Samsara ~ Live at Life Force Arts Center

by Samsara

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I. Introduction of the three poisons
a. At the hub of the bhavacakra, a snake is eating the tail of a rooster, who is eating the tail of a swine, who is eating the tail of the snake.
b. Each musician will establish their musical embodiment of the three poisons.

i. Snake (Aversion) – Drumset
ii. Swine (Ignorance) – Saxophone
iii. Rooster (Attachment) – Guitar

II. Realms of Samsara

a. Human realm (introduction)
i. A contemplation of one’s existence, and the dynamic journeys within and between lives.

b. Gods
i. Poison focus: Attachment (Guitar)
ii. Mood: Tranquility
iii. Description: Gods are re-born as such because they’ve accumulated enough good karma through compassionate action & meditation to potentially transcend (Samsara). However, while trapped in the wheel, the gods enjoy luxurious lifestyles dominated by attaching to earthly delights. As such, they regress into other lesser existences as they “wear out” their good karma.

c. Demi-Gods
i. Posion focus: Aversion (Drums)
ii. Mood: Peacefulness of God realm tainted by jealousy/hatred of Demi-Gods
iii. Description: Existence as a Demi-god is characterized by hatred. Demi-Gods are typically depicted on the wheel reaching over from their realm into the Gods, stealing apples from the trees of their peaceful gardens, and waging war with the Gods. They resent the Gods who “waste” their rebirth in the highest realm by living in luxury as opposed to realizing non-attachment once and for all.

d. Animals
i. Poison Focus: Ignorance (Saxophone)
ii. Mood: Wild, free-for-all
iii. Description: Rebirth as an animal happens when one’s past life is concentrated in ignorance. Animals do not have the power of contemplating, like humans do. Animals live in subordination by humans, or in fear as they live to survive predation, in fear.

e. Hungry Ghosts
i. Poison Focus: Attachment, Ignorance
ii. Mood: Desolation, Anguish
iii. Description: The Hungry Ghosts are incarnated after lifestyles of gluttony and greed. They are reborn with long, skinny necks and huge bellies, which cannot ever be filled. Attachment and ignorance are the major past-life determinants toward rebirth in perpetual starvation

f. Hell-Beings
i. Poison focus: All
ii. Mood: Chaos, relentless torment
iii. Description: To be reborn in hell, one must accumulate mounds of bad karma. An existence of constant torture is the retribution for past lives dominated by hateful crimes, necessitated by ignorance of our inner ever compassionate Buddha nature.

g. Human realm (Reprise/Conclusion)
i. Ascending out of hell, we conclude where we began: as humans contemplating existence. Most significant to human life are the powers of intention, contemplation, and deliberate action. Rebirth as a God is dominated by attachment to tranquility and luxury, and rebirth in lower realms such as hungry ghosts or hell-beings is dominated by anguish and torture. Humans are in the middle of either pole of existences: we feel great contrast between pleasure and suffering within our lives, and so we may come to settle into Buddha’s middle path, in which we avoid extremes, and avoid attachment to all things impermanent.


released May 4, 2014

Justin Howe - Flute, Soprano Sax, Effects
Justin LaForte - Guitar, Effects
Stevenson Valentor - Drums, Cymbals



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Stevenson Valentor Chicago, Illinois

Stevenson Valentor is an active performer on the Chicago jazz and funk scenes. His affiliated groups, Bassel & The Supernaturals, Gramps The Vamp perform nationally and have several albums to their name(s)). He leads an original project, Here & Now, which showcases the drummer's sensitive composing abilities. ... more

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