FIRST KARMU KUMBHA MELA (Festival)
Thursday June 23rd-Sunday June 26th, 2005
Musings by Caroline Lato
Interview about Karmu: “The Black Christ of Cambridge“.
Hello Saints and Sinners, Friends and Relations. A big HELLO to all of you!
On Sunday, the final day of the First Karmu Kumbha Mela we gathered at ll.00am at the First Church Roxbury, 10 Putnam St., for our usual service of Thanks and Praises with songs, drumming, meditation and (all too brief) sharing of insights and discussion led by Rev. Dr. Ron White, followed by breaking of bread, Prasad and thanksgiving, accompanied by drumming and songs.
Although it was almost 90 degrees outside ‘ within the Sanctuary all was cool. We found ourselves bathed in waves of sunlight with a small, small breeze through the open door to caress our fingers and toenails. Although it was almost 90 degrees outside ‘ within the Sanctuary all was cool, bathed in waves of sunlight with a small, small breeze entering through the open door to caress our fingers and toenails. The space was connected to the earth by a smattering of crimson, white and scarlet flowering plants; colorful orange, blue, red, white and green Tibetan Prayer Flags; a touch of golden light here and there and a joyful sense of well being.
The rarest incense in all the worlds could not produce a fragrance more compatible than that experienced by a gathering of friends in the presence of their Teacher. As we sat together in meditation, it was so quiet that, in the words of the Holy One, ‘You could hear a rat piss on cotton at twenty paces!’
The citizens were dressed in their finest attire and radiant good vibrations filled the air. For a moment I thought we were in Church ‘ then I remembered ‘ we were. Within the Sanctuary of Friendship, through the Grace of Calm Abiding, we were standing on Holy Ground in the Church of the Opening Heart. Our lineage supported by the teachings of Murshid Sam, Karmu,The Holy One and the highly treasured Rimpoches, Kenpos, Murshids, Medicine Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, as well as countless faculty members from Universities far and near who passed through the House of Karmu and shared their Wisdom ‘each a part of the One Song!
Yes, Sunday when the bright expectant faces gathered in the church, we drummed and sang. We shared ideas concerning ‘religion’ and ‘prophecy’ and the difficulties of navigating safely through the ever growing complications of life in the urban environment today. Particularly inspiring was the wisdom coming from the mouths of the young ones (Jenny and Chris!) With your precision and generous hearted words you granted us escape from scalding tears and hope of future years. We shall fear no more!
The dust and cobwebs of Church formality fell away to reveal the hidden trust within; a mutual concern for each other’s well being was experienced. Time stood still. The Gods held their breath.
A highlight of today’s gathering was the presence of one of Karmu’s closest and most trusted students, Bob Green of Vermont and his little family. Robert L. Green who wrote a remarkable, inspiring and insightful Thesis, Shamanism and Its Relationship to Psychotherapy, for his Doctorate in Psychotherapy, Goddard College, 1985. Much of the material for this work was gathered from personal experiences in the presence of the Holy One.
Bob begins his Thesis with Karmu’s own words:
‘I am my brother’s keeper; if he’s cold, I shall warm him; if he’s hungry, I shall feed him. If he’s unloved, I shall love him, and I shall hold him in my breast and make him me. Therefore we are both two-in-one, one-in-two. A part of God! That is the philosophy of life. If you follow this philosophy, the world is yours. Your whole body will sing — I rest my case!’
It was a day of great celebration for the Green household, as Bob’s daughter, the immeasurably graceful, valuable and articulate; Jennifer C. Karmu Green was graduating from college on the very same day, Sunday, 25th June, 2005.
Bob also reminded us that it was on THIS day, in 1989, that Karmu left his body.
Shamanic powers may be at work here, (I’m serious) because as these words flow forth, I see, sense, and am permeated with the vision of the Holy One’s beautiful, golden, muscular, radiant human body and his sweet expressive face. His beautiful healing hands, which, in spite of many moons of handling wrenches and drills, jacking up cars in sub zero temps and so forth, were able, in the twinkling of an eye, to dissolve pain and awaken the sleeping God within, with just a touch. This Boddhisattva Chenrezig awareness just makes one feel good all over. I think I may have just become twenty years younger because the very same magnetism of yesteryear is present at this very moment in every nerve center. I’d better use the white medicine, take four deep breaths and hold the fifth ‘. Or was it three deep breaths and hold the fourth ‘?
In any event, the power of ecstasy is self evident and it IS, here, right now. I hope you can feel it too!
This is the Day the Lord has made,
I will rejoice and be glad in it!
This is the Day the Lord has made
I will rejoice and be glad in it!
This is the Day the Lord has made,
I will rejoice and be glad.
I will rejoice for He has made Me glad,
I will rejoice and be glad.
I will rejoice for He has made Me glad,
I will rejoice and be glad.
I will open the gates with thanksgiving in my heart
I will open the doors with praise
I will say, ‘This is the day that the Lord has made!’
I will rejoice and be glad.
(Transmitted to Linda, Kim, Caroline, et al., by Jonathan Singleton,
Director, Boston Temple Mass Choir)
Bob Green also brought with him a conga so fine that just looking at it you’d start to hum (I’m not kidding!) Needless to say, he manifested in a variety of ways his assistance in leading the way to raising the roof in the name of the Holy One.
We were graced, this Sunday, with the presence of John Tracy and his wife, Andra who added zuk, wuk and accuracy to our spirited rendition of Fanga and Kakilambe which we also sang with the traditional call and response arrangement. As is the custom when calling the spirit of Kakilambe ‘ we brought to mind our hopes and goals for the coming times and appealed for guidance so that our paths to success become clear and swift.
Caroline led a heartfelt vocal rendition of Kakilambe. After a bit of a rocky start, she was righteously assisted by John Tracy, Andra and Rev. Ron. Every able-bodied member of the congregation raised their voices in the call and response section of the song. It would have made your hair stand straight up on end; it was that gentle and sweet. Moments of silent laughter shared. Much appreciated.
Because Kakilambe is a rhythm of great value in West Africa (and now gradually coming through our very own hands), we hold it close to our hearts. In Mali and Guinea, during the year, drummers, singers and dancers play and fine tune the many rhythms and drums that form the whole song known as Kakilambe, in preparation for a great festival.
A humongous giant puppet is the symbolic outward manifestation of the spirit being, Kakilambe. A puppet ‘ (perhaps on the scale of the puppets created by the Bread & Puppet Circus, in the North East Kingdom of Vermont) is carried by a skillful dancer on mad high stilts and is the form around which the performers and audience/participants gather to pay homage.
During the Festival of Kakilambe, people, since before time began, have taken the opportunity to bring to mind their hopes, dreams, fears and visions, wishes and so forth, for the coming time. These thoughts may concern crops, family needs, travel to be undertaken, hopes for a change in luck, or to win the admiration and respect of a sweetheart or renew a friendship or dissolve a difficult situation, find a forgotten melody or make a fortune’! Who knows but Kakilambe and the one holding the thought, do you suppose …?
By consciously bringing this inner awareness to light, in the presence of the spirit of Kakilembe, the ability to observe possible obstructions to success and/or new and unexpected ways to avert failure may manifest in sounds of the songs and rhythms or visions created by the dancers and so forth and ultimately within the heart of each being. In any event, the coming together in harmony for such a festival evokes, at the very least, a sense of belonging and solidarity that cannot help empower the celebrants to understand, transform or overcome whatever may come their way.
Hmmmmmmmm! Sounds vaguely familiar, or am I still dreaming …?
Later in the day we were joined by Hatha Yoga teacher and Drummer, Kim Childs who shared with us her uncompromising spirit of adventure and courage.
Patricia Walden (favorite student of Sufi Sam and Karmu) you walking success
story: we miss you!
Although our videographer was present, we decided against recording as the level at which we were communicating seemed rather personal and not really ready for the public domain. (Sorry, Linda!)
Big thanks to Ruthann who attended each day of the Celebration and as usual, was full of good ideas and positive feedback. She has a mountain of stories of escapades with the Holy One and also many tall tales from the seven years she spent in Thailand learning, among other things, Thai Massage.
Occasionally members of the Gathering dissolved in tears at various parts of the proceedings. At the same time, the ‘healer within’ was brought forth and mini healing massages and words of comfort and praise were spoken.
During discussions held after most folks had departed for other engagements, we noted that ‘ no matter how beautiful the music, no matter how fine the songs ‘ what the citizens most enjoy, is a sense of participation. Clearly the time has arrived for action. The time of the Lone wolf is over and the focus now is on co-operation, team work and group endeavor.
We were delighted to receive a call from Abraham, from his farm in Central Massachusetts. He called while they were experiencing a spectacular thunderstorm which, besides enabling the fifty or so souls gathered for a Retreat with Murshid Wali Ali Mayer, to practice their sadhana together under one roof, was doing a fine job of watering their grateful organic garden.
Karmu’s teachings are embodied in so many individuals; the secrets of his medicines, his strength, humor and positive attitudes (‘We place you under partial hypnosis, invade your subconscious with a plus element and WILL you to get well and let go of your suffering!’) are stored in varying forms and concentrations in his many students.
Realizing that in the present difficult times, when so many people, both young and old, are without medical insurance; it is imperative for the well being of all, that we summon the skills imparted to us by Karmu and Sufi Sam and others and work TOGETHER to heal our fallen brothers and sisters and give them back their place in the sun.
‘If you can’t supply, don’t apply’ says the Holy One. If we individually are unable to assist, at the very least, we are able to guide folks towards Healing Centers, such as the Charles River School of Shiatsu in Cambridge, the Ninjitsu Dojo in Brookline and other individual healers and Acupressure Practitioners who are willing and able to alleviate negativity and stress and equip those in their care with the necessary tools and techniques for Psychic Self Defense and information and attitudes for maintaining good health. From this sense of well being comes the natural ability to form lifelong and empowering friendships.
During the festivities we received word from Piper Cort (The Gypsy), wishing us happiness and conveying her unique sense of timeless ease. Piper has lived for the past several years in Joshua Tree, in the High Desert of Southern California. During this past decade a successful Artists Colony has been thriving in Joshua Tree and at nearby 29 Palms. Because of their success they have attracted folks from the Los Angeles area who have begun to buy real estate and build new homes at an unforeseen rate. A mushrooming community, you might say.
Consequently the housing market is skyrocketing and resident artists (some of whom have lived there at a humble level for over twenty years) are having difficulty meeting the demands of the rising tide and are being forced out of their little homes. We would be grateful if you could join with us in sending energy so they may find their way to new and better locations or, by some unforeseen change, be able to stay put and thrive.
Thanks Piper for your good will and good wishes and for keeping is informed of the situation in Joshua Tree.
The First Church of Roxbury is an Urban Oasis. It consists of a beautiful, historic white wooden building, and is staffed by flexible people of knowledge and vision. The Church buildings contain no less than three large (humongous) rooms. One room, in the ‘Parish House’ contains a full sized stage for rehearsal space and is isolated from neighboring buildings so that loud sounds will not disturb neighbors.
First Church is located less than a half mile from Massachusetts Avenue, close to Boston Medical Center. There is ample free parking on the Church grounds in a secure environment. It is also easily accessible by bus and subway.
Adjacent to the Church itself, is a half acre of grassy parkland populated by beautiful, mature shade trees, under which many weddings have taken place over the years since Rev. Dr. Ron was ordained in 1981, when he was empowered in his mission to guide his flock on the path of righteousness, for His name’s sake and for the benefit of all beings.
Out of inexperience and misunderstanding, the name ‘Roxbury’ can occasionally evoke feelings of strife, conflict and fear in some people. (Mostly among those who have never been there in person’). However, within the ample boundaries of this Church, much like the House of Agu, these difficulties cease to exist. This is a true ‘Sanctuary’ for people in all walks of life and all degrees of economic and physical well being.
The focus of the Jubilee Association is on guiding young people toward developing skills and attitudes that will enable them to rise above conditions of conflict and continue their education so that they in turn may learn to help others. (I heard that!)
I can safely say we feel immense gratitude to Rev. Dr. Ron for sharing his dream of the Karmu Kumbha Mela in such a clear and original way so that it manifested as a beautiful, joyful reality right here on earth! Not only did he organize and encourage each member of the Jubilee Associates as they endeavored to launch this First Kumbha Mela, but his laughter and enthusiasm made even the most daunting setbacks and tasks, insignificant and attainable. His lack of pretension and sense of infinite beauty and joy in even the smallest successes make working with him a most enjoyable experience.
We will never forget the vision of Julie quietly dancing from her heart center at Karmu’s grave in the peaceful spirit of love and harmony, while Sam and All the Illuminated Beings who form the Embodiment of the Master, the Spirit of Guidance’.
Big thanks to Bob Green, infinite source of wisdom, healing stories and anecdotes about the Holy One.
Bob Green not only knew Karmu’s father, but was present during the time when Sam was being healed of his fast failing eyesight. Not knowing Sam was a < Sufi Murshid (just about everyone dropped their worldly and spiritual credentials along with their worries and secular responsibilities the moment they walked through the door into Karmu’s kitchen), Bob simply thought Sam was a warm and fascinating Grandfather figure and thoroughly enjoyed long conversations and sharing ideas with him. He eventually discovered that his own Grandfather had worked in the Levi-Strauss Blue Jean Company with Sufi Sam’s father. Wow!
Sitting and chanting among the brambles and wild baby rabbits at Karmu’s shop brought back so many vivid memories.
Like the time John the Meditator (hope he doesn’t have me killed for sharing this, since he was only a lad of twenty at the time) overlooked the final tightening of the lug-nuts on a clients wheel and the wheel flew off when traveling at a high rate of speed — No harm done ‘ luckily ‘ protected by the Holy One, no doubt. ‘Why is Big John such an air-head sometimes?’ Karmu asked me ‘ looking through me as if I should know ‘… ??!?
The time when Karmu told Caroline to remove the spark plugs from the distributor cap in the 1956 Buick Roadmaster (mmmmmmm). She removed them ALL at the same time. It took us three days to get them all back in the correct sequence. Some things you just never forget. ‘It’s not a mistake unless you do it twice. The first time, it’s an error!’ I was told.
The time when the Gold Dust twins broke into the shop to steal a car battery to sell so they could cash it in for ‘well, gold dust, I suppose! Karmu just took it in stride. The next time they showed up at his house he just fed them soup and built up their friendship, as usual ‘ though every so often if you listened carefully ‘ there was a clear message being conveyed about crossing boundaries. He knew. They knew. They knew he knew. He knew they knew he knew. Case closed.
I was there when (Jesus) saved me
The very moment he forgave me
Took away my heavy burden
And gave me peace within ‘.. (or something like that ..?!?)
As we drove in convoy to Karmu’s house and then on to his gravesite, memories of our healing caravans with the Holy One returned. Journeys out to Magnolia Manor, Another Place Farm, performances for Weddings, celebrations at Yale, Harvard, Wellesley, U Mass Amherst, Molly’s Farm, Swami Rudrananda’s Ashram in Northern New York, The Old Reliable Fish House, Provincetown (mmmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about that one).
We all slept on the floor of the restaurant around a fine fire after the performance. In the morning there was some kind of plumbing problem and Karmu ordered Ken Sommers to pour a gallon of blue medicine down the pipes.
Don’t know how or why but it worked’! Peace was restored.
Do you remember the times we towed cars through the ice and snow on just a rope, a ‘spoonful’ of Red Medicine and Karmu’s voice of empowerment?
Going for supplies Karmu would often take a student along with him. At the Auto Parts store they all knew him and looked forward to his visits. He would often introduce me as his daughter. Amidst much laughter, if they would ask ‘How come you’re so dark and she’s so light?’ He would reply ‘Because I kept her out of the sun ‘.’ He would tell this story many times.
Sometimes he would help out students, whose parents he thought were being unreasonable. If someone needed transportation to continue their studies, but their parents, though able, would not help out ‘ he would lend them a car for six or seven months ‘ at no charge ‘ until they were on their feet again.
Yes, it happened one day, a long time ago’!
Tiger Beth, Helen Brown, John the Meditator, Michael Lelyveld, Crazy Al, Ken Sommers, R.J., Dick Martin, Peter Beren, Guy David Leveaux, Jon Lieff, Madeline Nold, Ron and Susan Anastasia, Louis Acker, Diane Guilford, Dick Brown, Andy Weil, Rippy, Tuffy, Holy Joe, Unholy George, Dina Drago, Jo Harabin, The Golden One, The Mutant, Coffee, the Bass Player, Willie, Gunjan, Sarah Wentworth, Wendy, Eunice Martin, Gabrielle and Kadisha, Rick O’Gorman, Mike (the Rogue) Logue, Muniera, Azimat, John Sodagren, Rick and Eunice Martin, David Gold, Mariba and Tam, The ‘Cisco Kid, Harriet Mann, Nancy Man, Kiku and Eric Zutrau, Linda Merit, Eugene the Veteran, John with the seven sons, Bobby V., Zubeida, Rick Martin, Piper, Moshe Blatt, Rick Ingrasci, and all you Sinners, Lovers of Truth and Little Flowers of All Time, we miss you.
Big thanks also to Bill Stucky for his invaluable attention to detail in the production arrangements and for bringing the timeless poetry of Jalaludin Rumi through heartwarming music of the One Song Illumination Band, represented at the Mela by the Traveling Lights, Michael and Kabir Green.
Also more big thanks to Abraham (Dolomite Okite ‘ the Clean One) and Halima (the Little Flower) Sussman for their endless hospitality and moral support; and to Murshid Wali Ali Meyer for his infusion of clarity and spiritual direction; to Linda Merrill for her patience, dedication and flexibility in video recording parts of the festivities in spite of occasionally fragile communications; to Paul Gerstein and the many hands that made setting up and breaking down sound and lighting and so forth, seem practically effortless; to the Guardians of the Church, who made this all possible and most of all to the seen and unseen beings who were present and helped to lift us above the distinctions and differences that might otherwise divide us.
Although we cannot live without money, true friendship is above reproach and cannot be bought or sold and there is a place for us in a community of souls that is more valuable than status or money and fills us with a feeling of joy, vitality and belonging. This I have experienced again during these timeless days of the Karmu Kumbha Mela and for which I will be grateful for as long as I live.
As plans for the next celebration become clear we will keep you posted.
Please feel free to email us your insights, comments and suggestions so that we can continue to envision and improve. (AUMHUM@AOL.com or squeakywheelgrahix@MSN.com) Please feel free to forward this news to any friends you would like to keep informed. We are in the process of constructing a database to keep folks updated more efficiently and we welcome additions to our mailing list. Stories, images or just plain good wishes are much appreciated.
We wish each and every one frequent, occasional moments of peace, constant good health and many escapes from the commonplace, the freedom to take refuge in the power nap,( enabling us to do three days work in one), and a life where there is never a dull moment and a constant sense of time well spent.
May those who are happy, continue happy
Those who are suffering, may their suffering quickly end.
May all beings be well and happy; may all beings be well and happy; may all
beings be well and happy ”. The Venerable Bhante Dharmawarha
“Would that I had never seen a thing as lovely as it seemed.” (The Holy One)
In order to appreciate freedom, one must first experience captivity, limitation and powerlessness. Then and only then, can one enjoy to the full, the boundless happiness and limitless grace of open mind and radiant spirit in the refuge of a precious human body.
No blame, no shame! The Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo
Hold high the Sword of Truth, unashamed and unafraid!
Bite’em on the ear and tell them they’re beautiful (The Holy One)
God has the audacity not to consult Authorities when he wants to bless someone.
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride ‘! (Anon)
Oh please! Don’t you rock my boat,
‘cos I don’t want my boat to be rockin’
And you should know
You should know by now
I like it like this, I like it like this.
Satisfy my soul, satisfy my soul
That’s all I want from you
That’s all I want you to do
Satisfy my soul ‘.
We will be forwarding images by separate email to avoid downloading problems.
Keep the faith and have no fear,
Independently but with the blessing of Reverend Dr. Ron White, a true Friend of the Oppressed and Lover of Truth, Director, Jubilee Associates
First Karmu Kumbha Mela, 2005