Saturday, August 27, 2016


     Zet and I recently went to see the fascinating exhibit of historical art and artifacts from Coney Island, currently on display at the McNay Art Museum. In addition to providing a colorful overview of an extraordinary slice of American 20th century culture, this show gave us a delightful chance to relive the memories of our first visit to Coney Island on August 7,1982, which proved to be a particularly memorable, pivotal moment in my personal and professional life.
     We'd moved to New York in June because, like countless other performers before me, I was eager to try taking my music career to the next level in the Big Apple. We arrived with big dreams and $1,000 in cash, neither of which lasted very long in the crushing heat and crowded streets of the Lower Eastside Village. Fortunately, I was able to book a few coffeehouse/bar gigs, and earn some cash by singing for tips on the sidewalks in Central Park. And then, by a minor miracle, Zet and I got hired to produce the first Whole Life Expo scheduled for Thanksgiving Weekend, although it didn't pay much, either. So it was pretty exciting when Kenny Handwerker, owner of the legendary Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs restaurants, happened to hear me performing on the street one day and liked my music enough to offer a slot on the main stage of the Coney Island Festival, an event that his legendary restaurant company was sponsoring that same weekend.
     The pay was only $50 plus all the Nathan's Famous hot dogs and french fries I could eat (I was a vegetarian), but here, at last, was my first big break - so off we went to Coney Island. I can still remember the excitement of emerging from the subway into a surging crowd headed toward the beach on a hot, Saturday afternoon. Schlepping my heavy guitar case and amplifier for what seemed like forever, past row after row of carnival rides, food booths, barkers and souvenir shops, part of me wanted to stop and look at everything, but mostly I just couldn't wait to go strut my stuff at my first big show in New York!
     But, when we finally got there, the stage was packed with breakdancers and hip-hop musicians, engaged in a heated dance contest. The genre was still relatively new at the time, and I'd seen a few isolated dancers working out their moves on sheets of cardboard in the streets with big boom boxes blasting. But this was a totally different scene, with live DJs spinning records, multiple MCs rapping and a whole host of dancers going wild in front of a sizable audience that seemed to be getting larger and louder by the minute.
     Meanwhile, I was standing backstage with my acoustic guitar strapped around my neck, wondering how the heck this crowd would respond to my folk-punk songs, delivered by the only fair-skinned performer in sight. I couldn't have looked, sounded or felt more out of place had I been an alien from Mars, a fact which was clearly underscored when the huge crowd melted away within the first two minutes of my first song. Where there had been a boisterous throng pulsing along with the raucous music moments earlier, suddenly there was just a small handful of surly looking faces to greet my second tune, and I felt thoroughly deflated. I truly "died out there on stage" - just like the old show business adage says. That song seemed to drag on forever and then some.
     But, since this festival was being billed as a "Celebration of Life and Love For Humanity" and Kenny had specifically hired me to sing my original songs - I just plugged on. After all, I told myself, I'm a professional performer and I've already been paid, so the show must go on - even if it's just for a handful of folks drawn in by their curiosity, rather than any musical virtuosity on my part... Somehow, I managed to finish my half-hour set as scheduled, feeling totally humbled by the way I'd stumbled musically, but still proud of having done my small part in lifting up Kenny's vision of the festival. Having fifty bucks in my pocket also helped a lot, plus, Zet and I even split one of those famous hot dogs (and lots of French fries) afterwards.
     Over the course of the next four months, I went on to perform a dozen more shows at various venues in and around the city, before the success of the Whole Life Expo enabled us to move to San Francisco-Berkeley to help work on the subsequent WL Expos in San Francisco, Boston and LA. I didn't know it at the time, but that day on Coney Island, the old would-be-rock-star-Rudi had literally died on stage, only to be replaced by a different version of me who would gradually be drawn into a whole new way of writing and performing from a dawning spiritual understanding - a voyage that continues to this day. And for that, I am deeply grateful.

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


     There is an old Zen tale of a new devotee who was particularly zealous in his efforts to become enlightened. He would spend long days and nights sitting in the meditation hall, seldom stopping to eat, sleep or exercise. As he became thin and pale from his efforts, the abbot of the temple urged the monk to slow down, relax and take better care of himself, but the young man declined.
     "Why are you being so hard on yourself? What's your hurry?" asked the abbot.
     "Because I am seeking enlightenment, and there's no time to waste!" replied the young man.
     "And how do you know that the enlightenment you seek is somewhere out ahead of you, and that you need to rush to catch up to it? Could it be that it is somewhere behind you, and that all you need to do to encounter it is to relax awhile and let it catch up with you -- instead of running away from it?"
     Have you had a chance to take a vacation recently? To really "vacate" yourself, in the sense of letting your self be emptied of your concerns and cares for awhile? To slow down and let feelings of bliss and blessing overtake you, rather than running after an imagined outcome that will deliver such feelings?
    For many people in Texas, school is starting again this week, signaling the unofficial end to another summer. So, in the spirit of relaxing for awhile as we bid farewell to summer, we'll be joining in a time of deep relaxation, extended meditation and inner re-creation during the Morning Circle, followed by a potluck picnic lunch in Roosevelt Park.
     And then next Saturday, August 27th, I will be leading a one-day, meditation retreat from 10am-3pm that we're calling "Simmering In Silence." Both days will be focused on generating a field of calm, centered energy - and allowing ourselves to slow down long enough to let feelings of bliss and blessings overtake us, right where we are.
     Hopefully, you will be able to join us for one or both of these gatherings. But whether or not you can join us physically, I hope that you, too, will take some time to relax, reflect and remember to let your Highest Good catch up with you!

With gratitude and blessings,

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Friday, August 12, 2016


     I'm staring at a big, old hackberry tree that fell down along our backyard fence line sometime recently. It probably happened during the heavy rainstorm we had a couple of weeks ago, but I'm not sure. All I know is that it's been down long enough for the leaves to start turning brown, but just barely.
     It was at least forty feet tall, with two big trunks branching out from the main trunk, which is at least two feet in diameter. Amazing to think that no one noticed when it split right down the middle, with one trunk falling into our neighbor's yard and the other, larger one landing across our compost pit.
     Upon first noticing this downed giant, I'm awestruck, because it looks so much larger lying on its side than it did when standing up next to all the other trees nearby. Hard to imagine that something so huge could be wiped out in an instant, without warning. I also find myself wondering how the heck we can possibly dismantle and dispose of all this wood, without having to do a whole lot of hard physical labor or pay a bunch of money for someone else to do it for us.  But then Zet points out that if we leave the tree right where it is, it could provide a perfect habitat for wildlife and make a nice addition to the backyard wildscape we've been creating since we moved here.
     While contemplating our options and examining the tree more closely, it's apparent that it must have been rotting at the junction of those two trunks for years. It wasn't obvious from the outside, but the inside of the joint was all hollowed out. Looking at it from this angle, I can't help but wonder how many other trees on our property have a similar, potentially dangerous problem.  What about that other hackberry, hanging over the living room? Or the loblolly pine and pecan tree extending over the dining room roof? Better check them closely as soon as possible... 
     Knowing that the observable, outer realm is often a reflection of our inner dimensions, too, I find myself wondering: Is there some aspect of my life which is rotting from the inside out and begging for attention? But, then I shift my attention back to the broken tree stump, where a number of small hackberry trees have suddenly sprouted up in the space that was cleared when the older, larger tree fell. So now, the question becomes: What new aspects of my life are waiting to sprout?
     Don't know about you, but it seems to me that while there are no easy answers to questions like these, it's important to ask them nonetheless, and trust that only good will come of the willingness to pay attention to clues as they arise. At least, those are my questions, and I'm sticking to them...

With gratitude and blessings,

THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


     Shortly before dawn, I wake with a yawn and take a few moments to simmer in gratitude before moving any further. Gratitude for this day, this breath, this opportunity to wake slowly in a comfortable bed, in a safe space. Feeling the grace of this moment, the power of a healthy body and the Field of Infinite Possibilities stretching out into the day(s) ahead, I give thanks for these many blessings and open my heart to feelings of deep peace.
     Yet in the space of the few seconds it takes to walk from the bed to the bathroom and begin my daily round of morning rituals, several members of my mind's Board of Directors have already begun barking orders, racing forward through a long list of all the many things I didn't get done yesterday and that "I have to do" today. Fortunately, I recognize them for who they really are: my old friends, Fear, Doubt and Lack, once again masquerading as the authors and editors of that Bottomless To Do List that I have been dragging around for years.
     I choose to withdraw my attention from them and focus on the active presence of Love, Ease and Abundance instead. Yes, there are plenty of things to be done, but I choose to view them from a place of remembering that All is Well, and All Shall Be Well. That my needs are provided, and will always be provided, every step of the way, today and everyday. For I am a faithful steward of all the resources which have been given to me, and will continue to be, as I move forward with a receptive heart and an open mind.
     I realize that my fears, doubts and regrets are mostly just things I've made up. While it's not helpful to deny their existence, neither is it helpful to give them the kind of feverish attention they demand. Instead, I simply stand back and observe them as they arise, recognize them for what they are, release them gently and re-direct my focus to the Light I see and the Love I feel in this moment, now. And now.  And now...
     This is how I choose to start my day. Perhaps you find it helpful to do something similar. In any case, may you, too, find the time and space to feel Grace moving through your life, today and everyday.

With gratitude and blessings,

     THANK YOU for holding the Circle in your heart by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. Thank you for supporting us as we continue our work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

Monday, August 1, 2016


     I seldom watch TV, but did force myself to tune into both of the political conventions out of a sense of duty. As a naturalized American citizen who swore the oath of citizenship as an earnest teenager, I take my civic responsibilities seriously. I actively participate in the democratic process, donate to political candidates, and never miss a chance to vote at any level of government, whether it's a neighborhood association or a national election.


     Having absorbed as much of the two conventions as I could, I'm fully prepared to cast my vote for president... into the sea. A sea of sadness, that is. It really hurts me to watch the national shouting match between hyper-polarized choices that is unfolding before our eyes, one that is being portrayed as the only viable path forward in these troubled times. Surely it doesn't have to be this way.

     Yes, I understand we live under a two-party system which tends to promote binary selections - but this year there's a particular brand of ugliness in the air surrounding this election, one which isn't restricted to either candidate or political party. This shrillness doesn't bode well for the prospects of an intelligent conversation about our collective future over the next four months until Election Day, much less the Day After, when one of the two sides will have lost, leaving many millions of angry voters operating at a fevered pitch for who knows how long afterwards...


     Although it feels important to acknowledge and address this sadness, I'm not willing to stay stuck in the yuck and spend the next three months feeling like a victim being sucked under by a whirlpool of angry voices. Of course, I will still go to the polls in November and cast my vote. But between now and then, I pledge to find ways to mitigate the fear and anger I'm hearing all around and within me. I will do what I can to face, embrace and release the temptation to point fingers and blame someone or something "out there" for causing our problems. And I will do what I can to increase the peace wherever I am.  No, I don't know what that means, exactly, but I'm committed to finding ways to take action, nonetheless.


     In the meantime, I'm feeling somewhat encouraged by a powerful new public awareness campaign called "I Dare To Listen" being sponsored by Texas Public Radio. Basically, this initiative invites us to let go of our need to tell others what we think, long enough to hear them tell us what they think. It's a wonderfully simple and potentially transformative concept. And, yes, I know it's an idea that's much easier to talk about than do. But that doesn't make it any less important. Which is why I invite you to join me in this effort by logging onto the website at and sign the pledge to listen to other people's voices with respect.

     The campaign reminds us "We don't have to agree on everything. Diversity of opinion is a cornerstone of our democracy. Reasonable minds can differ. But we must be willing to truly listen to one another."  It's just a small step forward, but I'm glad to be able to take it - and hope to walk alongside you in doing so, as we co-create a positive future. 

With gratitude and blessings,



to all who are holding the Circle in thoughts and prayers by visualizing a generous flow of financial abundance. And thanks to those who have responded to our appeal for donations to help us move through this temporary financial low spot. To date we have received $3,333 in gifts. Thank you for supporting us in dancing through the coming months, as we continue our vital work of fostering a creative, inclusive approach to spirituality. We are deeply grateful.

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