Monday, May 14, 2007

Gardening and Fascinating Podcasts

Hi folks,

I'm up here in the hills of Chichibu, Saitama in Japan, at The Greenhouse where I'm staying for most of May with my host Chris Case. I've written quite a bit about The Greenhouse and Chris - check this post from last year, for example. For whatever reason, I have only one paid gig in May (with Dr. Chandrakant Sardeshmukh in Shizuoka) so I'm fortunate to be able to stay at The Greenhouse. As well as enjoying the Japanese countryside atmosphere and Chris' fascinating company, I have the opportunity to receive free food and accommodation in exchange for some work. Rather than staying with friends in Tokyo and taking over their cramped lounge-rooms, I can stay in the spacious Greenhouse and contribute at the same time. I've given Chris some help with website design and sound-system setup, but mainly I've been doing a lot of gardening work.

While pulling weeds, cutting grass and planting basil, I've been listening to some absolutely fascinating podcasts. If you're looking for some interesting listening, allow me to make some recomendations... (Warning - some controversial topics ahead!)

BTW The links on the podcast titles below link to the XML file you use to subscribe to the podcast. Put that link into your podcast aggregator (eg iTunes).

Starting off on the world music side, I've found a few world music podcasts recently, although most of them aren't very regular:
  • SF Jazz - not regular, only 4 podcasts all posted last year, but the content is very interesting. Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain talks about his life and in particular his musical influences. I've only heard episode 1 so far - he discusses his childhood with his father, the legendary tabla-master Alla Rakha, Bollywood, The Doors, and starting to find his own style with Hariprasad Chaurasia and Shiv Kumar Sharma.

  • Gongcast - also very irregular, only 2 podcasts in the last year. But you can hear some nice Gamelan there.

  • Global Rhythm - monthly world music program. Very professional format, perhaps a little too mainstream for my liking. As usual with "world music" it's dominated by the more commercially appealing versions like Latin and African. But maybe I shouldn't judge too soon - I've only heard one episode so far.

  • IMC OnAir - Indian Classical Music podcast from Germany. I haven't downloaded any episodes yet, as I already have a lot of what they're podcasting, but it seems this could be a good source of free Indian Classical Music.
Now for the really fascinating stuff. Music is great but I get much more of a buzz out of actually playing it or at least witnessing it live, so I'm enjoying interview and speech-style podcasts a lot more. I've actually been listening to these 3 podcasts for about 6 months, all three related to the possibilities of human consciousness.
  • Psychedelic Salon - "Your source for cutting edge information about the exploration and expansion of consciousness. Featured speakers include Terence McKenna, Alex Grey, Daniel Pinchbeck, Erik Davis, Ann and Sasha Shulgin, Nick Sand and more."

    Hosted by "the podfather" Lorenzo Hagerty, I first found this podcast while searching for audio from the late great Terence McKenna, psychedelic thinker extraordinaire. Lorenzo is now up to episode 91 and it has been constantly fascinating. There are loads of talks by Terence, plus his Trialogues with Rupert Sheldrake (of the morpho-genetic field theory) and Ralph Abraham (chaos mathematician) where they discuss an enormous range of topics including the technological singularity, development of consciousness on the internet, "Chaos and Imagination", "Skepticism and the Balkanisation of Epistemiology" and so on.

    Apart from talks by Terence McKenna, there are a load of other talks and interviews featuring various urban shamans, psychedelic researchers and theorists. My favourite episodes so far have been "080-Pallamary: Adventures of an Urban Shaman" and "081-Siebert: Salvia Divinorum", both of which discuss shamanic experience. Absolutely fascinating. Favourite quote from Matt Pallamary: "The absolute best thing you can do for yourself, and for everybody, for the universe, for the cosmos, for the race, for humanity, truly the absolute best thing you can do for everybody, is to work on yourself and heal yourself. Because when you heal yourself you heal part of the collective, and you begin to realize that everybody around you is a mirror. Because we are all one"

  • C-Realm - "Discussions on topics focused on the coming Vingean Singularity, Entheogenic Exploration, alternative agriculture and Individual Conscious Autonomy."

    My favourite episode so far was Episode 28: Building a Better Monster, an interview with Ben Goertzel in which he and host KMO discuss Goertzel's work in developing an artificial general intelligence and then branch off to discuss "kinds of minds; straight-laced and psychedelic, evolved organic and autogenous 'artificial' agents" and sci-fi visualisations of the technological singularity.

  • Dopefiend - " is The Web's Favourite Cannabis Podcast Network, supplying a wide variety of programming for every side of the International Cannabis Community."

    There are a number of different programs on this podcast, some of which I can take or leave but some are quite entertaining. The "core program" The Dopecast is always good for entertainment value and discussion of "our favourite sacred sacrament". However the fortnightly Psychonautica program is the really interesting program, hosted by C-Realm's KMO along with Max Freakout, it explores similar topics to C-Realm and Psychedelic Salon with a more practical approach.
As a musician, particularly in the realm of spiritual, devotional, transcendental music, I find such discussions on states of consciousness, exploration of metaphysical realms, changing the world for the better, developing creativity etc to be totally absorbing. And as Lorenzo says, "you don't need to be currently using these ancient medicines to have an interest in these topics." [Just to divert those disposed to prejudice...]

I recently had a great conversation with Chris and another musician in which we discussed some metaphysical aspects of music performance. Chris told us that the musician is in the same category as the yoga practitioner, in that we are both seeking for that connection with the Higher Mind (cosmos, God, whatever...). The difference is that the yoga practitioner takes that energy into him/herself, while the musician immediately shares it with everyone present. This makes the path of the musician much riskier, because we have to deal with the risks of ego and fame.

I really believe that this kind of path - that of the musician, the artist, the yogi, the shaman - is the most important work we can be doing for the development of human consciousness.

I'm going to repeat this quote from Matt Pallamary (from this podcast) - it's worth reading at least twice!

"The absolute best thing you can do for yourself, and for everybody, for the universe, for the cosmos, for the race, for humanity, truly the absolute best thing you can do for everybody, is to work on yourself and heal yourself. Because when you heal yourself you heal part of the collective, and you begin to realize that everybody around you is a mirror. Because we are all one"

- Please leave a comment if you got this far :-)


wave said...

g'day bloke,
first time read yr stuff...
i've not delved the pod realm and yr mentioning those sites of fascinating talks makes it tempting. but i feel like too much of it would be distracting in a way from doing and observing the learning to be had thru ones own experiences. certainly there's a place for hearing these kinds of perspectives, and at times i enjoy getting into some docos or certain movies or radio national or books. i guess i think like this cos i've just been on the bike for 25 days or so from walla walla nr albury to the barossa valley. i suspect i need to more think about getting a lap top to write stuff m'self.
Anyway, good on ya for putting this stuff out there for people to share yr experiences in a way... i hope to do a bit of that too cos although everyones capable of anything, some of us do tend to follow paths a little less travelled...
all the best and much love to ya
see ya sometime...
davy-wavy beach

Anonymous said...

hey Shen,

i agree that the yogi and musician have similarities. however, i believe BOTH absorb energy to share with others. yes, the yogi takes energy into him/herself, but it is then shared with all who come into contact with him/her.

dissolution of ego comes with practising yoga, so the muso may like to consider practising a little...

interesting stuff Shen, it's given me food for thought...thanks for sharing.


Shen said...

Hey Jodi,

Thanks for writing something in defense of the yogic path - you are right. But I also think that musicians who are on this path of yogic music are cultivating that energy in themselves just as much as a yogi, and so when not playing music they share it with those around them just the same as a yogi. But musicians share the experience with all in the moment of divine bliss.

Music is also a path of dissolution of ego, in fact for those so inclined it is much faster and easier than yoga. The risk comes when the musician confuses his ego with the source energy he's channeling. That's why Chris said that music is the highest yoga, but also the path with the most risks.

Shen said...

I've copied this discussion to the EthnoSuperLounge forum thread Music: The Ultimate Yoga?.

Please visit and contribute!