On our first visit to Acteal I met a man who lost his whole family in the massacre of 1997. I had read about this incident years ago and had the opportunity to ask this community leader a few questions about what happened. He confirmed that they were Zapatista supporters. However, there had been peace accords since ‘94. They believe that the federal army supports local paramilitary forces that commited the massacre and continue to terrorize the people of Acteal. How else can these people have high power weapons and go about freely terrorizing people with nearby military bases that could potentially control these criminals? It is obvious they do the dirty work of the military and continue unimpeded in their terror and tyranny. All of the victims were unarmed and included mostly women and children, even unborn children. There still occur smaller massacres in the area and regular ambushes against them.
The first time I went to Acteal was in 1998. It was in a dream and I didn’t know it was Acteal. In the dream I saw what looked like blackened, charred bodies of many people piled together. In the dream I realized I would never read another book again and threw away a volume of Emerson. All that was left for me was to try and adapt to this overwhelming feeling of simultaneous compassion and torment, blessing and curse, heaven and hell. I knew that the heart and infinite compassion was the only path after this dream. Almost 20 years later I visit Acteal and see the famous statue of the 45 martyrs that were killed there. The figures in the statue look like the charred and blackened figures piled together that I saw in my dream. I immediately recall the dream and felt exactly the same feelings as the dream, and felt that everything in this impermanent life can be taken away except these sublime gifts of consciousness and compassion from the infinite. For the first hour I could not get the brooding, hopeless feeling out of my mind. Then came the indigenous men dressed in simple white clothing. They were dressed like Franciscans but were wearing a 1 piece tunic like Jedis, only without high boots but with sandals. We conversed with them while Giitanjali cured the people and became good friends.
Acteal moves forward. They now have their own civil society, “Las Abejas de Acteal,” “The Bees of Acteal.” We visited a part of the community that provides housing for the victims who have lost their lands. My wife uses their clinic to give naturopathic treatments. They are very noble people and it is simply amazing to see that they still have some joy in their lives despite living under constant threat of annihilation. I could see some very fine spiritual qualities in some of the community leaders and could see that these people have really carried the great responsibility of healing and guiding the community forward.
Spiritual liberation is attained through sadhana and seva. Sadhana means “to make a sincere effort” in the endeavor to meditate on and realize the Supreme Consciousness within. Seva is service to all living beings as expressions of the Supreme Consciousness. As we see more of the Supreme Consciousness within, we must connect more with the expressions of the Supreme Consciousness in others, especially those who lack the basic necessities for existence. The end result of meditation and service is the same: the realization of the union of all souls within the Supreme Consciousness. Our social service projects with the indigenous communities of Mexico is a form of seva. We regularly take food and supplies to the shelter in Acteal for people who have lost their land and homes. We also give naturopathic treatments and medicines.
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I first made this recording, “Andalouse” by Pessard, with my bamboo quenacho 2 years ago just after I first visited Acteal. I just recorded it again with the new flute. I was learning this piece at the time. Overall, it is an hopeful and inspiring work. The melody is in G major and E-minor, the relative minor tone. However, the grave and serious parts of the melody resolve themselves well with the overall major tonality and its optimism and insight. I was driving past the military bases with this work in my mind. As we approach Acteal, the clouds clear and the sun begins to shine a little. Here is what I wrote and the music is after the essay.