There is a way to change anger and fear to love, singer-songwriter Neda Boin told an audience of San Quentin prisoners and outside guests. For her, it came after completing A Course in Miracles.
Boin came from the Netherlands to release songs from her new album, The Light Has Come, at San Quentin State Prison. About 100 guests attended the February concert held in the Catholic chapel.
Boin told the audience that A Course in Miracles: Mastering the Journey from Fear to Love changed her life and inspired her music.
“It’s been about feeding your soul,” Boin said. She said supporting people on her same path is what she’s inspired to do, and once she put herself in the back seat and not in the driver’s seat, from there “everything started to flow.”
Several years ago, Boin wrote 16 songs inspired by A Course in Miracles. Eleven of those songs were performed for the San Quentin audience.
The first song, Take Me Home, “describes the whole journey of making this album,” Boin said before she performed. She expressed her past feelings of anger, hate, fear and doubt. “I really had to look at my own darkness.” She said it’s a sign that you forget who you are when you’re stressed, angry or depressed.
Speaking between the first and second songs, Boin asked, “Are we extending love or asking for love?”
Boin stated she was there to remind everyone that they’re innocent. “If I see you as innocent, I see myself as innocent,” she said. “You’re not what you did or where you come from. You are perfect love because God is perfect love.”
“If I see you as guilty, then I see myself as guilty,” Boin said as she introduced the next song, Helpful. “I’m only here to be truly helpful. That’s my function.”
James Fox, who teaches yoga at San Quentin, brought Boin in through the Prison Yoga Project. He said the PYP has a chapter in Amsterdam, where he met her last year.
According to Fox, the PYP goes inside governmental prisons. “We have 10 (chapters) in the United States that enable us to serve over 250 jails,” he said. There are also chapters outside of the U.S. in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico and Canada.
There were multiple ethnic groups in attendance at the concert. The music’s universal message didn’t lend itself to any particular genre, race, religion or culture. “It’s about the peace,” Boin said of the album and title track, The Light Has Come. It was played with a long melodic introduction and chords broken up into arpeggios. “Forgiveness can also be very difficult,” she said.
The atmosphere during the Presidents Day three-day weekend, Sunday-evening performance, was relaxed. The inmates and outside guests appeared to be contemplative as Boin sang: “The light has come/The light has come/I have forgiven the world.”
“It’s about the peace,” Boin reminded the audience again. She said if you hate the world and consider we’re all one, you’re basically hating yourself.
Boin discussed the ego, saying it will think of other things to want because it never has enough. She then introduced the song When Lambs Become Lions, describing how “We became slaves to the system…we forgot who we are.”
After teaching in a juvenile prison, Boin formed the idea of a train leaving kids behind. “When the train leaves without me, what I wouldn’t give to be on board,” she said about the song titled Don’t Leave Without Me. The song led with arpeggios, and slowly moved through a series of chord progressions.
Boin asked the men for suggestions on what to tell juveniles. The men responded with comments such as, “Stay out of trouble,” “Be humble,” and “Stay in school.” She pushed through other songs and discussed how one was “inspired by my hero, Martin Luther King,” she said. “I think we were friends in a past life.”
On the song Do You Have Courage? Boin asked if you have courage to choose for love. Quotes from King are woven into the lyrics of the song. Boin said “It takes courage to choose for love,” and “The Holy Spirit is the answer,” warning that “The ego always speaks first.”
“It’s always hard to say goodbye,” Boin said. Because of that, she said she wrote the song How Do I Say Goodbye? about her late aunt.
At the end of the performance there was a brief question-and-answer period.
“How do you feel about these (school) shootings?” one inmate asked.
“There’s no order in difficulties,” Boin said. “Everything is for our healing and awakening. People are either giving love or asking for love. I hope maybe that guy (the shooter) will get there one day.”
To get a free scholarship copy of A Course in Miracles, write to:
Foundation for Inner Peace
P.O. Box 598
Mill Valley, CA 94942