Training & Practice:
2011 to Present – CYA certification as Meditation based Yoga Instructor, studying under Dr. Pradeep (Jivasu) Kumar at Samagra Institute. This is a therapeutic scientific/evidence based approach presented in a non-religious spiritual context, drawing from Sanatana Dharma.
2011 to Present: Shambhala Warrior Training (the lineage of Chogyam Trungpa and Sakyong Mipham)
2002 to Present: personal practice of 1 to 2 meditation/yoga sessions daily2 one week silent meditation retreats per year – one group and one solo and 2 ten day juice fasts per year, throughout the year.
2006 to Present: Indian Classical Dance with Joanna (Das) Desouza
2003 to 2007: Took Buddhist precepts, trainings and retreats as a lay member of a Korean Chogye Order-based community, with Zen Master Venerable Samu Sunim.
2005-2011: Meditation workshops, retreats, teachings, Darshans and trainings:
Venerable Samu Sunim
H.H. The Dalai Lama
1977 to Present: 8 limbs yoga practice including sitting meditation
1974 to Present: Full-time music study and practice as performer, singer, instrumentalist and composer (see http://www.revsound.ca)
Shamatha /Calm Abiding (“Mindfulness”),
“non-method” / Shaktipat /”Just Sitting”
Indian Kirtan & Bhajan,
Tibetan Chanted Prayer (Mostly Vajrayana path)
When I left this group a year later I found myself perpetually “on tour” in central Canada, leaping from music job to music job, studying, practicing, living in winnebagos and small hotels for many years before I was able to manoeuvre myself back to Toronto where I could remain involved in music while enjoying a fixed address.
The playing of music whether practicing or performing was pretty much a form of meditation, certainly one of being in the present, in the moment, alive without beginning or end – as I was later able to appreciate more consciously.
Although I had had a memorable spontaneous opening experience at twelve years old, this awareness and making the connection between music practice and consciousness grew slowly. In my mid 20′s while on the road with a West Indian music group, I was introduced to yoga meditation by my traveling hotel room-mate Derry Etkins from Guayana. Yoga meditation became my secondary practice, and stayed with me as I went on to pursue my career as a music writer, performer, bandleader and recordist for thirty more years, based in Toronto.
Somewhere in there I took a long-ish break from “contemplative” practices until one day I felt I had become harsh, driven and separated from my life. In 2003 I took Buddhist Precepts with Korean Zen Master Samu Sunim, as a lay member of his practicing community, taking the name “Kongcha’ek” (which means “Empty Book”). I practiced Zen meditation daily, completed beginner’s and advanced courses in meditation, practiced daily, attended weekly ceremonies and teachings and participated in five day silent retreats.
The discipline and clarity were wonderful, even magical, but by 2008 I felt pulled to explore something warmer, gentler, more celebrative. I began to follow teachers of enlightenment, especially “wordless” methods like Darshan. I branched out to other forms of sitting sitting meditation, walking meditation, japa and conscious ritual. I have continued Buddhist training in the Shambhala Warrior tradition of Chyogyam Trungpa. I also studied 5 years of Indian Devotional dance with Kathak master Joanna DeSouza, which opened many doors and a deeper awareness of the Indian perspective.
Through practice I have developed a personal approach to chanting, including Kirtan (call and answer devotional singing from India), Japanese Nembutsu / Heart Sutra, etc, Chinese Pureland, Korean Three Jewels Practices and various Sanatana (Indian) sampradaya. I traced some of these roots and practiced with renunciates and everyday people during a pilgrimage to the Himalayas of India in 2011.
Over these years I have also participated in in-person trainings, residential retreats or workshops with many spiritual masters and teachers including those listed above. I am not claiming that any of these teachers have accredited me as a teacher or recognized any formal “transmission”. I simply went through the steps they suggested, accepted their direction (although some of them may disagree!) , practiced faithfully to the extent it felt right, and participated with whatever sincerity and presence I was capable of at the time.
This was not a “smorgasboard” approach. I usually stayed focused on one teacher or community at a time, for a period of one to four years, during which time 75% of my home practice was dedicated to that system. Then, 25% of my focus regularly went out to explore other approaches taking short workshops or attending teachings / ceremonies. So I moved slowly through various circles and communities.
I hold these teachings in my heart and they each play a part in how I proceed to this day. These paths have been merging into one awareness of something beautiful that runs through all things. Through direct experience one can come to appreciate the One Thing that all masters are pointing to, each using their own language. Less and less do the descriptions and teachings of various religions or practices seem different from each other. It is One Thing we are all seeking in all our movements, interactions, inner struggling and various styles of expression.
In all we do we want to love, to be loved and to arrive home – together. This is a love that goes deeper than “relationship” love, and by “together” I mean “all beings”. And it is partly through our “relationship love” that we explore this journey -but there is more to it.
From time to time I lead and co-lead workshops and group experiences in ritual, yoga, chanting and meditation, and otherwise dedicate myself to article writing and music/sound creation through my music and audio production company http://www.REVsound.ca.
Besides music/sound projects and daily practice, I write articles, sit on the editorial board of the Toronto Body Mind web site and occasionally on music/audio judging panels such as FACTOR (the Foundation To Assist Canadian Talent On Record), and try to support sincere spiritual groups I encounter however I can.
Much of my power and unfolding comes from my ex- Love Partner Diane, who is probably my greatest teacher.