“I thought I was invincible.” –Sridhar Silberfein is the founder of Bhakti Fest and co-produced Woodstock in 1969.
My first connection to spirituality was at a very difficult time in my life. I was in prison in the ’60s. I hardly ever tell this story, but I’m slowly, recently, after 50 years, starting to share it.
People have asked me why I started on the spiritual path, and this was the reason. I was in prison in Spain under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and he was aligned with Mussolini and Hitler.
That was the Axis of Evil; it was Germany, Spain, Italy. In fact, after WWII, all the German Nazis escaped through Spain to get to Uruguay and Paraguay and South America. I was there in Spain for smuggling, and it was a childish thing. I wasn’t thinking.
I thought I was invincible.
When they arrested me, they put me in solitary confinement for almost three weeks. I wasn’t able to take a shower. I had a shithole in the room. It was filthy. I was by myself.
There was a rickety bed there with wire things that were across the bed, and a very thin mat, like real thin. It was full of bugs, and I would lay on the bed, and all these bugs would get under my skin. My whole entire body was infested, and I couldn’t shower, and I couldn’t wash them off. All I was doing was scratching; my whole body was raw.
I thought, “Oh, my God. The only way you’re going to not destroy yourself is to go deeper into your spiritual understanding.”
I had a little spirituality then. I had studied a little bit about Eastern Mysticism and philosophy. So I got very deep in my meditation in that room, in that cell. I had to escape. I actually escaped like the movie ‘Midnight Express’. My father came to Spain and helped me escape. We left there, and this was in 1964, and that’s start of my spiritual connection.
The first time I practiced yoga, I immersed right in there. I just said, “Oh, my God.” I started seeing a complete change in my physical body, and then I said, “What else is there?” Then, I was exposed to meditation. “Oh, what else?” Vegetarianism. I was exposed to that.
It’s a process. You can’t get rid of everything in your life at once. It’s like when people ask me, “How do I change my diet?” I say, “You first start by eliminating meat.” I haven’t had meat, chicken, fish, dairy for 45 years. I’m not dying.
The government has instilled into the school system and to the doctors and to the corporations this thing called a food triangle. When we go to school, we learn about this triangle. It’s all bullshit.
If you look at the bottom of this triangle chart, it was made by a corporation who supplies the food to the masses. All of the people that are in the FDA and all these government organizations are corporate, Monsanto people. They are all destroying the world.
You have to step up and say, “I am not buying into this anymore. I have to find the path myself by reading, by studying, by hanging out with people that know more than you, learning about diet, and experimenting.”
You can’t be lazy. This is where the discipline comes in. It’s not a lazy process. If you don’t do it yourself, no one’s going to tap you on the shoulder and say, “You’re a fantastic guy. I love you. Here’s a million dollars,” or, “Here’s enlightenment,” or “Here’s the truth.”
You’ve got to find it for yourself.
To be continued…
2nd part of the in-person interview series with Sridhar Silberfein at Bhakti Fest West Joshua Tree, CA.
Interviewed by Jack Greene. Edited by Jack Greene and Hung Tran.
Join Sridhar Sept 7-12 at Bhakti Fest West 2016 in Joshua Tree, CA
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