Last week, we lost a great leader and musician, Maurice White. If you are a child of the late 70’s then you are probably very familiar with Earth Wind and Fire’s music. Maurice White was the founder and leader of Earth Wind and Fire. They were one of the most popular bands in the world during their run and being that they had strong Chicago connections (my home town) they were particularly influential to me and my peers.

The messages within their music were not typical for a pop band, especially an African American band. They, in many ways, were the catalyst for my spiritual wanderlust. For example, like most good R&B bands they could “go to Church.” If one researched the history of black music in America, one would find that it all stems from the Church and Gospel music. Some of the first music blacks were allowed to make was Gospel music. The blues and jazz are both rooted in Gospel music. In my humble opinion, Earth Wind and Fire was the next step after Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. The Impressions, led by Curtis Mayfield had hits like “Amen” and “People Get Ready.” Maurice White, however, took the “church music” to another level. His music was broadly spiritual. He incorporated elements of the Black Church with Devotion and Gratitude with various esoteric spiritual elements from the East and the West. The lyrics to one of their first hits, Shining Star are a classic example,

When you wish upon a star
Your dreams will take you very far
But when you wish upon a dream
Life ain’t always what it seems
What’d you see on a night so clear
In the sky so very dear
You’re a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (what you could truly be)

Those lyrics have elements of universal religions within them. They teach us that if we focus upon the true essence of our being, which is spiritual, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. When he differentiates between wishing on a star and upon your own dreams, he is intimating that once you focus upon your spiritual essence you are a part of infinity and are limitless.
There were songs with strong spiritual messages on most of their albums. Songs live Devotion which were simultaneously Western and Eastern. The music was traditional Gospel but the lyrics were New Age Spiritual. Gratitude was the same. Keep Your Head to the Sky was a New Age Anthem rooted in Eastern concepts (“Master told me one day, that I’d find peace in every way”).

The song Serpentine Fire was perhaps one of their most spiritual. Serpentine Fire, which is also known as Kundalini Fire is a concept seen in the West and the East. It is seen in Christianity as Moses’ staff. It is the symbol of the medical community known as the Caduceus. The Hindus call it Kundalini and it represents the energy that rises from the base of ones spine all the way to the top of the head through the Crown Chakra. The Treatise on Cosmic Fire written by Alice Bailey is one of the most spiritually complex books I have ever read. It contains several discussions of the Serpentine Fire. As a young man, I began to read this book which was very difficult to follow. However when I began to read the chapter that described the Serpentine Fire, I felt very comfortable. “Gonna tell a story morning glory all about the serpentine fire.”

Maurice White was teaching all of us back then to start our day with meditation and to focus upon feeling that connection between us and “all there is.” I agree with him. When I start the day with a focus upon God and feel that Serpentine Fire flowing from the base of my spine to my crown chakra it is a feeling of complete invigoration. Even now it still a bit scary, the power is so strong I am a bit afraid of spontaneous combustion. However, I power past my fears and revel in the connection with God and on those days…I am in harmony with all and those days are most fruitful.

Maurice White, to quote you sir “I want to thank you…” as you did in Gratitude but not for listening but for guiding us toward the way home. It was humbling that he was giving Gratitude to us for listening. It is I that am forever gracious to him and his brothers for showing us the way to live a truly spiritual life.

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