Shakti and the Bhakti Babes by Cathy Pascal: Part Two Read Part One
Seconds later, he reappeared. He was even more vitriolic — because of course he hadn’t felt heard — he had felt mocked.
This time he headed straight toward the female singers — yelling obscenities —towering over them as they sat cross-legged on the floor with instruments in their laps. He raised a fist! He called the Bhakti Babes “bitches” right in the middle of our sacred space! (Curious he focused on the women, not the two men in the band.) It was intense and surreal.
Here is where I would like to indulge in being the (s)hero of my own story for just a slender minute. This time when he headed toward the Bhakti Babes (with the sleeping child right behind them) - I mobilized. I got up and went right toward him - putting myself in between (did I mention he was about 6.3”?) angry Aussie dude and our peace loving Bhakti Babes. I had no plan other than to be present and not sit there while he physically and verbally intimidated them. I believe I put my hand on his shoulder and tried to make eye contact and perhaps a.… “hey, hey”… nothing fancy.
Jaguar Mary approached from the other side of the circle and Jewelz from the middle. I would like to “sing up” their shero-ism (see previous post) as well. After a minute or two, and words to the effect that we were in the process of turning down the volume, he turned and exited once again into the dark of night — lobbing over his shoulder— “Bunch of fucking hippies!” Hippies ?! … well, I suppose he had us there.
What to do now? The band was very clear that we were not to stop singing - that we not be bullied into ending on that note. It was 9:45pm and we had permission to be playing music in the space until 10pm. They suggested that we sing a prayer for him - for all of us — kind of an energy clearing prayer — is how I took it.
I can’t remember the sanskrit words, the chorus was:
“Great Spirit Awaken, Awaken in Me,
Great Spirit Awaken, Awaken in All Beings”
We adjusted the volume down quite low and huddled into the center of the circle around the band. A few (s)hero hoopers in badass mode hooped along the outside of the circle keeping an eye out. I turned frequently to peer into that dark spot in the jungle —stage left. Security had been called but there was no sign of them.
Tension mixed with sweetness and good intention was in the thick Balinese air. Our individual and collective nervous systems were rattled and on edge. Was he coming back? This guy seemed very capable of really losing it. I was proud of us there - singing the few sanskrit syllables we could get our English speaking minds around — feeling into the heart of the words in the chorus.
Yes, indeed— May Great Spirit Awaken In All Beings.
I will sing that prayer any time of the night or day.
We came to a soft landing with the song and were wrapping up with our namastes and thank yous. I was contemplating whether to say something to the group about the experience, perhaps invite people to stay and speak a bit about how they were feeling, make myself available in some way… when … HE appears again into the space!
I hear the words, “We were just praying for you.” He takes a couple steps in, and begins to … APOLOGIZE! He is sorry he “freaked out” like that, he doesn’t know what is wrong with him. There are a few murmurs of “Oh My God” or “Wow” or “Whoa”. Someone asks his name: “Phil”. What has brought him here? It turns out he is here on a yoga retreat that starts the next day. (I did not see that coming.) Someone asks if he wants to sit in the circle and sing a song with us. He comes and takes a seat on a cushion. The band, perhaps the most gleeful among us at that moment - exchange glances.
What song does this singular moment call for?
Phil doesn’t exactly sing — he half smiles and is respectfully attentive. Perhaps he has awakened, perhaps he is doing his penance on his way to awakening, perhaps after we turned down the volume he began to imagine what it would be like to see dozens of us at the tropical breakfast buffet every morning for a week. Regardless— we sing —if not a rousing version — an earnest version — of Hare Krisha.
Cathy Pascal at the Sacred Circularities LED Hoop Kirtan Clearly, no evening of Sacred Circularities LED Hoop Kirtan is complete without it.
After we come to our second and final round of clapping and bowing — Phil says his goodbyes. He apologizes again for the freak out and thanks us for praying for him. He offers — “At least I am in therapy for it.”
Throughout the unfolding of the evening, I had the sense of it being a fertile happening. The day before, one of the other Inner Alchemy teachers, Vasumi —in sharing Mayan calendar teachings— had told us that this day was a Galactic Portal Day — meaning (I believe) that big and unexpected things happen. It was my experience that something significant had happened —and I knew I wanted to write about it.
Afterwards I had the chance to check in and process with a few of the other women present. Some expressed feeling sorry for Phil - imagining that his life must be hell. We wondered about our rousing celebratory chanting response after his first exit - that wasn’t very smart - what was that? Would it have been different if a male participant or teacher had been in the room? Would it have happened differently if it had been the famous Kevin James —the large buff Australian kirtan singer — who was with us for LED Hoop Kirtan the previous week?
What would Krishna Das have done?
What kind of pressure does it place on a man to be the one to deal with the threat of violence from another man? Did we let him off too easy? Does he get to get away with that? Were we trying to rescue him with our friendliness and ready forgiveness — after he had been so rude and out of control? What is the balance of compassion and justice? Were we protecting ourselves? Would he show up again in freak out mode in the middle of sound healing journey? Or be hanging around looking for more redemptive hippie love?
I am going to punt to one of my favorite poets, Ranier Maria Rilke:
“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
For me, the most important thing was that we treated him like a human being - one that was trying to make amends and to become a more peaceful and mature person. We walked our chant of love and peace.
Two days later - Phil and I exchanged a long glance and a “good evening” in the lobby. My felt sense of that exchange was clean and clear. Only later did it occur to me that I could have “interviewed” him to fill out the telling of this tale.
In truth, though, this is the weaving of my own story of kirtan related transformation on Galactic Portal Day at Sacred Circularities, Bali, 2014: The Year of Awareness. Speaking of my own story — my other significant take away is the celebration of the slender aforementioned (s)hero moment. A sense of satisfaction in the simple movement of rising to intercept the literal and metaphorical angry man. Not knowing what would happen but knowing that it needed to be done. You may be guessing that there is some history of not doing that - otherwise why would I be high- fiving myself here - and you would be right.
I reaffirm my revelation after my first kirtan experience.
I am not the same Being I was when the evening began.
Perhaps none of us are.
Inherent in each day, each encounter, each moment —there is a capacity to experience ourselves and Life in a fresh way — to take our next step into integration and wholeness. In the world of Focusing, we call this Life Forward Movement.
Blessings for Life Forward Movement
Blessings for Awakening for All Beings
Blessings for the Manifestation of Our New Story
Thanks for listening. And… Hare Krishna!
For more about me, check out my web site: Integrated Life Practices
Recommended reading about the new story of interbeing: **The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible by Charles Eisenstein.
Blog photo by Cadence Clare Feeley
Cathy Pascal photo by Ulrike Photography
Follow Sacred Circularities on Facebook and Twitter
Check us out on Instagram
Subscribe to our Youtube Channel
Receive the SC Loveletter