August 14, 2017

There is Always Hope: a Return to Woodstock.

August 17, 2017, marks 48 years since the “Peace and Music” festival, Woodstock, rocked the farmlands of New York and changed America’s landscape forever.

A good reminder of this love protest is a short video interview of Sridhar Silberfein, executive producer of the Bhakti Fest. He mentions a conversation he had with the “Father of Woodstock,” Artie Kornfield, who asked Sridhar what was missing from their lineup for Woodstock. “Spirituality,” said Sridhar.

Sridhar, a devotee of Sri Swami Satchidananda, invited the guru to address the 500,000 people in attendance. It was in that pivotal moment that the hot air balloon of Sridhar’s imagination was lifted by the “winds of Spirit.” At that moment, he envisioned a time when thousands of people would gather in a single place to chant the names of the Divine.

Forty years later, the Bhakti Fest was created—and ever since that time, people from all over the world come to sing kirtan, practice yoga, and share their love for the Divine with extraordinary mentors like Ram Dass, Deva Premal, and Krishna Das.

Thousands of people gather annually to plant seeds of unity, love, and devotion. In this day and age, it is more important than ever that humanity speaks with a unified voice.

Woodstock came about as a protest against the war in Vietnam, international conflict, economic downturn, and changes in the ideology of political leaders. Cycles repeat—and today, an east wind blows across planet Earth.

In Arthur Conans Doyle’s 1916 book, The Last Bow, he gives Sherlock Holmes a final speech on the eve of World War I. Addressing Dr. Watson, Holmes says:

“There’s an east wind coming, Watson.”

“I think not, Holmes. It is very warm.”

“Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less—and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.” [1] 

One hundred years later, similar themes are surfacing worldwide. Political regimes are collapsing, and Anthropocene is a real threat to life on planet Earth.

While people try to gather strength and come together for marches like the Women’s March, Standing Rock, LGBTQ and minority rights, our voices are being swept away like dust in an internet windstorm. Truthful messages have become harder to discern. Don’t give up.

There is always hope. The east wind brings change—and with it, comes devastation and destruction of old ideas and paradigms. A nor’easter storm has the potential to devastate the entire coastline of the United States. There are always cleansing rains that follow, in which the sky is more blue, and all of the debris has been swept away. This is the way of nature.

It is time for Woodstock.

It is time to gather our heartfelt voices and sing as one to the Divine. We cannot afford to be a single, fixed point in these rapidly changing times. We have to activate our words of protest.

It is no longer enough to eavesdrop on the messages of others. As an energetic being, you have the tools to transform yourself as the east wind blows. You can make a difference by being of service to the world at large. Pick a cause; there are many to choose from. Where have all the protest songs gone?

“Long time” passing, or are we just beginning? I am grateful for the re-emergence of festivals in the U.S. and across the world because they bring people together. This month, endeavor to connect with your neighbors and meet people face to face. I live on an island part-time and enjoy taking evening Wind Walks®. Here, people stop to talk to each other and share ideas. For me, this is a way of planting seeds of hope for community and humanity.

While we may not be invited back to those 500 acres in Bethel, New York to peacefully protest, we can evoke the spirit of Woodstock in our own villages. Start by taking a simple walk. As you feel the wind moving through the landscape, sing a sacred song of peace and love. The wind will carry your song and spread it around the world in a few short days. Remember that we are all connected.


[1] Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story, His Last Bow.




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Author: Renee Baribeau
Images: WikiMedia CommonsFlickr/Paille; Joyful Images Photography, used with permission
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Danielle Beutell

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