AN IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW WITH ROCK MUSICIAN AND THERAPIST.
“Because I tend to live a natural way of life, I consider music to be the purest and most authentic expression of the human spirit. Music works with tone and melody and does not necessarily contain lyrics as in the case of mantras or other spiritual music, composed mainly by natural people. I perceive music as a manifestation of our soul if it is made honestly.“
Dan Horyna is one of those personalities for whom, from the point of view of the outside world, Fate has definitely not made his bed of roses. Due to the unfavorable economic situation of his family, he was born an unwanted child. The more his mother tried to get rid of him during her pregnancy, the stronger the bond they subsequently formed with each other. However, he did not find much support from his father. Their relationship was not easy, so Dan struggled with the absence of a male role model. This was partially compensated for by his relationship with his grandfather. He and his brother were united by a passion for rock music. However, even that common interest did not bring the siblings closer. Although their relationship was not dramatic, it was also neither sibling-like nor loving. His father, thanks to his excellence in film technology, received a job offer in China. The family thus spent several years of their lives in a diametrically different culture which fundamentally affected Dan’s complex perception of people and functioning in society. Returning to the harsh reality of former communist Czechoslovakia was not easy. His openness, different perception of life and his interest in art, excluded Dan from the boys’ group. He just did not fit in.
Dan is endowed with versatility, so he generally did well in everything he touched. He was hyperactive during his childhood and adolescence. He played tennis and participated in athletics, in which he excelled. He was even shortlisted for the Olympic games. However, the promising sports career ended before it could fully start. Another of his talents, the artistic one, was developed by Dan at the Secondary School of Applied Arts. He also sang at the same time. The music teacher saw the potential of a future famous tenor in him. This vision has also not been fulfilled. At the age of 13, Dan got to know the rock scene through his brother. He discovered the music of the famous LED ZEPPELIN, who immediately became one of the fundamental musical influences of his life. For many years, the rock world has become the main focus of Dan’s life, and the dream of a rock star is gradually beginning to come true with everything that goes with it. His look combined with his specific energy attract attention, and he would hardly have a more suitable position in the band than the post of front man. He became most famous in the 1980s with the bands VITACIT, BENEFIT and MERLIN whom he still performs with. However, there is, in many ways, a fundamental difference between being a rock star in the United States and being a rock star in an Eastern Bloc country. It also depends significantly on the setting and intention of the individual, on what the personality is willing to accept and whether the status of a rock star will bring that individual satisfaction and fulfillment for the rest of life or not.
The openness and freedom that musicians and fans of the increasingly popular rock and roll scene could enjoy in the second half of the previous century in the Western world, was incomparable to the limited possibilities and lack of freedom in Eastern Europe. Artists expressing their true selves and voicing their opinions aloud were not rewarded with applause. On the contrary, they were punished and persecuted. Dan Horyna experienced this injustice firsthand in the form of unreasonable mental and physical abuse. The deep-rooted desire for freedom and independence, in contrast to the reality offering the exact opposite, caused a conflict between the inner and outer world and deepened with each new experience. The word freedom lost its meaning in the long run and remained in the shadow of meaningless rules and roles causing the loss of one’s own identity. The desire for independence turned into addiction and chronic jealousy. Repeated departures from bands alternated with family breakups, broken ties with children, returns to drugs, and existential difficulties. Success, fame and the attention of beautiful girls failed to give life meaning. The core of his personality was wounded by the pressures of the system, endlessly trying to fit in and the search for the Self.
Dan Horyna’s long and thorny journey to understanding was ended by successful treatment and finding the meaning of life through knowledge of the Tibetan doctrine, dzogchen (teaching about the original state of being). His being is relieved of the burden of earthly life, and the path of life has taken a new, meaningful direction. Based on his own experience, he developed his education and trained as a professional therapist, thanks to this, he currently helps many people with addictions and other mental problems. He is still active on the rock scene, and his passion for tennis, to which he devotes himself almost daily, cannot be overlooked in the list of his activities. When you meet him, you feel unfeigned peace, serenity, ease and, above all, authenticity, which is so lacking in the world. Dan Horyna’s life story is about perseverance, learning from one’s own mistakes, awareness and acceptance of life in the form given to human beings.
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I N T E R V I E W
You’ve recently published a book, “I Survived Myself”, which is your in-depth personal confession. Although you deal with quite serious topics in the book, it is written very simply and clearly, not in the style of a philosophy that is difficult to digest. What is the message behind the book?
Basically, I spent most of my life trying. I always reached a point that was not the deadlock, but it repeatedly showed me that I was going in the wrong direction. Whether it was leaving bands or marriages and so on. It was such a long 45-year search. After I returned from rehab, I started to realize that working inwardly was the only thing that made sense; there were many years of hard work ahead of me. I’ve been sticking to it ever since, and it will stay with me for the rest of my life because I finally realized that it was the only thing that matters. Our inner world then affects how we perceive the world around us. Over the years, I have given various interviews and diverse documentaries have been filmed about me. It always turned out to be fragmented and clip-like. The whole story was not discernible. Being in the position of trying to help people with addictions and other mental issues, I felt the need to put the whole thing together, so that people could get a complete picture of my life’s journey. Thank you for saying it’s easy to read. The book was created in the way that I recorded everything for Radka Cervinkova (author of the book) on a voice recorder, and she rewrote it without major interventions. It feels relaxed, like you are telling the story to your friends by the fireplace. I didn’t want to dig into my past so much anymore, because people always just take something out of that. Although I haven’t taken many drugs in my life, it looks like I’ve been on drugs my whole life. It bothered me, and also the fact that the essentials that formed my life and were a part of me, get lost in it. I merely wished to correct these misinterpretations and omissions by writing the book. I am very happy, because readers often write to me that they identify themselves in the sense of inner cognition. I wanted the book to be an evaluation of my past life, including the transformation, so that I wouldn’t have to go back to it again, and this way I consider the chapter of my past as closed.
You say you were repeatedly finding that you were going in the wrong direction. Don’t you think it was all probably meant to happen, no matter how it looks from the outside?
Inside me, my true self fought with a man who was brought up to live in this society. In fact, I’ve always done that, and I thought it was right. Then suddenly my inner self rebelled and said, “You listen. Do what you are expected to do instead of doing what you should do.”
But you have never really done what, according to general rules, you should have done…
Although I did that less than most people, I still did it too. For example, I have never completely fitted into the music community because I don’t enjoy sitting in a pub and sarcastically slandering others. Or trying to get through some productions to major publishers or to big festivals. I always showed up somewhere and kept going my way. I never fitted into any of those stables.
You have a close relationship with your mother. In your book, you describe very openly the relationships in your family, which may not be pleasant for a mother to read, especially at her age. How does she react to your book and the way you present your private life to the public?
If the book had been published three years ago, she would have been happy, and it would have brought us even closer. Currently, she can hardly see or hear. She also deals with memory problems. I only read her the chapter I dedicated to her, and she was really touched by it. She is basically not very aware that I have published a book. She certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that, because we’ve talked about those topics together before. When Daddy was dying, he didn’t let anyone but me get closer to him. I took care of him and during those five months, we managed to beautifully resolve our difficult relationship. He didn’t even let my mother look after him. First, he had feelings of guilt, and second, he was annoyed by her being so emotional. On the other hand, I treated him completely calmly, so he was prepared well for death. My mother and I talked about everything because there is not a day that we don’t talk about Dad. He is still present with us because we have his urn with us. Everything I described in the book, including my distant relationship with my brother, she actually knows. My mother claims that she can’t remember anything bad she had to go through because of me. She was always a strong woman, so she solved all the difficult situations the family experienced on her own. My father was really the coward and incompetent in this regard. Whether I was arrested or there was a problem with the apartment, she always fought like a lion. She was able to find some important contacts with people who helped us, that someone did not destroy us existentially. She probably took it for granted when she was in the flow of effort. When it was over, she probably didn’t even realize how much strength and all it had cost her.
Writing is a great form of therapy. While writing, did you deal with any topic that wasn’t opened up until then?
Yes. In fact, neither in treatment nor in subsequent therapy, and even after, had I ever opened up the subject of detention and subsequent persecution by the communist forces. When they arrested me, it was six days before my eighteenth birthday. I celebrated my eighteenth birthday in a cell with gypsies and a jar of water. I took it for granted. Probably the same way I knew my Mom would. It wasn’t until we started writing the book that Radka brought me back to the point where I started to realize how much it had affected my life. I took it for granted that I had to go through it, but that wasn’t true. Anyway, since then I have distrust and reservations about human society because it is shallow and superficial. I mean in the context of the whole of humanity. This is what individual establishments look like, and it doesn’t matter if it is a capitalist or a socialist society. It’s just evil. People had a chance if they lived in communities with 200 members, such as tribes or villages. There, the relational content can simply be understood. When people didn’t collaborate, everyone paid for it. Large communities are a misery these days. I realized that I have no trust in officialdom since then, and there is no reason to trust them. When one looks back through history, it has always been the same. Those who had power and authority abused and exploited others. Because everyone was largely willing to follow their rules, society has always suffered from a severe lack of morality marasmus.
People who have experienced injustice or been physically or mentally abused often describe something breaking inside them, that somewhere in the depths of the soul there will be a scar that cannot be completely healed. How is it with you?
I probably share the opposite experience. That’s why I finally went on existential therapies. When I was in solitary confinement for ten days, after one of the interrogations, when I was almost killed, I stayed in the cell for two days. I suddenly saw I had nothing to lose. On the contrary, inner freedom and strength have grown inside me. So, as far as I’m concerned, I discovered in myself our original state of being, spirituality, which I was then unable to apply in any way in my life. What has broken in me is trust towards society. Not towards individuals, but to society as a whole. I don’t just mean state officials, but overall. People can’t get along well and function in a large society.
What advice would you give to those who find themselves in prison, rightly or wrongly, how to deal with themselves at such a stage in their lives? How to handle anger and aggression?
It’s hard. I don’t think there is universal advice for that. I didn’t really start understanding it until I was 45 years old. Before, I always tried over and over, and that’s exactly it, I tried to fit into society. I tried to live as I was supposed to live. Something groundbreaking happened then. It wasn’t a turning point, but it took months before the effect wore off again, and I didn’t know what to do about it. It takes years for a person to start putting it together again so that it is authentically his, not just another attempt. This is really hard. Selfknowledge is a lifelong job. Personally, I had no anger. I was there with the gypsies, who probably had an inner rage, but we had no other choice than to cooperate in that little cell. In fact, people sharpened their nails there. There was one gypsy who almost beat a guy to death with his fists in the pub. He was a 17-year-old boy, and he gradually unlearned it there. He always provoked others and was illiterate. Within the few weeks we were there together, he started to co-operate and try to get along with the others. We were in custody. We were locked in a cell all day long. Sometimes, we could take a quarter-hour walk. Otherwise, we were always together in one room. Although I have been held in custody, I’ve never actually been in prison. I don’t know how to maintain inner purity or credit in such an environment so that one doesn’t completely succumb to it.
As a preschooler, you spent three years in China. How did this period shape your personality?
I think that’s where my biggest conflict comes from. At the time I was there, China was still a very poor and simple country. People had one work suit and one civilian suit. They rode bicycles, cars were an exception. Beijing Airport was a flat area with a wooden hut. People were simple. I got used to it, and it suited me very well. When I returned, I didn’t understand why everything was so artificial. It could be said that people in China lived a natural way of life. Relationships between people were interwoven with humanity. In our country, you suddenly met a teacher in the school who was an old communist lady. You could feel the power was starting to show up here. To me, the Chinese were human, open and understandable. They were humble and held no ill will towards others. What they said, is what they did.
You experienced life in a diametrically different culture than ours early on. It probably also affected your otherness which you talk about a lot in your book. As a child, how did you cope with not fitting in very much and perceiving things differently than others?
With difficulty, because I thought it was my fault. I tried to fit into the group. My mom was home, so I didn’t go to the school cafeteria for lunch. When school ended, I went home for lunch and then had to do homework. Only then was I allowed to go out. But the other children were already together somewhere. So, I was not included in the group. I was actually with them only during the teaching time. Because of my experience in China, I was very open and maybe a little naive. The other children recognized it and ridiculed me or were even cruel. When someone was frank, they did it in a hurtful way. I became friendlier with girls because they were less like that than boys. The boys didn’t let me join in with them because I was more inclined to art, thanks to my mother. I wasn’t interested in football or cars. When I was with them, I tried to imitate them, but it was useless. When the boys went out, they never took me with them.
It is said that every personality is unique and original. Why do you think that people have a problem accepting otherness, especially for those who are not popular or strongly supported?
We are part of the chain just like other animal forms. The herd is actually a source of security. As soon as someone deviates, they become dangerous for the others, so they naturally exclude them. As a result, the herd maintains its dominance. I think that otherness means weakness to them. They push out the deviants because they would endanger the herd’s power as a whole. That is why I am really happy to have discovered the Tibetan doctrine which describes this reality which actually grips us, as an illusory state of our minds. Suddenly, it all takes on a completely different dimension, and one can more easily live with it.
In general, however, people are convinced they have to manage and succeed in the world the way it is…
I thought the same, but it‘s not true. Tibetan teachings were brought to Tibet by Guru Padmasambhava who was invited to Tibet by the King Trisong Detsen in the 8th century. The king did a very clever thing. He did not take their deities from the Tibetans. He allowed these to remain there in religious forms and introduced a Buddhist view there as well. It means that our problem is that we perceive ourselves as individuals – as individuals who have to survive in this reality. This is the first stumbling block that actually disrupts everything. In fact, there is no specific Self. We are part of the whole. All of us who have been born, have attained the opportunity to manifest in the dimension of human beings. In fact, we don‘t really function as individuals. This means that there is no plan or purpose with us here because the universe is a constantly changing energy. When we dissolve the selves, we begin to see things in a purer form. This means that things that used to get me into trouble don‘t get me there anymore. I look at them differently. This is a very liberating aspect, that I no longer apply everything to myself. Guru Padmasambhava wrote the so-called “Last Instructions“, which ends with the words, “My heart is bleeding over those who take their selves as something real and constantly desire happiness.“ We are happy simply for the fact we are. We don‘t need more. Just being me is actually amazing. I‘m glad I can live with peace of mind. It is always the same feeling that doesn’t change. I am filled with what I am developing thanks to Tibetan doctrine, and that is to free myself from the self as a personality, to perceive things as they are and not to try to remake them. Because I know that the providence, the energy, the source that sets the whole universe in motion, is perfectly fine and has neither good nor bad intentions with me. I‘m just part of something amazing. Tibetans call it “kuntuzangpo“, or always a good mother.
“There is a major difference between karma and destiny, and that is what people confuse. Fate means that you may have met in a moment somewhere that, depending on how you manage it, will determine how your life will develop. But karma – your consciousness or you could say your hard disk. Not software – that consists of reason, the conditioned mind, self-awareness.“
The current world is very superficial. We would certainly live better if people went deeper and cooperated more with each other, which could alleviate the accumulated chaos we live in…
Unfortunately, it is not possible, because we are constantly passing one another here. There are human beings who have been born in this world many times in a row, so they are capable of this insight. Then there are the people who came here from the animal realm and yet have the initial behavior that we recognize. For example, the manifestation of aggression is just reincarnated fear. People lack patience. When someone doesn‘t have a message on their cell phone in three seconds, they feel frustrated. Where did we go? Young people will be unprepared for real life which is about learning patience; you have to learn that sometimes something doesn’t work out; you have to learn that there is an injustice, that sometimes something you mean in a good way ends up in a different way and people turn it against you. It’s just life with everything that goes with it.
What kind of knowledge have you gained through your experience of dealing with debts?
I came back from rehab in 2002, and all my neglected things and everything I hadn’t cared about before, amounted to over 500 thousand Czech crowns (22,000 USD). At the time, there was no possibility of personal bankruptcy. I had to pay it back for five years from what I earned as a cleaner or window washer. Clearly, I lived from hand to mouth. I didn’t have a public transport pass because I didn’t have the money for it. I didn’t even have a cell phone. At the same time, I was already an old guy who had played in several bands, experienced successes and had his own families. Suddenly I felt completely tiny. It was such an amazing time for me, and it gave me a lot. Suddenly I understood what is really important to other people. People who admire me now and lick my ass, at that time treated me like peace of shit. I’m very glad I experienced it, because I know that no such external value actually has any value in reality. First, nothing lasts forever. Some changes are constantly happening. Second, when you’re at your worst, and you’re alone and have to handle everything on your own, overcoming it gives you tremendous inner strength, and you don’t need anyone around. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that. They’re still looking for someone to help them. Thanks to such an experience, you will learn to survive your existence in a completely raw way, only on your own.
In your book, you state that you are not a fatalist, but you do not doubt a certain fatality in your life. How much do you believe in fate and in karma as a Buddhist?
There is a major difference between karma and destiny, and that is what people confuse. Fate means that you may have met in a moment somewhere that, depending on how you manage it, will determine how your life will develop. But karma – your consciousness or you could say your hard disk. Not software – that consists of reason, the conditioned mind, self-awareness. On the other hand, the hard disk is clean, with full capacity, but at the same time does not show any change. In fact, it shows how everything comes together. For example, somebody can say, why on earth did such things happen to me in life? Because in past lives, they had been a cheat or had lied for a long time or were aggressive and so on. It manifests itself centuries later. You have to go through it again and again to reach your inner knowledge and suddenly be able to let it go through your own experience. This is overlapping and has nothing to do with people’s destiny which only applies to this life. I try to accept everything I encounter in this life because I no longer purify my karma, but I empty it so that I no longer behave karmically. That means I’m not subject to what Dan Horyna wants. Rather, I turn to the awareness that I am a being who has a human form at this time, and that is, of course, very responsible and binding. At the same time, it is liberating in the context of the perception of everyday life.
You also state that you do not believe in positive energy, on the other hand, in therapies you follow the first rule of the code of ethics – to be a positive human role model. From your point of view, where is the positive human pattern coming from, if not the positive energy?
The positive human role model is that I am in direct contact with a person. It means that I don’t really advise the person, but they somehow feel how my current aura – personality – is created. This thing itself evokes in a person the desire and courage to do something with themselves in order to change as well. Whereas ‘positive energy’ is the technical term which is just a feeling. There is no difference between positive and negative energy. If something happened to me that got me into anxiety, fear or frightened me, and it was unpleasant, then in the end it always resulted in something very positive. Either it made me stronger, or it led me to surrender. Negative and positive energies are solved only by those who are devoted to esotericism, who constantly hope that if they think positively, they will meet only nice things. That’s bullshit. Society is as it is. Human life is very dramatic and may end at any time. By realizing this, one settles down. I don’t need anything positive to keep everything in order. My master says, “Good or bad. In terms of primary energy, there is no difference in the meantime.” I learn to enjoy everything as if all the things are just decorations. Everything that happens here is a bauble that has nothing to do with my essence. It will just end in a moment and the important thing is what will happen after.
Being a positive human role model means being honest and authentic which also requires being tough on people if necessary. How do people react to your therapies?
I’m authentic, so I do what I feel. Sometimes I’m even blunt because I can just afford it. If someone doesn’t like it, I’ll say – don’t be angry, we won’t work together. This will speed up their journey to make them realize something. If they don’t believe me, it wouldn’t work anyway. I think the best we can do for others is to be consistently kind to them. Just like I try to do to myself. If kindness doesn’t work, it goes more into consistency. There is even a so-called compassion of fools in Buddhism. This means that if someone wants to constantly prove how good their heart is and actually give in to people, then they themselves become part of the evil they should fight against. This has nothing to do with compassion. In fact, it’s starting to be manipulation of people. If something bothers me, and if I don’t say it, I basically allow a person to keep making mistakes. Sometimes someone tells me you’re a Buddhist and you’re so tough. I say yes, because we are running out of time that is limited for us here. If we continue to play games, we will leave from here incomplete and unfinished. There is no time to play games about goodness and other similar things. I’m learning not to hurt other people, and that’s hard, because sometimes you hurt unknowingly. I continue trying to observe it. But I’m not trying to be kind to people just because it’s meant to be. It does not work.
In public, you are best known as a rock musician. But music is not one of the main themes of your book. Why did you decide not to give it more space in the book?
The form of the book was determined by Radka according to what she asked me. Then it depended a lot on what answers I developed more or not. I got into music thanks to my brother, who is five years older than me. From an early age, I listened to music that my peers did not know at all. I was ahead in this way. I went to rock clubs already at the age of 13. Thanks to my brother, I listened to bands that my peers didn‘t know at all. He was still playing the drums, so I went to concerts with him or drove the drums to the rehearsal room with him. I quickly inclined to music. In addition, I was studying opera singing at that time. In 1971, I saw a photo of Robert Plant on the back cover of the Popmusic Express magazine, published by college students. Then I heard the song “Whole Lotta Love“ by LED ZEPPELIN, and I went completely crazy. I had discovered something absolutely amazing. I‘ve been following LED ZEPPELIN my whole life ever since, because their career was amazing. They never repeated their music. Each record was new. Their authenticity and the way they grew simply fascinated me. That‘s why I found bands such as DEEP PURPLE or BLACK SABBATH funny because they created some sound and style, but then they just kept repeating themselves with each new album. Whereas LED ZEPPELIN were able to go from country and old knightly epics as “Stairway to Heaven“ to the compositions they played on “In Through the Out Door“, “Presence“ and other records. They didn‘t want to be just a rock band. They were a wonderful creative element. They were not afraid to do something else and did not care if it would meet the needs of their fans. This is how I imagined the growth of a rock performer. I‘ve also done a lot of diverse music in my life with different bands, which – you could say – doesn‘t always sound the same. That‘s why I never really fitted into the local music scene. I remember playing with the band KABAT (one of the biggest rock bands in the Czech Republic) in 1990. It was a party band and they actually still are today. They just kept going, so they‘re stars out of nowhere. I‘m not really interested in the Czech rock scene.
How did you manage to adapt yourself to the Czech music scene then?
I didn‘t (laughs). I‘m such an individualist. When we started making our own music with the band VITACIT at the turn of the 80s, I strongly got into it. We didn‘t copy any styles. We weren‘t like DEEP PURPLE or anyone else. We did it our way, such a boy‘s mixture. By becoming famous at the time, I remained in the public consciousness as a rock singer. Then the period of searching followed; in fact, it took until 1988 when guitarist Marek Podskalsky and I founded MERLIN, which was unique. I have always tended to the American scene rather than the European one. I like it when there is life in music, good arrangements, when people enjoy it at the same time, and it is not just about sweaty party characters. The Czech audience does not reach this level.
I fully agree. One of the reasons why I am not able to listen to a lot of Czech bands is that they treat the Czech language as if it was English. Basically, they roar in Czech, and it‘s not possible…
It is not possible. We have a specific hard language where you can‘t play with stretching consonants, for example. I did exactly that when we were playing the covers; I took the original and matched the Czech language to make it sound the same. It made sense and, at the same time, it was phonetically very similar to the original. Czech is unsung, even compered to Slovak. Then a style is created, and everyone sings like somebody else. Nowadays, everyone has the same voice in the Czech bands, but the fans just want it. I remember when I started listening to music. I had the honor to see BLUE EFFECT playing in the original line-up. It is an experience that is etched in my heart forever. It was really a kind of cosmic experience. I saw Czeslaw Niemen or the Hungarian LOCOMOTIV GT play in Prague. We played in the sold-out Rondo hall in Brno with the bands ARAKAIN and the Polish TSA. They were enthusiastic about our band MERLIN and, the whole time after the concert, they talked to us at the hotel until morning. This is always the real value for me. The Polish TSA were one of the few Eastern Bloc bands touring the United States.
You’ve already mentioned LED ZEPPELIN and the personality of Robert Plant who is your favorite rock singer. What attracts you to his personality? Do you perceive any similarities in your destinies?
I think there‘s a lot to know from his solo work about how overlapping his personality is. He disappointed a lot of fans when he turned away from LED ZEPPELIN‘s hard music, but again, it‘s his lifelong maturation. I also liked the way LED ZEPPELIN matured with each album. He was actually looking for his own way to move forward. Although he is said to play world music, I think it‘s his completely unique expression that really matches his personality. In everyday life, he is an absolutely perfect guy who goes to a pub with his neighbors, supports Birmingham football and collects old motorcycles. Spirituality just emanates from him. I think he‘s popular because he never got stuck. He refuses to sing “Stairway to Heaven“. When he returns to old songs, he gives them a brand new coat and uses other instruments.
Robert Plant‘s solo work is, of course, amazing and different in that he composes oriental elements into the music which is not so typical for the British or American scene…
Robert Plant has a very positive attitude towards nature, which is why he has always had a farm. He cooperates a lot with North African tribes. For example, in the song “Kashmir“ (“Physical Graffiti”, 1975) he showed that he is very attracted to it. He loves people born in natural nations. We have this in common, because there is a certain purity in relationships. They don‘t have to deal with issues like ethics and morality because it works naturally for them. It doesn‘t have to be legal. I think he‘s trying to have it incorporated in his music, as you rightly said. This means that he collaborates with folk musicians and uses both African and Asian traditional musical instruments. At the same time, it‘s not such a pose as Peter Gabriel once did. He used to be called a rock angel because he looked and behaved that way. Basically, a big boy and at the same time an interesting guy who created his life on his own. LED ZEPPELIN guitarist Jimmy Page is actually underrated because he plays a lot of strange medieval musical instruments. I liked that it was reflected in their music. Jimmy Page also makes great movie music. Both are very interesting people. I was very sorry when they fell apart. But they once said that if one of them quit, they could not play in any other line-up. So, when John Bonham died, they really did what they said, and they finished up. Most bands would find someone else and continue. They said their lineup was simply irreplaceable. I wonder where they would go next. They certainly wouldn‘t fit into any specific category. But we won‘t find out anymore.
As one of the few Czechs, you were lucky enough to be able to experience the LED ZEPPELIN concert at a time of their greatest fame. How do you remember that?
I saw them in the first half of the 70s in the Netherlands in Rotterdam. I‘ve never experienced anything like it. It‘s not just about the way they played. John Bonham played drums for 20 minutes with his bare hands. Overall, it was an other-worldly experience. They managed to move to somewhere else in the songs. It was often seen that Jimmy Page started playing a theme and the others just followed him. I think it made them original as well. At the same time, their improvisations were not boring or too long. Each of their concerts was unique. Nothing has ever surpassed this experience, that is why I have been staying faithful to them my whole life. I‘ve seen various concerts of bands such as PINK FLOYD, YES, ZZ TOP, but with other bands, I haven‘t experienced the richness and, at the same time, the rawness of LED ZEPPELIN.
You were mainly influenced by LED ZEPPELIN and mostly American hard rock bands. You say that you are not interested in the Czech rock scene mainly because of its party level. Haven‘t you ever been tempted to try out abroad?
No. Once someone heard me sing in a Lucerna venue in Prague and told me I was exactly the kind that if I went to United States, I would definitely succeed there. But I am a terrible Prague lover. When I leave Prague for two or three months, I start to miss it there a lot. I couldn‘t take it. I‘m not that cosmopolitan. Even in the times of a communist regime, I was forced to apply for an emigration passport and leave. I never did it because I could not emigrate or leave Bohemia for a long time. On the other hand, I must say that in the early 80s, when rock and metal concerts were forbidden in our country, I toured with the bands BENEFIT and VITACIT in my beginnings. At the time, the level of rock parties was comparable to the good quality concerts. We somehow transformed its atmosphere for people who didn‘t have the opportunity to follow Western bands. The bands didn‘t play badly at all, and I really enjoyed it. It was different then. Usually more people went to the parties than to concerts back then, and they all had a good time. People danced and had fun just like you knew it from the United States. You didn‘t even have to let your music slip in quality when everyone else did, once they started playing for the majority of the people with a twisted taste in music. But I think this was a worldwide trend, because rock music has become an industry. The publishers started spewing out bands that played like someone who was already famous. Metal bands all sound quite the same.
You also got into the first league of show business on the Czech music scene at the time, when you collaborated with Frantisek Janecek (one of the best-known music and musical producers in the Czech Republic). How did it happen that the rocker collaborated with the pop music magnate?
I would never have cooperated with Frantisek Janecek under normal circumstances. It happened that I got professional papers, and the rest of the band gave up. Suddenly, I had the opportunity to make a living out of music which was the dream of everyone under communism. Not to be an amateur but to make a living out of it. I had to get an engagement within two months, otherwise my papers would be forfeited. Amateur rock bands couldn‘t hire you, and all professional rock bands already had their singers. I was in a vacuum. I had sung in the band of Frantisek Janecek already before, when the singer Jana Kratochvílova left. We rehearsed the program, and I was supposed to sing her songs. In fact, they knew me, and when I met Frantisek Janecek and told him about my situation, he invited me to join his band. He said I would play the guitar first, and then he would make me a hit. I had a pregnant wife; we had nothing at all, not even an apartment. I was under existential pressure, so I accepted his offer. I traveled with them for half a year as a guitar player. Meanwhile, Michal David (the famous Czech composer and singer) composed a song for me. This is how Franta Janecek expanded his stable, because one singer means one record. Half of the Supraphon‘s (the biggest Czechoslovak label back then) production was owned by him, and that was exactly what he was after. Michal David then asked me what I had an idea for. I gave him the album “Foreigner 4“ which I liked. I said that a soft rock mixed with pop would probably be accepted by Frantisek Janecek. When we played in Ostrava, Michal David took me on stage and sang a beautiful song to me in a hoarse voice. I asked him what it was, because I didn‘t know this tune from FOREIGNER. He replied that he had composed it himself for me. That was such a beautiful song, exactly in that style. Michal David is an excellent musician. Before it happened, I had had an argument with Franta Janecek and sent him to hell. I was fired from the band. Later he was a witness at my wedding. Our mutual photo from the wedding appeared in the Melodie magazine, and it was another shame because I was damned by everyone in the rock scene.
What is the meaning of music in your life, not just the music you personally create, but music in general?
Because I tend to live a natural way of life, I consider music to be the purest and most authentic expression of the human spirit. Music works with tone and melody and does not necessarily contain lyrics as in the case of mantras or other spiritual music, composed mainly by natural people. I perceive music as a manifestation of our soul if it is made honestly.
You have struggled with drug addiction three times in your life. Were the reasons why you repeatedly fell into it the same, or was it more about not being able to manage it on your own?
The reasons were always a little different, and I also experienced each period differently. From the beginning in the 70s, it was just about the mystery of the experience, and it was interesting. We knew that hippies in the West used drugs for spiritual overlap and for gaining extrasensory experiences to open up higher consciousness. So, it was connected in this way, and we also took drugs seldom, maybe once a month. It continued over about four years, and then I stopped from day to day and was clean until the early 1990s, when the drug boom started. In the 1990s, Prague was called Amsterdam of the East. People from Europe and all over the world came here to enjoy banquets when our first rock clubs started. I dived right in for seven months. It was crazy because I thought I had the situation under control. I thought I could take the drug once and I would be fine after, but I became immersed into it terribly. I traveled around Europe without knowing what I was doing. It was utter madness. Then I stopped again because I met my third wife. In fact, I came out of it shortly before I met her. The last time I fell into drugs was in the late 1990s. Although it was expected to be that way, I was very disappointed with the way the Czech nation treated democracy and freedom. I didn‘t even do well at home in the relationship with my wife. I started taking meth again. It ended in 2000, when I was really such a wreck. First it was an experiment, then it was a surprising trip in the early 90s, and in the end, it was self-destruction.
Did you get to the original cause of your addiction while being on your self-knowledge journey?
Yes. The first period was associated with me leaving custody. When I was released, I suffered existentially. They fired me from school and sports. I strayed from society. I wanted to develop some inner value that would stabilize me from being devastated by the loss of confidence in life the way it is. On the drug, I always got a certain feeling of getting closer to myself and a relaxed ability to breathe. I felt like I was living a life that wasn‘t mine. I suffered from a loss of my own identity, and thanks to the drug, I felt exactly the same as Keith Richards said, “At least I‘m not with myself for a while.“ Drugs helped me to escape from myself, from the way I was. After the last self-destructive period, I went into treatment. I knew that if I learned to live with myself, my life would make sense. I could no longer live the roles I was expected to.
What is your definition of addiction, what exactly is addiction?
When a person loses a relationship with themselves. Once you do not have your identity, you are able to become addicted to everything that changes your perception of reality. Thanks to that, you experience a feeling of freedom, at least for a while.
At the beginning of the interview, you mentioned it bothers you to be labelled a junkie. People take drugs virtually in all spheres and social classes. Why do you think this topic is the most often connected with rockers?
Unlike ordinary mainstream society, which also stuff themselves with whatever, rockers never hid it. It just comes to the surface as if it belonged to rock music. It speaks volumes about the culture of the nation because the Czechs have simply never been able to respect and appreciate people who have accomplished something. All the personalities above the national average were always dishonored. If you look at world rock stars, for example … Someone will tell you, but you can‘t compare yourself to them. I can, because locally, I‘m the same as they are. AEROSMITH, THE ROLLING STONES, OZZY OSBOURNE, MÖTLEY CRÜE, and I could name many more. They all took drugs big time, and according to our people who come from the Czech Republic, it belongs to the life of the stars. But when a Czech rocker does the same, he is a junkie in their eyes. Czechs are not forgiven for such things. As soon as you make a small mistake, everyone will wash your mouth out. They don‘t care that you‘ve accomplished anything in your life. In fact, it is a hidden envy. That is why, for example, the Czechs provided information to the Communists or the Gestapo and pretended it was for moral reasons. The average and the mediocre prefer to remain that way and resent those who offer talent above average, even if it is amazing. That is why many talented Czechs who achieved something, preferred to emigrate.
We will probably agree on that the child‘s psyche and its further overall development are affected by the prenatal period. How old were you when you learned that you were born an unwanted child, and how did you react to that at the time?
I knew the history of our family. I knew my dad didn‘t care much about the family and everything was on my mother‘s shoulders. It didn‘t surprise me that much. I found it out when I was 16 years old. At that time, I was foot racing. My mom and my coach platonically fell in love with each other. I was the only one who knew about it. My mom made me her confidant, and we said a lot of things to each other back then, including this one. She actually apologized to me. At the time, I didn‘t even realize it was important information. I realized it years later. In some ways, it really foreshadows what a person will be like. I was an unwanted child because my parents dealt with the unfavorable economic situation. My mother tried to lose me in various ways. I survived things that others would not survive. As if I had a greater will to survive. Maybe it‘s from the prenatal age, when I felt like I was an unwanted child and thanks to it I was even more eager to be born.
You were hyperactive as a child. How should parents deal with such a child without necessarily diagnosing ADHD and starting to give the child pills at such an early stage of life?
Medications are not the solution at all. Human diversity is wonderful. Some people are just like a dead bird, some are phlegmatic, some are impenetrable, some are in balance and some have a very energetic childhood and adolescence. Anyway, it‘s not a disease. Such a person tries to adjust themselves during their lifetime. One knows they can‘t jump into speech. Another knows they can‘t run, and then they settle down. Gradually, they learn self-discipline. A lot of people think they should let such children do sports. But the more active the child is, the more energy in the body increases. So, it‘s better to let the process go, and it will level out over time. Each of us has a slightly different mental development. Nowadays, various patterns of how children should develop are popular. But human development has no unified expression.
“For the current society, as it is set up, the family model is actually the healthiest principle that can be established. If there are well-established relationships in the family.“
How do you perceive the importance of the family in society according to the settings we currently live in?
I think that in developed society, as I said before, since we are no longer a tribal community, we are mentally able to relate to a maximum of 200 people. It is difficult to live as if one settlement could function as a tribe. For the current society, as it is set up, the family model is actually the healthiest principle that can be established. If there are well-established relationships in the family. Then it is indifferent how sociologists have set up a functional model. One fact is that I have a big problem with children being raised by parents of the same sex. I experienced a lack of a male role model in my dad. The child needs to be able to move in a bisexual world. So, one actually has to see the behavior of both sexes during adolescence. Currently, there may be more sexes, but there are only two in nature. Again, this is a departure from nature, which is in everything we are experiencing now. It will have terrible consequences; society is falling apart. Everyone says for themselves what they want, they have the right to do it, and that’s it. The only rights that make sense are civil rights. If we live in large units such as nations, civil rights should be respected for this to work. A citizen is a person who lives in a society, adheres to some standards that are agreed for society to get along. If we want to fulfill our own rights, we must act in a way that fulfills our duties. Freedom is mainly about responsibility. Not just doing what I want because my feelings allow it. Such freedom results in one person clashing with another, who perceives it differently, and they end up being opposed to each other.
What do you currently see as the greatest threat to humanity?
At present, I am very bothered by the departure from nature. Thanks to technological advances, the whole society is artificial and unnatural, and that is terribly damaging to us. In Buddhism, we call such a period “kalpas“ (aeons). These are periods within 100, 300 and 500 years, when humanity is going through a mental crisis before returning to a healthy common consciousness. We are now in a deep crisis. We went through the 20th century, which was tumultuous thanks to the advance of technology and nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. In fact, spirituality has been lost. It was the first century when faith and spirituality had no place. Then the internet came, and we got into the post-factual era. This means that at present everyone has clip-like encyclopedic knowledge, but they are not able to put it into context in any way. What is happening now is the same as what happened in Babylon, that is, the mixing of tongues. These are not the languages of the nations, but it means that speech is losing the meaning it is supposed to have. Words and thoughts are worthless because they are thrown into the air, and no one listens to anyone else. It is simply the atomization of ideas. That is why there is actually a great crisis because we are all talking about empathy, about saving the planet, but in reality, no one is doing anything about it. The planet will recover or disappear, just as we do. Everything is fleeting. When humanity dies, we will continue elsewhere and in a different form. Currently, there is a tendency to reduce the population of the planet through various forms. There are too many of us and we are multiplying too fast. Plebs are multiplying, harming rather than helping the planet.
One does not sometimes resist the feeling of sadness from the overall situation in the world and thoughts such as what awaits us next, even if it is at a stage when one is aware of the essentials of life. After overcoming life crises and finding a direction that makes sense to you and is fulfilling for you, are you able to accept the surrounding events with greater ease?
That is why, in my last deep crisis in the rehab, I accepted myself in its purest form and then discovered the Tibetan doctrine, Dzogchen. Suddenly, I felt a huge relief, because in fact, everything that happens here has no meaning at all. Consider how many significant civilizations have disappeared. Antiquity knew perspective and anatomy. All the sculptures were perfect. Suddenly, in the Middle Ages, nonsensical Madonnas which were disproportionate, began to be painted, and perspective disappeared. It all came up again. Mankind is unteachable and keeps repeating the same mistakes generation after generation. Why is it happening? People enter the same dimension and slavishly repeat what they are being told to do. These were exactly the reasons for my crises, when I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t handle it. Now I am free from it thanks to Tibetan teaching. Guru Padmasambhava, whom I have already mentioned, is known as the Buddha of the three times because he had a prophetic vision. He stored the so-called “terms”, that is, the treasures of wisdom. People discovered it only at the appropriate time. He prophesied our time. I quote exactly: “There will come a dark age of degeneration, when material desires will deprive humanity of intelligence. People will behave unrestrainedly; they will revel in negative emotions. Business will be fake. Self-confidence will be supported by visage and clothing. Killing, sex and other animal needs will be elevated, even if we condemn them in words. Don’t follow this example for a moment. This is of great importance for your future, which does not end with the death of this body.“