KIRTAN KIDS /CD
BY JAI UTTAL
“Hey all you kids, hey all you adults,”
is how Kirtan Kids appropriately begins.
This album came at a perfect time; Kirtan is exploding and it’s time the kids
had a sing-along of their own. So from
all the kids, whatever age we may be,
thank you Jai and Hari Bol!
If you have ever seen a Jai Uttal concert,
you know that he is a master storyteller.
His love for Kirtan and The Divine shines
through every word. The lyrics of this
playful experience are graced by all the
usual characters, including Hanuman,
Shiva, and Krishna. The album plays
out like a musical with stories, songs,
and inspiration tying together themes of
love, devotion, acceptance, and playfulness. Song titles such as “Gopala Eats
the Dirt”, “Blue Cowboy Blues”, and
“Shri Ram Stars” to name a few, bring
to life the stories of the deities we know
and love. Uttal uses short mantras that
are attractive for kids, woven in with
happy, life affirming, English phrases.
The tales are timeless and kudos to Uttal
for passing along the tradition of bhakti
Hearing the little voices of the gaggle of
children in the choir (including Jai’s own
six-and-a-half year old son, Ezra Gopa,
mixed with Papa Jai makes me happy!
On the final track, “Little Gopala”, Ezra
expresses his love for kirtan and the divine, “It’s deep in my heart, it’s deep
in my soul… never felt so good, never
felt so wight (right). Never knew that it
would be the biggest part of my life.”
Kasey Luber is Kirtan’s biggest fan and Bhakti's oldest
kid. For more fabulousness, go to BighappyDay.com
FIRE MONKS /BOOK
BY COLLEEN MORTON BUSCH
The Penguin Press
On July 10, 2008, Tassajara, the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery outside of
Asia, was visited by its most demanding
guest to date, the Basin Complex Fire.
Remarkably, Tassajara escaped its flaming mouth. Five devoted monks, four
men and one woman, put their practice
of presence of mind to work and summoned the courage to hold the space of
their beloved home in the midst of this
fiery maelstrom. LA YOGA (in November, 2008 ) was one of the first to talk
about the intriguing tale of their incredible journey.
Written by Colleen Morton Busch and
now in book form, Fire Monks is part
thriller, part Zen manifesto, and part
pure poetry. Morton Busch deftly handles a story that could easily become too
precious, dry, or spiritually arrogant.
Instead, we receive insight into five vulnerable humans, who in the midst of an
evacuation, turned around and headed
back to the monastery in the suffocating heat and smoke of a wild, voracious forest fire. In the words of poet
Jane Hirschfield, a longtime supporter
and Tassajara workshop leader, it was a
“suppleness of mind,” that allowed them
Through Morton Busch’s attention to detail, we enter the lives of the five monks
and look out through their eyes. We also
come away with an understanding of the
politics and the hearts of all involved in
confronting this inferno, an apt metaphor and lesson for all of us in these uncertain times.
Deborah Donohue is a writer, editor and Yoga Therapist
in Santa Barbara. DeborahDonohue.org