"This is the God for me!"


An interview with Theo Cedar Jones


(Aaron Joy, interviewer)


Theo Cedar JonesTheo Cedar Jones has been a devotee of Adi Da Samraj since 2001. He is a rock musician (the frontman, guitarist and lyricist of the group, Swaybone) and an avid advocate of Adi Da Samraj and His wisdom about world peace.

Aaron JoyThis interview is reprinted from the blog, Aaron Joy's Rock Interviews (links: Part 1 and Part 2). "AJ" is music critic, author, and interviewer, Aaron Joy (and also a devotee of Adi Da). This interview took place on May 6, 2011. (Link to podcast here.)


It's not Christian rock. It's not Satanic death metal at the other end of the spectrum. It's Guru rock, for lack of a better term. Inspired by the American-born religious teacher Adi Da Samraj, Swaybone has put the goal before them of making good music, spreading Adi Da’s teachings and creating a better world, with an ideology based on ego-transcendence, prior unity and a Global Cooperative Forum. Swaybone is brave enough to chart these new waters! In terms of lyrics, Swaybone is like Neil Young or Bob Dylan who have also written their fair share of religious songs. You can sing along with Swaybone and it makes a difference. Singing a chorus that includes the line, "Not-Two Is Peace", is an enjoyable linguistic experience for the tongue, while the mind figures out the meaning of the quasi-mysterious phrase. Swaybone is definitely on the road to proving that one doesn't need to always sing about partying, sex and drugs, or other banal subjects, to rock out.

—Aaron Joy, Roman Midnight Music



PART 1

AJ: Hey, there. My name is Aaron Joy, and you're listening to another episode of Roman Midnight Music: CD Reviews and Interviews.

Most musicians will probably tell you that one of the more difficult things to do when making music, outside of just making good music, is trying to be original and creative and maybe even unique. My guest I will proudly say is one of the most unique people that I have introduced through this show. He has an alternative rock band called Swaybone. But, they are more than just another alternative rock band singing silly little love songs. They do sing love songs though, but of a far bigger or wider reaching sort.

Swaybone is what you might call a devotional rock band. But don't think Christian rock, because they, to use his own words, are more akin to "Guru rock" or "Prior Unity rock" or just "Da rock". I'll let him explain later on exactly what that means. Swaybone is inspired by the teachings of the spiritual teacher, Adi Da Samraj. As far as I know it's the only alternative rock band that takes Adi Da's teachings and is spreading it out to the world. So, it's a pretty big challenge because my guest is working on making good music, taking the teachings of his guru and yet tranforming them into something that goes beyond just fellow devotees or fellow students of this teacher. But, turning it into something that potentially can have a humongous change on all of his listeners, whether they know who the guru is or whether they understand everything my guest is singing about or not.

But, the end result is basically something incredibly unique and it is with a great pleasure that I introduce a man bursting with passionate creativity. On the phone with me is Mr. Theo Cedar Jones, the frontman, guitarist and lyricist of Swaybone.

Theo, welcome.

THEO: Thank you so much for having me, Aaron. . . and thank you for your introduction, yeah, that was great.

AJ: So, I'm describing your band here, Swaybone, in the opening, can you, maybe, help me out here and fill in the gaps a little bit, or correct the errors if I have described you incorrectly. Have I gotten the target here in describing what Swaybone is all about?

THEO: Yeah, that was a very good description. I don't think anybody has ever tried to describe it on the radio before and I have been doing this music thing for about 24 years. We played our first show back in 1987, and that was before I knew . . . well, that was before I was a devotee of Adi Da. I had been studying His teaching for many years, but I didn't consider myself a devotee. But, I was pursuing what you just described. . . trying to make some kind of original music that would be entertaining and potentially write some hit songs.

AJ: Of course.

THEO: Actually, before I became a devotee in 2001, I was pretty frustrated trying to accomplish that goal, because my main goal was basically to try to be a good singer, try to be a good songwriter and maybe at least write one hit song in my lifetime.

AJ: I actually wanted, before we go any farther in the talking about the background of Swaybone and the music and what you're doing and the bigger picture, do you think you could share where one can go online to find out more about you?

THEO: We are out on MySpace, and we are also at ReverbNation and SonicBids.[1]

AJ: Excellent. Excellent. And I know you have a new album coming out which we're going to share some tunes from and some things out there already. Also for those who aren't familiar with who we are talking about here, can you in, let's see, a bite-size nugget explain who this Adi Da is? Or, maybe the jist of what His teaching is that people could relate to?

THEO: Yeah, Adi Da is a contemporary spiritual teacher who brings together, culminates, all of the spiritual teachings that have ever existed, and has brought forth a comprehensive, massive, awesome teaching that is unique amidst all the religions and all the religious teachers. He was born in 1939 in New York and became enlightened as it were (or re-awakened) in 1970. I discovered His teachings in 1981 and I was really struck immediately, the first time I saw a picture of Him, that this is the Divine Person. Many of the world's religions have predicted that there would be a great Avatar, a great second coming of God. And in my feeling is that He is that great Avatar; and He self-proclaims that He is "the promised God-man". So, all the world's religions have been waiting for a final, ultimate teacher/god-person to be born and it just so happens He's been born in our lifetime, in our time, in the modern era and He said that He came in order to prevent us from getting involved in World War III. And so, we're in the middle of this incredible, historic moment where God, the Divine Person, has incarnated and is creating Divine intervention to help the human race save itself.

AJ: That's a good summary. Very good summary, without getting into too many of the details. If one wants to find out more they can go to His main website and they can discover some of His teachings there. He passed physically from this world a couple years ago though, but His community, as yourself and others and myself, continue though. Theo, when you started Swaybone did you plan. . . was this intended to be a band focused on the teachings of Adi Da or was that just sort of a natural outpouring of something, or was going to be something completely different and morphed into this?

THEO: It was decidedly not intended to be about Adi Da, even though I was studying His teachings. When we started out, I started with a friend of mine. We started the band back in the late 80's and the goal at the time was to recreate the psychedelic experience through rock music. And so, we had discovered our spirituality, in a sense, through taking mushrooms and LSD, and wanted to somehow translate that experience into rock-n-roll. Psychedelic music was sort of in decline, you know, after the 60's, after Pink Floyd, and the only guiding lights we had at the time was Robin Hitchcock and the Soft Boys. There was a new psychedelic underground of music in California in the 80's, comprised of various bands like the Dream Syndicate , the 3 O'Clock, the Rain Parade. It never gelled into a cohesive psychedelic movement in the 80's (when Reagan was President), and the most viable form of music for me at the time was all those bands that came out of the FSG label, such as Minute Men, Meat Puppets, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth. So, you know, I was kinda trying to create a new psychedelic revolution through rock. It turned out to be extremely difficult.

AJ: Now, sadly, we can't share with folks what a Swaybone concert is like through this medium [radio podcast], but listeners can go on YouTube and find videos of you. But when you perform on stage with your band, with the three guys that join you. . . well, how should we put this. . . would you share with my audience what's going on often behind you on the wall, or the visuals you include with your show.

THEO: Yeah. We have been privileged to have access to the art of Adi Da. In the last nine years of His life, Adi Da created somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 images of art and these images directly express or convey His state of consciousness. And they happen to be some of the most extraordinary bright, colorful, intense art. I have been serving Adi Da's mission since 2001, and in 2007, we did an event in San Francisco where we got to project Adi Da's art while live musicians were performing.

And this sparked an idea for me that, well, most of the music that was in play with Adi Da's art was what you might consider more conventionally devotional like either Indian music or softer type of music. Stuff that was more contemplative, shall we say. But this art is so powerful, so bold, so strong and so confronting even, that I thought "Gee, this art rocks. This art might go with rock music." I had a kind of a problem to solve which was that how do you do something about a Guru, something about the sacred in rock music which is supposed to be about rebellion, about freedom, about sex, about drugs, and all those good things. How do you make that jump from rock's classic themes to something which some people might think "are you trying to be religious rock?" A lot of people do think it's like Christian rock and actually "Christian rock" is kind of an inspiration in many ways. So, I had this issue, how do you convey the idea that this is a rock concert that's happening in sacred space? When we did our first experiment with this last year we projected Adi Da's art with a projecter onto a screen, backdrop, that was over and behind the band and the effect, for me at least, was like so liberating. I felt like the color that was being projected onto the band was literally made by the Divine Person and instantly that art work for me invokes a sense of the sacred. So I didn't have to say to the audience "Okay, this is a sacred rock concert, you're supposed to feel sacred now." How do you do that, you know?

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

THEO: I don't have to literally say it. All we have to do is project this art, and then the feeling of the lyrics and the music and the band just naturally convey that expression of ecstasy, of happiness, of liberation even.

Swaybone performing, with Adi Da's Image-Art in the background
Swaybone performing
with Adi Da's Image-Art in the background

AJ: I'll say, to back up what you're saying, Theo, that I discovered Adi Da Samraj in 2005 and at first I was like "Okay, just another guru, I'm not so interested." But, I immediately saw His art and I went "Wow, this guy's a great artist." I was overwhelmed by the art initially. And in the early days (to fill people in), He did a lot of photography work and then He later combined photographs into bigger images and just kept combining, combining, and then was getting into actually drawing. So, it's very intensive, multi-layered, lots of "stuff on top of stuff" and it's pretty much unlike anything else out there. I don't know about you, but I've never seen anyone who compares to Him. So it's definitely, when you were flashing it on the screen behind you, it's definitely like BANG — you're in this space now! There's no sign that says "applause" or anything. It comes across so very much so what you're looking at.

THEO: Exactly, and it's an interesting story about how Adi Da's art kinda got me to become a devotee. Up to 2000, I'd been reading His books. I had instant recognition of who He was the first time I saw a picture of Him [back in 1983 or so] and it kind of terrified me a little bit, because I felt like "Okay, this is it. This is the ultimate guru, teacher, God-man, that's ever going to exist, He's given the ultimate Teaching for all now but now He's got all these demands. . . you know you've got to be a devotee and do all these vows and actually fulfill all these practices. . . and I wasn't ready. So for many years, I studied but kept my distance, in a way.

AJ: Very common actually.

THEO: Yeah. I had been pursuing a lot of other spiritual practices that whole time, including yoga, meditation, writing as a spiritual practice and a number of other things. Right around 2000, I felt like it wasn't working for me. I wasn't being able to overcome my fear, my worry and my guilt. I was actually feeling really stuck or depressed that I couldn't grow further or grow beyond this suffering of the self-contraction, the ego. So I kinda, in a way, reached the end of my alternatives, and just around that time I get a phone call from a friend of mine. I can say his name . . . his name is Mark Cumming, and he happens to be one of the most amazing visionary authors and public speakers. And he said, "Hey, Theo, did you know that Adi Da is a major artist and He is looking for people in the art world who will come to see His art and respond to it, maybe help be an advocate, you know, to help get His art out there to the art world. And you get a chance to see Adi Da in person."

AJ: Bonus!

THEO: I was like, "Okay, YES!" and 2 weeks before I got to see Him for the first time on July 7th, 2001, I had a devotional response and it just came spontaneously. Instead of just studying Him, I felt like I had initiated or He had initiated a personal relationship with me that was now the biggest thing in my life. I felt an attraction to Him and it suddenly became clear to me that I wanted to be His devotee. For some reason, something had changed in my disposition.

So, I got to travel up to His sanctuary in northern California called The Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary, and they had built a big giant tent where Adi Da had set up 3 projection screens and a big sound system. We went in there and started to look at these suites of artwork that would last 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours. I mean epic, monumental, marathon art showing. Accompanied by loud blasting music. And I was like, "This is the God for me!. . . If God is an artist and can make this. . . This is perfect, this is just right for me."

I was overwhelmed. Like you said, the art is overwhelming. Then we got to go visit Him at a house that was near the sanctuary called Love's Point. So they take us up there in a bus and, you know, I'm nervous, I'm expectant, I'm ecstatic, I'm terrified, I'm every extreme of emotion because, from my perspective, I'm going to see God in the flesh. The thing that millions, billions of people have been yearning for generations and centuries. They want to see their God. They want to, and hopefully do not have to die first, to go see God, you know. And I go up there. I'm ushered into the room. We're sitting down. Men on the left, women on the right, in this living room, and there's His chair up in the front. And then He walked in. He's dressed all in black. He sits down. And I just start bawling and crying and I feel like all my emotions of my life, maybe other lifetimes, are just being wrenched out of me, pulled out of me, pulling me out of myself towards Him. And that was it. I was converted. I was ready to sign the vow. I'm Adi Da's devotee forever.

AJ: Thanks, Theo, for that personal testimony. Before we go any farther. Before we talk, get more into details about some of the philosophy behind Swaybone I think it's time we play a little music.

THEO: Right on.

AJ: I want to play a song now from your forthcoming album, Life On Earth, called "Da Light".

THEO: Right on.

AJ: Before I do, is there anything you might want to share about what we're about to hear?

THEO: Yeah, this is the first song on the album. This song was the result of a jam session that I had with my band and it seemed like a gift. This song just came not out of me deliberately trying to write a song, but out of the genuine chemistry of playing in the band. When we finished writing it, I realized that this was my official fanfare for Adi Da. This is me just saying, "Hey, y'all, the Great One is here. Adi Da is here."

AJ: Well, I guess it came through. That message came through because when I listened to the album, this is one of the ones where I went, "Ah, that's a good one to play on the show."


Da Light

We are in a Bright new age
a new stage of Reality
throughout the cosmic domain

The Great One Is Here
a new Revelation
A Bright new way for humanity

Whatever your guilt may have stained
let True Water wash away
in His Brightest Consciousness

Turning to Him where you stand
hear the voice of God's Command
Lovers of the Light unite!

In Da Light, in Da Light!

The time has begun
the movement is afoot
seamlessly non-different from Reality

a Hero for the Age
and the human stage
the Liberator of all beings

Whatever your guilt may have stained
let True Water wash away
in His Brightest Consciousness

Turning to Him where you stand
hear the voice of God's Command
Lovers of the Light unite!

In Da Light, in Da Light!



PART 2

AJ: Theo, before we go any further, I have to ask . . . and I'm going to plead my ignorance here. . . what does "Swaybone" mean? Does it have a meaning at all?

THEO: You know that name came about in 1995 when we were recording our first CD. We had to come up with a name, a new name, because our previous name was "The Newmanus Fools" and nobody knew what "Newmanus" meant.

AJ: Yeah, that's pretty difficult too.

THEO: So, we needed something catchy, we needed something fat and happy. So, my long term collaborator in the first incarnation of the band is named Tom Opell, and Tom came up with that name, after a long period of struggling to find a good name. And it didn't mean anything. . . except, when you start to look at it, you're like "Okay, 'sway' . . . that's sort of feminine. 'Bone' . . . that's kinda masculine." So to me, it kinda sounds like a playful combination of the masculine and the feminine. And that kinda works for me because, you know, I'm trying to be a hard rock band and that's so macho and tough and all that, but the emotions behind the music are not really about trying to be tough or trying to be angry. It was especially helpful because in the 90's we were experiencing the grunge revolution. I had to make an adaptation and go from being a psychedelic band to be a kind of commercial hard rock or grunge band. "Swaybone" just sounded like a good grunge name, like "Pearl Jam", you know.

AJ: I hear ya. I actually wanted to talk a little bit about lyrics now. You and I in the past have bantered about lyrics and hard rock music. And as I introduced you, I said you were taking the teachings of Adi Da, but yet you were putting them into your own words. And, you know, not reinterpreting them, but, you know, sending them back out there for an audience that may not know His stuff.

THEO: Right.

AJ: I want to bring up now briefly Adi Da's idea of the ego, which He talks about a lot in His teachings. But, particularly here in the case of ego-based lyrics or subject matter, versus what you're trying to do, which is ego-transcending subject matter. I know this is something you've said that you want to talk about. So, if you wanted to share a little bit about what you're doing versus what, I don't know, Soundgarden, for example, is doing.

THEO: Or really what every single other rock band has ever done.

AJ: Or what anyone is doing, yeah.

THEO: So, thank you for bringing this up. This is the maybe the core message of the band, for me, is how do you make a transition from an ego culture that we're in right now to an ego-transcending culture that humanity is being called to go towards, or is being drawn towards and . . . maybe it's useful just to give a brief definition of what we mean by "ego" as described by Adi Da.

"Ego" is the feeling or the idea that you are separate, irreducibly separate from other people (other "egos"), from nature, from the universe, and from God, and that feeling of separateness is characterized by a fundamental sense of being afraid: being afraid of death, being afraid of threats, being afraid of intimacy, being afraid of vulnerability. Another term for the ego that Adi Da used is the self-contraction. When I got deeper into Adi Da, I felt Him causing me to be more sensitive to my own activity and what that activity is a constant feeling of self-contraction. So Adi Da says "The ego is not a thing, it's an act. It's something that you do, second by second, minute by minute, day by day. If you didn't do it, you, or I, would be in our natural state and our natural state is happiness, is love-bliss, is Consciousness Itself." So, I started to get more and more sensitive to my own activity of ego and self-contraction, and it just compelled me to write lyrics that addressed my experience. The more I did this, the more I realized I couldn't find lyrics in other bands that would satisfy me because most of it is self-referential or talking that is basically complaint. So much music is a complaint about "my baby left me. . . my baby done me no good" and boy/girl stuff, you know. And God bless all that stuff. I love that stuff, too. I love all rock-n-roll and music, but I started to feel like it was confining and claustrophobic to always be talking about yourself or self-referentiality or narcissism.

AJ: "Me me" all the time.

THEO: Yeah, you, me, everybody. You know, once you get sensitive to what you're up to, that you are doing the ego, you are doing the self-contraction, even though life is terrifying and you're gonna die, it would seem like "Okay, I should be afraid." And it kinda makes sense. Yeah, you should be afraid, you should be depressed, you should be terrorized by existence. But, no, it's not necessary. And the only reason I can say that is because I've looked at Adi Da, I've been in His physical company, I've read and studied and been intimate with Him for years and years, and He never failed to be present, available, open, happy, ecstatic and absolutely truthful about everything, and never failing. He just never failed to be truthful, never failed to be compassionate.

How? How can He do that? So I just kept going closer into His teaching, and then it just started to influence my lyrics. I wasn't necessarily trying to interpret Adi Da's lyrics. . . or Adi Da and His teaching. . . but, it just happened naturally that lyrics started to pop into my head and write lyrics down on the page that were a response to His Presence and His Teaching and His example. And then I started to like it: "I like these lyrics. These lyrics give me what I'm looking for, which is some liberation and not just being stuck in my complaint or your complaint. Or boy/girl this or that, or boy/boy girl/girl or whatever it is."

So, here's the thing: People of the world, Swaybone's message is here to help everybody get a taste of a kind of music or a kind of message that's not totally about the ego. Of course it's always. . . I'm an ego, so I'm still doing it and I'm still wrong, but at least because of my response to my Teacher, I can give you, the people, a message, that I hope, will be more liberating for you, that will give you spiritual nourishment, that will give you a capacity to want to be Realized, to want to be free of your suffering, of your self-contraction.

AJ: I have to ask. . . you know, don't take this the wrong way or anything, it's just a curiosity. . . with all the people you've shared Swaybone with or who have come to your concerts, whatever, seen you perform, etc., I'm sure many of them don't really know Adi Da like you know Him, or maybe they do or maybe they don't. In regards to what you've just said about sharing His message and this feeling that you're getting, has there ever been any negative reaction? Or have you ever had anyone say to you "Gosh, Theo, if you'd only do the boy/girl songs again." Has that ever happened?

THEO: Yes. Absolutely.

AJ: Yes! Okay!

THEO: For example, back in 2007, I had a different band line-up and my drummer at the time was saying "Theo, would you please just back off on this Adi Da stuff, it's just not cool. It's gonna alienate people. You know this is too religious. This is a guru, what are you doing?" You know a lot of people are anti-guru.

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

THEO: Then in another instance, I actually got a job as a songwriter and a guitarist/singer in a Christian rock band for a period of time. Three of the songs that I wrote for Adi Da got included in the set list for this Christian band. The leader of the band really liked my voice, really liked my vibe, you know. And there's so many parts of the message about Adi Da that kind of sound like you might be talking about Jesus Christ.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

THEO: Or you might be talking about God in some general sense. And he loved that. It's like he got it. He responded to it, but then, somewhere down the line, something changed and he suddenly became intolerant and it was like, "Okay, Theo, you can't be in this band anymore."

AJ: "You've got the wrong God there, Theo, you're not on the same page that we are."

THEO: Exactly!

AJ: Well, let me ask, though, as you've brought this up, has it been. . . well, let me first ask, are your fellow musicians in Swaybone . . . are they devotees?

THEO: In our current line-up, we've got one other devotee: our keyboard player, Cory. Our drummer is Christian and our bass player is, I guess, multi-denominational. It's a nice balance.

AJ: It's a nice even flow across the spectrum. Has it been difficult finding musicians, though, when they find out what you're about? Do they go "Oh, you know, I don't really want to play that music." Have you had that happen, other than with the drummer you just mentioned?

THEO: Yeah, it also happened with the guitar player at that same time, and it's happened maybe another time or two after that, so . . .

AJ: How do you deal with that, Theo? Cause on some level it's almost like a personal attack, but yet it's not. How do you. . . cause you're just playing music. Music, you know, soothes the savage beast. It unites all of us. How do you respond to that?

THEO: I usually cry when my bandmates leave me. A bandmate is like an attachment or a marriage, and there's no way to avoid that for me. I get emotionally attached, and whenever a bandmate rejects me, or rejects the band, or rejects Adi Da, it's pretty heart-breaking.

AJ: Obviously, you can understand the point of view of where they're coming from. Like you said earlier, a lot of people are afraid of this idea of a guru even if they don't know even who the guru is. It's just a bad response there. It's not your fault or Adi Da's fault. It comes from something that's beyond this, so you can understand it, but I'm sure you still end up distraught.

THEO: Yeah. It's just that I made a decision to take this path. Being open about Adi Da in rock music was something nobody else had done except. . .you might find this interesting. . . have you heard of the band, Live?

AJ: I have, and probably some of my listeners have.

THEO: They were one of those bands that had a fairly large amount of success in the grunge movement and their lead singer, Ed Kowalczyk, as it turns out, is (or was) a devotee of Adi Da. And when they were making their album, The Distance To Here, Adi Da was personally involved with Ed on the lyric direction and the art and everything about that album. And it was very successful. But, when I looked at the lyrics on that album I felt like I could barely discern anything about Adi Da in those lyrics, and the connection just seems so vague.

AJ: I will agree with you.

THEO: I love the album and I think it's great, but it wasn't satisfying to me at the level of "Come on, if you love Adi Da, if you recognize who He is, just say it straight." And Ed wasn't willing or able to do that for whatever reason, but maybe he sort of paved the way for Swaybone to kind of go to that next step.

Of all the devotees in the world that make music that I'm familiar with, I couldn't find a single one, except for Jacqueline Clemons, who wrote an original song with original lyrics that were a response to Adi Da in an explicit way. So, I felt a little bit lonely, like, "Why? Why aren't more artists and musicians explicitly referencing Adi Da in their art?" [2]

Because I will tell you, Aaron, since becoming a devotee my music has unfolded and bloomed beyond my wildest expectations and two primary changes happened.

One is that, as you see, the lyrics changed, and suddenly I started writing better songs. Now, I don't know if there's a connection there. . . but I had a big problem writing a good song. I'd been writing for years and it was almost a little bit like "I'm not really in love with almost any of my songs, and it's really hard to write one good catchy song!"

AJ: And it's important to be in love with the song as you've got to like what you're doing.

THEO: You've got to like what you're doing so you can sell it, you know. And I would make song after song, demo after demo. We made two albums before I was a devotee and they're pretty good, but I'm not playing those songs today. I noticed that my songwriting flourished after becoming a devotee.

But, here's the second thing. I had a problem as a singer. I had to strain in my voice in my upper range. I didn't feel like I'd caught my niche as a singer. And then I became a devotee. Adi Da has described something about the devotional process when you're turning to Him and you do this moment to moment, you're always turning to the Guru every moment, the top of your head it's supposed to be like an open flower or an open cup because the Guru descends from above spiritually and comes down through the top of the head, down the front of your body and it goes down to the genital base, turns around and comes back up, goes up to the infinity above. That aspect of the practice became more and more real to me and then I noticed it started to affect my singing. Because, if my head is open to the all above, my throat, my sinuses, my head — my whole resonant headspace — was starting to change, starting to transform. I got — I was given, I guess — this ability to sing in a whole new way where, instead of trying to strain to reach the notes, I was open to receiving the notes; and instead of trying to push the message out of me like self-expression, I was opening my head and singing from above. And it changed fundamentally what I do and it sounds so much better. I could relax while I was singing and sing even more powerfully than I ever had before.

And so, suddenly, I feel like, "Oh, I can sing better. I can write songs better. Thank you, Adi Da! Thank you, Guru!" I felt it was His direct grace that enabled me to do that and to have such inspirational content.

People, artists, listen! Come up here! Get with Adi Da, consider His teaching because it could make your art better!

AJ: Are you saying, Theo, Adi Da was your music teacher?

THEO: Yes. Yes. He once said something very interesting. Somebody said "Bhagavan, you know you don't really play an instrument." (He actually has played the digeridoo, the ukelele and the tamboura.) But He replied, "I'm letting other people be My vehicle for playing music." So, I felt like I'm signing up for that: "Bhagavan, go ahead, use me as your instrument. I want to do that." I want to be an instrument for Him to be able to come through me and it just feels better then me trying to do it through creature efforts, you know, to sing and be powerful, be a big rock epic performer, you know.

AJ: You were just talking about some of the challenges you faced before becoming a devotee, like the first couple albums Swaybone did. Have there been any big musical challenges that you've had to face and work through since becoming a devotee?

THEO: The big challenge is that I've got so much good material, I don't know what to do with it all!

AJ: Well, that's a really tough challenge, Theo! Boy, that's a tough one! Which is a great segue. . . what is on the agenda for the band? What are you working on or what are you going to be doing?

THEO: Okay, what's on the agenda for the band is to finish Life On Earth, an eleven-song album, and hopefully get it done by the end of May. You know this is my greatest masterpiece that I've ever done. This is the first album where I feel like all the songs from beginning to end are A list songs that I feel completely convicted by, that I can sing for the rest of my life with complete conviction, and I can sell these songs and be an advocate for this record for the rest of my life. And then make another record after it, because we've got a whole bunch of songs in the queue so that we can make the next one as good as this one. And then we've got a couple shows coming up on the west coast in June. One of which, on June 11, is at the University of California at Berkeley, in a ballroom that has a capacity of a 1000 people and that's the biggest show I've ever been a part of.

AJ: Excellent.

THEO: Basically, what's on the agenda is to promote this album, get some recognition, build our fan base, go on tour, open for bigger bands and get successful enough that we can accomplish two fundamental goals. One is to support the band financially through the band's success. And secondly, to get at least 10 million people exposed to our music, so that they would at least get a chance to hear Adi Da's name, see a picture of Adi Da, see some of His art and hear about the book, Not-Two Is Peace.

AJ: Excellent. Would you mind, what is Not-Two Is Peace? What's that about?

THEO: Not-Two Is Peace is a book where Adi Da describes His plan for world peace, that you might say is His most overtly political book. It's the book where He describes a new way for the whole human race to govern itself based on cooperation, tolerance, and peace. And it's also about making a fundamental transition in human civilation from an ego-based civilization to a prior unity based civilization — and I am so down with that!

AJ: Excellent, excellent. I'm curious, Theo, I mentioned a similiar question earlier, but as you were talking, this one came to my head. A lot of the music that has been presented to Adi Da and a lot of music that shares His teaching is traditional music, Indian or classical or improvisational or something, and you're doing something with a "hard rock" edge. Have you had anyone in the community go "God, I don't know about that. Or, I'm sure this isn't. . . I don't know, this is too heavy." Have you had any inside response where you've had to go "No, wait a minute, it's just music after all." You know what I'm asking?

THEO: Absolutely and the answer is yes. Sadly, there's been backlash within the community on the part of some individuals who said "You know you can't perform a Swaybone song at a devotee event."[3]

AJ: Even though music is music?

THEO: Yeah, but again. . . for whatever reason that was the response at one time. . . On the other hand, there's a devotee friend of mine named Daniel whose an actor and who also has a band named God's End. And he is an actor in one of Adi Da's theater plays called The Mummery.

AJ: An excellent show, by the way.

THEO: and his band, God's End, is also a rock band that has lyrical response to Adi Da, though maybe in not as overt way as I'm doing. But, Daniel has a been a big support actually in encouraging me to keep doing this.

AJ: Well, Theo, I personally wish you a lot of luck across the board, both in terms of just your own musical success with the band with the same with what any other band aims for, but also your, I guess for lack of a better term, your missionary work in sharing Adi Da's message. So you have my support and best wishes for both of those things.

THEO: Thank you so much, Aaron, that's very positive. I appreciate that.

AJ: Positive vibes here. We're getting near. . .

THEO: Can I give one plug?

AJ: Yeah, go ahead, I actually wanted to say we're getting near the end of the show so, please, if there's anything you want to go for, Theo, now's the time.

THEO: Okay. I didn't want to give the mistaken impression that there's no other artists who are doing an explicit "Adi Da" message right now. There is one other artist who has a rap song called "Ego Death". She has written some of the finest lyrics about Adi Da, in response to his wisdom. And it just so happens that she's my wife, Bunnybunns. and she's a rap artist and she's pursuing a music career in L.A. right now and I'm living part time in L.A. to do the same thing. But, if you are interested go to bunnybuns dot net and check out her song, "Ego Death".

AJ: Excellent, excellent, excellent. Always nice to mention the wife, too.

THEO: Ah, yes!

AJ: Theo, like I said, we're getting down to the last few minutes. . . Like I said, as before, I wish you the best and I have to say I really appreciate you spending this hour with me tonight.

THEO: And I appreciate it very much too, Aaron. It went too quickly, and you're definitely on the vanguard for bringing me and Swaybone out to the world. Thank you so much.

AJ: I actually appreciate your honesty, too, and you're talking to hundreds of people and sharing something that is, on one hand, it's very personal, but yet it can speak to a big audience and it's not personal at all, and everyone can relate to it. So, I appreciate your candid nature. That's what I want when I have a guest. Someone who wants to share and really is passionate about what they're talking about too.

THEO: Right on. Thank you, Aaron.



Not-Two Is Peace

If your will is to shine
in this world
then you need a plan
to unite this world
stand firm for all humanity
and His Gift of prior unity
this beautiful planet
must not be destroyed
this beautiful planet
must be protected

How do we save the world?
Not-Two Is Peace
"everybody force"
Not-Two Is Peace
stop what must not be
Not-Two Is Peace
Stop what must not be...

In Her pleasure dome
we connect with the Sacred
and we protect the Sacred
within Her Unbroken Light
there is no separation

Now we are working for
everybody-all-at-once
we can live and die
for the True Da Peace Reality

How do we save the world?
Not-Two Is Peace
"everybody force"
Not-Two Is Peace
stop what must not be
Not-Two Is Peace
Stop what must not be...

Ban all nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth!
No more nuclear weapons anywhere on Earth!
No more warfare anywhere on Earth!
everybody recognize
Godman is alive!!!!

How do we save the world
Not-Two Is Peace
everybody force
Not-Two Is Peace
stop what must not be
Not-Two Is Peace
Stop what must not be...




This story appears in
Adidam and Music and Finding Adi Da

[1] Swaybone also has a YouTube channel.
 
[2]

Some good news: while writing "original" lyrics doesn't have the same significance in an ego-transcending culture like Adidam as in an egocentric culture, actually quite a few devotees are writing original music and/or original lyrics as an expression of their response to Adi Da. Some of them are represented in our Adidam in Music section, including John Mackay (Rejoice), Bill Somers (the original instrumental, Interlude), John Wubbenhorst (the original instrumental, Facing Beloved), Kathleen Ewart (Naitauba, Naitauba), and Chris Tong (the rock song, Club Rat),

 
[3]

For the record: Just as Adi Da Himself was life-positive in general, He also never had any problem with rock music — either in itself, or as a cultural means within Adidam for expressing devotion to Him, or as a modality of the Adidam Mission (e.g., His work with Ed Kowalczyk and Live, as Theo described), or as a modality for serving His work on behalf of world peace. For years, while gathering with devotees, Adi Da would make use of rock music as an instrument to help devotees loosen up. His one requirement was that the music be upbeat — like Swaybone's. (For just one story about this, read Club Rat.) Long after Adi Da discontinued these sorts of gatherings, the practice continued within the culture of Adidam in the form of "dancing down the Light".


Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
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