Learning to Burn

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Larry Harvey passed away last year and so it was a special year - he was a friend. John Law made it to the playa this year - also a friend though I missed him there - they were/are the founders of Burning Man.


It is a lot less wild than it used to be back in the early 90’s when I first attended.


I’ve never had to pay to attend - always been invited - the costs are quite high now and the crowd has changed considerably because of it.


Less rowdy - very intelligent - my camp had 2 NYT Best selling authors, MD’s, one person sold over 20 million videos. We used to have a Mobil Radiology Lab - UNR took that over. We had 3 art cars - I enjoy driving the Angler Fish! (I’m the guy in the tie dye)


Weather this year was perfect - not very hot


Art was excellent 


Cannot find 80,000 people smiling more than at Burning Man


We did not have any military at our camp this year - in the past we’ve had generals and special ops.


They participant as well as play with cell tower stuff and basically observe how 80,000 people can have a good time in very extreme circumstances for a short time with all temporary quick setup.


We did have some famous military spooks here and there - but they just came for fun.


Enjoyed the electric bikes we had!


Got into the huge music more than before - the bass went completely through me - I think a few days of that and I would have no hearing left but all the plaques in my body would have dissolved!


We were the Piano Bar Complete with a Piano Art Car that raised up 20+ feet in the air - I was one of the drivers known for clarity of mind (basically I was sober and drug free) 


We also had the Angler Fish and the Pyramid Car. Hugh main camp with at least 6 converted Greyhounds and a bunch of other stuff including a bar on top of one of them.


Though it was smaller than a few years ago when we had a massive Dome - the original Thunder Dome.


Was invited to come back and speak again next year in the main center tent - that was fun and unplanned!


Everything was unplanned - did not get invited until well into the summer!


Last time I was flown in to the Playa Port - this time took the commuter bus from Reno - really had a great time in the commuter bus - everyone was from another country sitting next to me - the conversation was wonderful and the energy was superb!


During the day I mostly took pictures and rode around and just went into camps that fought my attention and sat and talked and got to know them - or I just explored them and in some cases just sat and closed my eyes.


Met some very nice people at the various camps offering free coffee or water or drinks or whatever.


One camp with a big line offered a large dome that was air conditioned, I’m not sure what else they offered but they had lines and I rarely do lines when I don’t have to.


Several people wanted me to do photo shoots - I only did ones that were impromptu - lots of fun.


We had group dinners and the cooks were rotated from within the camp - plenty of vegan fair as about half the camp was vegan.


This year we had rehydration IV’s - that was a new and unnecessary addition but it was there - camp members sitting with a bag attached to them in the shade of a bus. (I took a pass on that)


On Sunday they burn the Temple and it is as big as the big burn but hauntingly silent with lots of tears.

First time I had experienced it - quite a few on drugs and further over the top than they looked.


Several times I went to the big tent to buy a coffee but could never pay - someone in front of me had already prepaid - nice


Overall a very spiritual crowd with its share of ecstasy and other mixes - I went by the playa name of Spotless and it was a hit - many people kept coming up to me here and there remembering my name and my tie dye - that was fun - made the whole thing smaller and more intimate.


The Burn is now in complete full scale operation one week prior to the burn - it used to be that the crowed swelled on Thursday and Friday - went nuts until Sunday and was almost gone by Sunday night.


I arrived on the Monday before the burn and had already missed several large events - the place was packed and roaring!


I mostly survived on water, coffee, trail mix and some breakfast microwave “egg McMuffin type things and then group dinner. Almost but not entirely vegan - I felt ok throughout.


In the old days hand beaten drums ran 7/24 and when you left camp you could still hear them in you for several days - that element is no longer part of the camp experience.


If I am invited again I will go and probably take my son - he’s 12 now and loved the photo’s I was sending back.


One of the big heads of the whole operation is a friend and former crew member on one of my sailboats from years ago - she has kids and they can probably get together. There we a fair number of kids though you could tell - they were all a bit blown away by the experience.


Many of the big art displays are exquisite - it is not in any way or shape a big waste of time or money or anything - it levels the playing field to - enthusiasm - freedom - bigness - and - drop the pretense and Be.


It has become a rich persons play date but so have the Renaissance fairs and other big venues - rock concerts cost a fortune and to go skiing at a resort is about $150+ a day - so it’s not impossible but it favors those that have money and time to enjoy it. But I did meet plenty of people that did not seem to have much more than the ability to volunteer and get in for free that way- and they have tons of such openings - then you just need a tent and food and water - or a camp to stay at.



Edited by Spotless
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On 5/29/2010 at 1:33 AM, thelerner said:

I'm writing this raw, so I'll probably edit it a few times. I'm putting it in the Articles section because Burning Man has a very Tao Bums vibe to it and I encourage others to experience it.


Hi Michael,


Close to 10 years on ~ thank you for the thread.

Its rawness is its appeal ~ closer to reality for me.

I'm still reading it... sometimes in between the lines.

But I have started to feel its vibe...


It is synchronizing with what I am sensing now at TDB.

I am asking ~ is there a new communal vibe being nurtured?

Is  it self censoring ~ communally?

I find the following post timely ...


It is posted by Yueya yesterday (17 Feb 2020) and is comfortably underlining my new sensed vibe as a burnt Tao Bum...


On 2/17/2020 at 6:05 AM, Yueya said:

As someone who lives a fairly reclusive life, I come here for community to some degree. I like connecting with other people whose spiritual life is foremost. At times I feel the real warmth that comes from genuine connection. And there’s plenty of variety in personalities and perspectives here.  Also there’s occasionally information I find particularly helpful. 


However, the nitty gritty of my experience is in working through difficulty.  I live within a semi-wilderness environment and my communion is mostly silent interaction with nature. That’s the core of my life. I don’t need any shields against intrusive human vibes or to expend energy on projecting an identity. But that in itself can lead to inner weakness. I’ve learnt that I also need meaningful opposition. That’s what I find on Dao Bums. 


The forum abounds with heavily defended city dwelling people, sensitive people who have needs for strong psychic shields. There’s so much unexpressed emotion lurking behind the words, so much psychic content to contend with.  Strong ego’s, forceful opinions, powerful identities, hostility both expressed and covert.  You name it, it here in spades. All these attributes help me gain insight into similarities within my own psyche; reveals to me my weaknesses and shows me how fragile my serenity can be. Shows me what work I need to do to strengthen myself so that my heart can remain open amongst difficulty and opposition. 


If a community could ever be perfect then none of us would need to develop inner connection with Spirit, with the Divine. Of course, I appreciate the effort people here, including myself, have made in the past and continue to make to try to maintain some degree of health here. That’s vital. It's in all of our interests. However, it will always be a futile task to try and impose that from the outside using rules. Ultimately the quality of discussion can only ever be a reflection on our collective de, with the most active contributors having the greatest influence.  To my mind, Dao Bums is very good for an online community. Underneath all the surface froth there’s real Spirit at work here. And that can only ever be something that's revealed to us in glimpses. 




- Anand


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On 5/29/2010 at 1:33 AM, thelerner said:

How could a person not want to go there. A few warned me it was a just a place to do drugs, others disagreed, saying it was a place to discover yourself, find and live out your artistic passion. The theme for the year was Evolution.


Good morning Michael,


It was "Evolution" for Burning Man (BM) in 2010.


Ten years on ~ how have these evolved...?

(a) BM

(b) Michael

(c) TDB


I joined TDB in March 2017 ~ and three years on... I had been burnt (banned) many times. 


Seriously ~ I have lost count how many times I was baptized by fire.


With each burning ~ I evolved in my search for whatever.


The bonfire on 8 December 2019 was a burnout for me as a Dao Bum.


Why? A big load of baggage/garbage went up in flames for me.





Happy Burning!


- Anand




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