interacted with many leading scientists and thinkers in all areas of life, including Buckminster Fuller. His presentations were so impressive that Maharishi kept interjecting his Vedic perspective in agreement. At a certain point, Fuller turned towards Maharishi and spoke only to him since he felt he was the only one who truly understood what he was saying. At the end he went over to Maharishi who had stood up to greet him and they held hands together. Everyone rose on their feet and applauded for a good ten to fifteen minutes. Those were very heady days! There also was a special press conference with both Fuller and Maharishi following his talk. It’s posted on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Channel in 3 parts. I’ll post links here. Very much worth watching!

1/3. Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Part One of Press
2/3. Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Part Two of Press
3/3. Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Part Three of Press

Watch a CBC film of Maharishi at Lake Louise, and a later A&E biography.

I enjoyed reading a fictional story about a young couple who meet at UMass Amherst, learn to meditate and later attend Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course at his Swiss headquarters. Given a mission, they return to live and work in Amherst where a dramatic and inspiring story unfolds. Read more and listen to author B. Steven Verney on Writers’ Voices talk about his enlightening novel, “The Best of All Possible Worlds.”


I tweeted Greg Reitman today about last night’s showing of ROOTED in PEACE and he replied: Full house, engaged audience, lots of questions afterwards … Yes lots of people wanted to buy the DVD which will be available in the fall … That would be the plan and will have 20 minutes of extra scenes on the DVD. … Replying to a tweet I sent out a few days later about the film, Greg replied: It was a real homecoming I was truly surprised how the students responded and for some there were tears.

Time for some humor and love — WELCOME BACK

February 19, 2015

Saw this on a friend’s Twitter feed. Too funny to not share. Made my day!


Words are not needed here; it says it all, but I couldn’t resist. Welcome back to the school of life. Seem familiar? Did we learn our lessons well? No? Having to repeat a class? Time for a fresher course, and then some! Maybe we’ll get it right this time around. You think? If not, there’s always the next class, the next life, with more lessons to be learned. :-)


Made in Heaven posterWhen it comes to getting it right for love, I recommend my all-time favorite romantic movie: Made in Heaven (1987), about two souls, played by Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis, who meet and fall in love in Heaven. Annie (McGillis) is sent to Earth and Mike (Hutton) makes a deal to be reborn (Elmo) to find her (Ally). But he’s given a time-frame of 30 years in which to do it, otherwise he’ll lose her forever. It’s a magical movie filled with surprises. Rent it. Read more about it on Wikipedia. Found it on Vimeo with Spanish subtitles.

That year, Wim Wenders came out with his amazing film, Wings of Desire, about an angel who tires of overseeing human beings and wishes to become one himself when he falls in love with a mortal.

City of Angels posterTen years later it was adapted for English audiences as City of Angels (1998). Wenders co-wrote the screenplay. Nicholas Cage plays the angel who falls in love with a doctor, Meg Ryan, because of her beauty and concern for her patients. She doesn’t believe in angels, but when he reveals himself to her she falls in love with him, and has to decide between him or her fiance. One patient, a former angel, tells him how he became human for a woman. He does the same and experiences the joys and sorrows of love and loss.

sit-bdAnother great movie is Somewhere in Time (1980adapted from the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson who also wrote the screenplay. Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve), a playwright, falls in love with a picture of Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), an actress who had performed at the Grand Hotel. He discovers he was there and finds a way to travel back in time to win her heart. It works, but something unexpected happens that changes everything.

The SAG strike and lack of funds prevented the film from being effectively launched that year. When it was finally shown in New York, critics panned it, squashing plans for a national release. But, with the advent of cable television and late night movies, it soon became a cult classic and went on to win numerous awards.

John Barry composed the beautiful soundtrack including the haunting 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Barry had been mourning the death of his parents and was not making himself available for work, but Seymour, a close friend, and the script, persuaded him to get involved. He channeled his emotions into the music, which contributed to the film’s success. Visit the official fan website to find out more:

Another beautiful time-travel love story is The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan, a 1979 made-for-television movie based on the much-loved classic novel Second Sight by David Williams.

The Two Worlds of Jennie LoganAfter trying on a dress found in the attic of an old Victorian house her husband purchased to try to save their marriage, Jennie Logan accidentally travels into the past. After several visits there she discovers true love. Returning to the present she investigates who he was and how he may have been killed. She travels between both worlds in an attempt to save her lover’s life and alter history. Find out more at IMDb and the Amazon book description and comments. Watch it on YouTube.

Defending Your LifeOn a lighter note, Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred, with Meryl Streep, in Defending Your Life (1991), “the first true story of what happens after you die.” The dead are sent to Judgement City, a vacation-style place for the afterlife where representatives using large amounts of their brain potential help you defend your life in front of a court. The opposition also reviews aspects of your life where you showed fear instead of courage, the intent being to learn from past experiences.

Shirley MacLaine has a cameo role inviting people to the Pavilion of Past Lives, which is quite funny. There is also a love interest between the main characters who meet while their lives are undergoing review before they will be sent onto their different destinations. The question is, will he overcome his fears and sacrifice everything to be with this wonderful woman? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. :-)

Blending heaven and earth, the divine and the mortal, the idyllic past with the unfulfilled present, or unresolved issues exposed in the afterlife, each film provides a different perspective on the sacrifice the main character makes for love, giving up one to gain the other. The ways of karma are unfathomable, but true love is eternal, and transformational!


There was one movie that made a big impression on me when I saw it on television as a teenager. It’s about love, but more the story of one man’s quest for self-realization in a confused and materialistic world.

Razors_Edge (1946)The Razor’s Edge tells Larry Darrell’s story and his search for meaning after a comrade dies saving his life on the last day of World War One. Larry leaves love behind to find himself. He rejects the conventional life in search of a more transcendent experience, which takes him to India where he meets a guru. His search for enlightenment fulfilled, he may not have to reincarnate if he can walk the razor’s edge, live in the world and not be overtaken by it, anchored to his Self.

Larry returns to find his friends who are suffering due to a reversal of fortune brought about by the Great Depression. He shares what he’s learned to help them. Read more of the story on Wikipedia. I saw the original 1946 version starring Tyrone Power, based on the book by W. Somerset Maugham, which I later read.

Razors_Edge (1984)It was remade in 1984 with Bill Murray in his first dramatic role. Murray also co-wrote the screenplay with director John Byrum. Visit Wikipedia for a full summary. Byrum couldn’t find a studio to finance it. Dan Aykroyd suggested Murray could appear in Ghostbusters for Columbia Pictures in exchange for the studio funding The Razor’s Edge. Murray agreed and a deal was made. Though the film lost money, Ghostbusters went on to make millions.

Both versions of The Razor’s Edge are worth watching for their own values, but I prefer the earlier one. You can see it here.

This poem by William Stafford—The Way It Is—perfectly describes the kind of perspective Larry Darrell developed and how he lived his life.


Larry Darrell’s quest spoke to me as a young person and unknowingly foreshadowed the direction my life would take during my college years and beyond when I would discover Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation technique. Our generation was so fortunate to have received the many gifts Maharishi brought out from the Himalayas. He inspired us to develop our full potential as human beings with TM and its advanced techniques, and to work with him to help make this world a better place to live in by applying his life-transforming Vedic knowledge and technologies in health, education, rehabilitation, virtually all areas of life. We are forever grateful. JGD

To find out more about Maharishi, see this HuffPost article by Philip Goldberg on Maharishi. Also watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise and the 2007 A&E biopic on the History Channel.

Listen to Canadian harpist Kristan Toczko perform Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Just beautiful!

February 12, 2015

Time now for a peaceful musical interlude. Listen to Canadian harpist, Kristan Toczko, play Claude Debussy’s romantic composition, Clair de Lune. It was recorded live on May 12, 2014 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto, ON, Canada, and later published on her YouTube channel, Kristan Toczko, August 5, 2014. This short classical piece, and her interpretation of it, are just beautiful!! Like a powerful haiku, it leaves you with a deeply peaceful feeling.

I also found this beautiful performance of Claude Debussy “Clair de lune” by Angela Hewitt in a live concert for the Royal Conservatory of Music at Toronto’s Koerner Hall recorded for CBC Music.

This rendition of Claude Debussy – Suite Bergamasque – Clair de Lune by the famous French-American pianist François-Joël Thiollier is sublime! I also found it as Clair de Lune (Moonlight) showing the album cover.

Apparently, Clair de Lune, was a French poem written by Paul Verlaine in 1869, and became the inspiration for the third and most famous movement of Debussy’s 1890 Suite Bergamasque of the same name.

Cameron Diaz tells Bob Roth @LynchFoundation how #TranscendentalMeditation has helped her

February 10, 2015

Watch this Conversation with Cameron Diaz presented by the David Lynch Foundation. Published Feb 7, 2015 on the DavidLynchFoundation channel, actress and author Cameron Diaz was interviewed by DLF Executive Director Bob Roth on her personal practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Cameron is sweet and lively as she shares some amazing stories, practical ways that TM helped her deal with personal relationships, acting under stressful conditions, and more. The event took place in New York City at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, a DLF sponsor.

Visit the David Lynch Foundation to see how they are helping different sectors of society overcome trauma and transform lives:

Greg Reitman’s film, ROOTED in PEACE, inspires us to change from within to transform the world

January 22, 2015

Rooted in Peace PosterThis Saturday, January 24, 2015, PublicVine will host a private screening of Sundance award-winning director/producer Greg Reitman’s latest film, ROOTED in PEACE. The event will be held at the I-Heart Radio Lounge located in the heart of Sundance on Main Street in Park City, Utah. The film will be presented using PublicVine’s innovative social media platform. There will be a live question and answer after the screening with filmmaker Greg Reitman, PublicVine CEO Nam Mokwunye, and writer/producer Scott Zarakin, followed by an after party for all in attendance.

Greg Reitman says one of the most important issues for filmmakers wanting to get their films out into the marketplace is being able “to reach the widest available audience while retaining as much financial control as possible.” He feels PublicVine’s platform will provide “a perfect balance for releasing our new film, ROOTED in PEACE.” And when it comes to reaching consumers for digital transactions on a world-wide level Reitman adds, “PublicVine’s platform is going to be a game-changer for filmmakers.”

PublicVine CEO Nam Mokwunye points out that Reitman’s screening of ROOTED in PEACE “from his channel on PublicVine could be a first in film history.” He says it will only “give us a glimpse of what is possible with PublicVine and what opportunities lie ahead.”

Read the press release to find out more details about this innovative social video marketplace and how it can benefit filmmakers.


Greg_ReitmanROOTED in PEACE challenges viewers to examine their values as Americans and human beings. Today we are at war within ourselves, with our environment, and with the world. Director and award-winning filmmaker Greg Reitman invites viewers on a film journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace, and stop the cycle of violence.

The film relies not only on memoir, but also interviews with such luminaries and activists as Deepak Chopra, music legends Donovan, Mike Love, and Pete Seeger, film director David Lynch, Noble Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, green architect William McDonough, physician and best-selling author Mark Hyman, neuroscientists Dan Siegel and Fred Travis, sustainability and nutritional experts, and many more.

Reitman learns from all of them, and heeds Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s words, that if the forest is to be green, every tree must be green; if there’s going to be Peace on earth, then everybody needs to experience that quality of Peace within themselves. And so in asking viewers to do the same, Reitman poses the basic question: How do we want to live?

Reitman’s journey is an example of transformation — how one person can learn to make the necessary changes to enjoy a better life — and in so doing inspire others to want to improve their own lives, and society as a whole.

About Greg Reitman

Greg Reitman is the founder of Blue Water Entertainment, Inc., an independent production company focusing on environmentally conscious entertainment. Widely regarded as Hollywood’s “Green Producer,” Greg produced the 2008 SUNDANCE Audience Award-winning feature documentary “FUEL.” He wrote, produced, and directed the feature documentary “HOLLYWOOD’S MAGICAL ISLAND-CATALINA” (PBS) and returns back on the festival circuit with his latest revolutionary feature documentary film, “ROOTED in PEACE.” He’s currently in development on the motion picture film: “The Roni Levi Story.”

Recently, Mantra Magazine asked Greg Reitman about the Importance of Meditation, how Transcendental Meditation played a role in his life, and why it is important to him as a filmmaker.


ROOTED in PEACE premiered at the 21st Annual Sedona International Film Festival, February 21–March 1, 2015. It was one of five films selected and reviewed for Broadway World by Hebert Paine. See BWW Reviews: ROOTED IN PEACE Meets The Aquarian Conspiracy. An interesting and intelligent review, Paine really understood Greg’s intention in making the movie. He did him and the film justice.

On March 25, 2015, the film was spotlighted in the 22nd Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at UMass Amherst, Greg’s alma mater.

ROOTED in PEACE will have its Iowa premiere at the Sondheim Theater for the Performing Arts in Fairfield, Iowa, August 2nd. Get tickets here. Related news: ROOTED in PEACE to play Martha’s Vineyard and an Iowa premiere at Fairfield’s Sondheim Center.

World-famous classical guitarist @SharonIsbin says #TranscendentalMeditation “helped make me the person that I am.”

January 7, 2015

Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has been a trailblazer for both female musicians, and the guitar’s place in the world of classical music. A winner of two Grammys, she is the director of guitar programs at the Juilliard School and at the Aspen Music Festival. Liz Robbins interviewed Ms. Isbin for The New York Times and wrote this fascinating article on the world’s greatest classical guitarist: Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity. The Jan 2, 2015 Sunday Routine featured photos, other aspects of her life, and a short video of Sharon playing guitar. The article was well-written and richly put together. This part took me by surprise:

I have done Transcendental Meditation since I was 17 years old. I do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. I really believe it has helped make me the person that I am. Because it is an extraordinary way to release stress and allow it to dissolve, so that you can focus on what you want to focus on, and have your energy towards very positive things.

Sharon Isbin: Cosmic Performer

An earlier insightful article written by Linda Egenes for Enlightenment, The Transcendental Meditation Magazine (Issue 7) sheds more light on this topic: An Interview with Sharon Isbin: The Monet of Classical Guitar. Knowing that Sharon had been practicing TM since she was 17 years old, Linda asked how it had benefited her life, especially performing in front of live audiences. Her amazing reply reveals an enlightened performer.

As a musician, TM enhances my mental stamina, memory, concentration, and ability to learn. It puts me in touch with my innermost creative core and enables its expression through music. Most importantly, it facilitates instant access to a state of “cosmic immersion,” that feeling of being in the flow, or in “the zone.”

Sharon IsbinWhen I perform onstage, I enter a state of being very similar to the one I enter daily when practicing TM. It’s a sense of communion with the energy of the universe, the audience, the composer, and the music—without ego or interference. It’s a feeling of unity between me and the listeners, a sense of “oneness” in which we are all experiencing the beauty of the music together. That sensation is one of the reasons live performances can be so powerful—everyone is focused and transported, and the experience is unique and in the moment, never to be replicated.

Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends

Linda also asked Sharon questions about her musical influences and her work as a performer, teacher and collaborator, in particular about her new CD at the time, (August 30, 2011) Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends. This promotional video shares music and interviews with Sharon and Steve Vai; in studio with Nancy Wilson (Heart) and Stanley Jordan; previews with Steve Morse, Paul Winter, Rosa Passos, Romero Lubambo, and Thiago de Mello.

Documentary Film: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour

Sharon Isbin is also featured in a new documentary film that came out towards the end of last year, and is still being aired on public television: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour. The one-hour documentary produced by Susan Dangel (2014), includes guests Martina Navratilova, Michelle Obama, Joan Baez, Steve Vai, Stanley Jordan, Garrison Keillor, David Hyde Pierce, Janis Ian, Lesley Gore, Mark O’Connor, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, Joan Tower, Leonard Slatkin, Thiago de Mello, Paul Winter, and more, with Isbin’s performances showcased from international concert stages to the GRAMMYs and White House.

American Public Television presents the national broadcast on nearly 200 public television stations in the US Nov 2014 – March 2015. Video Artists International will release it on DVD/Blu-ray with added performances. See for screenings, broadcast, and release information.

Sharon Isbin on The Leonard Lopate Show

Today, Wed, January 7, 2015, WNYC’s Leonard Lopate interviewed Sharon Isbin about the program: A New Documentary On The Acclaimed Classical Guitarist, Sharon Isbin (16:33). Leonard asks Sharon about her Transcendental Meditation practice at the 10:50 mark. She answers at 11:08–12:20. Leonard mentions Julliard School inviting Sharon to head up a guitar department in their Music division and asks if Transcendental Meditation is part of the program. At the request of the David Lynch Foundation, Sharon did invite teachers to introduce the TM technique to Julliard faculty, staff, and students, offering to make it available for free. Listen to the interview here:

Visit Sharon Isbin’s website,, for more information: biography, press, music, videos, tours, and more.

A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are

January 2, 2015

I recently enjoyed watching Words and Pictures, a 2013 film about a male English teacher and a female art instructor who form a rivalry that ends up galvanizing students in a competition to decide the most effective way to communicate, using words or pictures. This battle between mind and heart, ideas and feelings, is also about self-discovery, expressing one’s creativity, and the blocks that get in the way. Cleverly written by Gerald Di Pego, a one-time English teacher, and faithfully directed by Fred Schepisi, it stars Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, and Bruce Davison. Visit their website for more info:

I especially liked the quotes about writing and art, the word vs. the image. A poem by Mary Oliver was supposed to be featured in the film. They never said which one, but kept waiting for permission to use it. By the time the answer came in, no, it was too late, and they had to come up with a replacement. The pressure was on screenwriter Gerald Di Pego. Being a poet himself, and seeing how this was his screenplay, the muse inspired him and he wrote this very vivid and appropriate poem, just in time. Juliette Binoche liked it, which came as a relief to him and the director. I found it online and wanted to share it with you. The poem plays a central role, but you’ll have to see the film to find out who wrote it and how it’s used.


I am a small poem
On a page with room
For another.

Share with me
This white field,
Wide as an acre
Of snow, clear
But for these tiny
Markings like the
Steps of a bird.
Come. Now.

This is the trough
Of the wave, the
Seconds after
Lightning, thin
Slice of silence
As music ends,
The freeze before
The melting. Hurry.

Lie down beside me.
Make angels. Make devils.
Make who you are.

As you can see, the poem invites you to create and become who you are, from that gap, the transitional point of possibility, and to share in the experience with another. Here’s a poem I wrote after a special painting class that seems relevant: ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening.

Interestingly, the Special Features part of the DVD revealed that Juliette Binoche, an artist in her own right, offered to do all of the paintings herself, which thrilled both writer and director. Because her character is dealing with physical challenges due to her medical condition, she had to paint in different styles, from portraiture to more abstract. Binoche enjoyed the added challenge and it possibly influenced her own future work.

Here is the official Words and Pictures – International Trailer (2014) HD.

The featurette also confirmed for me where they had made the film. The story is set in a New England prep school, but was actually shot at St. George’s School, an independent boarding and day university-preparatory school for boys in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a.k.a., Hollywood North.

I recognized the location, and it reminded me of a story I had heard on a local CBC radio talk show during my stay there. The guest was an English teacher who taught at St. George’s School. One of the topics being discussed was meeting famous people. Listeners called in to share their stories and the teacher related an unusual event that had recently happened to him.

He had gone shopping at a well-known store for comfortable walking shoes. He settled on a particular pair and the sales clerk told him it was a popular item. She said someone famous had been in that morning and purchased a similar pair. She left to find out the name of the celebrity, but got sidetracked, so he left.

He put on his new shoes and, as was his routine everyday after lunch, he went for a walk in the forest next to the school property. While walking along the path, looking downwards, ahead of him he saw a pair of shoes just like his coming toward him. He looked up and saw someone he never would have expected walking in the woods. He pointed at him in surprise trying to say his name, but it came out as gibberish. The person mimicked him sputtering his name. It was Robin Williams! I think he was in town at that time filming Jumanji.

They had a wonderful walk and talk together. Robin had asked him what he did for a living and where he worked, something he could identify with having played an English teacher at an elite boys prep school in Dead Poets Society. When they reached the edge of the forest, there was Robin’s stretch limousine parked on the street waiting for him. He invited him into the car saying they would drop him off at the school.

Now this man was not the most popular teacher at the school. When they pulled up, he got out of the limo, and all heads turned to look at him. Then Robin lowered the darkly tinted window, stuck his head out, and thanked the teacher for a wonderful time. All the kids’ jaws dropped! And from that day on he was the coolest person at school. Thank you, Robin! You knew what you were doing. God Bless you, wherever you are.

Who was Dear Prudence the Beatles sang to in India? What happened to her? Here is her story.

December 21, 2014

See the full article with more photos and quotes featured in the 21st issue of Enlightenment: The Transcendental Meditation® Magazine: The “Dear Prudence” Story by Rolf Erickson. Reprinted here with permission including the video: Dear Prudence: A Portrait Of Prudence Farrow Bruns.

The “Dear Prudence” Story


photo_prudence01Prudence Farrow Bruns, PhD, is the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan and award-winning writer/director, John Farrow. She has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique for 48 years, and has been a teacher of the TM program for 46 years.

It all started so simply. It was 1966, and 18-year-old Prudence Farrow was sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at her brother’s home in Los Angeles. She was reading a book on meditation when she heard a voice say, “If you’re interested in meditation, I know just the meditation for you.”

The voice was that of Peter Wallace, a friend of her brother. Peter had spent six months traveling through India, where he met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and began the Transcendental Meditation technique. He told her how simple and effortless the technique was, and yet how profound the experience and benefits could be.

“It was the simplicity of the practice that struck me most,” Prudence said. “I’d been trying different methods of meditation for some time, but they had all been complicated and difficult. When Peter described a simple, natural practice of diving deep within, I knew he was truly onto something.”

So Prudence learned the TM technique at UCLA. After experiencing the positive effects of TM for herself, Prudence wanted more. She wanted to meet Maharishi and to study with him. “At that time Maharishi had courses in India,” says Prudence. “He brought people there, and they studied for three or four months with him. You meditated for long periods under his guidance.”

On January 23, 1968, three days after her 20th birthday, Prudence traveled with Maharishi from New York to Rishikesh, India to attend her TM teacher training course. And that’s when the “Dear Prudence” story really began.

The Beatles Make the Scene

One month after Prudence arrived in Rishikesh, The Beatles showed up to study with Maharishi. While they all spent some time there, John Lennon and George Harrison stayed the longest.

“The Beatles were all very nice, humble, modest, kind, and down-to-earth people,” Prudence remembers. “I was closest to John and George, since they were my ‘course buddies’ during our studies with Maharishi. We were supposed to look out for each other during the course.”


Prudence (left) sat next to Ringo in course photo.

Prudence soon became known for her tendency to keep to herself in her room, focused on her meditation practice. “I was deeply immersed in my studies and meditation, locked away in my quarters. John, as my course buddy, was concerned and wanted to bring me out of my room to enjoy the experience more.”

John and George would come over to her room and play their guitars, encouraging her to come out and sing with them. It was this experience that became the inspiration for their song “Dear Prudence” in which John sings, “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play?”

Before he left Rishikesh, George mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her, but she had no idea what it was. She didn’t hear the song until it came out on their 1968 album The Beatles, commonly known as the “White Album.”

Prudence’s dedication to her meditation practice did pay off. After four months, she graduated from the course and became one of the first and youngest teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique at that time.

But that was just the beginning of the “Dear Prudence” story.

Prudence Comes out to Play

Once she completed her teacher training course in India, Prudence definitely did come out to play. Over the past 46 years, she’s instructed thousands of people in the TM technique throughout the United States and Canada. She married TM teacher Al Bruns in 1969, and they have three children and four grandchildren.

She’s produced Hollywood feature films and a play in Manhattan. She was an assistant to the curator of the “Theatre Collection” of the Museum of the City of New York. She has been a magazine writer. She’s written two books.

Prudence earned a BA, an MA, and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley. She received her doctoral degree in 2007, with a major in South Asian Studies and Sanskrit. She has made presentations to conferences at numerous universities, including Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Hawaii. She’s taught courses at UC Berkeley and Rutgers University.

TM and Yoga

Prudence continues to teach the TM program in Florida. In fact, she’s the most successful teacher in the U.S. at setting up Affiliate Programs in yoga studios. Maybe that’s not so surprising, considering that she’s a lifelong yoga practitioner, and she opened a yoga institute in Boston back in 1967.


Prudence attended India’s Kumbh Mela last year.

Maharishi Foundation created the Affiliate Program to bring TM to yoga studios and fitness centers. When a studio becomes an Affiliate, their members can learn TM at a reduced course fee, and the studio receives a share of the income. Everyone benefits—the new TM student, the yoga studio, and the local TM teachers.

Today most people think of yoga as a series of physical postures. But Maharishi has explained that in the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali identifies eight limbs of yoga, and the eighth limb is Samadhi or transcendental consciousness. Maharishi said that with the practice of TM, Samadhi is actually the easiest limb of yoga to achieve, since no effort is required. We simply tap into the natural tendency of the mind to go within, to transcend, and that transcendence nourishes and supports all the other limbs.

“I do think that Transcendental Meditation is—of the meditations that are available to us—the most direct, and the simplest,” says Prudence. “When you meditate, when you transcend, it allows your heart and mind to balance. And when they’re balanced, that’s when you are really healthy. You are happy. You’re happy mentally, happy emotionally, and happy spiritually. Those three are all components of what make a human being, so that connection to transcendence is absolutely necessary for health.”

Creating a Better World

Fortunately for us all, Prudence did come out to play.

“The years of meditating have enriched my life so much,” Prudence says. “And that’s why at this point in my life, I’m giving back. We need a better world. We need people to be more conscious, to be more evolved. And expanding the mind, like TM does, is absolutely vital to bring about stronger people. If you can strengthen people inside, you’ve changed the world.”

So even today, 48 years later, the “Dear Prudence” story continues.


Last year, Prudence Farrow Bruns participated in a series of Consciousness Talks at Maharishi University of Management, called Our Conscious Future. Here is a clip from her talk where she discusses a conversation she had with George Harrison about his spiritual awakening. Prudence, George and John Lennon said they felt it was happening to many in their generation, and that it would continue long after they were gone. To listen to Prudence describe The “Dear Prudence” Story, and other fascinating presentations, visit

Here is a video with lyrics to The Beatles – Dear Prudence.

Another beautiful song that John Lennon wrote about his experience with Transcendental Meditation was, Across the Universe. Here is a video with the lyrics to the song. 

This article was also published in GGN: World Peace News. Here are some related videos and interviews with Prudence Farrow Bruns: The Beatles “Dear Prudence”: A Portrait of Prudence Farrow Bruns, Maharishi and TM and Ted Henry interviews “Dear Prudence” Farrow Bruns about her life with TM and Maharishi and Prudence Farrow — subject of the Beatles song Dear Prudence — visits India’s Kumbh Mela.

Prudence’s memoir is now out: Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song. Listen to an interview with Prudence about the book online at Spirit Matters with Dennis Raimondi and Philip Goldberg. Read an interview about the book in Rolling Stone: The Real ‘Dear Prudence’ on Meeting Beatles in India.

Watch the A&E biographical film, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007) and the earlier CBC documentary of Maharishi at Lake Louise.


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