Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Sander Hicks Interviews Hip Hop Mystic Crazy Monk
Miracles happen all the time.
Let me tell you a story. One day I did an internet search for “political hip hop” down at the library. I found someone new to listen to on bandcamp. His name was Crazy Monk.
“Yeah Right…’Crazy Monk?’” I thought. I smirked at his pen-and-ink album cover. I smiled at his nasal vocal style. But then something happened. Through his lyrics, I entered a new world. It’s a place where religions combine, where Jesus and Allah and Buddha are one, and all are on the side of revolutionary politics. 

The 1% and the elite are viewed clearly. The spiritual path is integral to the resistance. It’s a world in which the Hip Hop MC is a shaman, a spiritual warrior, a searcher. It’s a world where we are all found capable of asking the big questions, of taking on the oldest, most eternal, sacred struggles. Crazy Monk is a portal to a whole new world.
The miracle is that this internet apparition, popped up out of nowhere, exactly when I most needed him. We all need some Crazy Monk in our life. His language is clear. His path is opening up in front of him. I have never met him in person, but I asked him to do a national tour with me. He said yes.
In his new album, 27th Letter of the,  lyrics, he asks you to come along:

“Through this world I travel
it’s a spiritual battle
a dark windy night
the only light is a candle
when it’s more than I can handle
I let go
enter a trance like a dancer
hunt down and kill
all my fears like a panther
keep my mind clear
so I can hear all the answers.”

This is our interview. Part One.
Monk, your album "27th Letter of the Alphabet" has so many spiritual influences, it's like political Hip Hop combined with interfaith activism. What are the top three formative spiritual experiences of your life?

 I see my spiritual poetry as mystical poetry. My motive for making music and poetry is similar to the motives of mystic poets Rumi, Hafiz, Narada, and the Bauls. Not that I would put myself on the same level as these great masters. my motives are: to make sacred music, to be devoted to God, to put the spiritual teachings that have helped me into lyrics. there is also an ecstatic energy aspect to reciting songs and words, sound is energy.

My three most important spiritual experiences? I don't think I could pick a top three. with open eyes all of life’s experiences are miracles and have capacity for spiritual inspiration.

In about 1997 I had a inner vision of an orb of light inside my head that looked like the perfect full moon. It was accompanied by a feeling of total peace and tranquility and Love. I knew that this was my true nature. total peace or Samadhi. prior to this I had been going through a period of thinking too much. thinking thinking thinking like a skipping cd and I couldn't stop...then I began to learn to turn off my thinking more and more but it was a very painful experience. This phase of my life culminated in this vision of the full moon inside my head, accompanied by infinite peace and Love. And I realized we think and worry too much out of fear and lack of trust in God or the universe. But I realized in that full moon vision that God or the universe has an all-powerful perfect plan that is based on Love so there’s no reason to think and worry. everything will always be ok...reality created us and Loves us. so stop thinking and be at peace. after that I started to learn about meditation and saw that many people had the same understanding of the mind’s function.

The real answer to this question is really long so I will give a short answer. Sri Ramakrishna, a mystic from India in the 1800’s, is a major influence on me, as is the Bhakti philosophy from India.
Bhakti is simply the path of Love of God. I have faith in God and intense Love for God Shiva Allah.  Developing this faith and Love is part of the foundation of my spiritual life. How did I develop faith in God? That would be a book right there....
Sorry I'm not giving three isolated experiences. but let me say a few more things. I am a mystic and I don’t follow any religion...to me God is Shiva, Kali, Durga, Goddess, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Great Spirit, Great Mystery, Creator and even beyond all names. The universe is God and everything is part of God. As Sri Ramakrishna said: "The realization that God alone exists is the end of Sadhana (spiritual practices)...."

Regular practice of prayer, meditation, reading spiritual books and spending time with spiritual teachers and visiting spiritual communities and temples are all formative spiritual experiences for me and I try to do all of these regularly. Plus, as spiritual seekers we must strive to be decent people and strive to live righteous lives. Everything is one, but thinking "oh everything is one so I can just do anything I want" is a mistake. morality and decency are part of the authentic spiritual knowledge.

What is the "27th Letter of the Alphabet?"
To me, the 27th letter of the alphabet represents something new, entering into the unknown mystic realms, or maybe the 27th letter is a new symbol/letter/character that is a key to unlock some kind of divine knowledge. A luminous letter/symbol popping out of a manhole as we walk down a city street, expanding the English language somehow. The English alphabet has only 26 letters, so the 27th letter of the alphabet is exploring language on a open-minded spiritual level...bringing what I can to Hip Hop lyricism. I feel like how I try to use words is some kind of poetic metaphysical English dialect. a street rhyme dialect...i think the 27th letter of the alphabet could be many things to different people...its a new rung on the ascending ladder of the quest for spiritual enlightenment and the search for truth.

On the record, you have a song about the virtues and the valor of revolutionary guerrilla leader Che Guevara. But then later, you have a sample of a guy talking critically about the conspiracy to institute a "one world socialist government" in the USA. So, it seems we have a bit of a contradiction there? Or do I just suffer from binary thinking? Where are you at politically?
I like Che not because he was a socialist but because he fought and died fighting for the ideal of freedom. The anti-socialist man speaking on the sample in the song you mentioned was also a freedom fighter. So from that angle there is no contradiction. Those two men were united by being humans who fought for freedom. Che also did a lot of evil things so I don't think he's a saint. But the inspiring thing about Che was his ability to think outside the box. That’s what is amazing about revolutionaries. They break out of the mental prison of society and say "NO...there's something wrong here"...then they fight to be free. In the case of the Cuban revolution that Che fought in, a very small force defeated a larger better-armed force. And that is so amazing! It's really inspiring to me!

Where am I at politically? I'm a human that wants to live free, other than that I have no official political affiliations. I've thought the government was evil and corrupt since I was a little kid. I’ve never liked the government. I’ve never even voted once in my life because I thought it was rigged. And later it turns out…voting is rigged. Government hackers hacking electronic voting machines.

I don't want the government to tell me what to do. I want to be free! I think each of us can be free in our own personal worlds if we want to. But these are crazy times. We all need to wake up and try to change the world because the dominant world materialistic culture is insane. We are destroying everything.

My worldview is more spiritual than political. Some political revolutionary movements inspire me. But many political revolutionary philosophies lack a spiritual element. That’s why I like indigenous revolutionary groups because they have a spiritual element. They maintain knowledge of connection to the creator and have a concept of being spiritual warriors.

The real revolution is a spiritual revolution. The battle to defeat the ignorance and bad qualities inside of our selves is the real revolution. Then once we know our true selves we can influence the world in a good way. First change your self, know yourself, and then change the world.
The ninja grandmaster Massaki Hatsumi said: "The essence of the way of the ninja warrior is to survive. SURVIVE. Survive no matter what. Keep going no matter what. Never give up. That is the essence of the warrior arts." To me these are very practical words of wisdom that I try to remember when facing difficulties in life. 

Crazy Monk and Sander Hicks are on tour this Spring, with Lo Nathamundi and Kaleidoscope Yoga. It’s called The Truth Party Tour. Info here: http://truthparty.weebly.com/ 
To help book a show, contact Tour Manager Ghsts n Gtrs James, here.
Crazy Monk's album "27th Letter of the Alphabet" can be downloaded for free, here.


  1. Great read !

    Crazy Monk is an inspiration with his words and his music !


  2. In regards to the 27th letter of the alphabet...
    In Swedish, the 27th, 28th, and 29th letters of the alphabet...
    are 'å', 'ä' and 'ö', the three letters of the Swedish alphabet that English (one of its more glaring inferiorities) does not have...
    the 27th letter of the alphabet is 'å', which is actually quite honestly, my favorite letter in the whole Swedish alphabet, maybe in any alphabet.
    I'm so glad someone finally brought attention to this matter...
    I appreciate your attention to aesthetics, phonetics, postmodernism, and intercultural communication, as it relates to spiritual growth.
    Thank you Crazy Monk and Sander. Look forward to other collaborations.