Zen and the art of didgeridoo


Photo By Tom Gascoyne

We saw Zen ("That’s what my friends call me, and I automatically perceive you to be a friend") playing his didgeridoo at the Saturday Farmers’ Market, just as the vendors were breaking the market down for the day. While Zen played the unusual woodwind instrument, which sticks out about four feet in front of its operator, he was oblivious to the vehicles trying to negotiate around him to get to their respective booths for dismantling.

How long have you been playing—I mean in your lifetime, not just today?

[Sustained laughter] Well, gosh, I first picked it up—it was the winter of ‘98. The winter-spring of ‘98. Yeah. And it was just one of those things I was going through, this completely life-changing transformation period of this radical change; very accelerated change. I was getting turned onto yoga and proper diet and all these ancient, deep teachings. And circular energy, getting together in circles with drums and didgeridoos. All these things just kind of coming at me at this pretty crucial time in my life. I was hanging out playing drums with folks and it was the most amazing thing being able to communicate through such pure vibrational energy.

Where were you at the time?

I was in down in L.A. actually.

Where were you born?

Right at home, you know? Right at home with my parents in the bedroom in our little sanctuary.

How does a guy learn to play this? Are there lessons available? Did someone teach you?

I’d say yeah, you know. Spirit teaches, spirit which brought together a circle of people which held a sacred space in which the exploration of one’s self through music could take place. And in the sanctuary of that circle of a sangha, which is the Indian word which means like the fellowship, the community of seekers after the truth, after God. In the sacred space held in the circle of the sangha, one was able to go into the exploration of expression of self through music and all these far-out instruments being brought forward in this safe environment, you know? And it just hit, man, it struck me how this instrument—I get goose-bumps. Wooo. [Holds out arms to show goose-bumps.] I was living in this tent on the porch of this ranch right up in the foothills right outside L.A. You could look down and see the sprawl. I’d wake up in the morning and my first thought would be. "Wow, the didgeridoo." It wasn’t my didgeridoo, it was a friend’s didgeridoo who left it up at the ranch that I was living at. I could sit where I could look out and see all of L.A. spread out before me and I started tapping into these aboriginal spirits, the spirit of the people that were of this earth stewarding this land.