the road to bhakti…the autobahn

In the words of “Willie Nelson, “On the road again. I just can’t wait to get on the road again.” I suppose “road” is a better word to sing than Autobahn? However, in my case it is very often the autobahn at 150 km per hr. that I am traveling at, when on the bhakti trail. Often I am crammed up in a car that barely fits 3 musicians, 4 suitcases, 6 instruments and various gear bags. As the smallest size passenger I am sequestered to half the back seat with occasional sliding instruments or luggage falling into my designated zone.

Those of you reading who had visions of a more glamorous travelling style, I am sorry to be disappointing. However, the autobahn does serve in a fashion I have been quite delighted by. The open road can be very good for the soul and let me tell you of its rest stops. As an American, I am sorry to say I was accustomed to McDonalds or other fast food varieties that don’t deliver much in terms of cleanliness, tranquility or nutrition. This is not true of the average rasthof, (rest area) where salad bars, fresh squeezed fruit juices, Italian coffee bars and self -cleaning toilets in bathrooms so clean you feel you can eat off the floor, are the norm. It’s astonishing as a New Yorker currently living in Italy, no matter how crowded it gets at the rasthof, its rarely loud.

When living off the road the road needs to nourish you. The role of the bhakti as I see it, is to bring others to a state of devotion or bliss. How can this be possible if one is sleep deprived, not well fed and frazzled from the travel? Is energy not contagious? As many naps and espressos as one can get from Graz to Berlin, it’s a long and winding ride and always a crowd is waiting at the end if it for some Bhakti Bliss. So just how does one keep their energy bright and worthy of being contagious? For some I suppose golf or meditation can reset their drained battery. For others asana practice brings a clear sense of self. For me it’s Bhakti, and the music. Repeating the mantras take me out of my head and straight into the heart. I am able to forget what I don’t have and focus on what I do.

Stau is the very first German word I learned in English, traffic jam. I experience many, but as soon as I arrive at my destination as I begin to sing, to chant the names of the divine, all blockages and all the busy traffic of my mind quiet. The Bhakti has begun. The music echoes and what will follow is silence. This silence is so deep, so rich, juicy and addictive it easily gets me back in half of the back seat for another ride.


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