Music as Spiritual Practice
The Glass Bead Game, Magister Ludi, by Hermann Hesse, made a great impression on me when i read it years ago. I was eager to know: what IS this game? and was disappointed that in the whole book, he never really explains exactly what it is, or how it works. But now i recognize why he doesn’t explain it. It’s because it is a secret.
This is a story that takes place a several centuries in the future, and although Hesse doesn’t really describe the mechanics of this game, Ralph Freedman, Hesse’s biographer, has some hints for us:
‘Freedman opined that in the Glass Bead Game, “contemplation, the secrets of the Chinese I Ching and Western mathematics and music fashioned the perennial conflicts of his life into a unifying design.” ‘
As all of these things are a lifelong interest of mine, I decided to write a kind of addendum to Hesse’s book, i hope he doesn’t mind…. and, since it “happened” 400 years from now, it hasn’t happened yet…..there’s still time to invent it!
Herein an attempt will be made to explain the Game and how to play it, with special emphasis on approaching the Game through the musical part of it. But we will eventually uncover many linked nuances to most, if not all, of the sacred arts and sciences. Let us imagine that we can actually invite Magister Ludi, the Master of the Game, here to explain and transmit it to us, even on a very practical level.
And why are these “imaginary teachings”? well, first, because there is no record of the teachings of Magister Ludi, (after all, he’s an imaginary character, who hasn’t “happened” yet!) but more importantly, the teachings are all about the imagination, the creative power of the imagination.
And although Magister Ludi (the Master of the Game) is a fictional character, s/he also isn’t. We have met more than once, and each emanation of the Master i’ve met has left me with another piece of the puzzle. The Game is a transdimensional Rubik’s cube, a geomantic riddle, designed to magnify the innate intelligence of the planetary body within each one who takes it upon themselves.
So we could say, this is a teaching from the future. Hesse’s story of the Game takes place in the 25th century, so perhaps he felt humanity won’t be ready to receive it until then. Sometimes I am afraid this may very well be the case. Nonetheless, it’s worth envisioning. Times have changed, and time itself has changed. But music is trampled upon in the world of the setting sun. Perhaps we can skip to a timeline where music is free to realize its full potential.
And why is it a game?
“Only the shaman knows that culture is a game. Everyone else takes it seriously. This is how he can do his magic.” ~ Terence McKenna
We “play” music. We “play” a game. Life is a leela, a play.
And the glass beads? Think of the musical tones, the planets and planes of existence, the galaxies strung together with electrical filaments of stars, cells interchanging energy, atomic universes macro and micro, beings of all sizes and frequencies, and so forth, all connected.
Let’s consider this article just a preview, a preliminary look at an emerging topic. Or perhaps a freeform download of a teaching so ancient, it is new.
I. The Three Levels of Sacred Teachings
The Glass Bead Game is a philosophical approach to music, the language and embodiment of resonance, as it integrates with sacred geometry, astrology, Gnosis (direct knowledge of Source) and the practice of music as a sacred teaching, a spiritual practice (beyond any religious connotation), that involves three levels of understanding.
Let us first look into the three levels of traditional spiritual teachings, with particular emphasis on the Secret Level, and then we can find a comparable approach to music.
Outer, Inner, and Secret Teachings
In Tibetan Buddhist teachings there are three levels to the teachings: outer, inner, and secret. The outer teachings are the exoteric ritualistic practices that the masses do, sort of like attending church in western religions. These practices provide an approach for ordinary people, but do not go into deeper levels of realization generally. Divinity is still perceived as being “outside”.
Then there are the inner teachings, like Vajrayana, which go much deeper than the outer teachings, into psycho-physical processes in the body mind, alchemical conversion of energies into Buddha qualities through visualization practices and the like. All kinds of mystical religious experiences fall into this territory as well. And here, Divinity is perceived as being “within”.
Then, at the level of “secret” teachings of Tibetan Buddhism for example, we move to the Dzogchen level, which is based in non-dual contemplation. All the complexity of the previous teachings dissolves into Unqualified Luminosity. The Secret level involves the contemplation of this, which is a continuous transmission of “information” (encoded in light) and creative force at the highest level. We suddenly discover the true “Location” of the Divine.
Perhaps we could include the “Third Attention” of the Toltec Seers in this category as well:
“EVERY CELL BECOMES AWARE OF ITSELF AND WE BECOME AWARE OF THE TOTALITY OF OUR BODY: at the moment of crossing, one enters into the third attention, and the body in its entirety is kindled with knowledge. Every cell at once becomes aware of itself, and also aware of the totality of the body.” Castaneda/Don Juan
But obviously, the third attention is in a whole different “ballpark” than what we normally call attention.
Now, this secret level of the teachings was originally kept secret by the masters, from those who would not understand it, and who were not prepared for this level of understanding. But in this day and age, these secret teachings, like those of Dzogchen, are for the most part freely available. But that doesn’t keep them from still being “secret”, simply because, those who are not prepared to receive them don’t even notice them. Or even if people are exposed to them, they just don’t make any sense to anyone who is not prepared.
Gross, Subtle, Causal Bodies
Some of the Indian traditions refer to the three bodily “sheaths”. The gross (physical), subtle (astral) and causal. To me, these three bodies correspond to these three levels of teachings. Of course, there are many systems of thought about these bodily sheaths, but there seems to be a consensus in a lot of systems about these three layers, and often the second, or subtle layer, is divided into three sub-categories, as in the diagram below.
The outer level involves the gross body, so it has to do with practices of externalized worship in an exoteric sense. The gross body is the level of consciousness of most people, whose lives are for the most part centered around satisfaction of bodily requirements, attaining comfortable circumstances, and so forth. Nothing wrong with it, but really just scratching the surface of our real potential.
The subtle body has more to do with the psychological level, and subtle energies within the body. The practices involved are more inner, more meditative and psychological, for example, martial arts and psychotherapies of various kinds. And, as stated above, in some systems, like Ayurveda, the subtle body has three subsets, the prana, mental, and knowledge sheaths, or bodies.
The secret level has to do with the causal body (anandamaya kosha) which is, in my understanding, the level at which effects are caused, and it is at this level that we encounter, sooner or later, the “causal knot”. This knot (granthi) at the heart root, is the root of the self-contraction, that is, the belief (that is even ingrained in the physical body) in the separate self-idea.
the causal knot (granthi)
The origin of this self-contraction is at the causal level, and spreads out into the subtle and gross bodies in the form of nervous system contraction, and muscular defensive mechanisms, as well as contraction in all the organs of perception which form our experience of the “world”. And when the causal knot is cut, (or unravelled we could say,) through grace, and even the subtlest levels of contraction dissolve, the causal body becomes the bliss body. This is my understanding and experience of it at this point, anyway.
“Although anandamaya kosha is said to pervade all the outer sheaths, yogis believe it cannot be perceived until the illusions of the outer sheaths are peeled away. Anandamaya kosha is the yogi’s true nature, lying underneath all of the illusions.”
“It is in anandamaya kosha that the sense of oneness, as opposed to a sense of separation from other beings, is truly realized. Within anandamaya kosha lies the understanding that separation and ego are just an illusion. This recognition is said to be total compassion, love and happiness, hence anandamaya kosha being referred to as the bliss body.”
So practices at the causal level will be dealing with the root of our suffering, and genuine liberation from the illusion of separation. But they cannot be immediately engaged until one has made a sufficient approach through the first two levels, in order to free energy and attention, for dissolution into the Absolute. They cannot be “done”, in the conventional sense. One has to ripen, however long that seems to take.
So, can we practice music at this level? Why not? After all, music IS a sacred science/art/language, is it not? Regrettably, music teachings dealing with these considerations are few and far between. Hence the need to create/remember them.
Why is music education so grossly underdeveloped? Why is music not mandatory for all students, as is mathematics and literature? Why are schools everywhere cutting music programs, as if music were some useless thing? Maybe it is because potentially it is the real thing, a practice of the highest order, which is rarely welcome in the “halls of learning” these days.
II. The Secret Game of Music
So, with this in mind, let’s explore the practice of music with the same criteria.
1. The Outer game of music would be where most people are with music. It is fun, it is entertaining, it is a social kind of occurrence, almost like church is to spirituality. Positive emotions can be generated, although musical environments can be dark and demonic too. Music itself is neutral, but like water, takes on the intention and vibration of whoever is interacting with it.
Musicians at this level learn as little as possible about music, just enough to get by with, to put out what they need to express. OK as far as it goes, but really just scratching the surface. Sort of like knowing one phrase in a foreign language, and expecting to carry on an intelligent conversation.
At a certain point, a few of these musicians realize they need to dive deeper, and work more intensively with music, and that is where the Inner game of music begins. They may have glimpses from time to time into the Secret level of music, but haven’t got the skill or capacity to evoke it at will, or sustain it. Even so, the secret level is immediately accessible always. But it’s like surfing, or lucid dreaming: how long can you stay on the wave?
2. The Inner game of music, is, I’d say, where most professional musicians and especially musicians who consider themselves creative artists are for the most part. It is a rich territory, and people dedicate their lives to these practices, attaining as many musical skills as possible. Details of technique and theory can be totally mastered, and great works of art can be produced at this level, but i’d say the main barrier here is the “doer”, the “player”, who is still in the driver’s seat, for the most part. One might have flights into the effortless, but not as a stable condition. And there would most likely still be a kind of competitive component, much like music as a sport, rather than an art. But, to be sure, one becomes much more aware of the bodily connection to the instrument, proper breathing, and so forth in the Inner Game. And, after all, it IS a game, so the analogy to sport and martial art, and even chess does apply in some way.
Musicians at this level are often professionals, making a living from it, thus able to put themselves into whatever context in order to keep the bills paid. And somewhere in that process the magic can be lost if one is not very careful. Yes, it is good you are playing music, but if you aren’t loving the music you are playing, then there’s further fine-tuning of circumstances required. Because playing music for its own sake, out of love, is how we access the Secret Game.
3. The Secret game of music will just begin on its own at a certain point. We could say perhaps, that this is the moment when the music begins playing itself. This is the moment when YOU become the instrument. When you and the instrument become one. When the music plays YOU. When you realize you ARE the music, and the body-mind is the instrument. When your unique harmonic begins to spontaneously express through your bodily vehicle. You find your sound. When, as pianist Kenny Werner put it, “what i am hearing/playing right now is the most beautiful sound i have ever heard.”
And at first, it most likely will court you, show up unexpectedly, and then disappear for a while. But gradually one learns the knack of inviting it.
Many times, when a musician arrives in this territory, they simply stop playing music. The resonance of being can become so overwhelming and ecstatic that to create music can seem entirely unnecessary. But one wonders: what would the music be like if they were to keep playing?
for example, here is what the great Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan said, about why he stopped playing music:
“I gave up my music because I had received from it all that I had to receive. To serve God one must sacrifice what is dearest to one; and so I sacrificed my music. I had composed songs; I sang and played the vina; and practicing this music I arrived at a stage where I touched the Music of the Spheres. Then every soul became for me a musical note, and all life became music. Inspired by it I spoke to the people, and those who were attracted by my words listened to them, instead of listening to my songs. Now, if I do anything, it is to tune souls instead of instruments; to harmonize people instead of notes. If there is anything in my philosophy, it is the law of harmony: that one must put oneself in harmony with oneself and with others. I have found in every word a certain musical value, a melody in every thought, harmony in every feeling; and I have tried to interpret the same thing, with clear and simple words, to those who used to listen to my music. I played the vina until my heart turned into this very instrument; then I offered this instrument to the divine Musician, the only musician existing. Since then I have become His flute; and when He chooses, He plays His music. The people give me credit for this music, which in reality is not due to me but to the Musician who plays on His own instrument.”
It has been said that “great art imitates nature”. But let’s take it a step further. Are we human artists going to be relegated to just imitating nature? Or can we actually graduate to the 100% natural level, so that our art IS the art of nature? I don’t see why not. After all, we are part of nature, and a fractal of the Divine. We continue to arise, moment to moment, as a bridge, a spark, jumping between the Divine and Nature, the elemental world.
Gurdjieff referred to this as “objective art”, as opposed to “subjective art”. From Osho: “The ancient (objective) art was not only art; it was, deep down, mysticism. Deep down, it was out of meditation. It was objective, in Gurdjieff’s terminology. It was made so that if somebody meditates over it, he starts falling into those depths where God lives.” https://www.oshonews.com/2011/05/29/objective-and-subjective-art/
And, after awakening, what else is left but Creation Itself?
We find unbelievable beauty in nature, in such profuse abundance, and with such amazing detail, that it just boggles the mind. And to me, the most amazing part is that it all just spontaneously appears out of nowhere. Yes, some say there is a Creator, but i would argue that any Creator God would not be the Ultimate, as one could ask, well, who created this God? At some point, far enough back, the first cause would have had to spontaneously appear from the Radiant Field of all potential. And the paradox is, this “first cause” is always NOW-HERE, and always NEW.
Like the amazingly intricate patterns on some insects, for example. Hard to find a “doer” there. These things, time and time again, simply appear out of nothing, and the patterns of any particular species are all very similar, although NEVER exactly the same. I don’t see anyone there painting these creatures one by one, do you? Let’s face it, Creation Itself is spontaneously arising in the field of awareness, the field of OUR awareness. Would it even exist if we weren’t observing it? Are we creating it, just by observing? by witnessing? by reflecting?
What does it really “look” like? How much of this is an overlay, a self replicating patterning process? My guess is that this “world” takes on a completely different “appearance”, when the overlay (the Veil) is removed, or seen through. And the key to this is to remain at zero point, the inexhaustible well of Infinite Creation.
Zero = Infinity
“Both zero (or the zero-point) and infinity (or the infinite state) are intrinsically numberless, or prior to, the condition of discrete (or separate) quantity. There is neither number nor distance between zero (or the zero-point) and infinity (or the infinite state). Neither zero (or the zero-point) nor infinity (or the infinite state) is senior or subordinate to the other. There is no hierarchical relationship between zero (or the zero-point) and infinity (or the infinite state)-and there is no “difference” of any kind between them. Zero (or the zero-point) and infinity (or the infinite state) are intrinsically equal, one, only, and the same. The apparent (or conventionally presumed) “difference” between zero (or the zero-point) and infinity (or the infinite state) is a miscalculation of ego-mind, based on the conditionally supposed “reality” of number-and, fundamentally, of the “source”- number one, which is the ego-“rooted” (or “point-of-view”-based) originator of all presumed “difference”.”
– Adi Da Samraj
Perhaps music without a geometrical time grid “overlay” could sound like the following:
No more doer
So perhaps when the Secret Game of Music begins, the music spontaneously arises from nothing, without “you” having to “do” anything. Obviously, to someone listening and observing, it would look like the musician was still “doing” the music, but perhaps if we listen closer we might hear a difference.
Seems to me, the Secret Game of Music will have to begin in silence. The silence of spontaneous self recognition of oneself as Pure Consciousness, beyond cause. The primal urge to manifest will give birth to tones through the body-mind, but the “doer” will be notably absent. The music will have an ecstatic quality, and will be an expression of Nature, rather than just an imitation of it. It will not be “caused”.
And it will be impossible to fake, or falsify. The dissolution of the doer cannot be “engineered”, no matter how “professional” or “inspired” one tries to be.
So, just like the other secret level teachings, the Secret Game of Music will seem like nothing, almost nonsense. Silence? Well, that’s nothing, what is there to practice? The music playing itself? well that’s ridiculous! The music appearing out of nowhere? Of course not. Obviously I am here playing it!
But then suddenly, one day, you are playing, and the thing happens. You are merely witnessing and listening as the music coming through your instrument, and through the instrument of your body-mind, just plays itself. It is literally ecstatic, in the real sense of the word, which means literally “standing outside”. Ec-Static. You are outside it all, just a pure witness. Like a passenger in a speeding sailboat, like a bird on the wind, you are just flying. There’s nothing like it. You get hooked.
“If you see a painter painting,
certainly he is active,
utterly active, madly active –
he is all action.
Or if you see a dancer dancing,
he is all action.
But still, deep down there is no actor,
there is only silence.
Hence I say creativity is a state of paradox.”
But then you try to duplicate it, and it doesn’t happen. So this begins you working on a deeper level, to find out how to recreate that moment, that ORIGINAL moment, in which the Creation itself took you over, and your art was actually OF Nature, not just imitating it.
You begin to realize that you had been in an “altered” state, and that even though the music brought you there, that you have to find it on your own.
Much like psychedelics. They open you up a much deeper level of existence, but it is only to give you a glimpse. To try to use psychedelics to return to that state may work for a while, but will not have any integrated stability to it. You will have to work with yourself. So the Secret Game of Music will take you to the point of exploring yourself on a whole deeper level, if you want the true magic of music to manifest through you.
Music is a tough lover. She will test you, time and again, before she bestows her charms upon you. Yes, you’ll be able to fake it for a while, and maybe even convince yourself and others that you are accessing the magic, but then when she gives you a real glimpse, you are going to have to admit you were fooling yourself, and that it is time to double down, and access the magic for real.
Perfect Makes Practice
So how do you get this to happen? Not necessarily by practicing, but that doesn’t mean not practicing is the way either. For me, the idea is to develop a yogic approach to the practice of music, so our practice becomes intelligent and fruitful. And by “yogic” i don’t mean music for yoga, new age music, or any of that. Genres and bandwagons tend to limit the creative force, which has its own innate and potent original trajectory. Unfortunately, the word “yoga” has been SO overused, that it’s pretty much used up. But what i mean is to transform your music practice into a practice similar to a martial art. It is HOW YOU PRACTICE that will make all the difference. And, of course you have to HAVE a practice in the first place, which requires commitment and intent.
Perhaps we could reverse the old saying, “practice makes perfect” to read: “perfect makes practice”. It is from our inherent perfection that we approach our practice (andour entire life). A seemingly subtle distinction, but with a radically different approach, that of being at cause, rather than at effect. Yes, we are the author of our life, and it shows in our music. We relax into our own “Central Intelligence”, which is the inexhaustible Source of Creation itself. We have shifted from creativity to Creation.
III. Methods of Practice
Can this third level, the secret game of music, be “induced”? Can it be passed on? Can it be taught? Can it be prepared for? Well, certainly not if you have no desire or intent to work at that level with yourself. This could be why it is so rare to find musicians working at the “secret” level. But of course it can, it is patiently waiting for you!
I think i’d have to say, if my “experience” (for what it’s worth) has any value or validity, is that the Game is a transmission, which arrives in its own time and way, when it senses an opening in someone through which it can pass into the world. It something that the limited mind of contracted self-idea cannot even begin to conceive of.
11 Seed Ideas
Just in case there’s something about it that could be passed along, here are a 11 seed ideas for practice that might help lead one into the secret game of music.
1. Your Silence
The first criterion, i would say, is the musician’s ability to remain in silence, no-mind, no discursive thought. This may seem like a simple thing, and it is, but that doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, this may very well be the most difficult part of music, the silence of the musician. Certainly something that can take a lifetime, or more, to master. And we can’t leave it for someone else to do. The musician’s silence is the equivalent of the artist’s canvas. See my article “Silence for Musicians”.
But consider this possibility: music without silence, and in particular, without the silence of the musician, is only half music. And this is not some impotent empty silence. This is silence that is full and alive.
Become the ears. The ears can sense all of space. They are non-directional. The eyes are more directional. Attention gives more of a sense of direction. You can hear everything at once, but you can’t see everything at once.
Then, allow the silence of pure listening to magnify until it becomes a palpable presence in the room. This will be the carrier wave for the music. You will notice that this silence has a sound and density of its own, which can become deafening as it intensifies.
the silence between notes is broken silence. the silence in which all notes arise is eternal, unbroken. Be This.
The word HEART contains the word HEAR and the word EAR. We can listen, but only when the heart is engaged can we truly HEAR. Thus, the silent heart can listen, andhear.
2. The Asana of Conscious Creation and the Three Wells to Infinity
Become trinary, activate the midbrain, and the 3 dantiens, through a simple relaxation of attention (a tension). The solution is always simple.
The updated human vehicle reconnects us to how we were before we were hacked. This includes a central channel with 3 dantiens. Dantien is a word from Chinese martial and healing arts referring to the hara center in the body. But there are two more, one at the heart, and one at the midbrain. And, this is not the same central channel as the one in the spine, which is part of the traditional chakra system. To me, it is about the central spiral vortex of our natural toroidal energy field. Not spinal, but spiral.
“in both the Hindu and Buddhist sacred texts they do commonly refer to the sacred 3 centers within their understanding of the energetic matrix. They call them Granthi. They are 3 energetic or psychic knots that need to be untied, unwound and unbound before Awakening can occur.
…..Both the 3 dantiens and 7 chakras emanate from the TaiJi Pole which is the deepest energetic structure within the body. Its actually a hologram that reflects the Divine within the center core of your body/mind. The dantiens overlay, encompass and are slightly deeper than the chakras.
To use a metaphor the chakras are like geysers that connect the external Earth to the internal, the dantiens are the deep internal reservoirs or aquifers and the Tai ji pole is the emanating source. “
So the asana of conscious creation is kind of like a yoga posture, except it extends beyond the physical. Yes. we will sit straight, focussed, and relaxed, but meanwhile, inside, a number of connections are made which allow us direct connection to the Source within and beyond us. This central dantien channel (the emanating source) will open up, and become bright, like the filament of a lightbulb. And as this occurs beyond sense perception, we could say that this light is also resonance, a sound current, that can also have a kind of intense pressure to it.
Then with the deep listening extending into Infinite Space, we are ready to engage the music.
When this central channel comes online we could say we have become “trinary”. Yes we have the binary aspect of the hemispheres of the brain, which create a very convincing world of duality, and endless patterning, but let’s not forget, computers are binary. Whole worlds, virtual realities, can be created from the binary, just different sequences of ones and zeros. But what gives it all life is the center, the heart, the third part, which bridges and transcends the duality. It is not that duality disappears, but now it has a depth of meaning that is missing in the binary. It has life, heartbeat, and awareness. It has pulse.
“People that attune to heart-based intelligence and align to the Natural Laws, will have more open access to zero-point energy to build out their manifestations in ways that the energy parasitism of the negative ego cannot.” – Lisa Renee
3. Passing Continuum
I love this tarot card as an example of what i mean by passing continuum. We have an infinity between our hands, and when we pass the musical continuum between them we generate a kind of electricity in the body. And notice where the infinity symbol crosses on the body, in the center, around the heart, and it is even a little to the right of center, which is where the portal to the transcendental heart is located.
This video also shows a beautiful example of passing continuum. Kartals are small wooden percussion instruments, really the precursor to castanets, that the North Indian gypsies use in their music. These players are so much fun to watch when they do this beautiful dance with their arms, with a kartal in each hand. The intricacy is mindblowing as the continuum is passed between the hands.
Now, my theory is that as this continuum involves a subtle flow of attention, back and forth between the hands, it is almost like AC, or alternating current, which each time it crosses the center line, the central channel of the 3 dantiens, it generates more brightness in this channel, until one is glowing brightly. My feeling is that this is when the true healing power of music begins to manifest.
Consider this, from the free energy pioneer, and friend of Nikola Tesla, Walter Russell. This is “passing continuum”:
“Actually we live in two universes – the invisible zero universe of CAUSE, and the visible universe of EFFECT. We have sensed the EFFECT and believed in its reality. We have never yet known the universe of CAUSE. It is time that we begin to know God’s invisible universe which is in absolute control of the visible universe. Man will never solve the riddle of the universe until he fully knows and comprehends the zero universe which he can in no way hear or see. He can know it, however, and in so knowing he can, likewise, know God. He can even prove the fact of the omnipresent God in his laboratory. Nor shall man ever solve the riddle of his own Self – his own Identity, until he knows that he, himself, is as eternal as God is eternal. When man knows that he is Mind and that his body is his Mind-Creation, as the whole universal body is the Mind-Creation of God, he will then know what the consummate mystic of two thousand years ago meant when He said: I and My Father are ONE. – Walter Russell, Atomic Suicide
And sure enough, as i write this, i come upon this article, talking about the value of “crossing the midline activities” in learning: https://ilslearningcorner.com/2015-11-why-crossing-the-midline-activities-helped-this-child-listen-to-his-teacher/
Momentum is an important part of continuum. Yes, the music is continuous, but it also has momentum, forward motion. Once again, this is something that you bring to the music.
“Each individual is suspended over an incomplete Galactic Sun just below their feet. Ironically it is both where we are stuck and where we are fluid. The more consciousness we add to the momentum of its completion the more fluid we become. The less cognizant of the necessity to complete the momentum the more stuck we become.” – Mark Cloudfoot Gershon
“that just proves that momentum is everyone’s responsibility” – jazz master Wayne Shorter, after an ass-kicking live performance with his band. I was there. I saw it, and heard it, and felt it. What he said was true.
So let your continuum be spacious and open. Open your being as you play. imbue your continuum with infinity, as in the Tarot card. Some musicians refer to this as “time feel”. How you relate to time (and there are many ways) has everything to do with how your music sounds.
Also, it is interesting to notice how different musical instruments use this passing of continuum. Some, like percussion, and piano, allow the hands to work together, or complimentarily, while others, like guitar or horns, require the hands to do two different things and synchronize together.
And, as it turns out, between our hands there is a pulse, very subtle at first, but we can grow it, along with a kind of energy density. This pulse between our hands is what is practiced in the Gateway of Light of Mark Cloudfoot Gershon, introduced in the video below. Mark is one of the most recent emanations of the Master i have run across, a teacher in the Toltec tradition, with his own unique and fascinating approach, that he calls “Sourcery“.
“The pulse one feels in the Gateway of Light is the core pulse. It is the original pulse that created the alignment of pulses throughout the energetic configuration of the physical body. The task of the Seer is to complete the unified field if there are any deficiencies. The Gateway of Light is a way to complete the task.” – Mark Cloudfoot Gershon
Every tone has a pulse, even when played alone. The practice of playing one tone and then listening until it disappears will make that clear. This practice described in the following link:
After all, how do you determine if someone is alive or not? If they are alive, they have a pulse.
We notice that music is something that happens in time. But when we live in the timeless, what is it that keeps us connected to the world of time? The pulse. The heartbeat.
With this practice in mind, of both passing continuum, and feeling the energy sphere and pulse between the hands, let’s look at this picture again:
When we speak of the healing power of music, let us please not leave the musician out of the equation. Not all music is healing, and some music, in particular the “corporate music” of the entertainment (distraction) industry, is actually imbued and programmed with evil intent and mind control. Some of these musicians are serving darkness.
Whatever music we listen to will enter into us, and will carry the intent and energy of the musician playing it, as well as the composer. And also, this just underscores the idea that music is the most healing when we actually participate in it ourselves, actively. When we “play” music, we get the most benefit from it, especially when engaged consciously. It is actually meant to be a practice of the whole being.
But in any case, we could say that the electricity, and the pulse between the hands, passes through the instrument in one way or another. And then, in the case of wind instruments, we get to include the breath, which is directly connected to the central channel.
But even if one plays an instrument that doesn’t require the breath, like piano or guitar, one should include the breath, and some kind of vocal element, like singing even, in order to bring in the trinary element. If one plays piano without the central channel, and the three dantiens, one can hear, there is a kind of mentally based flatness, a kind of one-dimensionality, that is immediately cured by some kind of breathing and/or vocalising, based in the hara. The inclusion of the breath in the creation of good tone on an acoustic instrument is an important topic in itself. See my article on Chi Touch.
This could be why singing is unique, as the hands are not involved. Singing could be considered more of a central channel kind of practice, and in that sense, foundational and essential for any music practice. And one could start with the primal music practice, the singing of “mmmmm” on one tone. When one allows the sound “mmm” to truly vibrate in the head cavity, it allows attention to relax out of the dualistic neo cortex into the “Crystal Palace”, the midbrain. From there attention can fall and release into the Infinite Heart. Don’t believe me? Try it!
6. Works of Art as Transmitters
If you knew your energy and intent was constantly being transmitted through your music, what would you do? Well, my guess is that this is exactly the case. Something we have participated in creating will maintain a subtle connection with us, and we can actually actively empower these works of art to transmit our infinite intelligence at all times, to whatever corner of the universe.
Think of it: every recorded copy of your compositions and performances as a transmitter. What message would you like to send? Too often, in too much music, i’m afraid, the transmission is clouded with limitation, suffering, and even insanity.
Pieces of music can have very specific medicinal properties, and can be directed towards whatever situation, specifically with the purpose of “straightening it out”. As far as i can tell, this is pretty much uncharted territory in the learning and practice of music. Yes, many are breaking new ground in discovering the healing properties of frequencies, but i really don’t see many incorporating it into music practice in any kind of viable method. My feeling is, the academic approach to the healing power of music at this point is still way underdeveloped, just scratching the surface of what is possible. Because academia does not require that you go through a total transformation of Being, in order to get your degree. Being proficient will suffice. The purpose has to go beyond the piece of paper.
When we embody the Transcendental Electricity it does all the work. We simply release attention to Source, and as It is already all-accomplished and complete (hence the “all accomplishing wisdom” of the Tibetan Buddhists), the situation will be transformed to correction. We can pass beyond error in this way. There are no mistakes in perfect Wholeness, or “The Great Perfection” (also from Dzogchen of the Tibetans).
6a. empower your works of art
Even one tone can be used to heal. Your practice period can be also directed to heal whoever, wherever they are. There is no distance in Eternity. Won’t it be wonderful, when music will actually literally heal, even physical problems of all sorts! At the moment, it seems that the best we will allow ourselves is that music can help mitigate symptoms a little. If you ask me, it’s time to take it to the next level. The secret level of music opens to the miraculous.
While you are creating you can simultaneously be empowering your artworks, or pieces of music, with intent. This may seem airy fairy, but it is actually the contrary. Listen to your music thousands of times, and be certain that you will not get tired of it. Make sure the the eternal quality is embedded in the music, by listening from the Eternal “standpoint”.
I find it amazing that there are SO many musicians in the world, and many of them professional, who have very few, if any, improvisational skills. To me, it is like being able to read a book perfectly, but being unable to carry on a conversation. The secret game of music has to include improvisation. It is as important as being able to think for yourself, and to express those thoughts eloquently.
And this improvisation is not some frivolous pursuit, which is not included in the practice of “legitimate” music. Fortunately, the jazz tradition has developed improvisation to a science, and in my opinion, has a much more thorough method for learning to improvise than any other Western music tradition. However, Indian music might very well be the pinnacle of music improvisation.
And, oddly enough, in a way, improvisation requires a much more rigorous training than the training of a classical performer, as it becomes a total life practice, both with the instrument, and without it. One has to be prepared for whatever possibility, both in music, and in life.
“The path of action is a difficult one to take. It is full of improvisation. Improvisation takes awareness, energy and intent. It takes an emancipation and an elegance to be fluid in precise ways in awareness of the demands that are confronted. It takes the willingness to accept the challenge of existence. There is only one state of balance there. The preferred state of balance is in your ability to learn and to learn quickly. Such is a Warriors path and that’s the approach a Warrior takes to infinity as the most advantageous and strategic position for a Warrior is one in which one can act. “ – Mark Cloudfoot Gershon
8. Remain in Eternity
Rather than just “being in the moment”, remain in Eternity. There is a huge difference. Eternity is vast and effortless, all-complete. All of the music is already played. Being in the moment requires too much effort and attention (a tension), almost like a tightrope walker, trying to stay in that infinitesimal sliver of time called “the moment”. Accessing eternity requires a relinquishing of attention. The secret game of music will require the ability to go beyond attention, even as one is performing the deeply complex task of playing music. This will require a level of skill and practice that can allow the body to carry out the task without a doer.
You could think of how you can drive a car, and carry on a conversation at the same time. You have driven SO much, that the body knows what to do. It sees the red light, and the foot goes to the brake. Meanwhile you continue your conversation.
Or you could think of how the body goes on breathing, the heart continues, as do countless other processes without any attention required from you. I find it very sweet how the body allows you to take over the breathing a little if you want, but when push comes to shove, breathing is none of your business. 🙂
So our practice can include periods where we play something we know very well, and at the same time we practice this process of relinquishing attention. Let the body play the music, and you become simply the witness, like a mirror. Who knows, perhaps something magic will happen!
9. Applied Sacred Geometry of Music
I am developing Fractal Rhythm Theory with this in mind. As rhythm is also harmony, we can unlock many secrets through an exploration of the magical ratios that happen when frequencies interact with each other. We will find that every rhythm that exists is actually part of a symmetrical interference pattern between two or more frequencies, or pulses. We begin to see a kind of code there, through which information is passed. You could think of Morse Code, for example, that only has two possibilities, dash and dot, but complex communications can be encoded within just those two, the long and the short. So we quickly see that we have infinite potential for variety, even while in a very limited context. Much the same as how every leaf on a tree is different, even though they all have a distinct similarity.
a couple of introductory videos to Fractal Rhythm Theory:
So when we explore the magical ratios in rhythm we see that when sped up, they become harmonic interaction, and we begin to see the ratios appearing in chords and melodies as well. Suddenly, we have no more excuses about not being “inspired”. The possibilities are endless.
10. Reinvent Yourself: Sometimes you improve more when you don’t play
Don’t be afraid to take a break, especially if you are “professional”, and are stuck in a musical rut. Get into Nature, let her inform your intelligence. The endless unfolding patterning of nature IS music. Realize that every leaf on the tree is different, unique. Let the elements be your guides. Watch and listen to birds. Allow the abundance of creation to feed your creative spirit.
“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.” ~ John Muir
Let yourself ground daily with simple household tasks that don’t require thinking, but pure action. Feel the body’s movement, without thought. Prepare your creative space with love, it is a temple. Keeping it clean will help the resonance to grow. Practice the silence. the silence and the sound are two wings of the same bird, the music. practice both. You will notice a different kind of improvement in the music when you practice silence as well.
And, live your life. Music is a language, and mastering it is one thing, but having a story to tell is essential. So developing the capacity to assimilate, or digest your experience into your story is also an essential part of the process. If you want to be original, be AN original.
11. The Importance of the Listener
As important as the musician is the listener. Many, if not most, have lost the ability to listen intelligently. An intelligent, awake, and aware audience is becoming harder and harder to find. Yes, the ability to listen, both to music, and, in general. It is not taught in schools. People seem to have no idea any more just what to listen for in music. If you have never learned anything about music, it is going to be like a language that you just don’t understand. So, if you only understand “hello how are you” in the language, that will be the only kind of music you will understand. That is, music with no message, no content, just superficial, with no power to communicate anything. And that is where we find ourselves, more and more these days. We need to re-learn how to listen.
So i encourage you to do exactly that. Listen with new ears. Learn about music, participate in its magic. Sing, play, push your envelope. Try something new each day. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It can take you all the way.
thank you for reading
Let’s consider this an incomplete list. There is much more to be discovered. But i hope this has sparked an interest in looking deeper into music and your practice of it. It is truly endless, and has the capacity to lift us into completely uncharted territory. I welcome comments and questions!
To be continued…..
“I suddenly realized that in the language, or at any rate in the spirit of the Glass Bead Game, everything actually was all-meaningful, that every symbol and combination of symbols led not hither and yon, not to single examples, experiments, and proofs, but into the center, the mystery and innermost heart of the world, into primal knowledge. Every transition from major to minor in a sonata, every transformation of a myth or a religious cult, every classical or artistic formulation was, I realized in that flashing moment, if seen with truly a meditative mind, nothing but a direct route into the interior of the cosmic mystery, where in the alternation between inhaling and exhaling, between heaven and earth, between Yin and Yang, holiness is forever being created.”
Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
“After each symbol conjured up by the director of a Game, each player was required to perform silent, formal meditation on the content, origin, and meaning of this symbol, to call to mind intensively and organically its full purport. The members of the Order and of the Game associations brought the technique and practice of contemplation with them from their elite schools, where the art of contemplation and meditation was nurtured with the greatest care.”
Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
©2019 Kit Walker all rights reserved
Glass Bead Game: some piano music i made for the occasion
Glass Bead Game on Spotify