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Funken Leftovers (the “missing” Sunday post & the “leftovers” from 2/9) February 22, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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Happy New Year! Many blessings to those celebrating the Jade Emperor’s birthday and/or observing Lent!

[This is the post for Sunday, February 21st (with information relevant to February 9th and a reference to February 17th). You can request an audio recording of Sunday’s practice (or the February 9th practice) via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

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“I want a little sugar in my bowl
I want a little sweetness down in my soul
I could stand some lovin’, oh so bad
Feel so funny, I feel so sad”

 

– quoted from the song “I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl” by Nina Simone

Before I ask what you do with leftovers, or things left over from previous seasons, it might be prudent to ask how you feel about leftovers (and things left over from previous seasons). Because, while some people are quick to repurpose leftovers; some people (hello, brother) can’t stand leftovers. Then there are people who love leftovers, and may even prefer leftovers to the first serving. There are people who take leftovers for granted and people who are grateful for the abundance that leads to leftovers. So, yes, it might be prudent to ask how someone feels about leftovers (and things left over), because that informs how attached they are and what actions come from that attachment (even when it’s aversion).

The tenth day of the Lunar New Year is, for those who celebrated the Jade Emperor’s birthday, a day that is all about leftovers. Some traditions view the Jade Emperor as the creator and/or ruler of heaven and earth, whose origins are beyond the physical; however, in some traditions, it is believed that the Jade Emperor was originally a (real) man who took away the suffering of others.

According to one set of stories, the Kitchen God leaves the kitchen alter just before the New Year and returns to heaven in order to give the Jade Emperor an accounting of each household’s activities during the previous year. In the final days of the old year, people will clean up their homes – so the alter(s) will be ready for the return of the gods and ancestors – and, sometimes, smear honey on the lips of the Kitchen God so that his report is extra sweet. Then the Kitchen God and other household gods return on the fourth day of the New Year.

I always imagine that some years the Kitchen God’s report is really, really, wild. Take last year’s report for instance – or the last few years – or the report from the Year of the (Water) Rabbit that coincided with January 25, 1963 – February 12, 1964 (on the solar calendar).

In 2014, the first time I led a practice associated with leftovers from the Jade Emperor’s birthday celebration, the tenth day of the Lunar New Year coincided with February 9th on the solar calendar – so, I decided to incorporate the idea of the Kitchen God’s report. Specifically, I mentioned the wild report from that (Water) Rabbit year… you know, that year when there was a bit of mania all over the world and an invasion that moved across the pond: by that I mean Beatlemania and the British Invasion.

“First of all I want to congratulate you: You’ve been a fine audience, despite severe provocation.”

 

– quoted from Ed Sullivan’s remarks at the conclusion of The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964

The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show on two consecutive Sundays (February 9th and February 16th, 1964). Of course, they had already made an impression in the United Kingdom and, towards the end of 1963, there were some North American radio stations that had played their music and a couple of times when prerecorded footage had appeared on television. Notably, Walter Cronkite and Jack Paar had both shared prerecorded footage with their audiences. But, it was Ed Sullivan that brought the lads to the United States and had the perform live, in front of a studio audience – a studio audience that, for all intensive purposes, was hysterical with excitement.

I say, as many people say, that the crowd was hysterical with excitement – one could even say that they were out of control; however, it’s important to note that before the first song, Ed Sullivan made the audience promise to reign in their enthusiasm when he was making introductions – and they did (even though he sometimes had to remind them of their promise). Mr. Sullivan soliciting that promise from the audience wasn’t random. Remember, he had some previous experience with this kind of audience; after all, he hosted Elvis three times, starting on September 9, 1956.

Before the first set in 1964, Ed Sullivan actually mentioned that Elvis and Colonel “Tom” Parker sent a telegram wishing the British group “a tremendous success in our country.” The Beatles started off by playing three songs: “All My Loving;” “Till There Was You” (a show tune written by Meredith Wilson in 1950 and then used in the 1957 musical The Music Man, which was made into a movie released in 1962); “She Loves You.” During the performance of “Till There Was You,” Paul, Ringo, George, and John were each featured in a close up with their names underneath. Ringo can be seen mumbling a comment to George, who seemed to get the biggest display of excitement. Of course, that excitement was only rivaled by the audible sounds of disappointment when John’s picture and name included the words, “SORRY, GIRLS, HE’S MARRIED:”

After the first set, Ed Sullivan said that the first three songs were dedicated to Johnny Carson, Randy Paar (to whom he gestures), and Earl Wilson. On the surface, it was an odd grouping of people. Randy Paar was Jack Paar’s 14-year old daughter. She attended the performance as Ed Sullivan’s guest and brought along then former Vice President Richard Nixon’s daughters, Tricia and Julie. (There were a couple of times throughout the show when the camera focused on what I believe was the excited trio.) Johnny Carson was Jack Paar’s successor as host of The Tonight Show and Earl Wilson was a journalist. Part of what made the dedication so odd was that Jack Paar and Ed Sullivan had a contentious rivalry that started when Mr. Paar was hosting The Tonight Show and continued into the premiere of The Jack Paar Program (in 1962). Some would say the animosity increased when Jack Paar insisted that his show was the first United States variety show to televise The Beatles (back in December 1963) – but, of course, that footage wasn’t live. When questioned about the dedication, 14-year old Randy said that it was essentially an olive branch on Ed Sullivan’s part** (a claim, I find highly suspect after watching the footage again).

Before the second set, there was an Anacin pain reliever commercial and a five minute act by a world class, prize-winning magician named Fred Kaps – the only magician in the world to win the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (FISM) Grand Prix three times. He was also inducted into the Society of American Magicians (SAM) Hall of Fame. Even if you’re not a magic aficionado, you have probably seen people perform some of the tricks he created and/or made famous, including: color-changing silks, the “long-pour” salt trick, and the “Dancing and Floating Cork” (which you could only purchase after signing a contract promising not to reveal the mechanics of the trick). Mr. Kaps interspersed humor and exaggerated facial reactions and mannerisms with his tricks and, by all accounts, he was his usual amazing self on February 9, 1964. But, what people would remember (as the Kitchen God would have reported to the Jade Emperor) was The Beatles.

Ed Sullivan reminded the audience that The Beatles would be back the previous weekend, but his actually introduction of the band was “Once again….” The second set featured “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” That’s it. All in all the two segments, including introductions; the round of handshakes; and Ed Sullivan expressing gratitude to the New York Police Department plus the newspapers and magazine writers and photographers lasted a little under 15 minutes. But, based on the expressions on people’s faces and the way some of the men were wiping the sweat off of their brows, it was an overwhelmingly warm and visceral 15 minutes.

“This is a magnificent building… but I think the roof is leaking.”

 

FISM Grand Prix Champion Fred Kaps, when he worked up a sweat during a performance

 

“Now, I’m delighted – all of us are delighted – and I know The Beatles on their first appearance here have been very deeply thrilled by their reception here. You’ve been fun. Now get home safely. Good night!”

 

– quoted from Ed Sullivan’s remarks at the conclusion of The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964

One thing I should point out is that my Day 10 playlist in 2014 wasn’t The Beatles playlist from 1964. Instead, it was the “leftovers” – or, what one might call “B-sides.” Similarly, in 2016, the Year of the (Fire) Monkey, the tenth day of the Lunar New Year fell on February 17th, Ed Sheeran’s birthday and so the playlist featured what might have been “B-sides” if, you know, musicians still released 45s. In 2018, we were back to The Beatles – sort of; since the 10th day of the Year of the (Earth) Dog fell on February 25th, George Harrison’s birthday. (Serendipitously, I came across Mike Love’s tribute to George, “Pisces Brothers,” just as I was putting together the appropriate tracks.)

This year, the tenth day of the Lunar New Year coincides with the anniversary of the birth of a Pisces Sister. Born today in 1933, Eunice Kathleen Waymon was known to the world as the incomparable Nina Simone. Ms. Simone was a singer, songwriter, composer, and arranger, as well as a civil rights activist. Her music doesn’t fit neatly into one genre box; as she created music that could be considered blues, classical, folk, gospel, jazz, pop, and R&B. Then there were her activist songs. Nina Simone, it seems, could turn any situation into a song and, in doing so, became one of the most compelling voices of the Civil Rights Movement.

It would be understandable, given her range and talent, that this year’s playlist would be overflowing with Nina Simone songs. However, as sweet as it is, there is only one Nina Simone song on Sunday’s playlist. This year her birthday not only falls on the tenth day of the Lunar New Year, but also on the first Sunday of Lent in the Western Christian tradition. When so many different calendars overlap, I contemplate how I can integrate them and then, in some ways, prioritize elements based on several different considerations – including what is most directly tied to the Yoga Philosophy. The single Nina Simone track on today’s playlist ties back into the Hokkien legend and is a reminder to give thanks for whatever sweetness we are given.

“I want some sugar in my bowl, I ain’t foolin’
I want some sugar
In my bowl”

 

– quoted from the song “I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl” by Nina Simone

In Belgium, northern France, and parts of Germany and Switzerland, the first Sunday of Lent is referred to as Funkensonntag. Sometimes translated as “Spark Sunday” or as “Bonfire Sunday,” it is a day when people build Lenten (bon)fires in order to burn their Christmas trees and other debris left over from winter. Effigies of the Winter Witch and Old Man Winter are also tossed into the bonfires and thus the tradition becomes a way to welcome – even hasten – the arrival of Spring.

Errata: Just as it is in the Western tradition, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday is part of Shrovetide in the Eastern Christian tradition – people just use a different calendar. Sometimes the calendars overlap so that the Lenten seasons are exactly a week apart. Unfortunately, I mixed up my calendars this year and erroneously referred to this Sunday as the Sunday before Lent in the Eastern tradition. However, this year Shrove Sunday, also known as “Cheesefare Sunday” and “Forgiveness Sunday” will coincide with March 14th (on the secular calendar). Please accept my apologies for the confusion.

One final note, even though I mixed up the calendars. Some within the Eastern Christian communities refer to Shrove Sunday as “Forgiveness Sunday” and there is an extra emphasis on fasting, prayers, and letting go of past transgressions, sins, animosity, and rivalries. (**Hmm, so even though I’m not sure how observant he was, I might have to give Ed Sullivan a break. He was Roman Catholic of Irish descent and exposed to a lot of different cultures. More to the point, Sunday, February 9th was Shrove Sunday in 1964 – so maybe he really was asking for and offering forgiveness with his dedication.)

“Think of a space in your heart, and in the midst of that space think that a flame is burning. Think of that flame as your own soul and inside the flame is another effulgent light, and that is the Soul of your soul, God. Meditate upon that in the heart. Chastity, non-injury, forgiving even the greatest enemy, truth, faith in the Lord, these are all different Vrittis. Be not afraid if you are not perfect in all of these; work, they will come. He who has given up all attachment, all fear, and all anger, he whose whole soul has gone unto the Lord, he who has taken refuge in the Lord, whose heart has become purified, with whatsoever desire he comes to the Lord, He will grant that to him. Therefore worship Him through knowledge, love, or renunciation.”

 

– quoted from “Chapter VIII: Raja-Yoga in Brief” in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

 

The playlist for Tuesday (2/9) is available on YouTube and Spotify.

 

The playlist for Sunday (2/21) is available on YouTube and Spotify.

 

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table
When love’s no longer being served”

 

– quoted from the song “You’ve Got to Learn” by Nina Simone

 

### DON’T BE GREEDY, BE GRATEFUL ###