Anubuddha’s review of Peter Makena’s latest album.
If there was a ‘Spirit Music’ equivalent of the infamous ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’, Peter Makena (aka Prem Anubhava) would surely be the first inductee! He’s like Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Bob Marley all rolled into one.
Have you ever really listened to Peter sing? The tone and depth and lightness of his voice? The way he spins his phrases? The truth and the words he sings? His love for melody and uplifting, good vibrations? If so, you are in for a real treat with Peter’s new CD, Stars in my Pocket. If you have never tuned into him before, now is your chance!
I have to tell you all up front; I am extremely biased when it comes to Peter and his art. He is a true ‘essence friend’ of mine. And once a year, Anasha and I sing and dance and touch with him and Aneeta in an 8-day Retreat at beautiful Parimal we call, Conscious Touch ~ Joyful Voice. It’s one of the highlights of the year for us, and each time it deepens my own voice and love of singing. (My iTunes program is ridiculous, it keeps track of the number of times you play particular songs, and no other artist comes even close to the number of plays that Peter’s music gets!)
I have been moved and touched to my core by Peter’s voice since first hearing him in the 70’s in Osho’s ashram in India. And I was always amazed by his subtle guitar playing and how he is able to get everyone present involved. If you were in Osho’s ashram even for a week or two back in the day, you probably have wonderful memories of Music Group.
The first times I experienced it, I was ‘in the gap’, big time! Listening to, and singing with Peter is like “being in a place where there’s no space and time’. In Buddha Hall, there were hundreds (sometimes a thousand) of us, turned on to life and celebration, singing and dancing to abandon, under the Indian moonlight, with Peter in the middle of it, fanning the flames of devotion and love in all our bodies and hearts.
I was personally very lucky, because for the last 15 months of Poona 1 one of my commune jobs was guiding the Osho Neo-Yoga class in Buddha Hall every evening (except during the monthly Meditation Camps) right after Kundalini Meditation and just before Peter’s Music Group started at 7:30. Osho’s darshan was happening every night within earshot, in Lao Tzu simultaneously at 7pm…. Man, we were really living, breathing, singing, and dancing in the vortex! So every evening, I got to watch up close as Peter would spin his magic. He seemed to be ‘in the zone’ every night. So many amazing moments and memories stir in my heart, of seeing and hearing all the beautiful Ma’s pouring their souls into the songs (Neerja, Vibusha, Kayo, and herbal Savita come to mind)… The drums of Rupesh and friends, Govindas’ guitar magic… Letting go was our collective nightly offering.
And, for a big stretch of this time, don’t forget that the whole ashram was blacked out and in silence, with the exception of Music Group, during Osho’s indescribable and life-transforming energy darshans. Just remembering those precious evenings gives me goosebumps all over… It still resonates when I tune into it. What to say about the huge Celebration Music Groups that Peter orchestrated? Osho’s Birthday, Guru Purnima Day, Osho’s Enlightenment Day; there were minimum 5000 of fellow travelers disappearing into the music and love. From these incomparable moments were born all the future generations of sannyas musical magic that we are living today.
What I like and love about Peter and many of my best sannyasin friends is that, although we love a good story and enjoy telling them, we don’t waste much time ‘looking backwards’. Even though we all have 1000’s of amazing moments and anecdotes, we are much more focused and interested in the Here-Now; we are all constantly growing. But we also carry this treasure and space into now.
So, 40 years later, Stars in my Pocket heralds another new phase in Peter’s incredible musical and spiritual evolution. He has written and composed all of these gems. And each one could be excerpts from a spiritual darshan or satsang. If you listen and feel the truth of each song, it can stir your deepest longing and awaken trust in your inner flame.
Peter reminds me of Leonard Cohen in that “what he says is almost the most important part” of his music. But ‘the voice’ here is no ordinary voice… so innocent, so present, so playful, so light, so much love and reverence for life. It is really Musical Satsang for me. Each song could be a darshan and is a key to help us celebrate whatever situation we are facing.
Here are some random lyrics from Stars in my Pocket:
You think it is just another day in your life
It is not just another day!
It is the one day that is given to you today!
It is the one gift that you have right now!
…and the only appropriate response is gratefulness!”
Or, from ‘Heartbeat of the Tao’
We did not weave the web of life
we’re just a bead on the string of light
awakened spirit, unclouded the mind!
The Tao breathes within you it sees through your eyes
awakening with you when you arise
on it’s infinite mala we are prayer beads;
we move with the Tao wherever it leads.”
Or, from ‘Astral Days’
Secretly we spoke that wise one and I
Secretly we spoke that wondrous wise one and I
I said tell me, I said tell me the secrets of the world
She said dance…she said dance
Come and dance with me come, come and dance with me.”
Or, from ‘Lightness of Being’
I find grace and I feel free, I find grace and I can see
I find grace and amazingly grace is finding me!
And I feel irresistibly drawn to that
I feel irresistibly drawn to sweet love and grace
call it wondrous, call it awesome and farseeing
call it undeniably freeing
the amazing lightness of being.
After listening to Stars in my Pocket just once last Sunday, I was blown away… and I did not recognize the ‘words of the songs’ as coming from any known Sufi mystics, Zen poet, or enlightened poetry as you find on many of Peter’s other CDs. And I also did not recognize the musical backups that he uses (any Eagles, CSN&Y, Jack Johnson fan would appreciate the mixes, melodies, and arrangements you find here). So I wrote to him and asked him about where the lyrics and sounds came from. I will share his answer, because it is so Peter:
Dear Anubuddha and Anasha, Wonderful, thank you. I am so glad the music and the whole feeling of the album resonates with you! Quite a journey…. (that’s a good title for a song…). I co-produced the album with Joby Baker, an awesome musician/producer and all-round amazing and wonderful man. We had a great time putting it all together. I composed and arranged the songs, played guitars and sang. Joby played bass, drums and percussion, piano and hammond. The flute on ‘Lokha Samasta’ is played by Manose. The album was mixed and mastered at Baker Studios in Victoria, Canada.
There is one sentence by Mary Oliver, a sentence by Brother David Stendl-Steingast. I mention them in the credits with the lyrics, otherwise I am just ‘standing on the shoulders’ of: Rumi, Hafiz, Osho and all the other inspired poets, mystics and artists of life. I will have the lyrics on my website by this evening.
It is a gorgeous morning here. I will probably go out for a bike ride in a while. Oh my, are we blessed! Big Hug and thanks and much love to Anasha and one more hug from Aneeta. Love,
Peter is a real Zorba the Buddha. What I feel when I listen to Stars in my Pocket is the unbearable lightness of being and grace from an authentic mystic/poet/singer … it touches me each time. He lives his music and he has been living this sweet, sweet song for decades. He is a Master of Music and Song. And ‘skillfully hidden’ within the songs and between the notes is the presence and gracefulness of Aneeta; she is a constant love-energy and yes to all that you hear. Aneeta would also be an original inductee of the Spirit Music Hall of Fame!
You can listen to the tracks and download Stars in my Pocket from CD Baby: www.cdbaby.com. It’s only 10 bucks… and you will have Satsang & Darshan & Celebration in the palm of your hand.
Thanks so much, Peter. Your voice and your music is a blessing that just keeps giving and giving. As you say in one song:
Hold my hand, let’s honor this beautiful day
feel the blessings spread out upon our way
standing at the center at the birth of possibility
and a whole new life is springing forth in you and me
a whole new dream a whole new sound and whole new pathways to be found within and without
within the sacred ground of being alive today
and everything is pointing the way!
It’s a beautiful day!
So I receive the gift of being alive under the sun
and I bow and allow that feeling of thank you to the one
You’re invited to sing your heart
you’re invited to make a fresh start
always remember you are invited!
Anubuddha – written with love, smiles, and tears of gratitude and deep respect, in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, April 23, 2015
Peter Makena (aka Anubhava) took sannyas in 1976 in Pune where he lived ‘forever’. He worked in the Vipassana go-down and the mala shop and in the evenings he lead the Music Group for three years. Today Peter is leading singing groups and, together with Aneeta, facilitates Heart Dance gatherings and workshops in ecstatic expression. makenasinging.com