Many of you have seen Rowan at the Tea Lounges, or received insight into your life as he read your cards over a cup of tea. He’s Samovar’s tarot shaman, and he is writing a series on modern-day shamans. Here, he introduces us to Samovar Shaman: Shambhu – Metaphysical Musician
Rowan – How did you get started on your musical path?
Shambhu-My parents saw my musical gifts at an early age and engaged me in music lessons from age 5. At age 7 they realized that I had Perfect Pitch. I played Beatle’s songs right off the radio startling teachers, friends, and family. By 10 years old, I played guitar professionally and appeared on NYC children’s TV shows. By 16, I taught a few dozen students a week how to play guitar. By age 20, I recorded my own songs in a studio, played gigs, taught jazz at a junior college, wrote music books, and jammed with a who’s who of NYC-based musicians who went on to play with John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck, Santana, Zakir Hussain and win Grammys. I left this musical path at age 21 when I joined the spiritual community of Indian Guru Sri Chinmoy. That opened up new pathways for me, including performing with Carlos Santana, Clarence Clemons and Narada Michael Walden.
Rowan – How did you get started on your spiritual path?
Shambhu-Narada Michael Walden, the triple Grammy-winning record producer and drummer, was newly a student of Sri Chinmoy. He introduced me to meditation after a jam session on Long Island. I was 20 years old. He was 21 and launching his music career. At the time, Sri Chinmoy’s students included Narada and my musical idols – guitarists Mahavishnu John McLaughlin, Devadip Carlos Santana and Larry Coryell. A year later, I had a deep inner experience meditating with Sri Chinmoy and joined his Path of the Heart.
Rowan – How do the musical and spiritual path intertwine?
Shambhu-While learning guitar technique and music theory as a kid, I was unable to connect the concepts of fame and riches to motivate my musical career. Music came naturally to me and I played songs as easily as other kids played sports. I got paid well, enjoyed performing, but I needed something more because my inner satisfaction was fleeting. There was a spiritual child inside me – unsatisfied, waiting and wanting to be awakened. I became aware of this child-heart after reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. In my youth, I lacked spiritual practice and know-how and failed to connect spirit to music or put a higher purpose to music.
Spirit and soulful search in my life were awakened through close spiritual practice with Sri Chinmoy and service to world peace. Through his writings, examples of his life, and my own experience organizing the worldwide Peace Run in 127 nations, I saw how music and the actions of our lives could be a true expression of divine love. And what better purpose in life was there than spreading love? After Sri Chinmoy’s passing in 2007, I returned to writing new music and sought to bring my musical performance back to a professional caliber. In 2010, I made the commitment to complete “Sacred Love,” and my debut CD was born.
Rowan- I am a huge fan of “Sacred Love”. Tell us about this metaphysical musical project and the many musicians involved.
Shambhu-I wanted to make a CD that spread a feeling of love through music, so I brought together the best producers, engineers and musicians to realize my dream. The CD features Grammy winners – producer Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records and engineer Corin Nelsen — and music legends like Tony Levin on bass (Peter Gabriel), George Brooks on sax (John McLaughlin, Zakir Hussain), Ravichandra Kulur on flute (Ravi Shankar and Anoushaka Shankar), Celso Alberti (Steve Winwood), Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny), Michael Manring on bass, as well as Bay Area artists like Todd Boston on sarod and Jeff Oster on flugelhorn.
Four weeks after release, Sacred Love was named the #1 New Age/World/Ambient CD. Common Ground magazine proclaimed Sacred Love, “One of the Best of the Year (or any year!).” It meant that the music was connecting in soulful ways and I was very pleased folks were enjoying it for relaxation, healing, meditation and yoga.
Rowan-What is your favorite Samovar Tea?
Shambhu-I love trying new teas from the Samovar menu and especially enjoy the healing qualities of green teas. Among them, Ryokucha Genmaicha, blended with brown rice and sencha, is my absolute favorite!
Rowan- What do you appreciate most about Samovar Tea Lounge?
Shambhu-Samovar is such a peaceful and nurturing environment. The richness of the Samovar experience has inspired my music. It’s great for meeting friends and associates and creating soulful connections. It has also provided delightful downtime for me to chill out after work in the studio.
Rowan-Can you give our readers a one-minute meditation to get a taste of your teaching?
Shambhu- Get into a quiet space within. Sit with good back support. Keep your eyes closed while focusing all your attention on your heart. Slowly breathe in the quality of peace. Breathe out stress, tension and worry. Relax your shoulders. Continue breathing slowly through your nose. Hold a soulful space and recite this message by Sri Chinmoy three times slowly. Try to feel each word deeply in your body, your heart and your soulful aspiration: “Lord Supreme, make me a hallowed instrument so that you can play on me with your all-illumining, all-liberating and all-immortalizing delight.” Let the message reverberate as you go into a transcendent meditation space.
Learn more about Shambhu and his metaphysical music:
Stay tuned for next month’s Samovar Shaman: Robyn Jean- Henna Healer!
Rowan Cutler is the “Tarot Shaman” for Samovar Tea Lounge. He is a sought after SF Psychic who has been in private practice for 15 years. He is a published author and wrote for an Emmy nominated TV show. Let him lay out the cards and read the story of your life! Join him at Samovar for an only-in-SF experience to compliment your contemplative teatime.
See Rowan’s scheduled readings at Samovar’s Tea Lounges at www.wowtarot.com. Drop in during Rowan’s hours for a reading, reserve a spot ahead of time – or purchase a Tea and Tarot Gift Certificate for a great gift, date, and out-of-the-ordinary adventure with friends!