Jimi Hendrix & Spiritual Upliftment

This week I was in Seattle doing media appearances and a book signing for The Bliss Experiment. During my downtime, I visited the EMP museum, designed by Frank Gehry and dedicated to music and pop culture. One of the exhibits is about Jimi Hendrix's time in London (1966-67), when he formed his band, cut his first album, and exploded onto the rock music scene.

Needless to say, Hendrix's music was playing throughout the exhibit space. While watching some film footage of Jimi in concert, I realized that I was smiling and feeling not just happy but genuinely uplifted. Grinning ear to ear and feeling lightness and joy. Which was especially interesting because the song playing was "Hey Joe," the lyrics of which tell the story of a man who shot his wife and is on the run to Mexico. Here's a little snippet:

                    Hey Joe, I said where you goin' with that gun in your hand?
                    Alright. I'm goin down to shoot my old lady,
                    you know I caught her messin' 'round with another man.

Not exactly cheery. So why was I feeling so uplifted?

Because Jimi Hendrix is a genius. His guitar playing, his presence, the flow he was in while on stage, it was all so clear, so vital, so beautiful.

Wherever there is genius there is bliss. Genius in any form -- science, arts, technology, military , culinary, athletic, and anything else you can think of, most especially spiritual-- requires tapping into our highest potential. Genius occurs at the intersection of the human and divine consciousness; it's breaking through the ordinary into the supernal.

Of course, the genius herself doesn't always fully realize the divine nature of what she's doing. This is because as uplifting as genius can be, it can also be limited in the sense that the breakthrough often occurs in just one specific area. Sometimes the genius is aware of the larger field into which they've tapped (which is why so many of the great physicists, for example, write almost mystically about their discoveries) but sometimes they don't see or feel beyond their very specific tapping into the divine. The bigger picture eludes them. This is one reason that spiritual genius is the highest form of genius: by definition, it requires an understanding of the big picture and its ramifications for humanity.

In Jimi's case, however, it should be pointed out that he did indeed realize he was tapping into the Divine. Hendrix called his music Electric Church and fervently (and correctly) believed that it manifested spiritual consciousness. Hendrix himself said that he designed his music to, "inside the soul of the person, and awaken some kind of thing inside, because there are so many sleeping people."

We, as the observers and beneficiaries of their genius, can always appreciate, enjoy, and receive upliftment through their accomplishment. Fortunately, too, genius is omnipresent. I've had similarly transcendent experiences at restaurants, watching a fantastic athlete, reading a great work of literature, absorbing a new scientific discovery, and above all, of course, learning from a great spiritual teacher.

The last thing we should do is resent genius or try to tear it down. We should delight and exalt in it, seek it, and welcome it with great enthusiasm when it appears. For not only is it a positive reminder of our own limitless potential but in its presence, we too are uplifted and transformed. Opportunities for inspiration are all around us, even in the most unlikely places, we just have to be open and willing.

That's what Jimi was asking, calling out to us, inventing us into the Electric Church of superconsciousness. Hey you: Are You Experienced?