Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Danny Fisher - Mindful Music (on Ravenna Michalsen)

Buddhist Chaplain and blogger - and all around nice guy - Danny Fisher has an article in the current issue of Tricycle - CONGRATS! - which in itself is great. But they have made the article available on-line for free for those who are not subscribers, which is more great since it means a wider audience.

Here is a taste:

Mindful Music

Ravenna Michalsen keeps the dharma alive in song.

By Danny Fisher

“This is why we come early,” Buddhist singer-songwriter Ravenna Michalsen says for the third time this trip, as we search for the correct turn into Wellesley College. She’s playing a show for the college’s Buddhist Community tonight, and we’ve driven up to Massachusetts from New Haven, Connecticut, where various karmic causes and conditions have brought the two of us together again for another semester.

Michalsen and I first got to know each other in 1999 as participants in Antioch Education Abroad’s Buddhist Studies in India program. Along with several other undergraduates from around the United States, we spent a fall term in the Burmese Vihar at Bodh Gaya, practicing meditation and studying Buddhism in depth. In many ways, she’s the same person I remember—funny, attractive, big-hearted, and whip-smart. Her commitment to dharma practice and teaching was oak-strong then and remains so. (She cofounded and was president of the Yale Buddhist Society, which has since morphed into Indigo Blue, a burgeoning center for Buddhist life at her alma mater.) Now, though, her interests are more focused, opinions more pronounced, and aptitudes more developed.

Ravenna Michalson
According to singer-songwriter Ravenna Michalsen. "it's the content, rather than the musical style, that makes it 'dharma music.'" ©Sarah Ball, sarahballphotography.com

It is Michalsen’s career as a “dharma musician” that perhaps best represents this maturation of her practice and understanding. “It doesn’t always have to be the spoken or the written word, which I feel we’ve fallen into pretty deeply—the idea that you either have to read books or hear talks or go on retreat to learn about Buddhism,” she explains with great conviction. “It’s not that these things aren’t extremely important—they certainly are—but there are other ways of learning about Buddhism, too. What about music? What about art? I think that’s one of the ways [Chögyam] Trungpa Rinpoche was a genius: he started doing theater, flower arranging, and those sorts of things. He tapped into other kinds of intelligence.”

Read the whole article.

2 comments:

Rev. Danny Fisher said...

Thank you so very much for the link and the kind words, Bill. With bows, Danny

Anonymous said...

Ditto!