Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 33: JB Eckl

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode I’m at my home in Los Angeles talking with my dear friend and musician, JB Eckl. JB’s worked on countless musical projects including The Badasht Project which he is widely known for in Baha’i circles. He tells me how he ended up in a rock band in Mexico as a teen, why we need music and the arts in everything we do, and why he loves Bob Marley so much. We also talk about dieting, guitar solos, how the arts can translate complex ideas, and the importance of empathy. He also shares one of my favorite songs at the end, so hit play and listen in the conversation!

To find out more about JB Eckl and some of the things we covered in this podcast, check out the following links:

  • Check out JB Eckl’s website: www.jbeckl.com
  • Check out JB Eckl’s album Sparks.
  • Check out JB Eckl’s band Dig Infinity.
  • JB talks about the conference of Badasht which you can learn more about here.
  • Check out the albums from ‘The Badasht Project’ here:
  • Badasht Vol. I: While The City Sleeps
    Badasht Vol. II: Raise Me Up
    Badasht Vol. III: Visionaries

  • Read Baha’i Blog’s interview with JB Eckl about The Badasht Project here: Visionaries: An Interview with JB Eckl of Badasht
  • JB mentions Eric Dozier, musician and cofounder of The Badasht Project, and who is also featured on Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions: “Unity Prayer” by Eric Dozier.
  • JB mentions Rachael Price, lead singer of Lake Street Dive.
  • We talk about Nader Saiedi and his books Gate of the Heart and Logos and Civilization. You can also listen to Nader Saiedi’s interview on the Baha’i Blogcast here.
  • I mention the book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
  • JB mentions the book Baha’u’llah and the New Era by J.E. Esslemont.
  • JB quotes Rumi: “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
  • JB mentions singer Yosi Mesbah, who was interviewed here on Baha’i Blog as well: Cellar and Sky: An Album by Yosi Mesbah
  • At the end of the podcast, JB sings the song ‘New Creation’, which can be found on the album Badasht Vol. III: Visionaries
  • You can find all of our episodes here on the Baha’i Blogcast page, and be sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Baha’i Blogcast for more upcoming episodes on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud.

    Thanks for listening!

    -Rainn Wilson

    About the Author

    Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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    Discussion 6 Comments

    1. One of “the 27” 😉 , an American pioneer in Hungary, 68 years young, I really enjoyed hanging with you and JB this Friday eve – a welcome respite at the end of another almost impossibly busy week as a bilingual HS native English teacher. This conversation reminded me a lot of my own complex Bahá’í journey of Faith – at times incandescent and for longer stretches slowly recalibrating – now leaving me increasingly contented with my overall steady personal growth through service to this Cause here in Gödöllő, where we are now on the cusp of forming a Spiritual Assembly – a big step forward. Your exhilarating disquisition on the transcendental love-energy nature of God, Rainn, and your reminder, JB, of the elegant presentation of the core elements of the Báb’s Revelation in Nader Saeidi’s The Gate of the Heart, which I’ve also read with great fulfillment, somehow synched with the comments expressed in our community devotional this evening, touching on a line in a prayer of ‘Abdu’l Bahá’s about how the pure light of unity connects all of our hearts – that same force “to which hath testified all created things” in the Long Obligatory Prayer…Suffice it to say, I’m really glad I’ve discovered this blogcast site and hope to make time listen all the way through more of them – especially the interview with Saeidi. And I also plan to order and read Sapiens – thanks for that tip, Rainn!

    2. PS: I’ve written (or rather channelled) a concrete poem titled Beachcombing, touching on the divine, musical evolutionary force of nature and the stewardship role of humankind, in the context of a supportive, nature-appreciating community I was and am still deeply involved with in Abu Dhabi for many years–incorporating a few apt quotations from the Bahá’í Writings towards the end. If you’re interested, I’ll be happy to pass along the link to the blogpost where it was published.

    3. Wonderful podcast. Great to see a Saskatoon boy doing so much for the Faith with his music. Inspiring to hear about the use of music and the arts in the Bahá’í community.

    4. I’ve been meaning to write to you since discovered your podcasts from the bicentennial, where I discovered your history is very similar to mine, child of hippies who became Bahá’ís, etc… Then I heard your comments today about the 27 people who are still listening to this podcast an hour in and I realized I was seen. I’m that North American Bahá’í living in Argentina. Then you conditioned your Hippiedom, that you were the Velvet Underground listening kind. I found it all amusing. My father brought home Transformer when it came out. My parents brought me with them to Woodstock in 69. I apparently know your character a little more than I realized. Your podcasts are great.
      btw, your Nader Saiedi Interview is responsible for my reading his book. Thanks for turning me on to that.
      I would have emailed this, but I didn’t have the stamina to find an email address. This is so public

    5. Rainn, Naysan, and team, now that I’ve gone back and listened to the full set of Bahá’í Blogcast interviews to this date, I feel like a lucky kid on Christmas morning, with a whole pile of briefly opened presents to unpack, assemble, play with and learn from – including life enhancement tips given in those talks and all of the associated resources linked to each episode, not to mention so many related goodies included in the other sections of Bahá’í Blog…and in Bahá’íTeachings.org, as well.

      And now I’ll follow up my initial comments to the J.B. Eckl interview with something which I feel deserves to be shared publicly and not just behind the scenes, as I suggested in my initial comment. To wit, here is the link to the blog post containing a poem of mine – the one I’m most satisfied with so far: http://emiratesnhg.blogspot.hu/2018/05/beachcombing.html. This blog post starts with the backstory of the years of meaningful secular service that gave me the opportunity to fulfill, as a volunteer, my longstanding dreams of a career as an environmental conservationist, bringing my wife and me closer together as a creative team in the process, and developing lifelong friendships with many people, with some of whom I have had very meaningful conversations, some of which have afforded me chances to share the roots of my resurgent faith in myself, in the ineffable God of all creation, and in the ultimately glorious peaceable future of humankind, which all of us can work together to bring about.

      I consider the above-linked poem a ‘pearl’ poem – manifesting beauty out of discomfort – as it replicates the exact same wave-simulating stanza form of a much earlier poem with the same title which reeked of hurt and loss arising from the events attending my distancing myself from the Baha’i Faith several decades back and my resultant agonizingly long, slow process of getting to really know my own “gnarly bits” (still, of course, continuing), which eventually led me to begin recognizing that of God within me. This shift in focus is evident to me in the way that the brine-soaked, inner-directed, veiled and painfully confused words in the earlier version has been replaced by the outer-directed, celebratory light-and-truth-informed words of the current poem.

      As such, this is my poetic manifesto, since in my mind, this poem puts me on equal footing (albeit at the very start of my artistic career) with my personal mentors Walt Whitman (see the serendipitous reference to Leaves of Grass in the opening stanza) and my own undersung poet mother, the late Sheila Flume. Of course, I acknowledge that this poem is technically rough around the edges and attempts to pack too much in. I am under no illusions about my current level of skill, realizing that I am only just at the beginning of my requisite 10,000 hours of practice – with many, many more poem drafts to write, many more poems (including those of the great American symbolist poet Robert Hayden) to read and respond to, and poetry workshops to attend and others to potentially lead for younger poets in schools and Junior Youth Groups, all in good time – i.e. “many miles to go before I sleep” – now that I am finally following another mentor, Robert Frost, down this divergent path. I bring to mind an article I read recently, quoting Frost’s words about how older people, facing the twilight of life, are often in a better position to see constellations – to become more aware of life’s patterns – and if that talent is properly nurtured, to write poetry that truly connects with other people’s personal truths.

      NB: Here’s a brief word about the annotations, not a common feature on a poem of this length. The second one contains a link that is really worth visiting and reading through, as it gives a fascinating account of one example of a long-ago symbiosis (an ancient, natural process of collaboration, part of the fabric of our living world) which played a major role in the evolution of our physical forms. To my mind, this underscores the harmony of science and religion and also the pairing of creative arts and sciences, both of which are highlighted in the Bahá’í Writings. Speaking of which, first off, the publication in this format of those referenced quotes in the final stanza of this poem was given requisite approval by the concerned Bahá’í administrative institutions. Secondly, those who have been through Ruhi Book 2: Arising to Serve, will recognize those lines as coming from the first passage of Bahá’u’lláh to be memorized in that study material. That passage begins with the following: “O Wayfarer! Take thou thy portion of the ocean of His grace, and deprive not thyself of the things that lie hidden in its depths.” I see this as a call to all artists to search the depths of this Revelation and to find and develop that “portion”: the potential in their own souls to spread joy, peace, love, and truth in all sorts of wonderful ways.

    6. I have just finished listening to Yuval Noah Harari’s very chewy book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, via Amazon’s audiobooks service, Audible. This book brings to mind others I’ve read dealing with what makes us humans tick—books by Marvin Harris, Jared Diamond, Ian Morris and Joseph Campbell. In this remarkable book, Harari’s over-arching historical perspective and his academic training as a sociologist allow him to explore “life’s big questions” in such a way that I, speaking for myself, have come away with a much clearer notion than ever before of the path our species has trod from its inception, the fateful choices made along the way, and their far-reaching consequences. I now have a notion that this book (or at least a digest of the basic concepts in it) should be recommended reading/listening for all adult humans at this point in our collective history. In broad strokes, this is who we are, folks, and here’s how we turned out this way. And now we all need to take a close look at where we are going from here. To this end, I’d say the Teachings of the universal Divine Educator, Bahá’u’lláh, can be presented as the road map for following Harari’s “arrow of history” toward the inevitable spiritual unification of humankind—fully demonstrating the essential harmony between science and religion while responsibly, effectively addressing the open questions in the final two chapters of this book about the fundamental nature of happiness and the true destiny of our species. Thanks for this recommendation, Rainn, one which I whole-heartedly pass along! BTW, I’ve just learned from a colleague that this book is a popular read in translation here in Hungary—which is very good to know.

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