(This post written a couple of days ago). I’m at the Buddhafield Festival gathering at the moment near Glastonbury, England and am definitely loving it. It’s a large gathering of people who share a love of community, a capacity for celebration, are trying to live more consciously, and many of whom are working actively towards making the world a better place. There are probably around 3,000 people here all camping in a very beautiful forested countryside. I came here with my friend Marcus and a sweet woman sharing the ride there named Natalie.
I’m writing here because I want to acknowledge how happy I am to be here. There is so much love being spread around. Everywhere you look there is a positive interaction happening between people. There are so many things happening here, music constantly at different venues, lots of cafes, teepees serving chai around a fire, nudie saunas, dances, consciousness raising talks, healing services (massage, etc.). playgrounds for kids, interactive games for adults, cinema, drum circles, ceremonies, classes, etc.. For those of you who’ve made a life of attending these events, it may seem like an everyday thing, but to someone like me who has only been to some music festivals, it’s quite amazing.
Last night at 8:30pm, simultaneous with about 30 other happenings, there was an Ancestor Puja held in one of the tents. I attended as I felt it was an opportunity to further this process of letting my mother go. It was great. I still had the photograph of her and I together which I felt uncomfortable burying at the beach in Chicago as I mentioned in a previous post, so I brought that as an offering to the altar. Somewhere around 75 people came and we meditated on all who came before us including relatives and all their ancestors, teachers and their teachers, and all who helped to get us to the place that we are now. We then rose and sang in procession to an outside altar where we continued to sing (“I am tomorrow’s ancestor…..”) and make our offerings at the altar. We miss out on so much in America by not having much ritual that we experience. As we were standing there singing, one of the other 30 simultaneous things that was occurring marched by – a group of people dancing wearing skeleton costumes. Could it have been more perfect? I waved to my long ago departed ancestors as they paraded by and they waved back. There wasn’t anything particularly powerful for me about my mom in this process, but it was indeed a further letting go of her. Also, seeing her in the sequence of time through hundreds of generations of ancestors helped in some way to diminish her importance.
Having time to meditate on generations of ancestors is quite a powerful experience. Take a moment to think about it, think about your parents. Now your grandparents. Now their parents. Now their parents. Now all your ancestors from the 1800s, from the 1700s, the 1600s, 1500s, 1400s, 1300s, keep going. Each century perhaps another 5 generations who came before you, who were instrumental in your getting to where you are now, and you are carrying genetic material from each of them. Of all of them. All the way back to earliest man and woman. Perhaps you are most like one in the 3rd century BC? In America we have so little sense of history. Here in Europe that is very different.
I’ve also been to a few Buddhist talks here by some well known Buddhist teachers, Ken Jones (one of the pioneers of the Engaged Buddhist movement, and Christopher Titmus, also known for encouraging engagement with the world. They are both special people and special teachers. When Christopher finished speaking today, I applauded not necessarily for what he said, although I felt he was pretty much spot on, but simply for the fact that he is teaching. Teachers are really needed to help effect greater change and consciousness in the world. People need to transform their inner worlds to be increasingly effective at bringing their Joy and Love to the surface and thus effect change at a wider and deeper level.
While here, I’ve also been to a dance which was another amazing experience. I won’t get into the details of it, but I will report that the levels of Love and contact and celebration that can happen within a group of open hearted people is soooo much more than most people reading this (and the person writing it) have ever experienced. What a blessing it was to be a part of that.
Other workshops, drum circles, film, live music, completely hysterical improvisational cabaret. It’s rained every day here, sometimes gusting torrents of rain, but that seems to have passed over finally, although the mud seems to be here to stay.
Needless to say again, I am loving it. What it most feels like to me is Freedom. It feels like how life is supposed to be. Life is worth celebrating. Life is wonderful in community. Life is wonderful when spent with people who just naturally square their face to you and take the time to smile meaningfully at you and share a greeting.
It’s also about as hippie a festival as I’ve ever been to as well and I am sure glad I lived long enough to see another side to life, another way that things can be,
Noticed self-consciously today that the rain jacket I’m wearing has an Adidas logo on the sleeve. Here, no-one that I’ve seen, not one of the thousands here, is wearing any form of corporate logo or even sports team emblem. None. Other niceties here include composting toilets, lots of raw and organic veggie vegan food, and a big board constantly added to of singing, dancing, dharma, healing workshops and other events. It’s wonderful. Nothing less. My cheeks are a little cramped from smiling so much. I love when that happens.