Yesterday I was recalling this rather extraordinary event in Red Deer, Alberta, when the Red Deer College opened its doors to a festival of consciousness for a weekend. These spiritual smorgasbord weekend events were popular back then, and this one featured Swami Radha from her Yashodhara Ashram in the Kootenays, and Geshe Lama Kaldan, the Tibetan teacher who lived in Edmonton (link here to his meditation society or watch for him as a first minister in Scorcese’s film, Kundun.) Now, sadly, both have passed away, but at the time they seemed they would be around forever (and as both are involved in reincarnational belief-structures, perhaps they are!) Stars from afar were also invited, and were the real “feature attractions” – I recall anthropologist Joan Halifax (now roshi, Buddhist centre Upaya) and physicist David Bohm (who passed away in 1994) were there, but memory fails and I can’t remember who else was a “headliner”. I went down there from Edmonton with a small posse of Sufis to lead Sufi dancing (Dances of Universal Peace) one afternoon. It was an intimate gathering, and somehow scattered as these events tended to be.
Sitting in the front of a classroom while David Bohm’s explanation of his theory of implicate and explicate order opened my mind’s eye.
Joan Halifax showing how shamans used the rattles on one side of the head and then on the other, in a beautiful format around the head, shifting auditory environment and therefore consciousness. (Until her talk, I was naively unaware that there were urban shamans taking peyote journeys in New York apartments. )
It’s been fun to create this blogpost, googling “where are they now?” and realizing that everything that was brought forward at that rather awkward and somewhat forced gathering in central Alberta is still being nurtured and evolved – not in the same way as it had been done then, but with deeper roots, greater understanding perhaps, and more balance. I remember these people, and those times of sincere exploration with gratitude.
And I recall that year or so before, in Edmonton, there was a festival of consciousness (or was it of awareness?) that featured a Zen teacher from Shasta Abbey and the new age teacher Patricia Sun, who intoned amazing sounds that seemed to transform everyone’s molecules into light. The event closed with a Universal Worship ceremony with representatives from various world religions all sharing the same altar. Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Islam, and an acknowledgement of all those who hold the light of truth but weren’t mentioned.
(Surprise: Link here to see a random post from my blog.)