Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything–how the light gets in. It came thru him & lit up a broken humanity.

September 10, 2017

True to the end, Leonard Cohen‘s work charted the arc of his career, between life and death (Sept 21, 1934 – Nov 7, 2016). His search for redemption also influenced his fans. Cohen’s evolving understanding of life, beautifully expressed through his music, shone a light through the cracks of a broken humanity in a dark suffering world. He never claimed to have found all the answers, but seemed to have reached a kind of inner peace toward the end of his life, between himself and his God.

There is a repeated stanza in one of his songs, Anthem, that conveys the redeeming acceptance of light illuminating the darkness, compassion and love overcoming bigotry and hatred: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.”

There may be a crack in everything, but how does the light get in—from without, or is it released from within? I’ve often thought about the profundity of those lines, and there have been many interpretations of what he may be implying. See mine below.* I think he sang about finding that divinity within and among our broken humanity. I wrote this tanka in honor of Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen’s music lit up a dark world
A tanka in honor of the poet by Ken Chawkin

Leonard Cohen said
There’s a crack in everything
How the light gets in

It came through him and lit up
a broken humanity

Of course there is a kind of irony here when he says, “Forget your perfect offerings,” since he labored for months, sometimes years, on getting the lyrics to his songs perfect. At some point, though, he must’ve given up, admitted his imperfection, and sent them out into the world. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: Art is never finished, only abandoned. Other famous artists and writers have said and done the same thing.

Artistic Genius—Two Creative Approaches

There is a story about Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. They happened to be in Paris at the same time and decided to meet at a certain café. During their conversation, Dylan, one of the first to sing Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” in his concerts, asked Cohen how long it took him to write it. Cohen was embarrassed to tell him the truth so he lied and said 2 years. Then Leonard asked Bob how long it took him to write “I And I“, and he replied 15 minutes. I think he said he wrote it in the back of a cab. Cohen later told this story to an interviewer and confessed that it took him more like 5 years to write that song. He never could complete it, even after 30 verses! Their styles reflect the different philosophical approaches of ‘first thought, best thought’ versus ‘revise, revise, revise’.

You can read the fascinating history of that song in Alan Light’s book, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”. Malcolm Gladwell, in Season 1, Episode 7 of his Revisionist History podcast, discusses the history of “Hallelujah” with Alan Light, around 20 minutes into the conversation, for about 10 minutes. The theme is about two kinds of artists—those who seem to create spontaneously, and others who labor for a very long time—the differences between Mozart and Beethoven, or Picasso and Cezanne.

See Leonard Cohen’s website www.leonardcohen.com with links to more.

As  a footnote, I just tweeted (9-19-2107) Leonard Cohen’s biographer, Sylvie Simmons, asking her what he meant about the light getting in through the cracks, and she pointed me to Allan Showalter’s website, Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen Considered, and this post: Leonard Cohen On “The Light” In Anthem That “Allows You To Live A Life And Embrace The Disasters And Sorrows And Joys”.

Leonard later spent time in Bombay, India having conversations with Ramesh Balseka, a teacher of Advaita Vedanta. It made a profound impression on him; his life-long depression had finally lifted. He also befriended an Indian gentlemen, a fan, Ratnesh Mathur. You can read about their relationship and see photos on Cohencentric. Also read this BBC report: When the light got in for Leonard Cohen.

*Quora posted this question: What did Leonard Cohen mean by his lyrics: “There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in?” About a dozen people posted their suggestions. Here is my reply:

I agree with a number of interpretations posted here, quoting William Blake, the Kabbalah, and other esoteric sources, to explain what Leonard Cohen may be referring to in that line. They all make good sense to me. I also think that the light, of clarity, understanding, call it what you will, comes from within, not without. Metaphorically we may imagine light coming into a dark broken place from outside. But it can also light up the darkness from inside, if one knows how to turn on the switch. Another interpretation then, is no matter how broken, incomplete we are, with the proper approach, meditation technique, one can transcend, go beyond our limitations and just Be, experience that unbroken inner light of pure consciousness. With repeated exposures to one’s inner divine nature, the outer vessel, our body, can begin to heal, mend the broken cracks, and become whole. One way to experience this inner and outer development is with the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.

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Listen to this soothing cooling Rain Melody (Raga Megha) to bring the rains and cool things down

July 31, 2017

Rain MelodyFeeling too hot? Experiencing a drought? Listen to this beautiful Maharishi Gandharva Veda musical performance of Raga Megha, also known as the famous Rain Raga. It creates a soothing cooling influence on listeners and in Nature. It can be played at any time for increased energy and bliss. This Rain Melody reduces tensions in the atmosphere and is traditionally played during the hot summer season to bring rain and relief from heat. We can use some of that, which is why I’m posting it for us to play!

Musicians are Amar Nath on bansuri (bamboo flute), Somnath Mukergee on tabla (percussion), and Sukhamar Chandra on tambura (drone). This 45-minute CD, is available at MUM Press. Listen to this raga on repeat from your own device. Also posted on SoundCloud. Video by Frank Lotz.

Congressman Tim Ryan delivers powerful commencement speech to largest graduating class at Maharishi University

June 29, 2017
Congressman Tim Ryan delivers MUM Commencement

Congressman Tim Ryan delivered a powerful commencement speech to Maharishi University’s largest graduating class  © Jim Davis

Maharishi University’s 42nd Commencement took place on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM in the Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, graduating its largest class of 579 students representing 55 countries.

An earlier press release was sent out and MUM was included in a listing of commencement speakers posted by Inside Higher Ed, and later mentioned in a CNN Politics report. A second more detailed release was sent out and The Gazette also ran an article announcing Ohio (D) Congressman Tim Ryan as the commencement speaker. Matt Kelley of Radio Iowa interviewed Congressman Ryan the day before graduation. KTVO TV reported on the event including interviews with graduating student Chris Grace, MUM VP Craig Pearson, and Congressman Ryan.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Craig Pearson gave an overview of the number of students graduating and some of the countries they were from. Fifteen minutes in, Dr. Pearson introduced MUM Trustee Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and director of the Center for Leadership Performance, who then introduced commencement speaker Congressman Tim Ryan. Ryan delivered a powerful address, peppered with applause throughout, which ended with a standing ovation!

Maharishi University President John Hagelin Bestows Honorary Doctorate on Congressman Tim Ryan at Graduation 2017

Maharishi University President John Hagelin bestowed an honorary doctorate on Congressman Tim Ryan. Maharishi University of Management © 2017

Maharishi University President John Hagelin exclaimed, “That was a speech for the ages; a message for all time.” He then bestowed an honorary doctorate on Congressman Ryan, which brought everyone to their feet again. Hagelin said, “Wow! Really inspiring.” Watch this video and be inspired!

MUM’s Achievements newsletter published a summary of U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan’s Commencement Address. Enjoy TM News reported that U.S. Representative gave an extraordinary commencement address for TM meditators everywhere. See “Lead Us to the Next Renaissance,” Says Congressman Tim Ryan to MUM Grads.

Below are some excerpts, but there was much more in his speech, with profound ideas and quotes, which you can only get from watching it all.

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Celebrities Russell Brand @rustyrockets, @CameronDiaz, @katyperry, and War Veterans Praise #TranscendentalMeditation

June 23, 2017

Here are 3 videos of well-known celebrities Russell Brand, Cameron Diaz, and Katy Perry praising the Transcendental Meditation technique. Veterans Paul Downs and Dusty Baxley join Katy Perry and Bob Roth to discuss how TM saved their lives from the destructive effects of PTSD. Also included is a 4th video—Paul’s powerful testimonial before the U.S. House of Representatives for the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation healing his post-traumatic stress.

Russell Brand on Transcendental Meditation

Last month, comedian, actor, and best-selling author Russell Brand, along with David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth, were invited to Talks at Google: Russell Brand & Bob Roth: “Meditation, Comedy, New Fatherhood, Recovery, and Life.”

Brand has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for nearly 10 years. He says the technique has been instrumental in fostering creativity, appreciating fatherhood, and maintaining his recovery from addiction. Roth, a 45-year TM teacher, taught Russell to meditate and the two remain close friends.

Bob and Russell discussed the benefits of practicing Transcendental Meditation, how TM has personally helped Russell, and what the David Lynch Foundation is doing to bring meditation to people suffering from stress and trauma. Russell is funny and eloquent throughout, and concludes with a powerful explanation of how change comes about in society, through the power of ideas, and not from the top down, but from the grassroots up. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

Cameron Diaz on Transcendental Meditation

Below is a video with Cameron Diaz on OWN’s Oprah Online. Published last July, Diaz shares what TM means to her and how it brings wholeness to her life, especially after a long hot day on a film set. I haven’t seen Oprah’s interview with her, but the text mentions that day. Cameron had told DLF CEO Bob Roth about it over two years earlier during an interview at an event sponsored by Urban Zen. Funds were being raised to support the Foundation’s efforts to bring relief to veterans and their families suffering from the effects of PTSD with scholarships for TM courses.

Bob Roth: “Tell us about the time when you were filming and it was hot and you couldn’t remember..”

Cameron Diaz: “I was doing a film and we had been filming in Boston and we came to LA for a week. We went from the Fall, nice and cozy, to LA which was about 90 degrees in the valley at the zoo, parking lot, under a tent, in a car, under lights, with the windows up, no air conditioning. It was about 1000 degrees in the car, and I had a monologue and I couldn’t remember my lines. I knew I knew them; I couldn’t access them.”

“So I said, I need 25 minutes, I just need 25 minutes. I ran back to my trailer and I re-booted and did my 20 minute meditation. I came back in and nailed it! Done. Thank you very much. And we were out of there in like 20 minutes.”

I enjoyed her description of what she loves about TM in that interview. And the metaphor she intelligently uses to describe the power of TM in this video from the OWN show, Cameron Diaz: This is Why Meditation is So Powerful, is creative and brilliant!

This month TMhome.com put up a great post on Cameron Diaz and TM.

Katy Perry on Transcendental Meditation

A week later TMhome posted Katy Perry speaks with veterans about the healing effects of TM on her Witness World Wide video marathon. Katy also spoke earlier with Bob Roth about TM, which starts at 6:45. Roth arrives with MTV and E! News host Zuri Hall who wanted to ask Katy and Bob about TM. Katy tells Zuri that she learned TM from Bobby during her wedding to Russell Brand, which took place in India. The marriage didn’t last, but she continued to meditate. Katy told her she gets her best ideas after meditation.

Katy tries to live her life from love, not fear. TM has done this for her. This idea is more profoundly explained by veterans Paul Downs and Dusty Baxley who later join Katy and Bob after Zuri leaves. Dusty is the executive director of the Boulder Crest Retreat and a TM teacher. He taught Paul to meditate. They actually all meditate together for 20 minutes, which you can see in this clip taken from the 72-hour live-streaming launch for Katy’s new album.

Marine Veteran Paul Downs on Transcendental Meditation

Marine Veteran Paul Downs also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives for the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation healing his post-traumatic stress. This video is borrowed from the David Lynch Foundation Facebook page.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation and the David Lynch Foundation, visit www.tm.org and www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

Don Arney, inventor of aerial wildfire-fighting @Bambi_Bucket, inducted into @InventorsHOF #NIHF17 #NightAtTheNIHF

May 7, 2017
Don Arney Inventors Hall Of Fame

Don Arney, newly inducted into the 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame, stands under the medal, with Edison and Lincoln looking on. The inscription reads: The Patent System Added The Fuel Of Interest To The Fire Of Genius.*

Induction at the Inventors Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame‘s induction ceremony took place Thursday evening, May 4, 2017 in the majestic central hall of the National Building Museum, in Washington, D.C., where presidential inaugural balls are usually held. Don Arney, who attended, said, “It is beyond awesome!”

Forbes reported, Fifteen amazing innovators became 2017 inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.* Don Arney, inventor of the Bambi Bucket® for Aerial Firefighting, is one of them! Frederick E. Allen, Forbes Leadership Editor, wrote an article on the evening’s activities: To Become A Great Innovator, Get Left Back In Fourth Grade: Induction At The Inventors Hall Of Fame. Here’s an excerpt mentioning Don:

Don Arney invented the Bambi Bucket, which carries and shoots out huge quantities of water to fight forest fires, suspended from a helicopter. It is used in more than 110 countries. He said he owed his success to Transcendental Meditation, which he discovered after a spiritual journey that began when he found himself “sitting in the university library wondering if facts are all there is. . . . I’ve been doing it for 47 years now, twice a day, every day.” He said TM has helped him understand that when it comes to invention, or any kind of creativity, “you don’t do it yourself. Those things are gifts that come to you.”

When the announcement came out two months ago about Don Arney being selected as one of the NIHF inductees for 2017,  Derrick Penner interviewed him and wrote an excellent article for the Vancouver Sun: B.C. inventor of wildfire-fighting Bambi Bucket inducted to hall of fame.

The Don Arney Story

Don Arney, 2017 NIHF Inductee

You can see several photos of Don at the National Inventors Hall of Fame 45th Annual Induction Ceremony, especially in the Illumination Ceremony, being inducted, and with other honorees. This one of Don standing in front of his official portrait is very cool!

The NIHF also showed an impressive Induction Video of Don Arney telling the story of how he invented the Bambi Bucket. Filmed from his beautiful home on Salt Spring Island, Don talks about mining the mind for ideas at deeper levels, much like David Lynch describes in his book, Catching The Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

Don has found “that meditating is a completely non-directed process, and inventing has to be the same.” He explains, “you know all of the things you’re going to be doing as you engage in the process, but you don’t direct it.” What he finds is that the answers come, and organize, on a very profound level. “They bubble up, and very quickly and innocently the solution appears.”

There’s elegance in simplicity

Another shorter video, Road to NIHF – Don Arney, looks like an interesting outtake from the production of The Don Arney Story. For Don, getting and building a new idea is a very exhilarating and blissful process. Like Joseph Campbell following his bliss, Don says, “you kinda follow your charm and see what’s there.” An intelligent observer, he saw the “elegance in simplicity,” how one thing could be adapted, improved upon, and applied in a whole new way—which led to the Bambi Bucket.

The NIHF will probably post the Induction Ceremony on their YouTube channel, but I was able to find it in their Facebook Time line. So you can watch it here. The evening was hosted by Mo Rocca. He introduces Don Arney around 21:38, the induction video is shown, Don is then officially inducted, and he speaks for around 3 1/2 minutes.

When I asked Don for a copy of his acceptance speech he told me: “I had a prepared speech and ditched it at the last minute and spoke off the cuff.” Don’t know what he had planned but his talk comes across as genuine and sincere. Don acknowledges the power of his decades-long Transcendental Meditation practice, twice a day since 1970, to clear the mind and enhance his creativity, which allows him to mine the “nuggets of information” and “kernels of innovation” as gifts that come to him.

Don also pays an emotional tribute to his longtime SEI Industries business partner, Mark McCooey, and invites him to stand and be recognized. Mark was able to transform Don’s invention into an iconic product sold around the world. Their patent commands over 95 percent of the international market. Bambi Buckets come in a range of sizes and capacities and are sold in 110 countries. They were also used to cool Japan’s Fukushima nuclear site after the 2011 tsunami. The Bambi Bucket has saved forests, homes and lives. These facts, plus the simplicity, effectiveness and ubiquity of the product was why the NIHF chose Don Arney as one of their 2017 inductees.

In an earlier newsletter I had included a video of the 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee Class. You hear Don’s voice in the opening scene (00:09) and then see him with footage around his home on beautiful Salt Spring Island (until 00:21); later at 1:24 to 1:31 talking about clearing the mind as an essential part of the inventing process; and again, visually, at 2:10-2:12, and 2:15. Here is that video.

*Since our founding in 1973, the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) has inducted more than 500 visionary men and women who conceived, patented, and advanced the greatest technological achievements of our nation.

Personal note: As we get older, it’s interesting to see how we are ending up in the latter part of our lives, with what we’ve accomplished, intended or otherwise. It’s also great to celebrate our friends’ accomplishments, especially when they’re connected to Maharishi and what he taught us. I was impressed that Don acknowledged how TM had impacted his life and career, how he highlighted it in the video and in his acceptance speech!

I’ve known Don Arney, and Mark McCooey, since we were young meditators. I’ve seen him progress from a dreamy inventor to a very successful businessman and innovator, doing good for the planet. Those of us who know and love Don and Mark are proud of them and their accomplishments. Their support of the TM Movement in Canada is also very much appreciated.

More: Bambi Bucket inventor Don Arney on TM as a tool for innovation.

Fortune, Forbes, Business Insider report on the beneficial effects of @TMmeditation in business

May 4, 2017

There’s been a strong interest in meditation lately among stressed, high-powered Wall Street bankers, investors, and CEOs. Many extol the virtues of Transcendental Meditation, aka TM. One investor describes TM as “Low investment, High return.” Here are a few of the many articles in such leading publications as Fortune, Forbes, and Business Insider.

Fortune reports: This Banking CEO Swears by Meditation. Barry Sommers (J.P. Morgan) has been doing Transcendental Meditation twice a day for the last ten years. He says he saw major positive changes in a longtime friend and colleague. Sommers then learned about TM from Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation. Watch this dynamic video clip from Fortune’s second annual Brainstorm Health conference, moderated by Arianna Huffington. It’s embedded in this Fortune article: Why America’s Top Bosses Love Sleep and Meditation, part of which is excerpted here:

CEO Barry Sommers speaks on TM at Fortune's 2nd annual Brainstorm Health conference

CEO Barry Sommers praises TM at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference

Some corners of corporate America have long had a culture that wears its long and grueling hours like a badge of honor. Now a group of executives is trying to change that by opening up about how they each found balance in their own lives and by making wellness a priority at their companies.

“I’ve found in a culture like Wall Street, people are obsessed with how many hours people work,” said Barry Sommers, CEO of Wealth Management at J.P. Morgan Chase, during Fortune’s second annual Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego on Tuesday. “Way too many people are getting out of there as fast as they can because they’re totally burnt out.”

Sommers decided to take his health into his own hands a decade ago after someone he’d known personally and professionally for 30 years started doing Transcendental Meditation. “It transformed this person’s life,” he said. “I saw a different person.”

Sommers has now been doing Transcendental Meditation 20 minutes two times a day for a decade. And he prioritizes sleep, getting seven and half to eight hours every night. “I changed my schedule and lifestyle,” he said. “When I do a dinner, we’ll be at the restaurant at 5pm, not at 8pm.” He said his kids make fun of it, but he wakes up every morning “incredibly happy.” If there’s a problem at the office, his employees know to call the house and his wife will wake him up. But rarely is there anything so important that it can’t wait until the morning, he said.

“This goes completely against mainstream assumption that J.P. Morgan is the boiler room of burnout,” said Arianna Huffington, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, who moderated the panel.

Forbes, France also covered this topic: Transcendental Meditation: The Secret Weapon of Leaders, which includes this embedded video of Ken Gunsberger, from the Center for Leadership Performance.

Ken Gunsberger, VP, UBS Wealth Management in New York .png

Ken Gunsberger, VP, UBS Wealth Management New York, doing his TM

Writer Catherine Nivez interviewed Wall Street investor and TM meditator Ken Gunsberger who refers to TM as “Low investment, High return.” Vice President of UBS Wealth Management in New York, Kenneth Gunsberger manages his clients’ fortunes, market competition and professional stress. Leonard Stein, TM Teacher representing DLF in Geneva, is also quoted extensively in this excellent article.

In the video, Ken expresses a concern to his NY TM instructor: “How am I gonna know when I’m “in the zone” when I’m meditating? The reply he was given: “You’re not. The goal is to not be in the zone when you’re meditating. The goal is to be in the zone when you’re done. When you’re in that meeting at work. When you’re with your kids. When you’re with your spouse. That’s when you wanna be in the zone.”

Ken adds: “And because of the TM it has enabled me to do a much better job all across the board.” Ken said TM “literally changed my life.” After meditating only two and a half months his business increased; he had the best month in twenty-five years. Even his relationship with his daughter improved. He sums up the results of his TM practice this way: “Better choices. Better allocation of energy. Better results.”

Click on the link to watch to the rest of the video. Click the title to read the article. If you don’t understand French, use Google Translate. It’s worth the effort.

Business Insider has written before about TM in Business. Recently, Richard Feloni wrote a comprehensive report: Transcendental Meditation, which Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio calls ‘the single biggest influence’ on his life, is taking over Wall Street. It was republished in many places, including SFGATE. Here is an excerpt:

Ray Dalio, Founder, Bridgewater Associates, world's largest hedge fund

Ray Dalio, Founder, Bridgewater Associates, world’s largest hedge fund

Around eight years ago, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio introduced Transcendental Meditation to his then—735 employees.

Dalio had already established a unique, intense culture at Bridgewater that he likes to say is akin to being part of an ” intellectual Navy SEALs ,” and he believed that Transcendental Meditation (TM) would work as an effective counterbalance.

“I did it because it’s the greatest gift I could give anyone—it brings about equanimity, creativity and peace,” Dalio told me via email.

Since then, TM has popped into the mainstream, and over the last three years, the David Lynch Foundation TM center has taught almost 2,500 professionals, with roughly 55% of those from Wall Street, and 1,150 of those in 2016 alone.

Read the rest of this fabulous article, one of the best yet, and other TM articles archived on their website.

Note: I gave Jochen Uebel permission to translate this post into German: Prominente Business-Zeitschriften berichten über Transzendentale Meditation (Prominent business magazines report on Transcendental Meditation).

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Celebrating Poetry Month with one of my poems, Poetry—The Art of the Voice, and what inspired it

April 10, 2017

Since 1996, the Academy of American Poets have designated April as National Poetry Month as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. Since 1998, National Poetry Month has also been celebrated each April in Canada. Being a Canadian living in the United States, I have 2 reasons to celebrate it with a poem I wrote on the subject 17.5 years ago. I’d also like to share what inspired me to write it.

One morning, while recuperating from a cold in my room, I had been listening to the Diane Rehm Show. At the end she announced her guest for the next day, Bill Moyers, who would talk about his latest poetry project. I tuned in and recorded it on Tues, Oct 05, 1999, 10-11 a.m. ET.

In that episode of the show, Moyers discussed his upcoming PBS poetry special: Fooling with Words with Bill Moyers, the result of a visit to the Dodge Poetry Festival, which featured readings by US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and other leading poets. He also mentioned his accompanying book, Fooling With Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft (William Morrow). You can actually see Part One and Part Two of Fooling With Words, produced by and archived at Moyers & Company.

Moyers mentioned that television lends itself well to the human voice reading poetry. He said, “Poetry is music for the human voice,” but what really made an impression on him was watching “people listening to poetry.” His cameras focused in on both the poets reading their poems, and members of the audience listening attentively.

What Bill Moyers said about this dynamic caught my attention: “Poetry is reflected in the face of the listener, in the eyes, and in the intensity of the listener’s response. It’s like a mirror to the poet’s own face. And you watch these faces and you really see that poetry is sinking in, and meeting an audience in that individual listener.”

Diane and Bill then invited 3 poets on the show to read a poem and explain how they came to write it: Marge Piercy, Mark Strand (16:44), and Jane Hirshfield (32:57). After listening to the ideas and images expressed in the conversations and poems, I was so inspired that I wrote a poem about it called: Poetry—The Art of the Voice.

Poetry—The Art of the Voice

How fine will your breath become
from listening to these words?
How soft will they seem to be
as they settle through the mind
like silent snowflakes falling
from a windless winter sky?

I often marvel at the mystery—
how words can work
on a listener’s heart and mind,
upon hearing a poet’s thoughts,
a poet’s breath, flowing
from an inner voice—

a windless wind, speaking
through a voiceless voice.

© Ken Chawkin

Years later, when Freddy Fonseca put out a call for poems from Fairfield poets for This Enduring Gift-A Flowering of Fairfield Poetry (2010), I sent it in along with some other poems.  At Freddy’s suggestion I changed one word, which caused me to refine it even more, taking it to the intended level. He published it, five haiku, and a tanka, and later selected it as POEM OF THE DAY: Poetry – The Art of the Voice, by Ken Chawkin.

Over the years, Bill Moyers has welcomed some of America’s best poets to share their works and inspiration. Many of those writers have performed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, which Bill and his colleagues covered for television specials including Fooling with Words (1999), The Language of Life (1995) and Sounds of Poetry (1999). Enjoy Poets in Performance, a showcase of such poetry from past and recent productions from Moyers & Company, performed by the poets who dreamed them up, or by other artists who, like Bill, simply adore poetry.

The film Arrival asks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

March 12, 2017

The main question posed in the 2016 sci fi film Arrival is, If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Arrival (2106)

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a renowned linguist, and Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to try and communicate with the Aliens and find out why they have landed on Earth. Dr. Banks races against time to decipher their intent. As tensions mount between fearful governments, she discovers the Aliens’ true purpose and, to avert global war, takes a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. This mesmerizing masterpiece has a mind-blowing ending that will leave you wondering what happened and how.

That’s the external story, but the essential message of this movie is more internal. It’s about love, determinism and choice.

Based on the award-winning science fiction novella, Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, it was convincingly transformed into a screenplay by Eric Heisserrer. Having read the book and been moved by it, director Denis Villeneuve wondered how it could be turned into a science fiction film, a genre he had been thinking about for years. When he received the script he decided he finally had to make this film, but with Amy Adams in the lead as Dr. Louise Banks. Even though she was taking a break from filmmaking, after reading the script, she was in. Everyone involved with making the film read the book and loved the story.

In the opening scenes we learn that Professor Louise Banks is losing her daughter Hannah to a rare disease. As a child, Hannah asks her mother how she chose her name. Louise tells her she has a special name, because it is a palindrome. It’s spelled and read the same way, forwards and backwards.

This is a clue that may help you make sense of certain events in the film that appear as flashbacks. Or are they flashforwards? Yet, in retrospect, it’s not the beginnings and endings that are important to Louise, but how she lived her life, the choice she made to love, regardless of the outcome.

Watching this movie was a right-brain experience; it’s non-linear. Dr. Banks goes through changes as she learns the Alien language. Their images communicate ideas in circles without reference to tense or time. Comprehending their language transforms Louise’s brain. She begins to experience the events in her life from a less sequential, more holistic perspective.

This is reality parsed and put together from a female perspective. She is the only one who can save the situation when she finally understands why the Aliens are here. The other challenge now is communicating it to a male-dominated world intent on destroying itself. This Chinese quote is another important clue: “In war there are now winners, only widows.”

Towards the end of the film, having collaborated with and seen how brilliant, brave, and compassionate Louise has been throughout their encounter with the Aliens, and the Army, Ian realizes he’s fallen in love with her. As much as he was amazed by his encounters with the Aliens, his “greatest surprise” he tells her, “is you.”

To love is human. It takes us out of our time, because Love Is Eternal. It always Is. We participate in It. If we are lucky enough. I wrote this as a comment to my son who purchased the film and sent me the link. I couldn’t help turning it into a tanka.

After watching “Arrival” (2016)

To love is human
It takes us out of our time
Love Is Eternal

We participate in It
If we are lucky enough

© Ken Chawkin
Mon Apr 6, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

You should see this film twice to better understand and appreciate it. Below is the trailer, followed by the Featurette on the DVD Extras.

This DVD Featurette gives you a perspective of what went into the making of the film: Arrival (2016) | Behind the Scenes | Understanding Arrival | Full Extras | Full HD.

Better to see the film first before seeing these explanations. Nick Statt wrote a great article for The Verge on living with the power of choice: How the short story that inspired Arrival helps us interpret the film’s major twist. ScreenPrism offers an intelligent explanation of the ending of this film. And ChewingSand shares good insights in this video: Why ARRIVAL is Great Sci-Fi. There are more explanations on YouTube.

See a fun, informative post-screening SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview: Conversations with Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve of ARRIVAL.

Links to the beautiful Arrival Soundtrack – On The Nature Of Daylight by Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson – Heptapod B [From “Arrival” Soundtrack / Pseudo Video].

Wikipedia gives a comprehensive review/explanation of the film, which might include some spoilers if you haven’t already seen it yet.

Also see these favorite romantic films of mine. They reveal the transformational power of love over time.

Dr. Edwards Smith on #TranscendentalMeditation Health and Social Policy @CommonGoodVT #video

February 26, 2017

Lauren-Glenn Davitian, host of Common Good Vermont, interviews Edwards Smith M.D. about the impact of Transcendental Meditation on individual and social health. Lauren prefaces the interview by saying, “We’re going to talk about Transcendental Meditation and consciousness as a way of improving the well-being of our community and as a social policy tool.”

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Edwards Smith M.D. is a western and AyurVedic doctor and leading practitioner of Transcendental Meditation as a practice for personal resilience and community well-being. Dr. Smith served in active duty with the US Army Medical Corps, taught at Maharishi University of Management, ran the Maharishi College of Vedic Medicine in Albuquerque, and is widely published on subjects ranging from pharmacology and rheumatology to Transcendental Meditation. Based on his experience with war veterans and community indicators of well-being, he believes that TM and TM-Sidhi programs are human resource-based technologies that offer immense potential for the health care system of any country.

This excellent interview, titled Consciousness and Public Policy, was filmed on February 23, 2017 for Channel 17/Town Meeting TV in Burlington, Vermont. Dr. Smith is very thorough in his explanations of TM research and how it has impacted the health of individual lives and societies as a whole. Click here to watch (25:53).

Sunshine Superman Donovan is a Very Mellow Fellow, a Hurdy Gurdy Man with Loving Vibes

September 9, 2016

DONOVAN was here over Labor Day Weekend. He played two concerts Sunday night during Fairfest 2016, Fairfield, Iowa’s Roots Music Festival. The first was a fundraiser for Maharishi University’s Global Scholarship Fund at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center‘s Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, and the second was with Bonnie Paine and friends to close out the 3-day musical event on the Main Stage outside. Donovan had never played back-to-back performances like that, but it turned out very well.

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After arriving and having lunch, Donovan met the band at the Sondheim theater and went to work rehearsing with them. It was impressive! They consisted of Elephant Revival’s singer Bonnie Paine (percussion), and two from her group, top to bottom: Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo) and Dango Rose (bass), joined by Arthur Lee Land of Great American Taxi (guitar), and Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth (violin, organ).

The MUM concert in the Sondheim was special and intimate, filled mostly with meditators. Donovan then joined the band on the Main Stage after their performance. In both the rehearsal and the concert, Donovan encouraged each one of the musicians playing his songs. They all really enjoyed themselves, as did the audience, and drew the largest crowd of the 3-day event! See video clips below. After the concert, Donovan invited them back to his Green Room to share stories about the music business. What a magical treat for them all!!! Producer Michael Sternfeld took the group photo, choreographed by Donovan.

Donovan Day in LA

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Thank you Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councillor Koretz of City Hall Los Angeles for this singular honor to mark the Fiftieth Birthday of my song SUNSHINE SUPERMAN reaching number one on the Billboard Top 100. A love song for Linda yes, but also when we met we both knew we were on the same journey to raise awareness of a higher consciousness for the future generations. We are still on that journey. Come to my 21 city SUNSHINE SUPERMAN AMERICAN TOUR and share this birthday with me. — Donovan

New addition: Donovan Presentation–LA City Council Meeting.

Some News Coverage

Donovan left Fairfield early Tuesday morning to continue the American wing of his “Sunshine Superman” Tour, which was unofficially launched at East Hampton, Donovan: Flower-Power Icon of Change, then officially on Good Day LA, which discussed Donovan Day in LA. That night he performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, who said Donovan’s tour was starting in Fairfield, Iowa! After his performance, Jimmy whispered in Donovan’s ear that his interview with Howard Stern was the best ever. Fox News Video also posted this clip: Donovan shows no sign of slowing down.

Billboard later published: Donovan Reflects on ‘Sunshine Superman’ 50th Anniversary, Hanging With The Beatles & Jimmy Page, Flower-Power Era. And then this news, which is so appropriate: Donovan to Be Honored With John Lennon Real Love Award at Tribute Concert. “Donovan is a beautiful soul who was positively influenced by John,” Yoko Ono said in a statement. Read how this came about in this fascinating billboard article.

It’s interesting that Donovan will receive this award in John Lennon’s name. Donovan also had a positive influence on John when the Beatles were with Maharishi in India. John had asked Donovan to show him how he played his guitar. Donovan said it was the claw hammer style he had learned from another musician. It was based on a banjo-picking style converted to guitar.

In a way, it came full circle for John, since his mother, Julia, had taught him how to play chords on a banjo she had given him before he picked up the guitar. John wrote Julia and Dear Prudence using that style. Paul picked it up his way and wrote Mother Nature’s Child and Black Bird. George Harrison said Donovan was all over The Beatles White Album. Donovan mentions all this and more in a Rolling Stone interview (April 19, 2012) after he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watch the video: Donovan: On teaching guitar technique to Beatles.

Fairfield News Coverage

Some regional articles came out to promote the event. The Iowa Source published an article by Michael Sternfeld: Donovan: Sunshine Superman. Michael Braunstein wrote a very interesting article for The Reader in Omaha. Musician and journalist Bob Saar, who has covered David Lynch Weekends and MUM Commencements, wrote a great article for The Hawk Eye: Donovan to perform at FAIRfest 2016. Iowa City’s Little Village’s Arts Editor Genevieve Heinrich published: Musician Donovan Leitch talks legacy of ‘Sunshine Superman’ and importance of Transcendental Meditation, and showed up for the concert with her family. Mark Newman from the Ottumwa Courier dropped by during rehearsal: Donovan performance mends Fairfield hearts. Mark surprised me with a mention, helping Donovan set up.

Highlights of FairFest Roots Music Festival

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Werner Elmker posted this photo of Donovan from the solo concert, and these Fairfest 2016 Highlights of Day One, Day Two, and Day Three, which contains excerpts from Donovan’s Sondheim and Main Stage concerts.

Professional photographer Kim Green came down from Cedar Rapids and posted a slideshow: Fairfest ~ Labor Day weekend 2016 – Prairie Moon Media- An eclectic mix.

Andy Hayward posted clips from both shows of Donovan at FAIRfest ’16.

FairfieldRocksMe posted these videos:

Fairfield Celebrates Donovan

A Labor Day lunch was hosted by Mayor Ed and Vicki Malloy. Some guests brought their Donovan records and posters for him to sign, and took pictures. In attendance were Bevan Morris, John and Kara Hagelin, and other leading members of the Fairfield/MUM community.

After lunch, Donovan regaled us with stories from Rishikesh, India at Maharishi’s ashram with the Beatles, Mike Love, Prudence Farrow, and others. He told us stories of his times with Maharishi, and a vivid dream he had of him, a week before coming here for the America wing of his 50th anniversary tour.

Donovan then asked me to share the story of what Maharishi had said about him. When I was with Maharishi at Lake Louise, one of my course mates had asked Maharishi about George Harrison and Donovan. About Donovan, Maharishi said he was the most sensitive boy he had ever met.

A few months before he was to join the Beatles and the others in India, Donovan said he was interviewed by John Carpenter for Rolling Stone’s premier issue, (1st and 2nd issues, Nov 9 & 23, 1967). In Part 1, he made a statement that summarized his approach to music: “There’s only one thing in the end, and that’s singing truth in a pleasant way.”

Carpenter asked him about composing, performing, his phenomenal success, and his very recent meeting with Maharishi who had taught him how to meditate. He describes that experience towards the end of Part 2: You just spent three days with Maharishi in Los Angeles. What’s he like?

Read more posts on Donovan here. If you can, see him in concert this time around. Check Donovan’s website for a list of concert dates and locations.

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After his last interview for A Fairfield Documentary, a few of us had our picture taken with Donovan. He directed the photo shoot, taken by Werner Elmker. From the tallest to the shortest: Michael Sternfeld, who produced the Sondheim Concert, Bill Goldstein, who introduced the MUM International scholarship students, Donovan, and myself, Ken Chawkin. (Click photo to enlarge it.)

I must say, of all the times I’ve interacted with Donovan over the years, I found him to be most generous and patient with his time and energy while interacting with everyone. Not much ego there, but a very sensitive loving soul, who was kissed by the lord and filled with song to wear his love like heaven. He truly is an evolved Hurdy Gurdy Man, a gift of a rare flower to our garden! Looking forward to seeing him in Fairfield again, next time with his lovely wife Linda.


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