Bhagavan Das and his Kali gave an awesome kirtan at YogaNow last night.
It was like he was channeling his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba.
Before the kirtan, the shala owner read from a sheet about basic kirtan etiquette. Among the guidelines (these are not word-for-word and my memory is not perfect):
-Stand up with folded hands when Baba enters and leaves the room. We are not standing up to show respect for him per se, but to acknowledge the spark of the divine within our own selves (and him).
-Do not point the feet at the deities / Bhagavan Das (this is considered highly offensive in India [to point feet at deities / an elder])
-Do not lie down during the kirtan
-Kirtan is participatory - not a concert. Sing!
-It is not a social event. Please keep conversation to a minimum.
-Keep the doors closed. If you must leave, close the door quietly behind you.
I cannot relate how refreshing it was to hear someone finally lay down the law; I think it made the space more sacred and created a much more powerful experience (for the first time in eons, no one sprawled out for a nap next to me during kirtan! Now, if they'd just ask people to stay til the end).
American culture can be so casual, self-centered, and insensitive - we often don't know how not to act otherwise. Like children, we sometimes need to have it spelled out for us.
Anyway, I haven't heard such truth since Chandra Om revealed how we should comport ourselves at Sri Dharma's 200-hour training in 2007. Her compassionate but not watered-down words still ring in my ears.
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Interestingly, this quote from Sri Dharma Mittra was included in yesterday's missive from the New York center:
"To be a good student, one must be reverent, have patience and make great efforts.
"I think maybe there is a little less reverence today and perhaps more interest in the physical aspects of the practice, but the questions are still the same as people yearning to discover who and what they really are remains eternal. I try to be receptive to what the students ask and to what I think will help them to make progress based on my intuition and experience. I think it's good sometimes to just do your meditation and keep asking the question. Then, all the answers come." -Sri Dharma Mittra
The student should also be obedient and not fickle....
...and stick it out til the end