I’m back in the desert, in this lonely village in the middle of nowhere, in a little rented cabin, a place to come to whenever I need pure nature, solitude, a break from the noise of the busy world and especially when I need some silence.
I woke up early and did my morning singing practice while the sun was rising over the desert hills. This practice clears away the energies of the night, the echoes of dreams, bringing me into a state of joyful emptiness and gratitude to welcome this new day. We never know if there is a tomorrow, so I guess that’s all there is, to make the best out of this day, to live and enjoy it fully, to be in the moment.
I love the desert; it connects me to that timeless essence of my own being. Some places and conditions just support a peaceful state of mind and being in a masterful consciousness. The desert is my refuge. It allows me to fully be myself, to tune into myself, because there are so few distractions. Benching here is a totally different experience compared to more urban environments; benching here means to commune with silence, to fully be with yourself.
Human life has gotten very noisy. There is hardly a moment of silence and just when you think there is, your neighbor starts mowing his yard, or a truck reverses in your street with that annoying and penetrating ‘beep, beep’ sound. That’s one of my favorites. I mean, what genius came up with that nonsensical idea that a truck needs to beep when it goes reverse; and they’ve got volume! Noise pollution just doesn’t seem to bother people as much as visual pollution, but I believe that noise is one of the biggest obstacles on the journey to enlightenment. Noise simply sucks!
I truly love silence. My soul longs for it, drinks it in like a good old wine, absorbs it like dry land under the first rain. I love the fragrance of silence, the elegance, the infinite nothingness. Today during a silent walk in the surrounding hills, I suddenly remembered an encounter that left a strong echo within.
It was quite some years ago, in a time when I lived and traveled in the Himalayas. I loved to go trekking and I was on a hike to an ancient temple up in the higher hills when I came across a secluded village, far away from everything. You could only reach there by foot, and it had been quite a steep walk, first through semi-tropical valleys and forests, then over more and more mountainous terrain. The last part of the path led me through a red blossoming Rhododendron Forest. While walking through those enchanting woods, I suddenly heard giggling noises. I looked around and, to my surprise, discovered some of the village women up in the trees, cutting leaves and stuffing them into the baskets on their back. Most of them were half hidden inside leaves and blossoms, but the whole forest was reverberating with their chatting, joking, singing, and especially giggling as they saw me coming along. I’d never experienced anything like that before, it was a scene straight out of a fairytale.
Leaving the forest, the path led on to a meadow with orchards and fields surrounding the village, and with a breathtaking view to mighty Himalayan peaks. Arriving at the gate of the village, I was welcomed by a bunch of curious children that escorted me to a simple stone house where I was greeted and welcomed by a family that offered me to stay at their home. I happily accepted as there were obviously no guest houses or restaurants in the village; just one tiny store where you could buy matches, candles, cigarettes, sugar, flour, and candies.
I spoke some Hindi and could have simple conversations, but everything was very clear even without any words. The villagers were quiet people and they listened and sensed very well. There was a simple kind of knowing that made it very comfortable to be with them; it felt natural to be a guest in their home. This village was far away from civilization with no electricity, no TV, no modern technology. Even my lighter and flashlight were an attraction. Nobody just passed through here by chance, only some pilgrims on their way to the higher-up temples at the foot of the glacier. The family I stayed with were good hosts and provided me with a simple but delicious meal and of course some chai. All in all, I really felt welcome and not treated as a stranger in any way.
In the evening I sat on the bench outside of the house, together with the grandfather of the family. We sat there in silence, smoking a pipe and listening to the gentle sounds of the village and surrounding forests. There were the voices of children before falling asleep, some arguing of a husband and wife, the mooing of cows, bleating of goats, cackling of chickens, chirping and singing of birds, chattering of monkeys, and barking of dogs. It all blended in such a harmonious way, and I realized for the first time how the silence was merging all those different sounds into harmony. The deep and profound silence was like a vessel for everything else. Silence was not the absence of sound, but the essence of it, the silent center of it all, and music, the most evolved music, was awakening within us the sensitivity towards silence, towards the present moment, towards a harmony within.
While I contemplated that illuminating song of nature and life, we gazed at the slowly fading silhouettes of the mountains under the dark velvet sky with its grand dome of stars. It was epic and grand. We sat there for a long while in silence, no need for words, simply enjoying each other’s presence and company. Before we went to bed, grandfather looked into my eyes and said: “For us here, in our village, God is present.” These were the only words spoken that evening and I understood what he meant, I felt it. I sensed the innocent sacredness of their life, the undisturbed beauty and pure harmony before falling out of paradise.
I realized the precious gift of this moment with gratitude, but there was also a knowing within me that their life was going to change, that they too were going to fall out of paradise once modern civilization reached them. There is no avoiding that, like we can’t avoid a child losing its innocence when it grows up. We all fell from paradise, fell from grace, and had to go through the whole experience of life, through illusions and distractions, wishes and hopes, highs and lows, through experiencing love as well as hardship and pain, until we set out on our journey back home.
That’s why I am here, writing this article, and that’s why we all are here, gathering as Shaumbra. We made it back home. We’ve arrived at the point where we are simply asked to bench, to relax into the present moment, and to shine our light into this world.
Gerhard Fankhauser is a master musician from Austria and founder of the musical group Yoham. He is an accomplished guitarist, song writer, overtone singer and an inspiring teacher with a deep passion for the timeless mysteries of music. He has worked with the Crimson Circle since 2007 and has created various recordings of ‘new energy music’ which has become an integral part of the journey of Shaumbra. Contact Gerhard via his website healingworldmusic.com.