9/29 Sudden News & Bhakti Fest Reviews
David passed by our booth at Bhakti Fest, and was immediately drawn to our bubbly goddess energy. He sat down to chat, and I could tell right away that this guy was here for connections. Traveling to a festival alone takes guts, and he was brave enough to fly all the way across the country to pursue a long weekend of yoga based madness and bliss. Dawn and Jaelyn, the creatresses behind Celestial Sisters, are great at attracting clients, and they graciously recommended he check out my mala collection because he wanted to buy something special for himself and his baby mama back home. Sure, I was a little surprised that a customer wanted to walk all the way across the campgrounds to spend money, but I was happy to make a friend.
The next hour or two (and what felt way longer) I was absorbed completely into David’s world. He shared so much of his story with me, clearly happy to have a listening ear, a looking eye, and a human being with a welcoming soul who wanted to spend time with him. I learned about his personal struggles, his yearning for renewed love, his hopes for his kids, his happier moments and deeper frustrations at work…he was a total open book. Never creepy, never overbearing, just a genuine extroverted man living in the moment.
He entertained my descriptions of crystals, choosing the necklaces carefully for his trip back home. I went to tally his total, planning to give him a little discount for buying two (as I do for most clients); and then, with kindness in his heart, he looked me in the eyes and said “Let me give you a little extra money for gas in your van. I don’t want a discount, I want to do this for you.”
Festivals are such beautiful places to see the give and take. The energy we put out and the energy we receive comes in so many forms. The favors we do for one another, the gifts we give…a torus of love flowing in and out and through and up and down.
This is Bhakti in motion.
This is devotion.
It may look like a meal from a dank food vendor, or assisting someone with flyaway gear during a freak wind storm. It may look like tears on the dance floor as you scream/cry lyrics to a chant until your body is buzzing with a divine high, or it may look like moving your mat over so someone else can share some precious shade from the heat. It may look like a naked party -human car wash- free shower with Dr. Bronner’s foam for your girl’s birthday, or running to the autobody shop real quick to get a new battery for your friend’s car. It may look like placing recycling in the right bin, or asking for a little massage and some advice.
Maybe you compliment a stranger with sincerity and a smile, or you gang hug the guy with the “free hugs” sign wearing a blindfold to throw him off guard and into giggles. Maybe you blow bubbles into the sky for kids to pop, or depend on colleagues to get you to a breathwork class because you’re losing energy and don’t really want to go right now but you know it’s good for you and you want to try it anyway.
Bhakti was full of these moments of love. Of running an errand for a friend, and then taking time to try something new and tremendous. Of seizing opportunity, of going with the flow, of speeding up, of slowing down; of not/sleeping on the cold ground, of catching up on sleep in a warm embrace, of finding moments of bliss stillness, of watching artists and athletes and musicians be one person, of cracking open the heart, of focusing the ear and the attention, of story telling and satsangs.
Rhadanath Swami gave us a particularly beautiful tale, of a jungle woman who owned nothing and picked fruits deep in the tangles of the trees to sell back in town. Baby Krishna, the sweet butter stealing one, held out his arms for fruits, and the woman was SO in love with him, she passionately gave him everything she had. It was her honor to be of service to the divine, it was a privilege and a gift to make this toddler happy. She filled with spiritual devotion, Bhakti, to play this role in her life. And although her basket was empty of fruits, for she had given everything away, and she would make no money that day, her heart was filled with jewels. Her riches blossomed within and she felt more abundance and prosperity than the kings in their castles. And Krishna? He shared the bounty. He filled her basket with actual jewelry, crystals, and more. And he shared the fruit with the whole kingdom. The fruit never ran out as he and his mother passed it to all the begging hands.
What begins as one person’s good deed multiplies as it is passed on.
Kindness doesn’t have a half life.
It flourishes and increases exponentially the more we devote ourselves to it.
This is god’s love in action.
This is Bhakti.
The raw “THIS IS ME” platter David placed on the table of our conversation was so real. It was in the giving of his stories that he was able to receive attention. In fact, the only thing that brought us to a close was the fact there were tons of concerts going on, and we had been sitting at camp for a quite some time.
We lost each other in the darkness, and I didn’t see him again. I don’t even think we said goodbye to each other.
I opened up Facebook today to see that I had a few friend requests I hadn’t responded to, and one was from David. It was in accepting him as a friend that I bizarrely lost him as one.
You see, David died that weekend.
His friend wrote on his page that she and his family had flown out to California to hold his hand and sing him onto the spirit world as he ended this life. He had been on a mountain when his heart stopped, or, as I’d like to think, was so filled with Bhakti that he discovered his Samahdi, his ultimate bliss oneness.
Medics had resuscitated him, brought him to the hospital, and kept him alive long enough so he could see the ones dearest to him one more time. And then, the David chapter in his Soul book came to conclusion.
What happens when we fulfill our life purpose, when our cycle is complete? What does it feel like? What is it to know God, to go home?
David, I know you are dancing with devotion and riding the waves of the infinite cosmos. May you be at peace.