Blog

                    Mountain Heaven

By: Forrest Rivers (originally published by the themindfulword.org)


Sunset at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It was a beautiful day outside. The birds were singing, the sun was shining brightly and a cool autumn breeze swept across the countryside

I was hiking with my dear friend Jamie, back down the forested service road 316, a gorgeous trail in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. We’d walked about six miles (about 9.6 kilometres) and were 20 minutes from my car when the Divine fully presented itself.

We’d stopped to smoke a bit of herb and to reflect on our inspiring journey. To commemorate the moment, I expressed to Jamie that I wished to recite a few prayers I’d compiled over the past week.

The collection included sacred Buddhist, Sioux Indian, Hindu, Sufi and Christian invocations to the Absolute. I opened my journal and began to read the first lines from the Buddhist-Loving Kindness selection:

“May all beings be free from danger
May all beings be free from mental suffering…”

At the exact moment I recited these lines, a pack of wolves began howling in unison with the prayer. The tone of their soulful expressions was both haunting and awesome. The hairs on our necks stood at full attention. It felt as though the wolves were inside our souls, playing their heart-stringed instruments.

Because it was nearing sunset, I immediately placed my beloved canine companion, Abbie, on leash and finished reciting the Buddhist prayer. I then listened … mesmerized. After a minute or two, the primal sounds of howling stopped.

Jamie and I glanced at one another in silent recognition of this divine moment. Chills went down our spines, as it became evident to us that the Infinite was speaking through the wolves.

What were these loyal beings trying to convey? Oneness. Unity. Stillness. Sacred Earth Connection.

As we continued our walk back down to the car, the energy of the forest felt particularly heightened and pure. Soon, the glorious sun began to set over majestic blue mountains and I knew deep within that my home was heaven on Earth.

 

2020: A Renaissance of Art

By Forrest Rivers

In times of social upheaval, all human beings (whether conscious of this fact or not) are challenged to question the very meaning of their existence. Events such as war, economic collapse, pandemics, political revolution and natural disasters have the effect of shaking men and women out of their day to day routines and sense of comfort. As history clearly demonstrates, such occurrences have also sparked some of the most profound and inspiring renaissances in the creative arts such as music, writing, and painting. In truth, periods of social upheaval and soulful expression fit together seamlessly. Just as we cannot separate the river’s journey from its destination of the vast blue ocean, so can’t we separate revolutions in the creative arts from their societal contexts. As a case in point, consider the Renaissance of art that took place during the decades of the 1960s and ’70s.

From a global context, this age had it all: a hugely unpopular and devastating war in Vietnam; the Cold War and the looming threat of nuclear devastation; Independence movements in Africa and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States; Women’s Liberation on both sides of the Atlantic; as well as indigenous rights’ protests in the Americas. In short, for much of the world, social revolution and war came to define that period’s external landscape. Unquestionably, the escalation of extreme state violence amidst a backdrop of mass protests and growing existential fears gave birth to an inspiring and formidable movement of higher consciousness: the hippie counterculture. At its core, the hippies were at the forefront of a spiritual movement that sought to promote a more soulful and natural way of living in harmony with the whole of Creation. On the surface, they saw an external world marked by widespread fear, greed, mindless conformity and hypocrisy.  In response to society’s madness, the hippies turned within through such spiritual outlets as meditation, psychedelics and communion with nature in order to arrive at their own inner truths in this time of moral fragmentation. The result of such inner searching(found especially through exploring Native American and Eastern traditions), saw an explosion of raw and spirited creativity that simultaneously served as a deep social commentary of the unjust and vapid corporate-consumer culture; while also sharing a vision of a transcended state of consciousness centered on our unity of being.

The hippies’ powerful merging of an outer world critique and an inner vision of untapped hope, peace, and unity found its soulful expression most powerfully through music. Household acts like: the Beatles; Bob Marley; Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Doors, the Grateful Dead and many others communicated the hippie ethos through the vehicle of sound.  However, this era’s renaissance in art wasn’t limited to music alone. Beatnik poets and hippie authors like Alan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, and Gary Snyder accomplished through words what musicians did through music. And, who can fail to mention (perhaps) three of the most impactful and sage-like writers of that generation…. Baba Ram Dass, Aldous Huxley, and Alan Watts!

At the present moment, the world is primed for the latest renaissance of art. This spark of soulful expression may even eclipse the creative genius of the hippie counterculture from a half-century ago. So far, the events and happenings of 2020 are providing the ultimate context for the start of a tidal wave of creativity. The opportunity presented by this once in a lifetime pandemic (COVID -19) for such a movement cannot be overstated. There is no doubt that this virus has been terribly tragic in terms of human life lost. However, it is precisely this presence of death’s now very public face that is responsible for sparking inner reflection on the meaning of one’s own mortality. In essence, COVID-19 has forced all of humanity to at once confront that one mysterious yet omnipresent constant that pervades our very consciousness. For the first time in decades, the majority of humans are suddenly having to examine the tough existential questions that are typically buried beneath our techno-consumerist distractions. Some of these questions have consumed the minds of philosophers and the souls of mystics from every spiritual faith: Who am I? What happens when I die? Will I be reborn? What is my purpose here on Earth? Who or What is God?” Undoubtedly, many beings will feel drawn to the creative arts to express their own answers to such profound existential questions.

There is an additional layer to this pandemic that lends itself to the coming renaissance of art. In a desperate effort to contain the virus, governments around the world have carried out unprecedented shutdowns of several key industries in the global economy. The impact caused by these shutdowns has had far-reaching and unforeseen consequences for humanity. On the one hand, the massive shutdowns have facilitated the full-scale meltdown of the global financial system and led to an unemployment crisis not seen since at the height of the Great Depression. Predictably, the shock to the economy has exasperated our collective fear and inflicted significant hardships on the majority of workers and the poor. On the other hand, due to this necessary period of “social distancing” and home quarantining, most of the world’s population are finding themselves alone more than ever before. With this added solitude, comes a greater opportunity for spirited self-reflection on our own lives and of our relationship with the Earth. Remarkable works of art will be the inevitable outcome of both this economic suffering and contemplative wisdom.

 

What’s more, at the exact same time that the world grapples with the severity of the crisis and all it portends for the future of the human race; deep and long-standing systemic problems have been fully exposed for us all to see. Such problems include but are not limited to: continuous tax-funded government bailouts of greedy corporations; politicians who use their elite insider knowledge to profit amidst periods of crisis; soaring wealth inequality between the rich and poor; a pattern of pathological lies peddled to the public by callous corporate-backed politicians and media sources; and the devastating impact that modern industry has had on the health of our beautiful planet. The outbreak of COVID-19 has dramatically revealed that immoral values like greed, violence, fear, and division currently underlie the foundations of the global- capitalist system.

In the days and months ahead, we can expect many peaceful souls to do what their fore bearers did during the hippie counterculture. That is: turn within to the sublime reality of living spirit and transcend the lower depths of consciousness through channeling the divine in creation. The era of a new renaissance in art is upon us. To all artists and creative souls, the time has come to do what you do best: CREATE, MOVE and INSPIRE! Through your art, reveal the absurdity of organizing our societies around the worst aspects of the human condition. Even more important…. convey through your creativity the hope that exists in recognizing that death is not to be feared, that love will always prevail and that all things are connected as one. In these times of shared suffering, the reality of our eternal oneness has never been more apparent than it is now. Always remember, that conveying this truth of cosmic unity serves the highest and noblest aims of creative expression.

May the Great Renaissance of Art Commence!

Author Bio:

Forrest Rivers is a lover of the Earth and author of the book: The Hippie Revival and Collected Writings(https://www.amazon.com/Hippie-Revival-Collected-Writings/dp/1515396959). He lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Feel free to reach out to Forrest through email: forrestrivers4@gmail.com or leave a message on his website: forrestrivers.com

 

“Winds of Change”

“Winds of Change”

Like the winds change

Our souls shed the sheath of form

When the moment

Comes to pass….

 

Family

Friends

Lovers

Sages

 

Nothing can stop

The freight train of death

From barreling down the tracks….

 

Try to stand in its way

If you dare,

But no man has been able

To impede upon Death’s approach

 

Let go,

Let God.

A Conversation with the Great Tao

A Conversation with the Great Tao

By: Forrest Rivers

One day, I sat by a roaring creek with a heavy heart and this is what it said to me:

“Dear seeker, have you ever noticed that I never stop moving? Day and night, rain and shine, summer and winter…. never do I cease from carrying my life blood to all beings. You don’t think I have days when I lament my circumstances? Flash floods, droughts and toxic chemicals dumped in my crystal-clear blue waters can certainly put a damper on my day! Yet, I must flow on so that I may merge with the rivers on our journey to fill great lakes and oceans. My purpose is to flow, that is my dharma…my eternal destiny! “

Intrigued by this wise and talking creek, my melancholy mood began to fade and I asked it a question: “How do you know to flow? Whenever I try to figure out my higher purpose or dharma, as you call it, I grow more anxious and confused. Please teach me how to flow so I may at last discover my destiny.”

The creek replied in a hushed tone that brought my attention fully to the moment:

“How does a cat know to hunt? How does an eagle know that its purpose is to soar high above the mountains as God’s first messenger? How do trees know to shed their glorious leaves in the fall and how to synthesize life-giving oxygen from sunlight? Intuitively, all sentient beings know how to act in harmony with their purpose. Even your own kind have this knowing deep within you. Sadly, many of your human brethren just convince themselves that they don’t have such wisdom and submit their souls’ power to their minds. Please remember, the mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master!”

The creek paused for a moment and then continued:

“Are you at all familiar with the Great Tao?”

I nodded my head no.

“Well, the Great Tao is that mysterious but eternal life force energy that all things in this world originate from, are always one with and will return to again. The Great Tao is the perfectly seamless marriage of past, present and future set against a backdrop of infinite stands in space.  The Great Tao is like water. For IT carves its path through the canyons with no mind that it is moving or shaping anything. Yet, at the same time, the Great Tao contains the full awareness of everything in the Universe. IT is the sublime manifestation of both the form and the formless. Beyond the cycle birth and death, the Great Tao is as present in IT’s devotees’ mystical prayers and incantations as IT is in a mother nursing her new born child. Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese sage who first gave breath to the expression of the Great Tao, described it as the common ancestor of all things. Learn to flow with IT, not against, and the deepest mysteries of being, including your own destiny, shall be revealed.”

The creek stopped speaking and returned again to its silent meditation. In that moment, I, too, grew silent for the first time and heard the ebbs and flows of the creek. It was singing a beautiful song of joy and sorrow; of love and heartbreak, of light and darkness and of faith and fear. I slowly submerged my body in the creek’s rarefied water and suddenly burst out laughing. For just as everything once was, everything will be again!

Blog posts

“Be Love and Be Free”
Beyond this veil of separation is an eternal truth that we are all one. For all the isms that divide, are nothing more than illusions that blind our souls from the infinite web of being. If you doubt that we are all one, take a stroll through majestic green forests or have your breath swept away atop sacred Blue Mountains that command your soul to follow the way into a conscious stream of pure awareness.
Tune your inner voice to the vastness of that space within the depths of your prayers and meditations. Come to know, that in the end, it makes little difference to whom you pray to or meditate upon. For Christ, Buddha, Ram, Shiva, Mohammad and the Great Mystery; are all just names for enlightened states of awareness that take us beyond the folds of separation and into the timeless flow of NOW.
All our talk about finding world peace is just talk—-if we don’t find inner peace within ourselves first. Once we feel this inner peace within, we will find it outside as well. Now is the time, then, for each of us to rise above our petty conflicts of ego and embrace in full our common humanity. Only then, may we assume our humble place in the cosmos as a unified collective of spiritual beings. Now is also the time, to cease our careless disregard for the Earth and honor our Mother as that omnipresent source of beauty and divine wisdom. For all good things in this world are not possible without the guidance and sustenance provided by She.
Finally, now is the time to look within and see that you contain the entire universe within you and that you are a reflection of its inborn seeds of illuminated light and peace. Now is the time to BE LOVE AND BE FREE.