Sunday, June 19, 2011

Love your ancestors

"You should have seen your ancestors when they did this same thing. You should have seen your generations of grandmothers and grandfathers doing "kirtan" as well. Would you believe they did it in churches especially reserved for this practice instead of gymnasiums and convention rooms? They called it "hymns" instead of bhajans and they called it "congregational singing" instead of "kirtan." But they were just like this. You are getting blissed out. This is good. Do you think your ancestors did not get blissed out in their
churches as they sang their hymns and listened to religious songs? No, they got
just as blissed out as you. Even more. Do you think a religion thrives and lasts
for 20 centuries because it gives them "nothing" every Sunday? No, your ancestors also sought bliss through God-worship and religious singing. They had the advantage, too, of having lyrics in their own language with ideas they actively understood as they sang the words. It made it even better. They also got to evoke their own conditioning going back to childhood and tradition, and feel a connection to their past religious ancestors. But you are exactly like your ancestors -- seeking God like them. They didn't have the word bliss. They used words like "glory" and "rapture" instead, trying to talk about it. Weren't those grand words? And yet you think you are rejecting your heritage. You think that you are separate from your own best people. No, you are trying to approach back to them, just doing it a bit neurotically and blindly. Sorry you are limited to singing now about a monkey figure you don't know much about and have no conditioning for, or a foreign cultural figure like Ram or Radha when you have so many saints in your own traditions and countries. But hey, it's great that the impulse to seek God, so strong in your own ancestors, is still manifesting in you even though you are sadly denying your own bhakti-kirtan
heritage, and separating yourself from your own bhakti-kirtan Christian traditions. I salute you. But I'm sad that you don't know it can be even better than this. Greater bliss. Greater rapture. Greater connection to God and community. It used to happen in your ancestors' churches. They could even slow down or shorten the verses, make them more repetitive, speed up the song later, do more call-and response, and even sing it in a foreign language for you. And maybe they should. Those are musical style and cultural matters. But don't think you are really doing anything different than your great religious ancestors. Embrace them and find out how great was their devotion and how beautiful their music and how fine their bliss in church many Sundays."

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