So it was up and down to Karlsruhe, 6 times up or down the A5, to this year’s One Spirit (formerly Rainbow) Festival, except that for half those journeys it wasn’t just up and down, due to a combination of accidents and holiday traffic congestion, for half those journeys (3) we had to go off the motorway and loop through minor roads, villages and towns, to reach our destination. (Nevertheless on two of the ‘free’ rides both Mishka and I at different times managed an average speed of 140 kph from door to door.)
I’ve been attending this festival for the last 17 years, with just one miss, and in fact twice yearly in recent times. In an attempt – mostly! – to reach new people, though many people who attend these Festivals are looking for as many ‘trips’ as they can find in their short time there, and are not serious seekers – like us! So for me it’s always a challenge, to reach people with the Work if only for a short while. Also having to talk for an hour or more to a bunch of strangers in one of my committed sessions is not so natural for me, so for years I both dreaded and also looked forward to the challenge (now it is easy).
Normally this Festival takes place over Whitsun (Pfingsten) so all three days from Saturday till Monday are ‘free days’; this year it was – for booking reasons – a week earlier, so the first day, Friday, was for most people, an ordinary working day, and so attendance was sparse, comparatively, that is.
But I was due to give my talk there at 16.00, and so we were off, to an audience of about 60 people. In previous years when the Festival was regularly in Baden-Baden, there would be anything from 2-4 hundred people for my talks, but still, it was perfectly all right with this smaller number, in the circumstances. At the end of the talk, for the first time nobody clapped. But instead, after I left, they all sat on just sitting, as if in an energy bubble – for some minutes, and that felt even better than the usual applause.
The next day was Saturday, and time for our Energy Happening. The place was more full than on Friday, but still far from crowded. The room for my EH was not very big so it was already pretty full with around 50 people, and it went very well too. Everybody got involved and most if not all were very enchanted –many reporting as much to the organizers. Well these always go well, don’t they? The new spaces they inevitably find in themselves…
Then on Sunday we were up there quite early for our ‘New Meditation’ session. For this we had maybe the most people coming, more than 60 in the same limited space, and that went extremely well, and ended with much applause.
Later I heard that this was one of the most attended of the talks and workshops that were going on – several at once – throughout the 3 days of the seminar.
Except for the concerts one given by Peter McKenna, a great friend of mine, a connection dating back many years to Poona when he, as Anubhava, was already playing great music, just as he has his whole life long. Mishka stayed behind – with a hundred or two other people –to attend this concert, whilst I drove back home with some of our helpers.
So all in all it was much lighter in people numbers than ever before, which meant of course less income for the organizers, Mariam & Teresa. So the question is, whether to continue with these Festivals, or call it a day. We shall see.
We had help from Wild Geese throughout. Samida came to translate my Talk on the first day – Mishka took over the translating for the two on-coming sessions, Akali, who lives in Freiburg, came up to set things up and help for all 3 days, Sebanta helped initially before leaving for home in Halle, Madukhar from here helped out for a day, and Chasara & Daivika– both from X-Run 6 and already signed up for X-Run 7 – who live fairly locally, were on our stand for both Saturday & Sunday, selling our books and other selected items.
But the weekend was not yet over for us. Once again we were invited into the heart of the Black Forest where Mariam & Teresa now live – in an area which is so remote, so quiet, that the quietness around seems to be part of the reality there, to be in the whole landscape.
We – about 20 of us - were to be treated to one of Teresa’s special dinners, a series of dishes all self-created, with unique mixtures, about which we were all informed before we got our teeth into them. She, Teresa, is about to publish her 7th cookery book – so she is a real master at this cookery game.
The evening gave me a chance to talk closely and intimately with my old friend Peter McKenna, and his wife Aneeta who continues – and did so at the Festival too – to give her Heart Dance sessions, which were almost daily happenings too in Buddha Hall in Poona. They were my neighbours at the dinner table, one each side – which for me was perfect. Mishka too has a soul & love connection with them both – years ago, on a trip to California, after our holiday there we spent several days at their home before flying back.
Then also I was able to roll around a little with my old pal Veeresh, who was there with 4 members of his One Spirit team. We’ve known each other since the early Seventies, when he and I were the main group leaders in the ‘Growth Group Scene’ in London (along with Paul Lowe). As we – almost literally – rolled around together (he had been sitting so quietly, so serenely, looking to me so beautiful, during the long dinner time) he told me how much he had always loved me, how I had ‘changed his life’ through my published book of that time, ‘People Not Psychiatry’, how I had been always an inspiration for him, and how I was for him, always, ‘the man’. Back in the eighties his community and mine (Alchemy) went through a formal ‘marriage ceremony’, he & I even walking up the aisle together, with each having someone to ‘give us away’ and then we both took the marriage vows. But not long after, I left/was thrown out of the sannyas movement (both really, at the same time), so of course he was ordered to make a divorce! But last night there, we were lovers again…
So now we don’t know: will these Festivals survive, go on – or end up? We have to wait and see. Mariam & Teresa have given blood to keep them going for such a long time, sometimes even having to subsidize the Happenings. Maybe it’s time for them to fade away (English traditional song: ‘Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.) If so, and despite my struggles with the event sometimes over the years, I for one will be sad.
And one of the reasons for that sadness is that I have come to love very much these 2 guys, Teresa & Mariam, and the way they have organized these Festivals, both before and during them, brings from me heaps of admiration, and love, plus personal time spent with them. Can we though perhaps, in this eventuality, still continue with that? I hope so.