Dear friends and family,
Sitting amongst the pines, cedars, and madrone of Northern California on this cool September day, brought me an unmistakeable sense of a shift in the winds and the inspiration to write this letter.
Two full months have past since Zahra and I arrived in sunny, blue-skied California; we are enjoying the stark contrast of this parched environment from the humidity of Tarapoto, Peru. Once we arrived, we immediately got to work at our friend’s farming project, a kindred spirit whom we met at Takiwasi earlier this year. Though we had an overarching focus, many of the details of ‘how, when, and where’ were a mystery to us when we were packing up our items, letting go of our little home, and saying goodbye to friends and family at the outset of 2016. Now as this year is moving towards its end phase, I feel that a larger cycle that began in 2012 is also winding down. The mysterious currents of the cosmos can only be tasted, a flavor sensed and adapted to accordingly.
For Zahra and I, the calling is to consciously take on the task of integrating all that we have learned into the context of the society in which we were born. During the summer of 2013, when I was in the amazon, in the middle of a period of 20 days of isolation and 35 days of fasting, I had a vision of holding an Ayahuasca ceremony for my grandmother. In November 2015, after holding ceremonies for nearly a year, my grandmother joined us in a small family circle and my vision was fulfilled. After this event, there was a distinct shift in my gut feeling and though Zahra and I set out on the journey of holding ceremony without attachment as to how long we would continue to do so, in our hearts arose a tender sadness of parting, that soon became a beacon of courage to simply let go and allow in what needed to come into our lives next.
The trip to Takiwasi this year fortified our intuitions that now is the time to explore who we have become after four years of initiation in the ways of curanderismo and how to ceremonially live life.
The parallels between ceremony and life are infinite, and that is because ceremony can be a contained space of tutelage for life. For us there are now some exams to take. The mission is to find a way to weave the vine into the very fabric of society. As much as the hype will continue to increase into an era of open flirtation with mind expanding techniques- the refined, sacred, subtle, and professional approach to these techniques will also thrive. At it’s core our path is still the same but outwardly its appearance is transforming rapidly. And yet, without a doubt in my heart, I patiently look forward to the time when the path will take on a familiar manifestation as it did when I sat behind the alter of medicine work.
Each person whom we’ve had an exchange with during this auspicious cycle has been a light along the way. We’ve all shared something special within these sacred meetings thus far; so much so that we cannot fathom the reasons, or rather, the music behind it all. The ceremonies Zahra and I held, the other ceremonies we’ve sat in, the synchronistic meetings, the new relationships and the transformation of old relationships, all of it, has been a gift and there is much to receive yet ahead.
"Look beyond what is or could be said and thought with meaning. Look to aesthetics, discover genuineness, adequacy and wholeness; these offer life and growth. Will it be mostly clear sailing- probably not; but storms do not take soundness from pure intentions."
-Michael and Ann Garo
We have returned to the city of Tarapoto, Peru from the 8 day period of isolation at Takiwasi. Though it was a reset and a good way to cleanse for the new year, after going through the dieta we were thoroughly reminded of how unromantic it can be. We were quite far apart from each other and as this was a focused isolation it was much more strict, so we did not write letters to each other, no mapacho (jungle tobacco for insects), no toothpaste, no nada- just bare essentials and a soap they concocted from plant matter that has an oatmealish aroma. There were others around the property as well, all instructed to keep distance from each other and remain in the process of self reflection.
All the local inhabitants like the blue morpho butterflies, hummingbirds, spiders, snakes and of course those ever so hungry mosquitos.. greeted us as the mobile representatives of nature. The tambos are each the dwelling place of different medicinal plants, so for example Zahra’s tambo was named Oje (Oh-Hey), you can see the trunk and roots in the forefront of the picture. It’s pretty massive.
Also, the psychologists have all been through diets themselves, and are not so different from any of us. There was no "brain washing" or superiority complex, they were very professional and share in Takiwasi's vision of "de-New Age-ifying” Ayahuasca and plant medicine work. So the process and “spiritual retreat" here is extremely rigorous, effort based and thoroughly documented. It is one of the seeds of a societally integrated traditional medicine hospital.
What we felt strongly while we were here, is that the key is not the plant medicine work or having to go to the jungle- this is our manifestation of passion in life- but the undercurrent is the importance of discipline, clear thinking, prayer, facing the dark night of the soul with courage, integrating that into daily life, and staying vigilant towards creating one’s vision and dreams in physical form here on earth.
Thank you all for your prayers, we send you our love always.
Zain & Zahra
"revalue the human and natural resources of Amazonian traditional medicine."After a long interview process through letters and official documents, we are confirmed to partake in DIETA (click to read more). After this we are free to explore the Amazon and its mysteries, with our intuition and prior 3 years of experience guiding us, we feel confident that we will be safe and that we will find the perfect circumstances to support our learning process.
In related news:
We are still working on our album and are aiming to release it within this blessed month of December.
This sharing of our hearts through music has taken on a new significance as we find ourselves growing nostalgic of even the most routine aspects of our day, with the knowledge that life will soon be looking very different. The spirit of a farewell embeds itself in the music as we record, motivating us to give our best efforts to the process.
The song "We are One" will not be on our upcoming album, but can be listened to and downloaded for free on soundcloud. Lastly we have compiled videos of memories from our experiences from the past few years and though it is mainly a farewell to our family here in New York, we'd like to share it with everyone who has had an exchange with us in one way or the other.
Zain and Zahra
This poem was written on 9/5/13 at 8:47am
just after Zain drank his last dose of a tree medicine he was dieting with at El Santuario Huistin.
In dieta one eats neutral foods like potatoes, plantains, white fish and rice without any salt, oil, or seasoning in general.
The body becomes receptive and attuned to the subtle plant medicines like Aho Sacha.
The dieter is in meditation with the plant teacher and learns about Nature through this exchange.
Click on an image below to expand the gallery, use arrows keys to browse:
It has been seven years now walking through life from the perspective of a dyad. In 2008, we both stopped resisting the powerful magnetism to each other and decided we are much more than childhood friends. Since then our whole life has been about following our hearts, with a deep sense of trust in God, the Universe, Life. In taking most of our "leaps of faith" in life we often look to ourselves and are reminded: If such a love can exist between us, then the universe from which we spring must inherently be a safe place.
This mode of being is transforming the way we see the world, and thus our reality is changing. In our relationship we choose to devote ourselves to each other: To find every human being in one, to find every aspect of existence in each other, to have faith in taking a lifetime to discover for ourselves how an individual contains the infinite. By doing this we find we are in a practice of discipline, of devotion and of love. Through our relationship we are learning what life is about.
Each of us has the choice to check out of the hotel called Life anytime they want, but day after day billions are awoken by the force of love to experience the light of consciousness here on this planet. Life at first, is the greatest commitment, but can soon transform into the greatest expression of devotion.
The devotion to the art of Living and to do it well.
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
-Alan W. Watts
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
"You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails"