July 30, 2013

Finding Enlightenment Through the Dave Matthews Band. ~ Sher Breen

You love them or hate them. You embrace or loathe the notion that they have been labeled as a “frat boy band.” But maybe you didn’t know that following The Dave Matthews Band (known as DMB) is a modern day path to enlightenment.

I had this epiphany while lying on the grass prior to a DMB set at the site of Woodstock proper. It only took 80 shows to realize this, and several incidents where my inner Kali made an appearance in the middle of a show. I try my best to be compassionate to the young couples rolling on Ecstasy who spend the entire time doing the naughty dance right next to me. Enlightenment can take many lifetimes or many tour seasons.

Thirteen, to be exact.

A recent story about stranded Dave, who needed a ride to his gig, was positive and inspiring. Some fans were running late to the show, driving through spooky Pennsylvania cornfields, and stopped to help, not knowing who it was from a distance. He repaid their generosity.

The band itself practices and ponders all those things you struggled to understand while reading “insert old sanskrit yogic text here”: death, love, fear, attachment, seva (selfless service). How could I not embrace a band that explores all these yogic philosophies that I have come to love (and sometimes loathe just a little, cryptic Patanjali!)?

A recent enlightened moment occurred after my latest Kali episode at the Hershey Park show (alcohol and Ecstasy are not a good mix, Naughty Dancing Couples).

My devotion to going to so many DMB shows may be due in part to a belief that these guys are the embodiments of our favorite Eastern deities and esoteric elements.

Hanuman reels us in with his violin playing and rides the Bhakti Express. He is love and holds gatherings for fans after almost every show. This guy is a hugging machine; he probably hasn’t hugged more people than Amma, but he’s close.

On bass we have the seven main Chakras, brilliantly spinning in full harmony. He is grounded, flowing, powerful, love, vibrant communication, intuition and connected to a higher source all at once. And he recently disclosed that he spent time around Sri Swami Satchidananda growing up.

Stage left holds the horns section, which I’ll call Maha Brahma. The trumpet and saxophone players both collectively and singularly create superhuman sounds. And they laugh a lot at the other deities and esoteric elements. And the audience.

Ah, jazz musicians.

Speaking of “beyond human,” some fans speculate that the guitar player is not of this world. According to Ancient Aliens (a very factual tv show, I think), many deities of cultures of yore may, in fact, be aliens.

The guitar player did live in New Mexico for a period of time. Just saying.

Many fans call the drummer God, but I think he is pure Shakti. Just look at a picture of him playing at a show and you can see it oozing from the drum set and feel it pulse through your skin. Spanda.

And then there is the lead singer/guitarist, whom I have made eye contact with during several shows, and who has a fierce ability to stare you down. I call him Nataraja. He destroys the crowd not only with his song but also with his dancing.

Every night is like a shaktipat initiation, and he is full of spontaneous kriyas as the kundalini rises.

Either that, or this dude is having some very bad side effects to “medications” ingested prior to show time.

Every show I go to is an opportunity to put my yogic philosophy studies into practice. Checking up on those “napping” on the ground in the parking lot before a show to make sure they are breathing is seva. Peacefully embracing the set-list, even if it includes a song you don’t profess your undying love to, is samtosha (contentment). Finding a bag of pot on the floor and giving it back to the person behind you who absently dropped it is asteya (non-stealing).

Catching Dave’s guitar pick in my bra—well, that was just pretty cool.

And this led to ishvara pranidhana, full surrender to this higher power manifesting itself as a band. Well, full surrender happened 57 shows ago!

You, too, probably have something in life that is not an obvious manifestation of the divine or is an unknown spark in your path to enlightenment. Don’t take anything or anyone in your life for granted—they might be part of this process.

And always pick up hitchhikers in corn fields. Good karma—but may also lead to the end of this life cycle.

As Dave sings: “When you give, you begin to live, you get the world, but you might die trying.”

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Assist Ed: Dejah Beauchamp/Ed: Sara Crolick


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Sher Breen