Our Common Ancestor
Recently I saw an interview on television with Jane Goodall who in 1960 began studying chimpanzees in East Africa. Her mentor, the archaeologist and anthropologist Louis Leakey, was interested in whether chimpanzees and humans exhibit similar kinds of behaviour. If they do, this would support archaeological evidence indicating we share a common ancestor. During the interview Goodall spoke about an occasion when she was walking through the bush with one of the chimpanzees she was studying and getting to know. After a while they stopped and she offered the chimpanzee a piece of fruit. Looking her in the eyes he took the fruit, dropped it, then squeezed her hand - then got up and carried on down the path. Goodall was so astonished she just sat there for a while, taking in what had happened. It seemed obvious that although he had refused the food, he wanted her to know he was grateful. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings. It was just how a human being might have responded.
She then described another scene. Some evenings the chimpanzees would gather by a waterfall. They didn’t go there for any practical reason – they weren’t going there to drink or eat or sleep. It seemed they were simply going to look. As they looked they swayed from foot to foot, as if they were dancing. Jane imagined that for them the water cascading down was a mysterious, awe-inspiring thing for “it was always flowing in, always flowing out, and always there”. In the face of this magical vision, what did they do?
Her picture of the waterfall is a perfect description of the present moment – things are always flowing in to this timeless awareness, always flowing out of it, and always present in it. Though what is in the emptiness is always changing, yet there’s always something in it. How amazing.
What is your (human!) response to the miracle of this moment, the miracle of sounds, colours, sensations and all the rest, flowing into and out of this timeless emptiness?
I love to dance!
For information about Jane Goodall: http://www.janegoodall.orghttp://www.wic.org/bio/jgoodall.htm
Scientists tell us that when time began, fourteen billion years ago, something came from nothing. When you awaken to the ground of all Being, in a deep meditative state, you realize that when something came from nothing, the nothing didn't disappear. That unmanifest, unborn dimension is the ever-present ground out of which everything is still arising in every moment. It is what the Buddha called "the deathless," and what others call "eternity consciousness." When you awaken to this dimension in your own awareness, you will find yourself always already resting in the eternal moment before time began. This is the recognition that liberates: Prior to everything, I already am. The experience of this recognition is not one of becoming liberated. It is of being already liberated. What you realize when you awaken to that ground is that there is a part of each and every one of us that is already free—from everything. That part of yourself, which is the ground of Being, has never been bound, trapped, or limited in any way. That's the part of yourself that I want you to discover. It's not the part of yourself that needs to become free. It is already free, right now.
- Andrew Cohen
Yoga and meditation are increasingly becoming tools of the Veterans Administration, which is adopting body/mind approaches for soldiers struggling with the heavy toll of serving in battle. One Iraqi War veteran relates that the music of renowned mantra singers Deva Premal & Miten, along with other stress-reducing tools, helped him rebuild from the traumas of war: “I am an Iraqi Freedom Veteran. It was really rough for me to come back and try to create a so-called normal life for myself. Now I practice meditation every day. I am doing so much better today as a result of Deva and Miten’s CDs. Their music has been a miracle in my life. It is soothing, calming, healing, beautiful – a miracle.”
The Integrative Rest Institute (IRI), founded in 2006, teaches meditation and yoga through the Veterans Administration to aid veterans with post-battle stress. The institute’s protocols (called iRest for short) were developed through studies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the efficacy of yoga meditation for soldiers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The iRest programs are now operating at VA facilities in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, and DC.
Yoga and chant are proving beneficial for those on the domestic front lines too. Hal Martin, a retired fire fighter from Miami/Dade County, shares how meditation and the music of Deva Premal & Miten changed his life. “When I look back on my life as a fire fighter, the practice of meditation had a major impact.” Hal, who reached the rank of Captain, shares, “the more successful officers I have come across are the ones that are calm, cool and collected. Meditation has brought me to that space. On calls, in the back of my mind I’m humming mantras.”
In 2006, while visiting his sister, Hal came across the music of Deva Premal & Miten and was “blown away.” The impact of Deva and Miten’s work resonates deeply with Hal, “At the last Miami concert, everyone was chanting in unison like a well-tuned chorus and it created such a sense of unity – 750 people coming together in Miami – it just brought me to tears.”
While Deva Premal & Miten have received accolades from such luminaries as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Cher, Anthony Robbins, and Eckhart Tolle, the real impact of their music is reflected in the powerful testimonials from people of all walks of life, who are seeking a musical respite from their daily stresses, as well as those looking to learn about meditation.
Deva Premal & Miten, began their journey in love and music twenty-one years ago when they met at an ashram in India in 1990. Their music and love has evolved into worldwide recording sales of over one million units and they consistently fill concerts halls around the globe. Their Fall 2011 US tour will visit 24 cities, from Seattle to Miami.
As Miten expresses it, “Mantras are a password into a vaster world, keeping the mind always growing.” This sense of growth is borne out by their new album, Password (White Swan Records), which represents a new direction for the chant masters. A group of talented jazz musicians from Copenhagen give Password a lyrical, spacious atmosphere, and the whole album bears its own internal rhythmic propulsion. While the arrangements may have a more “pop” feel to them, one thing that hasn’t changed is Deva’s signature rich vocals and the devotion underlying them. The new album stretches gently away from the classical chant format and provides a more accessible path to the “inner” technology of compassion, awareness and love.
Appearing with Deva & Miten both in concert and on recordings is Nepalese bansuri flute maestro, Manose. Born in Kathmandu, Manose has brought the sound of the bansuri to many musical genres and merges the purity of classical Indian music with his remarkable improvisational skills.
For more information: www.DevaPremalMiten.com Press contact: firstname.lastname@example.org