David Gluck had fallen out of religion. Raised Catholic, he was living the “rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle” as a musician in New York City in 2001, smoking pot and drinking until 7 a.m.
Then his grandfather died. A few weeks later he broke up with his longtime girlfriend. Then 9/11 came.
“I had friends in the [World Trade Center] or [who] should have been,” Gluck said. “And I just had this moment of an existential crisis.”
He wondered if drugs and music was all there was to life. He began to peruse bookstore shelves for people he thought had answers, and in reading texts from swamis and the Dalai Lama, began a 15-year journey that this week will take him back to the summer home of his youth: Chautauqua.
Gluck will lead the Mystic Heart Meditation Program for Week Nine, guiding Buddhist meditations from 7:15 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday at the Main Gate Welcome Center. In keeping with this week’s Interfaith Lecture theme of “America’s Spiritual Songbook” and his own spiritual journey, Gluck will use music to guide Chautauquans deep into meditation.
Growing up, Gluck had been surrounded by spirituality. His two uncles were monks, one conservative and the other more liberal in their understanding of spirituality, and for years he watched their theological debates. He grew up loving church as well, he said, the quiet ritual of religious appealing to something deeper within him.
But his immediate family eventually withdrew from religion. Then he went to college, where reading religious texts was not exactly the cool thing to do on Friday nights.
When he finally returned to religion, Gluck said, it was difficult to find an opening. He wanted to embrace the meditation those swamis wrote about, but traditional breathing techniques never worked for him. That’s when he found mantra and music meditation.
“I myself am a musician, so sound, word, repetition of sound, repetition of word, coming up with things like mantra have been an easy way to find a foothold in meditation, to root my attention,” Gluck said.
Through the mantra, he was eventually able to find his way to more traditional forms of meditation. He has since gone on to become a teacher, developing philosophy and anasa yoga classes in Toronto. Coming back to Chautauqua, where he spent his summers as a kid and where he went to decompress from city life as an adult, he said he hopes to reconnect with the community.
“What I’m hoping to achieve is to connect with this community, really understand what this community is about in a deeper way and see what I may be able to contribute to people who are in Chautauqua and also opening themselves to this journey in their life,” Gluck said.