The Revelations of Orcas

People pay a lot of money to hear Tom Kenyon in person. The first time I ran across his sound work, he was channeling whales. Yes, you heard me, he was making whale sounds that were most authentic. I'd never heard a person be so whale like before. He can throat sing too. Think Tibetan monks with the fabulous mohawk hats and the deep, bi-tonal, cow-like bellows that echo across Lhasa.

There is even a documentary about his sound work and boy, is it unique. He visits caves in southern France and channels earth spirits living in the caves. He chants Vedic mantras while playing the tingshas and singing bowls. He's got to have at least a three octave range. From a musical standpoint, he's got an impressive instrument.

He's also a trained therapist and has collaborated on numerous research projects focused on how sound affects the brain. The results are, as you might expect-just as interesting as the man himself.

His public speaking manner seems to be a blend of well cadenced, somewhat mystical story-telling, light self-deprecating humor laced with well placed profanity and enough qualitative research statistics to create the impression of a slightly eccentric great-uncle who works at an avant guard think tank that may or may not believe in aliens. The kind of person who could make or break a dinner party, depending on how the spirit was moving within them.

It wouldn't be that hard to imagine a figure with Tom Kenyon's particular potpourri of woo and science becoming a fantastic cult leader. Or a great retreat host.

Since this particular retreat was on the Siddhis, those mythic powers of consciousness that spontaneously arise as a person progresses on their spiritual path, I was most interested to get a sense of this guy's integrity. Perhaps even more than that, I wanted to see what his interpretation of the Siddhis was.

People spend lifetimes working towards enlightenment and a manifestation of the Siddhis (Teleportation, clairvoyance, bilocation, intuition, weather control etc) is the mark of an advanced practitioner. They aren't something you pick up on Black Friday or a weekend retreat. I was genuinely curious what exactly he had to offer.

The music and chanting was powerful, that much I can say. Every time he opened his mouth, my body immediately heated up and stayed hot to the point of sweating until he was done. It was somewhat like being at a rock concert by the speakers, three rows from the front. Super intense. I could literally feel the sound waves crashing into my body, even when he was toning quietly.

Much of the teaching revolved around planting seed sounds in the chakras with the intention of opening them to allow the siddhis to manifest. We did several basic meditations to prepare our chakras to be maximally receptive to the bijas (seed sounds).

The meditations were not particularly revolutionary, but combined with the simultaneous sounds, the overall experience was a completely altered state of mind.

While I have experienced a fair range of controlled substances in my life, I always find myself wondering, "What's the point?" Not in a nihilistic way, mind you, but more in a, "This is great, but how is it going to impact my regular life since I have no intention of living in this state constantly."

The thing is, I could practice the meditations we learned there with the intent to more speedily manifest the Siddhis, but as most teachers, Tom included, caution, one should not seek them as an ends to a means, lest you get trapped in attachment to these amazing powers instead of seeking Enlightenment.

While he did many tonings of protection and benevolence, the jury is still out as to what his overall aim was with the retreat. Meaning, of course not everyone, not even a fraction of people  are likely to go home and start levitating in the next week or so. And even if they did, it seems as though there is a reason these types of consciousness usually show up in particular groups or lineages and not with a bunch of randoms gathered in a meditation hall. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, just that with great power comes great responsibility, and well, that's a lot of trust to extend to a bunch of strangers.

My great revelation came when talking with my friend yesterday. We were speaking about the idea of financial compensation around spiritual teachings or wisdom. It's one thing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for entertainment, hell people do that all the time without the expectation of progressing on one's spiritual path. It's another thing to shell out lots of money to people promising magic powers, untold wealth and personal enlightenment. Of course people need to eat and make a living. Of course they need to be able provide for themselves. And honestly, who am I to judge if people are willing to pay for someone to lead them on a path they already have inside themselves? (yes, I see the fingers pointing back at me).

My favorite line of the entire weekend came when Tom was talking about the great spiritual masters he has met. "Most of them," he said in complete earnestness, "Are completely unknown."

I looked around at the packed hall, everyone's eyes were wrapping him in their gaze. Some heads were nodding. Tom looked like he was having a great time. And you know what, he probably was.

Here was someone who believed in the value of his experiences. Whether or not I felt like my, or anyone else's experiences were worth the same amount of dollars was immaterial. He was rocking his manifesting powers like they were a limited edition.

Whether Tom Kenyon had a clear intention beyond teaching us simple meditations and rocking out on stage with his mantras and chants, we may never know. What I do know is that he is a captivating performer with a shit-ton of self-belief that lets him rake in bank on these types of events. And you know what, good for him.

It reinforces the truth that what we believe, we create, be it a new car, a mastered yoga pose, or channeling whales.

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