Saturday, May 28, 2011

Children’s Happy Acres – Heaven on Earth

Back in 1959, when I was ten years old, I spent two weeks of my summer with my sister in a child’s version of heaven on earth. I’m talking about the Pony Farm, or “Children’s Happy Acres” as it was officially called. North of Bellingham Washington, forty boys and girls came together for a week of living on a farm, and having their own Shetland pony to ride everyday and learn how to take care of. The price tag was forty dollars per week, considered high back then, and included three square meals a day of the best fresh farm produce and livestock I’ve ever tasted- and all organic, of course. This was way before chemicals made the fertilizer scene. And way before insurance companies made it impossible for something like this to even exist.
This Shetland pony farm came complete with a very rustic bunkhouse to accommodate us forty boys and girls, a miniature Dodge City, fruit orchards, organic vegetable gardens, dogs, cats, barnyard critters, chariots, a stagecoach and a real covered wagon. This place was major fun!  We had Ben-Hur-style chariot races on Wednesday nights in our Circus Maximus arena, with two ponies each on the chariots. We weren’t allowed to drive the chariots, but we were on our knees inside peeking over the tin side, and hanging on for dear life as the dust was flying! The massive hayloft, in the red barn, had a great Tarzan rope swing and a tunnel complex safely built for us little people.  The owner’s children, John, Jerry and Teri, knew everything about horses and ponies, and were dearly loved by all of us young, aspiring cowboys.  Their parents, Roy and Julia, showed us how to butcher chickens, milk cows manually, care for our ponies and ride like Indians.  In my first week there, I started out on old Pee Wee but progressed quickly to Prince, the Indian pinto pony.  He’d be my regular pony in future summers, and I always rode him bareback, just like the Indians.
Playing guns here was like out of a movie set- way too good to be true! All of us kids were raised on  TV shows like Bonanza, The Rebel, Maverick, Have Gun, Will Travel, The Rifleman, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Cheyenne, Wagon Train, The Real McCoy’s, Gun Smoke, Stagecoach West, Rawhide, Zorro, and The Virginian.  No wonder our heroes were always cowboys!  Playing out our dreams in a small cowboy town built for children was heavenly. I had a Johnny Yuma/The Rebel sawed-off shotgun hanging from my saddle- the total envy of all the other little cowboys. They were packing Mattel Fanner Fifties, which actually shot spring loaded plastic bullets. Before going home, we had a campout in the woods, with our covered Conestoga wagon and individual ponies, sleeping on the damp ground around a roaring bonfire. You could hear the ponies peeing loudly at night. I remember getting my first taste of live music around these campfires, as Roy and Julia played guitars and sang nostalgic cowboy songs.  Little did I know then that the seeds had been planted for my later love affair with country western music? Or that fifty years later, I’d be a singer/songwriter, as well as a published author, with a CD and book testifying to the power of this Pony Farm.
Then sadly, on Sunday morning from the hay loft, we’d see Mom’s red rag-top VW coming to pick us up. This was not good! Our week in heaven was over. Upon arriving home, my sister and I would cry nonstop, like babies, until our parents agreed to send us back for another week. Yes! So that is how we worked our parents in the early 1960s, to get another week back in heaven on earth- heaven for a kid raised in a world so different than today. “My heroes have always been cowboys”, thanks to the Pony Farm and TV heroes back in an age that is now gone with the wind. I’m so glad I grew up then! Om Namaha Shivaya

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Live In Heaven

When my eyes are spiritually open, I see that I live in heaven. It took a very long time for this realization to come to me, but it is so true. I DO live in heaven. Gratitude for everything is what opens the door to this vision of heaven.
When I look out my kitchen window, I see two llamas and a donkey in the field across the street that belongs to my neighbor. Off my back porch presently is a very flooded valley from all the snow melt. However, this newly created wetland has drawn much wildlife and many water fowl. I now see ducks, gulls and loudly squawking Canadian geese doing their thing out in my backyard. Cool. Living on a Black Angus farm draws the wild turkeys out of the woods; down to peck at the hay the farmer feeds his cows. I daily see many tom turkeys herding their brood of hens across the street into our farm. Or I see them all fly out of the tall pine trees across the street where they roost at night. Yes, turkeys can fly and it is a sight to see them land! I have red tailed hawks and bald eagles who hang out in our large old cottonwood tree on occasion. I even saw a pair of bald eagles telling their immature offspring to find its own territory, as it’s time to leave the nest. I love where I live and all it brings to my doorstep.
My three cats have it made here, to say the least. To see them so happy in their natural world lifts my spirit and opens my eyes. I’ve been walking my two bobtailed Manx cats Baba and Olive across the field up in the big woods- the Wildwood- for a very long time. They get all excited just like dogs when I mention the W word- walk. As I change into my hiking boots, they prance around the front porch in anticipation of crossing the big field together, into a world of trees to climb and new scents to smell; all left by deer, coyotes, turkeys and geese. Then I walk slowly with them on a voyage of discovery; another discovery that this is heaven, here, in the deep dark woods with my two very aware cats. I’m glad cats go slow and are quiet in the woods. With dogs, it’s a whole different energy as we all know. I so wish people gave more respect to cats. They are incredibly spiritual beings in my book! They help me see the Presence around and within me. And being aware of the Presence is being in heaven, here on earth. That is the goal of each and every one of us. To remember God, now, is our daily task. This takes continuous mind training, the watching of one’s thoughts constantly. Are you judging or are you at peace? When we listen to the voice of the Presence, we will see that we do live in heaven as we are finally home with nowhere to go. It is all here, right now. Om Namaha Shivaya
Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is the award winning author of Still Singing, Somehow. He lives on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He just released a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics and has a CD of original songs scheduled for release May 2011. These songs of three decades are meant to accompany both books.  Rob’s books can be viewed or purchased @ He can be contacted there too. Be sure to check out his blog on the home page of his website.

Smoking with Shiva

In 1994, I was at a major turning point in my life. I had just survived a near tragic accident where I broke my body in twelve places, my father and best friend had recently died, and to top that off, I was now being forced to sell my house and land in the woods due to divorce. My soon to be ex-wife was taking my young son with her to New Mexico, so we really needed to sell our home, as neither of us could afford to buy the other out. As the house was off the grid and on a 12Volt system, this cut out the majority of possible buyers for us, as far as the banks were concerned. In desperation, I prayed to Mahavatar Babaji to help sell our home, promising that I would go to his ashram in India if this happened. Well, the very next day the house miraculously sold! I was soon off to the foothills of the Himalayas, to give thanks to Babaji and seek guidance for my troubled life.

 As I arrived here, just prior to Christmas, rehearsals for the Christmas play were well underway.  Babaji respected all religions and had told Westerners years ago to “do the Christmas thing.”  I was immediately asked to take part in the Nativity play and assigned the role of one of the three visiting wise men.  When Christmas arrived, I was very excited.  This proved to be a Christmas I would never forget.  At dress rehearsal the day before, I was told to come to the ashram office for part of my costume.  There, an Italian devotee named Ganga lent me Babaji’s silver silk waistcoat to wear.  I was floored when she stated that this particular vest had been His favorite. Wow, I get to wear it! All of my dorm mates had to smell and feel it, for a contact high
Our play went off very well, in front of hundreds of hill folk with children. Almost everybody was wrapped up in those, now familiar, blankets.  This ashram gig was very special for them, with free food and lots of festivities.  Many had walked a very long way to be here.  There was much chanting of songs in praise of God and, of course, a lot of Om Namah Shivaya.   Later, when I returned the special vest, Ganga mumbled something I couldn’t clearly hear.  When I asked her kindly to repeat, she said, “the vest is now yours to keep; Merry Christmas, Hari Om.”  Wow! I’ve got Babaji’s vest. What a day. Thank you Ganga…I’ll never forget you! It didn’t even seem to be a big deal to her but it sure was to me. Some of these women here who have lived with Babaji are very intriguing. I sometimes wonder where their heads are at, as they’ve lived here on and off for a very long time- living the same program of devotion, work and ceremony... day in-day out, year in-year out.  Also on Christmas Day, Muniraj, who was Babaji’s right hand man, and many high-profile Indian political devotees arrived for the big yagna or fire ceremony.  Babaji had said, “If you want to worship God, worship the fire.”  Both East and West Indians have sacred fire ceremonies.  Sadly, only the upper echelon got to participate here, while everyone else looked on enviously.
As the yagna fire was crackling away, a small wondering sadhu, who distinctly resembled Babaji and seemed to have appeared out of nowhere, called me to join him in his cave.  This cave was for sadhu only and located next to Babaji’s sacred cave, where He manifested His body in 1970.  After he smoked me up with his chillum, he let his hair down- literally, as his long dreadlocks hung like serpents cascading to the earthen floor.  He was, and still is, the most profoundly beautiful man I’ve ever seen.  I felt like I was seated beside Babaji, on Christ’s birthday. I’d just smoked with Shiva. I involuntarily knelt and kissed his feet. Was this Babaji seated in front of me, looking exactly like Lord Shiva? I had secretly always longed for darshan such as this. Be careful for what you pray.  As I was meditating now, automatically in front of him, I opened my eyes to see him point at me and exclaim, “Babaji!” Now who is Babaji?  What a blessing this day had been.  This sadhu was named Mukunda Baba Bramachari.  He lived solely on curd (yogurt) and fruit and had never experienced a woman.  His purity was awe-inspiring.  He spoke little English, but gave me a picture negative of him that I developed later.  To really see the divine in human form, so beautifully manifested, is beyond words.  Ironically, he mysteriously moved on before I could give him my blanket. This small Shiva sadhu was headed to the source of the Ganges to see a fabled ice lingum of Shiva in a cave. I’m sure he probably made it. I know too that he gave me a memory of a Christmas that I will never forget. Om Namaha Shivaya!
Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is the award winning author of Still Singing, Somehow. He lives on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He just released a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics and has a CD of original songs scheduled for release May 2011. These songs of three decades are meant to accompany both books.  Rob’s books can be viewed or purchased @ He can be contacted there too. Be sure to check out his blog on the home page of his website.

Scars As Karmic Reminders

Most all of us, if we’ve lived any length of time here on earth at all, carry some bodily scars from accidents. Are accidents karma? I certainly believe they are; the scars we carry are constant reminders of those incidents that happened long ago.
When I shave in the morning, I see a small line on my chin where I cut myself on a broken baby bottle back in my infant toddler days. I certainly don’t remember this accident, as I was too young, but my face remembers. It remembers my mother telling me how I fell as a baby with my bottle that broke.
My first self-created scar is on my right knee, where I had the cartilage removed back in 1975. This accident was caused by me, a Western man, trying to be an Eastern man. I’d been practicing yoga heavily and longed to master the full lotus posture; but way too early in the game. From pushing my body too hard, I loosened everything around my knee. Then I twisted it getting out of a small pup tent. Luckily I had insurance, but this was my first time in the hospital with major surgery and being put under. It wouldn’t be my last!
Another three inch long thin scar adorns my right thigh, just above the knee. This scar has the most unusual story behind it of all. Back in 1979, I spent six months in Fiji Islands traveling all over many islands in the archipelago and living with the natives in their villages. As chance would have it, I took a cargo ship on a three day voyage to the remote island paradise of Rotuma. I was the first American hippie musician, looking like Jesus Christ, to ever visit this distant island. It hadn’t been discovered yet. No tourists ever came here and few had even heard the word “Rotuma”. My stay here was special beyond words. When I was riding on the back of a motor scooter with my friend Ian driving, I felt something gently brush against my thigh, above the knee. I didn’t look down at the time and just thought it must have been a leaf that rubbed against me. However, when we finally came to a stop back in the village of Juju, I was bleeding! It looked like a paper cut. What did this? I gave it no thought what so ever until years later; I noticed that it is still there- reminding me of magical Rotuma. This is a happy scar for sure.
Other scars on my body aren’t so happy. I have a scar that extends fifteen inches long from the top of my hip down my femur. There are nineteen screws there holding the eight breaks in my leg together. I fell twenty feet off a roof, breaking my leg and shoulder. The shoulder scar runs from the top of my collar bone down into my arm pit. Both of these are karmic reminders of a horrible time in my life. I had just gotten back with my estranged wife after a year of separation when this accident happened. Those scars remind me of three months in a wheel chair, then crutches and a cane as I learned how to walk again all over. And they remind me of the painful divorce I went through at the same time.
The scars on my left ankle carry five screws underneath, from an accident caused totally by alcohol. Bad karma! In a drunken stupor, I slipped off two steps on my porch, trying desperately not to squash my small Siamese kitten, Mister Blanco. This was a compound fracture with the bone exposed. Of all scars I carry, this accident hurt the worst.
So there you have it. As every picture tells a story, every scar does too. Can you remember the stories behind your scars? Everything speaks to me. Om Namaha Shivaya
Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is the award winning author of Still Singing, Somehow. He lives on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He just released a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics and has a CD of original songs scheduled for release May 2011. These songs of three decades are meant to accompany both books.  Rob’s books can be viewed or purchased @ He can be contacted there too. Be sure to check out his blog on the home page of his website.


It's nearly been a year now since I brought home a small female black Manx kitty that I named Olive.  She was obviosly the runt of the litter nobody wanted. She looked up at me from her cardboard box at the feed store, as if to say, "Here I am for you!" She stared at me like she knew me deeply on some level alraedy. This blew me away. Then when I brought this petite little fur girl home, all hell broke loose when she met the other cats, Baba and Maya. I called the feed store and told them that I might have to return this runt kitty. I was afraid the big cats might kill her, especially Baba. She was so small that I fed her water through a baby bottle. Maybe I should take her back? Then I got down on my knees at her level, and asked her, "Olive, do you want to be a part of this family?" She instantly screamed back a very loud affirmative cat voice answer of "Yes!" It even sounded like "yes". Well, long story short, Olive turned out to be the most incredable of all my cats! She is still my little girl, but has surpassed the other two cats in catching mice by light years. Maybe it's the small cat complex over compensating but this small black runt has stolen my heart. Three cats is way better than two, especially if you're a cat lover like me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Value of Journaling

I guess you could say I started journaling when I was seventeen years old and took a sailboat trip up the coast of British Columbia with my friend’s dysfunctional family. I chronicled our trip, calling it “To Hell and Back in a Sailboat”. This was my first attempt at writing; my mother loved it and encouraged me to do more. I did two years later, at nineteen, when I traveled through all of Western Europe in a VW bus and kept a daily journal of that experience. I can’t remember exactly when I started daily journaling, but it was in my early twenties when I got married. I’ve pretty much been writing daily now for about forty years, with a few lapses during my lifetime where I just didn’t want to write anymore or was too messed up to write; at one point, I couldn’t even hold a pen due to alcoholism.
However, the written record I now possess of my life is incredible, and all written down by my own hand! Many times I have used my journals to look back and find some exact date or other info I needed; and there it was written down long ago. Daily writing keeps me sane, as paper is patient, and I can write out any feelings or frustrations I may have- to get them off my chest, so to speak. Writing is therapy to me and the more you write, the more you’ll be amazed at who you really are. When we talk, we use one part of our brain that responds automatic ally. But when we write, we stop to think before writing what we are going to say. The more you use your writing muscle in that creative part of your brain, the more it will develop and grow, showing you different ways to express yourself with words.
I recently published two books, after many years of rewrites. It was a long, slow process but now I can say that I am a published author and semi immortal, now that my inspirational memoir is out there in cyberspace and Amazon. And I never could have written my books without the years of practice I acquired through journaling. My old journals came in handy again when looking up the spelling of some village in India or Fiji. What is really amazing, however, is that what I actually wrote was often times far different than my memories of the experience! I see that our memories often get distorted and exaggerated over time. That must be the nature of the human mind. But when you can go back and read what really happened in your journal, you’ll be amazed at what you wrote!
Here is an example from my 1979 journal in Fiji Islands:
“Dec. 21- I actually slept okay on the floor last night. The three bachelors taking care of us had coffee and pineapples all ready upon waking- taking care of us greatly. We are presently at a beautiful white sand beach south of Savusavu where I went snorkeling with Bruce in the clearest water yet. A lone horse is next to me as I write this. He accidently smashed all of my bananas when he smelt them in my pack. We ran into red haired Don from Canada again- what a small world! Laid out in the sun some more, to keep that tan that I so adore; how egotistical is that? Then I read some pages out of Paul Brunton’s book about holy men in the Himalayas. It seems to keep me aspiring spiritually here. I tried to meditate by the ocean but my attempts were futile. Maybe someday I’ll be the yogi I really want to be.”
I can barely even remember writing these words years ago, but there you have it and there it is- all thanks to journaling. In fact, when I’m dead and long gone, somebody could take my years of journals and create many movies, stories or books just from the written legacy I’ve daily recorded. Think about it. It is never too late to start writing out your thoughts about your life, as nobody thinks like you do and nobody can do it but you. So, my advice to you now is to start writing daily what is going on in your mind, heart and life. It is one of the greatest blessings you can bestow upon yourself!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hanging Out, Upside Down

Gravity inversion, or hanging out, upside down, has been a way of life for me for many years now. It all began with learning the headstand pose of Hatha yoga back in the early 1970s. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, knew all about the benefits of inverting the spine; he hung patients from ladder rungs on ropes back in antiquity.
After finely getting my balance for this headstand, I was told by a chiropractor not to do it, as x-rays disclosed that I’ve had whiplash in my past that did some damage to my neck years ago. This was not a good pose for me, anymore. What to do? I used the shoulder stand pose instead for a number of years as a substitute but then, in 1983, I purchased my own cabin and piece of land in the woods and noticed that the beams supporting my front porch could easily support me too; you guessed it, upside down!
My gravity inversion device was simple, crude and very cheap but proved to be a hassle to get into. I tied two rope circles off of the large horizontal beams for my feet to go in, and then stood on a tall wood stump chopping block so I could pull myself up to the beam and hold on with one hand, while the other hand quickly attempted to get my work boot through the rope circle- whew!!! After finally getting into this basic harness, I let myself slowly invert by lowering my body down holding a rope tied off with knots. Then I would hang out, sometimes for up to twenty minutes. I would be so relaxed that I nearly fell asleep once. Pulling me back up those rope knots was not so easy! And the hassle of holding my body weight with one hand, while quickly trying to get my darn thick work boot back out of the rope circle, was making this form of yoga a real hassle. There must be a better way!
There was. It came into my life much later, in 2006, as the “gravity inversion table”. My roommate and I happened to purchase one on sale at K-Mart for around $120. That had me off and hanging again. All you do is just pull your arms over your head and lean back on this apparatus. I swear my hair grows faster from the increased blood flow to my scalp and brain. And talk about relaxing! Once you get used to this device and learn to really let go in every body part as you relax into the passing minutes, you’ll find this to be way cool and very meditative. But like anything else in life, this device takes daily practice to measure results. As we age, our spines slowly collapse. That is why really old people look so small. By inverting on a regular basis, you can reverse this aging problem; you will stand straight and walk tall as you grow older.
My mom always told me to walk like I was a puppet on a string, holding me straight up and tall. She’d been in the Army in the second world war, so I’m sure she understood the scream, “attention!” and the value of standing tall with a straight spinal column immediately. The spinal column is the tree of life in our body, period. All yogis know this is where the sacred Kundalini energy is stored, and will one day begin its climb from the base of the spine up the column to the pineal gland in our brain. This channel must be straight. Nobody likes seeing hunched over depressed pathetic people. Stand up straight as you walk through life; it inspires others and you’ll feel better about yourself. If you need help doing this, you might consider hanging out, upside down for awhile. It works for me and I’m sixty-two, with my same height as always- 5 feet, 11”. Hang in there!

Friday, May 13, 2011

OLive and the goose

My beloved little black Manx cat, Olive has a new friend in our field- a Canadan goose. This goose hangs out with her nearly every day now for over two weeks. I took some pictures but black cats don't photograph as well as tabbies, as all you see is black and yellow eyes. I often wonder if these two communicate together on some level? Anyway, the goose seems to like Olive and our back forty. The best things in life are free and this proves it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

To Know God, You May Lose Everything

Back when I was a nineteen year old, budding born-again Christian, some of Jesus’ clairvoyants came to visit. All I remember was being on my knees bent over, as an older middle aged couple placed their hands upon me, proclaiming that “to really know God, He may take everything from you”. At that point in my life, I didn’t have much for God to take. I was still living at home with my parents but getting ready to fly the nest too. It was that time in life to create my own path. And what a path I did create, paving it every inch of the way with my own choices, both good and bad. And those words of the clairvoyants came back to haunt me many times in my spiritual quest over the past forty years. I did lose everything, a few times in my life.
I lost my sister while high on mushrooms my first time. As mind blowing as that seems, it was absolutely perfect that it happened that way. She communicated with me in my altered state of awareness and it made accepting her death that much easier. I truly understood why the good die young, as she was only twenty-three years old. They’ve finished their karma here ahead of the rest of us and graduate earth life earlier. We’re the ones to be pitied. The next loss was divorce, tearing my soul in two for a long time. After I scored my own piece of land with a cabin, my mother died of cancer. Then after being remarried again for a year, the cabin burns down, destroying everything. On top of this shock, I find out we now have a baby coming soon! The stress of rebuilding our home and instant parenthood took its toll on us in time. I also had a tragic accident where I fell twenty feet, breaking my body in twelve places. I nearly died but survived; to learn how to walk all over again and withstand yet more losses coming. Within two years I was divorced again but this time I lost my wife and son and property and home, as we were forced to sell it. There went everything I worked my whole life for. Then my father and best friend die one month apart. Emotionally I was a wreck. Divorce is a living hell, but with a child involved it is way heavier by far. Now the abandonment issues had a hay day with my ego. I felt like I’d lost any reason to even want to live anymore. I was tired of life and the constant battle of just living. Somehow, I’d lost my spirit and just wanted to die. I tried. I drank myself into prison, where I really realized I’d lost everything; accept this aging body inside of orange prison attire. But what I found was a Presence inside of me who observes everything without judgment. This Presence helped me to forgive myself for the life I created. It took losing everything to gain self-realization and a freedom I never dreamed possible. When everything is gone, there is only God. I now know what those Christian clairvoyants were talking about!
Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is the award winning author of Still Singing, Somehow. He lives on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He just released a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics and has a CD of original songs scheduled for release May 2011. These songs of three decades are meant to accompany both books.  Rob’s books can be viewed or purchased @ He can be contacted there too. Be sure to check out his blog on the home page of his website.

I Am Home

When I arrived home from work the other day, I sighed to myself, “I am home” as I closed the front door and began taking off my work boots. Then the significance of those words hit me like a powerful mantra; I Am Home! Stop for a moment to consider the deeper levels of interpretation this statement carries. What does home mean to you?  To me, home is Om, as well as a heartfelt place to rest your head.
Many years ago, I was home free in the woods, owning my own cabin and happy as a lark, until fire destroyed it all. Then divorce took the home we rebuilt, leaving me out in the world with no place to call home. I traveled to India and Thailand, where I always felt like an outsider watching people lead their lives, in their homes, while I just wished I had a home again. Upon returning to the States, I tried creating a new home with others in the Southwest but our attempts ultimately failed, leaving me homeless again. Dear friends let me live with them for awhile, but I longed for my own place. After more years of rental trailers and roommates, I ultimately ended up in prison for a felony DUI. This is where I spent over two years, which became my home – institutional home anyway – until my release. Then, much time was needed to create a new home. I had to put down roots, somewhere; somewhere, where I would feel comfortable with starting life over again. That takes time to find and feel out. Then slowly, the roots of acceptance descended downward, until I just knew this is where I was comfortable and supposed to be. Upon finding an affordable farm house with a picture postcard view of town and the surrounding valley, I settled into what I now call home. For nearly four years, I’ve lived with my three cats, Baba, Maya and Olive here. But this is just my physical home; my real home is Om.
I began practicing yoga, meditation and chanting mantras back in the early 1970s. And that’s when I got hip to Om. Two decades later, I was given the spiritual name of Hari Om, by Baba Hari Das on a yoga retreat on an island off the coast of Vancouver. I’ve had the Sanskrit symbol of Om around my neck on a rudraksha seed mala for four decades and an Om tattoo on my wrist since 1984 in Fiji Islands. I am Om, as you are too. Om, or Aum, is the basis of all sounds and the universal symbol-word for God. This sacred word is found in all religions. To the Christians, Egyptians, Greeks, and the Romans and Jews, it is Amen. To the Tibetans, it is Hum and for the Moslems, Amin. To me, it is home. When I was in prison, alone in my bunk, the only home I really had was right within me; it was the Presence that was always with me, observing but not judging anything and always at peace. This Presence is the Word spoken of in the Bible. It’s the all pervading sound emanating from the Holy Ghost, testifying to the Divine Presence in every atom of creation. When I’ve been real quiet in the woods on walks with my cats, I’ve heard the divine sound within me and seemingly emanating everywhere, like a faint chorus of millions of angels toning all notes in the spectrum from on high. I am home, to a place I’ve never left but only forgotten and then remembered again, when I listen. Om Namaha Shivaya
Singer/songwriter Rob Rideout is the award winning author of Still Singing, Somehow. He lives on a farm overlooking Colville, WA with his three cats Baba, Maya and Olive. He just released a second book of poetry, based on his song lyrics and has a CD of original songs scheduled for release May 2011. These songs of three decades are meant to accompany both books.  Rob’s books can be viewed or purchased @ He can be contacted there too. Be sure to check out his blog on the home page of his website.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Singing My Songs

Last night, I played guitar and sang my songs at a local open mic that only happens once each month. I was second to go on, after a budding young poet read his poems inspired by a Hollywood movie. As I sat down to play, I noticed that I had a very large, alert and captive audience to perform for. And that I did, singing six of my latest original songs. Of course, I told everybody that my new, longly awaited for CD is in the mail and due to arrive anytime. I also announced that there would be a CD release party later this month. However, as I was singing my songs, I became aware that I felt alone on stage, with God listening to what I wrote and playing through me at the same time! I really don't pay much attention to the audience when I play; I'm too caught up in the experience of feeling this unity with God that seems to happen on good nights, especially when I realize that He gave me the inspiration for each of my songs. To me, this is as good as it gets. Writing and singing my own songs seems to be my spiritual path. To be creative is our function in life, and it can be so much fun when you find your own gift. I truly believe everybody has one. Finding it is the challenge.

Friday, May 6, 2011

More Synchronicity

Yesterday, as I was walking through an area at work that had a radio playing, on my way to clock out as the work day was over, I was thinking about going home and the joy of seeing my cats. Just as I thought about going home, the radio lyrics sang, "I'm going home"! I took this as a sign that I'm aware enough to realize, again, that Everything speaks to me.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Meeting Babaji at the 1995 Kumbha Mela

As fate and karma would have it, I attended the 1995 Kumbha Mela festival in India, where Babaji appeared to me. This Mela was the ardh or six-year festival, with only ten million sadhu, holy men and spiritual seekers in attendance, compared to the twelve-year cycle Maha Kumbha Mela that often reaches even greater numbers, like up to seventy million souls. It is believed that this Kumbha Mela has been going on as far back as nearly 3500 BC. To even be here, is the equivalent of a thousand other pilgrimages! When we approached the confluence of the Ganges, Saraswati and Yamuna Rivers, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest.  My good God! Mahadeva! This gig made a Rainbow gathering look like a small cocktail party.  This was the adult dose of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It’s so big that it can actually be seen from satellites in outer space. This gig in the flood plain of the Ganges River at Allahabad is like two miles wide and seven miles long!
My traveling companions and I each got our own bicycle rickshaw, as we were packing a lot of luggage along.  Belgium Mark lent me his chimtah – a huge tweezers-looking tambourine instrument. I used it for jamming with the holy songs blaring from the bell speakers atop telephone poles.  The energy of this opening night was as intense as it gets and loud- very loud. I’ve never felt anything even close to this and I’ve been to many concerts, including seeing The Beatles three times!  We had copies of a shrunken-down map covering 200,000 acres with street names.  We were trying to locate our guru Babaji’s camp, in this monstrous, moon- lit city of canvas tents and intense noise.  It would take our poor, frustrated rickshaw wallahs over two hours to locate the Om Namah Shivaya tents – ironically just down the road from Yogananda’s Yogoda Satsanga Society camp.  We were located at
Moarie Road
and Sangum Crossing on this Friday the 13th, February full moon, opening night, 1995.  The rush doesn’t quit here. There is just too much happening all the time.
When my poor driver finally paused in total confusion, exhaustion and desperation, the large crowd around me suddenly opened up, like Moses parting the Red Sea.  A male figure was approaching me and the closer he got, the faster the changes occurred inside of me.  I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone again.  My mind slowed way down and the only internal sensing I remember, knew that this man here, now in front of me, knew everything about me- good and bad and about those ten grams of hash I’d eaten on the bus ride here.  This was Babaji, in person and this time, I finally recognized Him!  He could have cared less about the charis I’d eaten.
With unblinking, piercing black eyes, He looked deeply into me and then asked in perfect English, “Are you having fun?”  I couldn’t find my voice to reply.  He wore a wool sweater and topi cap, which He was noted for in His previous incarnation as old Herakhan Baba.  Then He melted into the crowd, quickly disappearing. It has been said that Babaji always attends every Kumbha Mela, in some form or another.
Suddenly, the sights and sounds of the Mela hit me full force again, like waking up from a dream or pressing play after a DVD has been on pause.  Belgium Mark and German Kalavati were behind me, oblivious to what had just transpired. They were still upset as to how we would ever find our Herakhan camp amongst ten million busy souls.
Before we finally did locate our haven of refuge, the crowd began prostrating themselves flat out on the ground.  Now what was happening?  As we watched in bewilderment, here came six of the largest decorated elephants I’d ever seen.  On top of each sat ancient-looking kings or maharajas, looking like they’d just ridden across India in some time warp to even be here.  I wanted to scream my guts out! Yes! Here was the Eternal India of my childhood dreams.  At the Herakhan camp, we were welcomed with open arms and loaded chillums.  We were among the very first to arrive into this sanctuary of peace- to finally be separated physically from the tumultuous masses of the Mela and have some semblance of personal space.  Mark and I had our own large army tent, perfect for soldiers of God.  We decorated our space with the newly purchased batiks we’d bought in Varanasi prior to coming here.  A thick straw ground covering was our mattress.  It actually seemed like a modern day miracle that we ever even found this small camp, amongst the hundreds of thousands of other such tent compounds.  A beautiful Italian Madonna named Titti was our acting pujari for camp worship services.  There was a separate tent here, serving as the temple compound.  I lent Titti my son’s bronze Ganesh statue I’d bought in Varanasi for him. She’d bathe the small elephant daily at 4 a.m., and then apply fresh chundun and the sacred silk thread to it.  This was a great blessing that I wanted for my young, faraway son, estranged from me due to divorce.  I prayed that maybe someday he would come to understand the significance of my journey here, and come to know that he is always with me - like Babaji - even though we may be far apart.