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#3082 - Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - Editor: Gloria Lee  

Nonduality Highlights - http://groups. group/NDhighlights    

In an exclusive story for this issue, we have an account of a long friendship with Richie Havens. Prompted by last week's video of Havens, Frank Maiello wrote me to say how glad he was to see his old friend Richie in the Highlights. I asked him to write up something, and Frank kindly obliged.  


re havens. yes, from the moment we met, around april '68, we both immediately "saw" each other (i.e. an unqualified intuitive connecting)..

here's how it started.. i was in the audience in the courtyard of new york's museum of modern art. richie was in the middle of his 3rd song or so when a thunderstorm suddenly struck with an awe-inspiring fury.  beautiful.  synchronistic.  he sang a bit more until it started raining too heavy to continue.  as everyone started filing out into the street, i managed to wind up walking along side of him, and when the opportunity came i reached to shake his hand and proclaimed straightaway and to the point, "you're a fully enlightened man!"  whereupon he smiled back a big toothless smile and with complete confidence replied without a hint of a pause, "everybody's gonna be!" ... and that was all i needed to hear, and walked away elated and uplifted, to put it mildly.

a few days later, i went to the rear entrance of a performing arts center on long island, called Westbury Music Fair, and walked up to him as he was getting out of his limo, introduced myself (reminding him of our brief meeting in the city), and we automatically engaged in animated talk, centered on metaphysics and zen in particular; what books we read, and so on.  he invited me backstage with his entourage, and it was like there was this exclusive corridor of energy/communication between us, with everyone else just watching and listening, and i could tell they were a bit surprised from what was happening, i remember.  i was quite animated, not because he was famous--i'd met a number of big name artists, writers, performers, such as miles davis and allen ginsberg to name a few, and these mainly only briefly to *give and receive* the VIBE...but much more because at last here was someone who i could *talk* to.  and i *was* doing most of the talking actually, while he was mainly responding with an acknowledged, "you're blowing my mind!" .. in the sense i was reflecting back his very thoughts on these matters.  then, before he left to go on stage, he amazingly gave me not his phone number but his address in greenwhich village, which i guess he figured it was easier for me to remember, because it was at the time 101 downing street of all places!  and the rest is history as they say. 

for the first few years we would meet on a few more occasions but would talk at least once a week for hours at a time on the phone. later on we'd hang out more, but mainly talk on the phone, since i lived mainly on long island and traveled a lot also.

upon gradually recognizing our respective metaphysical views were as close to being identically aligned as practicable, we tended to talk more and more about more mundane and political topics, especially re the mounting unrest and widening gap between ours and the generation before us, human rights, the vietnam war, the environment, and the evolving counterculture spawned by these issues. 

the progression of our friendship became symbolically likened to the end result demonstrated in the famous zen oxherding pictures (you're probably familiar with.....i'll elaborate anyway), where in the beginning the seeker naively experiences the world at face value (where it's consequently taken for granted and so [when one is not diverted by work and strife, joy and thrill] boring because he's alienated from his true nature); where then as he progresses on the path, "the mountains and rivers are no longer just mountains and rivers," but take on various abstract philosophical meanings. then, over a variable amount of time (depending on the individual's degree of soul development); his journey finally culminates with his triumph over the judgmental dictatorship of his "Ox-mind," where he winds up exactly where he started (i.e. once again "the mountains and rivers are simply mountains and rivers") with the all important difference being the primal shift into the natural wonder of *experiencing* the living essence of mountains and rivers.  so that, any philosophical speculation thereafter either becomes completely irrelevant or winds up being a form of light-hearted entertainment, because [the seeker] found what he was looking for. 

therefore we wound up talking mainly about matters of the world, with the animated backdrop of souls communalized and content.

richie's art was centered on expanding the mind and experientially communicating his primal spirit insight, with songs like "dont listen to me," "inside of him," "adam,"  and the zen masterpiece "no opportunity necessary, no experience needed."

i should mention that i'm also a singer-songwriter, and sang or played rhythm guitar with his brothers' band, Time Vacuum, on and off for about 3 years late '70's.

concurrently, i kept provoking/encouraging him to do an album of his own songs, which resulted in Stonehenge, a decent effort; however in my opinion it fell far short of his capability, unfortunately as did all his albums thereafter.  i realized why a few years later.  he was so ahead of his time (re what the masses were capable of understanding/processing, which didn't amount to much in the vein of esotericism).  so he went largely unappreciated, after striking the nerve of the nation so fast and hard  from his exposure on johnny carson show, with the reception he got...being the only performer in the history of the show to be asked to come back and play the very next night!  concurrent with the change and hope in the air courtesy of the new message of hope by the beatles and dylan and their raising awareness re truth and transparency over hypocrisy; love and inspiration over apathy and fear, etc etc, the path was forged for his being--at least for a window of time--well received by a shakened-minded, open hearted audience.

i can write a lot more, but i think this provides a decent introduction. i can address specific questions if you or anyone else has any, but i'd rather do it through email, mainly because i have only so much capability to dedicate to this, and there would be a long lapse before i'd be able to reply to questions, depending on how many List members are in our age bracket, etc.

peace in ONE,


So fascinating... and a great story, too. The main burning question I'm left with is some clue about how or when Richie himself became so enlightened. Was there some background to this that he ever told you about? Once you discovered that you two had so much in common, didn't he wonder how you arrived at this understanding? -Gloria


hi gloria.

actually neither of us talked about what led to our respective metaphysical views, since--i presume from richie's point of view because it was mine also--it was implied by our shared insight re traditional religions representing in their doctrine and practice the polar opposite of what each of their respective founders taught.  the implication being that both of us sought but neither found any meaningful or satifactory answers from institutionalized religion, each of us therefore becoming discouraged and disillusioned as a result, and wound up seeking our own spiirituality.  zen buddhism was our initial common ground, which later led to a shared acknowledging of the esoteric truths hid within all the major religious doctrines.

Official Website 

You are viewing the digital artwork of Richie Havens,
who has been creating computer art for the last ten years.
Richie has been painting and sculpting by more traditional methods
for over 40 years. 

Streaming Audio Samples
Grace of the Sun samples added

Richie Havens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia   

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