Musician and filmmaker God Dieux introduces the first part of his film.
I filmed the contents of Echoes of Nirvana over a period of six years. At the time, I was traveling with my family and friends, as well as writing/producing the music that accompanies the film.
Initially, it began as a playful recording of our experiences at Buddhist Monasteries in Nepal and with Sufi Dervishes in Istanbul in 2013-2014, around the time my son was conceived.
I had spent 20 years traveling in Asia and along the hippie trail on my way to Pune, and had recently returned to Nepal, India, Thailand, Cambodia, and then Istanbul to enjoy Osho / Gurdjieff / Zorba the Buddha-style living, while creating and producing music, and collecting materials to create these anthological videos of our travels and shared experiences within mystical contexts.
Mosques in Istanbul… Temples of the Dalai Lama… Monasteries in Boudhanath, Kathmandu… Kapan Monastery, and Ani Gompa… The vast Himalayas from Pokhara and Nagarkot and beyond into India’s Himachal Pradesh, through three years living in Rishikesh with our newborn son, then venturing back into the Himalayas… Living in the Kullu Valley, in small villages, then entering Dharamsala and beyond.
I patiently filmed away when the moment invited me to explore.
During this time, I also met up with my two band-mates, friends, and devotees. Together, we created these works of intimate expression through a genre that we affectionately call ‘Mystic Folk’.
Each of our 11 albums was such a fantastic journey of creative learning and sharing, and delving into our own depths, love, shadow, pain, alignment, meditation, creative potential, and wisdom of heart.
Each of these albums was tremendously rapturous to write, create, produce, and surrender to in its birthing.
The music itself was intended as a device, a conscious metaphor for birthing the mysterious unseen in unique and humble ways, to heal, transform, awaken, and destroy ourselves into our true potential.
From our discography, I selected for Part I of this two-part film, Echoes of Nirvana, the following songs:
- Life Without Regret (written, produced, and performed by God Dieux, Rajneesh Milarepa and Roman Orinenko)
- Open Mystic (written, produced, and performed by God Dieux, Rajneesh Milarepa and Roman Orinenko)
- Istanbul Chant (written, produced, and performed by God Dieux, Rajneesh Milarepa and Roman Orinenko)
- Shambhala (written, produced, and performed by God Dieux, Prem Raj, & Rajneesh Milarepa)
- Imagine (written, produced, and performed by God Dieux and Rajneesh Milarepa)
- The House of Leela (written, produced, and performed by God Dieux and Prem Raj)
- Goddess Ecstatic Goa Remix (written, produced and performed by God Dieux and Rajneesh Milarepa, Shakti Ma, Jeska Aquamarina)
A little about each of these songs…
‘Life Without Regret’ was created in Arambol, Goa one full moon evening, while recording at Veda Murti’s home in the Goa countryside. The lyrics simply emerged, and we recorded a pop version of the song around them, in a most ambient bliss. At the end of recording the first take, Milarepa Ji kept the track recording… he spontaneously played a gentle acoustic guitar tune, and I began to sing along, exploring this new direction that the song seemed to want to take for itself.
We were both immensely touched by the song’s intimate quality and presence. Mostly, in the studio we don’t record tracks simultaneously, but for this song we found no better way to capture its spontaneous birthing on such a warm Goan evening.
The introductory lyrics were a spontaneous voicing that I penned more than two decades prior, while visiting my homeland of Canada following my first journey to Asia. Only later did I realize that the Himalayan mystic, Jetsun Milarepa, had also voiced similar sentiments… “My Religion is to Live and Die Without Regret.”
The footage that accompanies this song speaks to being introduced to the Orient. It captures Istanbul, the bridge between the Occidental and the Orient, while riding upon a passenger vessel, crossing the Bosphorus, between the Asian and European sides of the city. The boat emerges from under a bridge, advancing towards some of the many mosques of Istanbul.
To include this in the opening of this visual journey spoke to my initial meeting with Istanbul and entry into Asia two decades before. At the time, Atmo Keerti and I had begun a lengthy overland journey through Central Asia, which eventually drew us to the heart of India, through Rishikesh, and onto Pune.
The Bridge between East and West… a meeting of cultures and a whole new world opening… with fresh, intimate light.
New cultures and new potentials…
The next song presented in this film is called ‘Open Mystic’, and surely speaks to the core of our human opening beyond the mechanical: “Open wide and love your soul, growing young and growing old…”
I took sannyas on Valentine’s Day, 1998 in Buddha Hall as a sort of joke or rebellion upon life, and certainly that day everything changed for me in every way.
In less than a second, this whole life became aligned with silence and no-mind, and simultaneously a whole new vision, with new fresh conditions imprinted within this dance of life.
Zorba the Buddha is born through us, through sannyas, through this simple way of being authentic and true… a pure and simple meditation. And through these songs I hope to bridge or share the aspects of freedom that simply cannot be expressed…
Certainly, the song underwent a deep process to render the vocals and merge them with anthem of heart.
I recorded the vocals in our modern Himalayan cave, overlooking the Ganges at Aloha Rishikesh, and further completed the song with Milarepa adding instrumentals and mastering on our studio album – while we were all living at Lakeside in Pokhara, Nepal.
Hard to express how much the music means for us, as it was never about selling albums or filling concert halls, but about giving voice to the inevitable mystery that consumes us all at death, or whenever we are ready to truly live.
‘Istanbul Chant’… What can I say about this song? The words and melody came through, and to me, in Istanbul, Turkey, around the time that we filmed much of the dervish footage.
I was visiting an ancient tower, near the blue mosque, and somehow, I have always found it lovely to write music where there is a natural echo, a natural reverberation for the ears and vocals to grip upon…
If all was one with you today my love.
If all was done with you today my love.
If hearts could fly right through the sun my love.
If minds could dance like god above my love.
If souls could sing of glory and of love.
If breath could guide you to the promised land.
Where all is one and one is all my love…
This song was my son… or rather, his soul as it was sung.
Mikhail Dieux 💚
Before recording the footage for this part of the film, I met with the head dervish, and we spoke for a while about meditation and whirling and the Mystery. And then I asked him if he was a Sufi, as I believe Sufism is banned in Istanbul and Turkey…
He looked at me, into my eyes, and asked, “Do you know what Sufi is?” and I replied directly, “Yes…”
And that night, he did a very interesting energetic totality within his dance that I hope the sensitive viewer can notice. It touched my soul so deeply to see his level of depth and wisdom in what is meant as a cultural dance for tourists or the curious, but is essentially a profound meditation and disappearing into the whole…
It is always lovely to see the real.
The song ‘Shambhala’ started as a simple mantra that I wrote years ago while visiting a dear friend of mine and her children.
My then partner and I were about to visit Golden Bay, NZ, and live in a retreat center called Shambhala. Late at night before our next day’s travel across the mountains to Golden Bay, the melody for this simple mantra song came to me…
I found it ironic to finally write or sing a mantra song because, surely, I had chanted Gayatri for decades and had sung many of Deva Premal’s songs for years prior to writing my own. Since beginning this creative musical journey, I had refused to ever sing cover songs, as I felt that by maintaining an intention to open new doors of creativity and songwriting, a flow would extend and maintain itself in our songs and lives. And so, by complete potential, this song emerged on its own. Years later, we sang this song for my son as he was born.
Later, when we were traveling with my son and his mother, Satya, in Cambodia, I filmed the amazingly alive and silent ruins of the temples and city of Angkor Wat. Amidst the genius ruins of this ancient and enlightened civilization, my son took his first steps.
The song ‘Imagine’ was written by Milarepa and me while living in Rishikesh, India. One evening, on a rooftop in the hills of Ram Jhula, Rishikesh, we sat with friends around an evening fire and shared a spontaneous new song with friends.
At the time, I was on a personal adventure to learn the bliss and comforts of performing live in front of an audience. I had set an intention to perform fifty shows in Rishikesh in order to become fully adept at singing live. The beauty of this experience was a gift – to have such audiences, the likes of which can truly appreciate the underlying value of silence and nothingness within music.
The amazing part of creating and sharing all this music was that none of this would have been possible without both my band mates’ tremendous trust, surrender, love, presence, and creative genius. I had met both of them at a farmers’ market in Canada, at a live performance of theirs. Each of them is, in their own right, a genius musician of multiple instrumental skills, as well as having been advanced songwriters and performers long before we met. At the time, I simply danced with them and later we created a mini-commune in Canada together with our immediate community, called The House of Nirvana. Our home quickly grew into a communal, creative music studio and center for crazy wisdom, as well as a launching pad for all our future albums, performances, and travels over the next decade or so.
The song and album ‘The House of Leela‘ was written and recorded in Kapan, Kathmandu, Nepal, at a Sherpa village just below the Kapan monastery and next to Ani Gompa (Buddhist nunnery).
It was a magical time of honeymooning with my then-partner Satya Disha, while creating music with Prem, Milarepa, and a few other friends that came and went.
Meditation, inquiry, Zen, love, devotion, and creativity were happening for everyone at the time and the music was flowing nicely. In many ways, if we only had to write and record the songs, we could have recorded an album every month… but, as it was both Prem and Milarepa’s wish to learn to fully produce the albums themselves, the entire process took on a deeply meditative quality.
And throughout all this time of creativity with the music, I continued to silently take video and film wherever possible. In Boudhanath, Pashputinath, Nagarkot, Pokhara… Freak Street…. Durbar Square…. obscure monasteries… small temples… random valleys…
The fact remains that, while filming this, I felt zero urgency to ‘get it done’. It was a contemplative, long-term project that had no real deadline other than that it could possibly come to completion within five years.
We lived six months at a time in places like Boudha, Kapan, Pokhara, Pai in Northern Thailand, Kullu, Khaknal, Manali, Dharamsala, Istanbul, Cambodia, Kho Phang Gang, and Rishikesh, while raising our son, writing and producing music, playing the guru, changing diapers, riding Enfields, living Osho’s vision, cooking delights, sharing, and practicing meditations.
Eventually, when I had enough music and footage, I returned one summer to a small village in the Kullu Valley and edited it all together over a few months. Like anything, 90% was preparation and the final 10% of putting it all together just happened on its own at the correct moment.
In fact, there is probably enough leftover footage to put together another few visual anthologies, but as the late great George Harrison once said, “All things must pass…”
The last song in Part I is called ‘Goddess’. It was originally composed as a variation upon our mantra ‘Shambhala’. Here, I included a remix that Milarepa produced during monsoon in Goa a few years ago. He was remixing an album and this version was mixed as part of the album, Vertical Horizons.
Something to dance to if you like.
A few female vocalists joined in: Shakti Ma of the Bhaktas, and the heartful Jeska Aquamarina, adding love and female tenderness to its flow.
I cannot say how much travel, meditation, Tantra, music, silence, and creativity have blessed and deepened this life.
I remember years ago, walking around Koregaon Park, Out of Africa, and our beloved ‘Osho Commune’ in dry, blissful, meditative sadhana and contemplation, never imagining that this same journey would take a deeply creative turn at a certain point. And certainly, it has… In fact, I found myself in a Japanese prison cell with nothing left to do but meditate, write, and practice intense sadhana.
Later, upon my return to Canada, the skills of writing and creative flow evolved into a musical process and, as I had always loved photography, it also branched into a desire to create video and film that expresses this silence and wakefulness.
You ARE That 😉