The Borderland 2019 – A Grand Experience
It has become rare for me these days to go to events such as Burning Man that I attended nine times, but my big halfway-through-life birthday was coming up and I had to do something special for it. I heard about a Burning Man inspired event in Denmark from someone I met on a beach in Thailand. It’s called The Borderland. I consider myself experienced. My first Burning Man initiation was in 1996 – twenty three years ago! I remember that as the hell-year, not a hell-of-a-year. But the theme of that particular Burning Man was, The Inferno! Read about my wild experience there! When a good friend sent an email informing me of The Borderland memberships opening for the lottery I realized that The Borderland happens during my birthday. I was all ears and applied for the membership. My buddy and I agreed that our chances of getting lucky doubled if we both applied separately. We could thus offer our second membership/ticket to each other. (Every participant can only apply for two memberships prior to attending). It is not possible to buy tickets at the door. I was not chosen, but Runar was and we went to The Borderland in the end of July, not expecting much.
During my prior research I could not find pictures or videos of this event anywhere. I was curious. When I arrived at a nature resort near Roskilde with a lake on it (the venue) I was reminded of the feeling from the earlier Burning Man’s. No fences and no security. It felt just like the autonomous zone of Christiania.
Scandinavia, and especially Denmark, has a long history of being very, I mean, very socially oriented! Christiania is a place in Copenhagen that’s not only famous for its open drug sales and (somewhat) free culture, but also for the socially exemplary status and its autonomy, for which people had to fight hard! Real estate moguls and politicians wanted to fill up the tiny green peninsula inside the expensive Danish capital more than once, with – guess what? More concrete edifices, like banks and square apartment buildings. Hardly anything in nature is square or straight. Wonder why we have become so square as humans? We watch square screens all day long and sit in square rooms. While I write this article that takes many hours, I am also looking at a computer screen. Christiania has some round houses where people live in circles! I really enjoy being outdoors and I prefer to be naked when I can and the weather permits. I love to sleep cradled by mother nature. But I am naturally rebellious against oppression of common sense, imposition of man-made laws, ruler ship, ownership, and injustices.
When I studied the principles after I arrived at The Borderland, everything seemed to be based on trust, radical self-reliance, sharing, leaving no trace, and honesty. The ten principles of Burning Man are identical to The Borderland’s. I was not surprised to see how ten not-even law-enforced principles enable an entire subculture to thrive with honor and respect. The experiment worked for that week, at least. Everyone behaved. Earlier Christian teachings also had no more than Ten Commandments. But I am not saying that Burning Man inspired events are morally acceptable for the majority of the general population. Buddhism had the five precepts and Islam is a complex system that teaches sixteen basic morals. (Complex here is a joke compared to contemporary law.) When the United States was first established, there were the ten amendments of the constitution aka – the bill of rights. Not that they were that moral – but just ten! Laws back then were not so many, but to some degree it was understood, or made clear, that if cosmic principles were not followed, it could lead to dismay. Today we have so many man-made laws and in my opinion too little moral law.
Burning Man also has changed over the years, just like the rest of the world. Sure, change can be a good thing, especially when one is flexible enough to bend with the change, but not to bend under the change! Back during the nineties, in Nevada, the playa was seemingly endless. And today, it’s heavily guarded with marine-like security that uses infrared goggles so that nobody gets in without paying the outrageous entrance fee. Non-commercial America? Sure thing – during the times of the Native Americans!
I was surprised how the Danish took non-commercial to the next level. My birthday was on Acid Friday – what a coincidence! On that day many people take LSD at The Borderland, apart from me, since I don’t need it any longer. Even the drug-dealers did not sell this and other illegal substances. They freely gave it away. Sharing is one of the ten principles at The Borderland – sharing what one loves and can, with the all-inclusive (another principle) community.
When a woman told me that she was from Persia (Iran) I could enjoy her pretty smile and face. She was free not having to be veiled (or be stoned otherwise). Her and her Persian girlfriends bodies were not even clothed. It was lovely to see many mixed nationalities, also people from Africa and the Middle East, being naked, happily and freely playing with each other safely in all imaginable ways. There were Tantric teepees – all right – where you could learn about conscious and sacred sensuality, or you could get spanked and live out your darkest desires. (Not that this is what Tantra is about.) There were hardcore places too where you could fxxx your brains out, if you had any left after all the drugs you might have taken, or be fxxxxx, if that’s what you are into. You could also learn how to dirty-sex-talk, instead of mantra chant. Later on, you could work on purifying your mind from all those dirty words and ideas spinning around your head during meditation-class.
Temple of Visions at dawn
One of the great things at The Borderland is that people hardly took any photographs or videos. It was somehow made clear that nobody was welcomed to do that without asking prior permission from everyone in the picture. The same it was and should be for any sexual advances – asking consent. Another very useful unspoken principle and very comforting. I had left my camera at home and ended up joining a place called: The Temple of Visions. A group called, WAKE, organized this fabulous place – as in awake. I financially supported this community-experiment, as everyone else did, and in return got fed the best devotional food I could imagine, made by the loveliest people. The food was not the greatest I personally got out of this participatory experience. Getting to know people deeply when you work and live together, even for short periods of time, is very rewarding. Together, we co-created a sacred altar – the temple that was somewhat maintained throughout the entire event by all of us.
Loads of lovely stuff happened there. Gayatri Mantras were chanted and taught every morning – 108 of them. Gong Bath’s by Aiste Venskune was the camp’s alarm bell. Aiste is an extremely talented sound healer from Latvia who has her studio in Copenhagen. I slept in the deep forest and no gong, however loudly banged, could have woken me up. I was already “awake” though and did not miss one gong bath. When she played her gongs, I closely watched her from in between two massive gongs she had brought. I was astounded to realize how she was literally making love to these fantastic tools for sound and healing. Aiste offered all her incredible toys to play with, like twenty (or so) Tibetan singing bowls, three crystal bowls, lots of bells and whistles and the GONGS! There was a pretty good-sized sound system installed inside the temple-space as well, with microphones and all one needed to have a jolly good time. But nobody was allowed to enter unless you had washed your feet, washed your hands and got smudged.
I hosted a few events inside this “holy land” in The Borderland and shared a workshop that I loved. It literally was a dream come true, called; didgeridoo & storytelling (Dreamtime). I had dreamt about this workshop and when I finally created it, I realized that I was making the connection between dream and reality. How appropriate, I thought, since the slogan of The Borderland is, “A place between dream and reality.” I shared other didgeridoo performances and healings – all for free. It’s been magical for me in life. I consider myself fortunate that all my very best shows have been offerings to the creator and the world, without the demand for financial reward. The Borderland made this magic possible for everyone. The container that was created allowed people to express themselves, without being judged. We are wonderful creatures when nobody tells us what to do and think, who to be, and how to behave. One night, some of my favored music was playing for hours inside The Temple of Visions. Visuals were projected from a video projector and several musicians had set up their computers, running Live – the program. The looping soundscapes made me feel as if I was traveling through space, or floating underwater, or flying through unknown cosmic dimensions. The frequencies triggered certain reactions to access deeper levels. I immensely enjoyed playing didgeridoo with a microphone over this surrealistic electronic and cinematographic sound. I meditated peacefully, visualizing a harmonious world for all. This was in the early morning, on Lions Gate, around 3 am. My birthday had finished at midnight. The musicians who played that night are called Nature Tales & 000. Amazing upcoming musicians! This is their Facebook site. I highly recommend them!
On the previous day I met many beautiful people during my big birthday and I was literally taken by hand and passed around from one person (goddess) to another – all day long! I felt loved by these strangers and happy to be alive. As a world traveler, I am very open for the unexpected. Krishnamurti – my first spiritual teacher – called it “the unknown.” Many people would love to invite their friends for a big birthday, like mine was. But I could not do that since my friends are scattered all around the globe. As a consolation, all humanity – the animals, the plants, the minerals, the spirits, the elements – are my family and in The Borderland I met new friends! That is priceless to me. I even fell in love and that feels incredible every time – also with myself. There was much mystery in the air on that special day. I certainly felt it. At one point, four sisters forced me to strip naked. They then did things with me, and me with them, that was a lot of fun and healing too – for all of us. Another time I had a gorgeous Chinese goddess come with me into my secretly located and luscious tent and I was not hallucinating. The way she felt was very soft. (Asians naturally have no body-hair.) Our exchange was loving, truthful and innocent. A Californian woman blessed me with her period blood on the day of my birthday and I even healed relations to a dear brother from old trauma and misunderstandings. The cosmos took care of me, but the question I asked myself, “Did I care enough?”
With Livia – my Romanian lovely birthday sister
I am born on the Mayan’ New Year’s day and my birthday is always a big sub-culture celebration. I’m often in the limelight as a leo and performer. Being cared for and loved always makes me want to care and love in return. I felt and feel so much love, but who’s there to receive this abundance of ecstasy other than myself? Whoever this “me” is – I always love to share love with the “beloved” (world) around me at all times. In the non-dualistic approach, which is rather unrealistic, we do unto others as we do to ourselves. On a side-note, the concept of others does not exist in non-duality, which is the perspective of the divine (self). From all the enlightened masters and teachers I know that the concept of others only exists as long as we separate ourselves from the rest of creation, which we ordinarily perceive as something else than who we think we are. In Matthew 7:12 the teaching has been created so that it can be understood by non-mystics, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Surely, I have been trotting the spiritual path long enough that I should know that, but living and embodying it is another story altogether. To fully embrace the source of all being – the authentic SELF – and become unlimited bliss forever we must merge in this timeless moment and dive into unity, to awaken and perceive the extraordinary – without artificial alteration!
This outline of a painting was made during The Borderland 2019
My heart I realized still needs healing. It was aching from the things we do to our planet and each other and from a traumatic past. I care enough to change myself, yes – I do! What better way is there to change ONESELF than in community? Come! Unity. Ideally, it would be a spiritually awakened and conscious community, but so far I have only seen works in progress. And that’s fine! When people are not fighting and killing each other over silly stuff, I’d call that progress! When we are determined to work out our differences and recognize our common heritage, that’s great progress! We are all here together on the earth so we can learn from our somewhat conscious interactions. Yes, participating in building conscious communities is next for me. I pondered, how could we come together globally to change the meme of our time – from profit, to sharing our resources? There are definite ways and I can see them more clearly every day. Can you begin to see them too – in you? We must learn how to collectively visualize this awakened dream of paradise. Here is what I have seen in some of my earlier visions: Excerpt from the Vision of Paradise
Sometimes I find it humorous in what sort of places we can find spiritual illumination and inspiration. (Always here and now fully present.) At the end of my magical birthday I left a heartfelt prayer under an art sculpture that had a metal cauldron filled with water underneath it. Together with beautiful people, I offered a thin piece of paper with my prayerful words. This was gathered the next day and mixed with clay. It could be made into bundles with flower seeds and thus, shared with the people around the world, who could plant it in their gardens. My prayer was for all beings in all dimensions to be happy. I know this might sound idealistic, but having Peace on Earth and elsewhere – inside every creature – is a basic necessity, just like breathing clean air, or having access to pure drinking water. Sadly, as a species, we have moved far away from such simple and entirely natural things. We sell water in plastic bottles and soon we will also tax the air we breathe out, because it’s contributing to climate change (bad joke).
There were workshops in many theme-camps at The Borderland, where sound healings took place. Discos with large sound-systems tugged behind mountains thumped all night. There were live bands playing, pancake makers, fruit stands, bars, tea shops, chill-out lounges, raw food cafes, Qigong classes, massages, therapies, meditations and plenty of playful happenings going on all the time and everywhere – for free! You name it – you create it! It can be so much fun to share what you are good at and enjoy, instead of grudging and selling your precious lifetime in a job you compromise to do because of money. When I left the festival I was contemplating if this was one of the best events I ever attended? Sure, there was a time in my life where one event climaxed another and this went on over a decade – at least! But that’s a while ago. Back then, it just got better and better – and better! Is it even possible that better can be climaxed? I know it can. Females are very good at it! They are great organizers too.
The Borderland was not the best for art sculptures. Burning Man blows you mind in terms of size, quality, and execution. These two events cannot be compared. It’s like trying to compare a sun to a striking match. Let’s not go there. Comparison can be a disease of the mind. In terms of resources, The Borderland is not lacking, but it’s much less financed. America is just bigger! I remember this one BM camp where people spend three million dollars on one camp! Other camps spent much more. The fire of The Man burning and the ritual surrounding that at BM is, or was, extremely raw and pagan. The piano-burn in The Borderland is a cute and prayerful bonfire. It’s not possible make mega-fires when you are surrounded by bushes. The energy and vibe in Denmark is unique in every way and that is not possible to put into words, just like the space of the mystics, because it has to be experienced to be understood. May be size does not matter, but some sizes, when they have grown out of proportions, can lose their charm. The Borderland is great in the way people participate with their memberships. Everyone can vote on and apply for the theme-camps that receive funding from all memberships. Three thousand Borderlings times 150 Euro is 450000 Euro – the budget of a sixths of ONE BIG CAMP in Burning Man. However, The Borderland took care of the basics and they did that incredibly well. The compost toilet systems from Germany were the cleanest I have ever seen in any festival. Back then, Burning Man had chemical plastic toiles that smelled horrible! But I figure they have upgraded today. Everyone gets their reality check from the Boom Festival in Portugal that pioneers ecologically sustainable festival technologies – world-wide! The Borderland festival organizers also provided free drinking water and garbage containers. Burning Man does not do that! As mentioned before, no security whatsoever and no police and that’s not happening in the United States, which has become a police state. Infinite amounts of money are clearly not equal to “the best.” People’s collective intentions on undifferentiated unity are the greatest trump-card we have as the people – the power of love that originates from us unifying as ONE. This is simply the best! And the more we do that, the more we climax together, in LOVE!
Coming back to “normal” society from The Borderland was quite something. I felt and feel extremely lucky to have been part of such an extraordinary social experiment. I feel inspired about life and being alive. I know how much good we are capable of as human beings, especially when we enjoy working together for a common good and admirable goal in an entirely different framework, where profit is not the main goal, or making money, or exploitation, or fear, or greed, to succeed, to win, to compete, or to go to war. Darwin might not agree with me about how I think nature operates – that we are not just eating each other and competing to death with other species for survival. Nature is made of interconnected networks with elaborate eco-systems that are based on collaboration! Darvin, who has lived ages ago, and large parts of the scientific community seem to still be stuck on this last century’s mentality. People might be in denial of not having seen the bigger picture yet. It clearly shows that all life forms are interconnected! Many buddhists know that from deep meditation and Thich Nhat Hanh has written entire books about it.
When we break our social boundaries and let go of mental processes, we can go beyond our tiny separate comfort zones and change our world. I was wondering how to bridge what we have learned from events like The Borderland, Burning Man, and many others, and carry that into our everyday lives? How can we responsibly share our knowledge with the world, once we know the love that’s real? How can we learn to live peacefully together and thrive, instead of being divided from life and each other through false images and agendas that easily lead to misunderstandings? The misunderstandings of who we think we are and what our essential nature is about. When we come into contact with who we really are and practice that by living with each other, we also become powerful shape-shifters that can co-create reality anew. Once we create the change we want to see in the world and become a beacon of light we have ignited the love light we kindle inside. The Borderland set that flame ablaze!
But do you know what change you would like to see and create in the world? A good reason to be born is to live for this change! We all know that great change is coming, but how can we be well prepared for it? And what are the changes that are coming our way? Can we influence our destiny or is life predestined?
With Love, Omananda
Omananda is the author of Transcendental Journeys – A Visionary Quest for Freedom