Very few people know the meaning of passion, let alone understand the sacrifices required to follow it but musician, singer-songwriter, podcaster, activist and author Danny Rongo not only understands; he has made it a way of life.
Over the course of more than four decades, Rongo has been on a self-imposed mission to spread a message of what he terms "Oneness;" eventually manifesting itself into a one man musical which he wrote, scored with his original music, produced and directed called, "The Phone Call: A Musical to Inspire Oneness."
He wasn't done there however; as after the play completed its run of small theaters, Danny wanted more and he found the inspiration to turn it into his first book, "I Am God (and so are you my friend) A Common Man's Guide to Oneness" from a close personal source.
"I had written the play first and then turned it into the book," he explained with a tone of reverence in his voice. "My mom had passed and I had already done the play on Broadway and I recall saying, Mom; where do I go from here? I could hear her whisper in my ear after she had passed, "Daniel, son, you need to put it in a book" and that inspired me to take my message and put it in this book. So, it just seems that I've been getting these messages and events that inspire me. I wrote the play because in March of 2016 I was laid-off of my job that I had for 30 years of working on Wall Street and that was a huge life event for me. Here I had done something for 30 years every day and now I'm not doing it anymore and I thought, alright; how do I channel this stuff? Then again, because of always writing lyrics and things about oneness, I went within and I was inspired to write the musical and that took me on that journey which was wonderful. So, it's funny but these life events have had these profound affect on me to continue my journey to share oneness.
Soon after, that very book could be found on the shelves of Barnes & Nobles throughout the area and Rongo's efforts to spread his message were beginning to bear fruit. Riding high from that book's success, engaging others on the concept of oneness became more commonplace and as a result he found himself contemplating his next move; a move which would be brought about by worldwide events leading him to publish his second book, "The Wayz of Oneness: Helping to Navigate Life."
"It's a continuation of my journey into oneness and how I was inspired for this new book was from; just like everyone else, the COVID shutdown. It just set me back personally and I was taken aback by everything that I was seeing and hearing. Specifically, I was so inspired; if you can actually be inspired by fear; I was inspired by fear. I sensed that the whole world was like; what the heck is going on?! I sensed this from seeing the different reactions from my individual family and friends and at that time I was still watching news and still on specific social media platforms and seeing all of the reactions on those platforms I thought; oh, this is not good. So, from that, even inside of me it started to snowball more and more. I started to feel my insides getting revved up, I started getting angry about a lot of it and I just didn't like where I was heading personally. I knew that I had to come to some peace within myself; I thought, alright, this is here, it's a global event, I'm part of this world, I'm alive; so, how do I get through this? So, once I took enough time to, "Go within" as they say and to find out exactly through oneness, how to get through this. Just like with any crisis, I found my level of comfort with it and I was happy; yet I sensed everyone else was going to Hell in a hand basket around me. So, what I decided to do was take the time from being in a lockdown situation and being shutdown and start sharing how I could help people get through this crisis. So, as I started to do that, I thought, alright; why just stop at that? There are so many things that we all go through in life that are difficult to say the least; why don't I apply how I'm looking to navigate through a crisis towards some of our most precious aspects of life? I said, there it is, there's my idea for the book and as I sat each day I started to get more and more inspired and I looked at what I feel are the most critical times of our lives and what we face through our 80 or 90 years on this planet. That includes everything from life, love, death, hatred, our purpose, duality, ego, our health, fear, energy, family, money and choices that we all are doomed to make on any given day. I took these chapter headings and I broke them down and just started writing how the best way to navigate them would be. I use the term navigate because that's what led me to the title, because in my car I use the Waze system and I did not want to use their spelling of it so I spelled it Wayz and called it "The Wayz of Oneness: Helping to Navigate Life" and again, it is focusing on the most important times of our lives and of course happens to include a chapter heading "Crisis" where I talk about this pandemic and some of the issues that we face throughout our lifetimes."
"I wrote the book out of a basic need to heal myself. I would've definitely found peace in it because I've been aggravated a thousands of times before at stupid things (laughs) that I've seen and experienced in this world and I've actually learned the hard way over time that I'm the only one who can control the level of anger that I allow myself to get to. So, I've learned to put the brakes on and yeah, I was getting to that point where I was like, whoa, take a step back; what is this? I wasn't trying to downplay it to myself by saying, it's a virus and we've had these things before but it's the only time in our history that it has ever been spun this way and it has only been spun this way because it's happening here in the calendar year 2020 where we have access to these things. People might want to take a step back and say, alright; the first thing that I did was look at the back of a can of Lysol that had an expiration date of five years ago and it said that it can alleviate Corona Virus and I thought, this word isn't new. So, I wanted to go within to find my way of dealing with this thing on my own and that was the inspiration to first start off with that chapter and then expand upon that because I feel that we can all use help on the ways that we navigate or want to navigate; not that my way is the best way but it's just what I know has helped me throughout my life and it comes from a foundation of oneness and if it can help one person out there who buys the book then great."
Rongo's theory of "Oneness" is a cerebral concept that appears complex but as "Beauty is only skin deep;" the simplicity of it lies just beneath its surface.
"This is what I've been touting for years and decades now because our biggest problem facing humanity continues to be the falsehood of separation. What I mean by this is, we emanate from a source of oneness, meaning that whatever people view as where they came from, be it their god or their spirit or higher spirit, that's one entity; it's an energy and we are just a Devine expression of that said energy. So, what happens over time is; from the moment we are born, we come into a world of duality and contrast. We naturally just go in the opposite direction from oneness and then when we are little kids we learn how we are going to do things; this is how other people do things but this is how WE do things; it's not a bad thing that our parents teach us certain ways because they are just doing their best to protect us but this is what they were taught and they are just passing it down and passing it down to us. So, this continuation of separation that we all deal with just pulls us farther away from the idea of being one. When I speak about oneness, most people view it from the physical; alright, I'm a human being and so is the guy down the block and I should be kind to him and if most people would take it for that I'd be happy but I see that they don't; how do I know that? Do you want to talk about the news? You see that we kill, we still hurt each other, we harm each other for zillions upon zillions of reasons. So, it's not that someone can look at oneness from a physical perspective and say, OK as long as we don't harm one another we'll be OK; because obviously we still do. So, that's why over the years I had to implement something that goes deeper. Something that says we are one from our source from a spiritual perspective and that's when it becomes a little harder to grasp because people don't say, OK well I'm here, I'm a physical human being; what do you mean that I'm spiritual? I'll go into specific examples to the most common of man or woman who say, I don't believe in anything from a spiritual perspective. I always give the example of having a friend and you get a call that they are on their death bed, you run to the hospital to see them; it's you, that person on the bed and a nurse. Your friend has moments to live but due to hospital protocol, let's say that the nurse has to weigh your friend; let's say they weigh 200 pounds. A minute goes by, your friend takes their last breath, now the nurse has to weigh your friend again after he or she is deceased and they still weigh 200 pounds but now they are still the same weight that they were two minutes ago when they were alive; they are now clinically dead and they weigh exactlt the same; so, what does that tell you? It tells you that what constitutes life as we know it is weightless because; how could they still weigh the same? That takes the physicality out of the equation from the oneness perspective. That helps people to view themselves from a point of; if I weigh the same alive as dead than I have to be more than just this physical body. The body has nothing to do with us, it's just a capsule, a space for us while we are here."
"All I can see and it's going on and on," he continued, "It's just reaching a boiling point and over the last 20 or 30 years we started talking about terrorists and and stuff like that and it's like; now we have that too? Then that hit its peak on 9/11 and yet it still goes on and what baffles me is that we have things now that we can't control; weather patterns that have just been picking up in frequency and intensity. People, homes and families are getting wiped out because of a natural occurrence that we can absolutely do nothing about. We have these F-5 tornados now and these hurricanes that are at max wind speeds that crush towns and cities. There are fires out west and floods and mudslides; isn't that enough to deal with? Why do we have to throw hatred on top of that? We have enough to deal with just to survive our time here; illnesses, every other person is getting sick, people are dying from these illnesses and natural catastrophe; isn't that enough? Why do we have to hate each other too? It baffles me and that's why I've been so compelled to bring people together in some formidable sense of, hey we are in this together because we are one."
Although he stated previously that the new book is a, "Continuation" of the first; is he totally confident this is the case?
"Absolutely," he said emphatically. "From the point of the foundational elements of oneness; what I discussed in the first book was like a "Oneness 101" or so I like to say. I even mention that in the "Introduction" in the second book. I said, I'm going to be using a lot of the things that you may or may not have heard me speak of in the first book; it doesn't necessarily mean that you have a need to read the first book but if I'm referencing something that I specifically spoke about in the first book, by all means go back and review the first book; if you have read it or haven't read it, it's a nice pick-up for you. So, yes, it's definitely a continuation of the foundation elements of oneness but I break it down as to how this can be applied specifically to these chapter headings in the new book."
While the pandemic is still upon us, Rongo has found ways to keep busy away from his writing; his music and charitable efforts are two of the ways in which he also gains fulfillment.
"I've done Zoom shows, I'll be singing for seniors again for a Spring concert event. I haven't had a band gig in over a year now since this all started. Some of the senior gigs I was able to do outside in the summer and early fall until it got cold and they had to stop having them but I've been subject to what every other musician has been subject to and my heart breaks for all of them because I know what this has done to all musicians. My "Rock The Vets" event is on again for later this year; "Rock The Vets" was put in place by myself and my nephew Darren DeMarco in 2017. Darren is a fellow singer/songwriter and an excellent one at that and I was his bass player for the better part of seven years when he put out his most recent CD. We decided to put this together to help veterans in need throughout New Jersey. So, we had some great events in 2017, 2018 and in 2019 we were able to raise substantial amounts of money for two specific immediate response groups. Our most recent recipient was Veterans Havens North; they put up veterans on any given day and they operate a facility in Glen Gardner, NJ and they house veterans for pretty much as long as they need to get their life on track and get back into society. They will help them with food, shelter, help them get their licenses back; most people don't take into consideration what veterans may be struggling with. There are a lot of people who have images of veterans as an old guy walking down the block with a Viet Nam Veteran hat on but that's not always the case. We are seeing so many veterans coming back now from Afghanistan; young kids who need help and their only in their early twenties and they need help. I want to make it clear that it's women veterans also. A lot of people don't necessarily envision women as veterans in need but a lot of women get help through our events and these groups and it has been very gratifying to say the least. After each event, Darren and I hold a concert event at the facility that we are giving the money to; they always have a nice dinner for us and then we perform and we present the gift. What we have been doing is getting individual gift cards and personalize each one and hand them to each resident of the facility. So, each resident is getting a personal gift card for them to use as they need; shoes, boots, extra food for a couple of weeks, some clothes; they can get anything and Darren and I have taken a lot of pride in what we do."
"The Wayz of Oneness: Helping to Navigate Life" is currently available on Amazon Kindle only but Rongo says negotiations are ongoing to have it published in more traditional forms. Here is a link to a short trailer which gives some insight to the book and his message: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_rWTOD--J5flo1XZnD1d07thZnC9s7qX/view
To discover more about Danny Rongo, oneness or his latest literary work; please visit www.thatonenessguy.com.
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!