Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea on prayer and the meaning of God

(Nick Fancher / For The Times)

In an interview with Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times, Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame asks for a moment before the two sat down to talk. “I’m gonna do my little ritual,” he says. Then he bows his head in silence for about 20 seconds. What follows is a small excerpt of the interview.

Is that a daily thing for you?

Yeah, I’m a praying guy. I pray in the morning when I get up, when I go to bed, when I eat. And when I do an interview, I’ll just stop for a second — like, let me get out of the way and let go of everything.

To whom are you praying?

To God. I’m not religious in any way, but I kind of believe in God. And I try to live a life that honors my idea of what God is — like a divine energy.

You talk about this with Patti Smith on your podcast — the idea of finding God in music.

For me, music is the voice of God. I grew up virulently anti-religious, and there came a time in the early ’90s, right around when I turned 30, I got really sick with chronic fatigue. I’d been a drug-taking madman — party all night, play basketball all day. I just thought I was Superman. And all of a sudden it was like all the energy got sucked out of my body. I was like, I can’t go on tour, I feel too s—. And I was cut off from my friends because I wasn’t partying.

So I read this self-help book by this guy Jon Kabat-Zinn where he talked about how if you strip away all your thoughts and actions — your pain, your pleasure, your memories, your hopes — what’s the thing that’s left? And it really struck me because I’d been so caught up in the external. I started thinking about that emptiness, and in that moment God just made perfect sense. I mean, like I said, I’ve still never been religious. And I’ve tried — I’ve been to churches.

Why did you feel compelled to try?

I thought there might be a sense of community. In the ’80s I’d go to churches in South L.A. as an atheist. I had a friend who knew where the best gospel groups were coming through, so I’d go and it would be incredible. I thought punk rock was intense. Punk rockers are a bunch of p— compared to a church where people are speaking in tongues and throwing themselves on the ground.

The entire interview can be found HERE.

Along these same lines, Flea discussed on Instagram about recently reading “Faith, Hope and Carnage,” the fabulous interview book conversation between Nick Cave and Seán O’Hagan (you can read about it HERE).

Flea talked about reading the book during a flight to Australia: “It’s a conversation between Nick Cave and his friend Sean, and it just really affected me in a profound way. This book makes me want to get out of the way and let a river of God flow through me. It reminded me of what my highest self could be.”

Flea continued, “It reaffirmed or just stated more articulately than I can how all the whatever suffering and pain and anxiety and fear and things that I’ve been through in my life that have caused me to suffer, these things have always made me grow the most profoundly.”

Reading the book spurred many questions for the acclaimed musician. “These are the things, every time I look back, how did I get kinder? How did I get stronger? How did I get deeper? How did I get closer to God? How did I improve as a human being? And it’s always through pain. And that’s when I’ve grown. I think that’s when we grow. I think that’s how we grow if you’re able to embrace it and you’re brave enough to grow through it. And the way that Nick Cave speaks about that in this book just kind of really crystallizes that in the most beautiful and profound way.”

Flea also articulated how Cave’s book made him want to change his life. “He makes me want to be a better husband and a better father, and a better friend. And it makes me want to live above judgment and petty arguments and live in a state of the place where I should be, where you hear God and everything. I want to be there. I want to live in a state of absolute awe of the beautiful things in this world, and I want to be of service to them, and I want to be of service.”

He concluded, “And I, you know, all the times I’ve, you know, spent in my life, I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve I’m, like, on my knees, like, let me be a light. Let me be a light in this world. All the times that I’ve been destructive to myself or to other people, and I just want to be a light. I just want to glow. I just want to shine.”

Cave’s book jolted Flea in the best of all ways. “So I just can’t recommend it anymore. I just finished it. It’s awesome. [It] makes me happy. I’m glad that it exists. [It] makes me feel less alone. Here it is.”

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