I had an interesting afternoon, courtesy of Steve Baughman. Steve invited me to come be part of a "banjo meditation" that was being filmed for a DVD at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. Reverend Heng Shure led 30 of us--including some who'd never played a banjo before--through a few songs that he hopes will provide an unorthodox approach to mediation, noting that repetition, like repeating a mantra, is a key component of emptying the mind. Nothing says repetition like the bum-diddy played claw-hammer style at the rate of your breathing or heartbeat. I thought it would be weird, but it was quite soothing . . . and unusual.
I confess to liking the imagery of Avatar, with the suggestion that all of life is part of one big neural network, and I often think--in that way one does when looking either at the night sky, or at a drop of water under a microscope--that we are part of a bigger organism. That's only a small reach since science has lately discovered how many microorganisms are living in our bodies. I have often thought that music is the key to what many refer to as the collective unconscious. It's exciting to think that after all the millenia of humankind, there still is so much to learn about, and wouldn't it be great to think that in the end, the musicians have always had access to a true state of grace.
Ultimately, the DVD will be part banjo instruction and part meditation with the banjo. In any case, I'll let you know how it turns out!