You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.
Presidents are supposed to lie.
That’s part of their job.
My first real indication that there was a universe outside myself came in 1962, after Alice’s husband–the one in the song–gave me a copy of the Tao Te Ching At the time, I was singing all those euphoric songs about how were gonna save the world, and Lao-tse made me wonder: Will the world be any different because of anything I do? He struck a chord that made me sense that I was a little discordant with the cosmic universal tune. It wasn’t a major musical atrocity; but it forced me to pay attention to myself-like when you know you have a cold coming on. You could say that was the start of my midlife crisis. I was about fifteen.
For years I kept showing up at all the right demonstrations and singing all the right songs, and one day I realized that the world still sucked and my own life was out of control. I’d done all these things to save the world, and I couldn’t even save myself I understood then that my real work was me, not the world.
One day in the ’70s I was out on my porch-I wasn’t doing any drugs-and Christ appeared. He took the form of a light that penetrated my every atom. I knew who He was, and He knew who I was and everything about me and loved me as I was. I felt such a love as I didn’t know existed. There was no shadow from that light. In a few minutes it went away, and I was devastated. Years later, at a time when my marriage was in trouble and I hit bottom, I said to God, “I want to go back in-to that moment and stay there, because it hurts too much to be in this world.” About three weeks after that, I met my guru.
My guru [Jaya Sati Bhagavati Ma] began to strip away that part of me that was frightened, like peeling away parts of an onion. I felt like a kid again, and God was everywhere I played, asking me to focus only on what was put in front of me. If that was a beggar, then I had to concern myself with the beggar. If it was 70,000 people at Farm Aid or an antinuke benefit, then I had to concern myself with that. Instead of paying only 25 percent of my attention to what was going on so I could keep the other 75 percent for the rest of the world, I had to learn to be 100 percent in each moment.
One day my guru turned and said to me, “You’re a very simple man.” I got it. In my inner eye I could see a mountain as big as any on Earth, and I saw that mountain crumble into tiny stones that fell around my shoulders. It was my mountain-all that information, ideology; duty, humor, that everyone expected me to carry around. That’s been a big mountain to carry; it’s been a long haul for me to stop worrying about what other people think. I realized I’m still me without all that useless stuff.
I’ve also learned that I don’t have to collect spiritual knowledge. If it fits, it’ll find a place in my heart, like music fits into your ear. This was a painful thing for me to learn, because I had counted so much on gaining wisdom. But you know what? When I need some of that knowledge, it’s there: I can pull it out of my heart. I open my mouth, and it speaks. People hear me when I speak from my heart.
I have a two-year-old grandson, and one thing he’s taught me is that I’m not going to be here forever. I think about how fun it would be to teach him all the things I missed doing with my own kids. And what fun it would be to see a kid grow up learning to speak from his heart.