The Yoga of Sound – Listening to the Music of the Universe, Parts I & II
By James Bean
No doubt, many of you saw the movie Contact, based upon the book with that same title authored by the late Dr. Carl Sagan. The story was about SETI — the search of extraterrestrial intelligence. In this film, scientists intercepted radio signal emanating from another part of the galaxy. These broadcasts were being beamed directly at the earth by an alien civilization trying to get our attention. After many years they finally succeeded. Their message was eventually deciphered; it contained schematics for constructing a transportation device which would allow humans to travel to the distant world where the signals were coming from.
After viewing this philosophical film, I couldn’t help comparing the parallels between this SETI scenario and one of the world’s oldest forms of yoga-meditation: Shabda Yoga, the Yoga of the Sound Current. Shabda is an ancient Sanskrit word for divine or cosmic sound, heavenly music. For thousands of years, human beings around the world have been tuning into a sound which comes from beyond the stars. For the practitioners of the Yoga of Sound, this heavenly music is also a means of transportation. By becoming one with the holy stream of sound, souls during their meditation practice find themselves ascending in spirit toward the place where the sound emanates. This sound connects all souls of the universe to the timeless world of the Great Spirit.
Parts Two Three, Four, etc. will be a study of the Path of Sound in the various world religions including: Islam, the Australian Aborigines, Native American, Buddhist, Gnostic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Sikh traditions.
THE PATH OF SOUND IN THE WORLD RELIGIONS
Being an initiate of the Shabda Yoga/Sant Mat tradition and very much interested in comparative mysticism & religion, I would like to share with you some quotes from around the world on clairaudience, the ability to hear the mystic-Sound, the Song of the Creator, the Voice of the Great Life that brought all the universes into existence.
SACRED MUSIC AS AN ATTEMPT TO IMITATE THE MYSTIC-SOUND
The Sound of God’s Voice said, “Let there be……”
“In the Beginning was…….the Word.”
Indigenous cultures support the belief that the universe was brought into existence through sound. The Australian aborigines believe in “songlines,” meaning the “way of the law,” which sang the world, and everything in it, into existence. Native American traditions speak of the “Song of the Creator” that created life and sustains the universe.
“The Book of the Hopi” (published by Viking Books), the first revelation of the Hopi’s historical and religious world-view of life, contains a beautiful story of creation. In this genesis account, the song of creation is the essential Force that brings to life the first humans, “Adam and Eve,” if you will, and the Earth itself is described as a musical instrument.
“All the vibratory centers along the Earth’s axis
from pole to pole
resounded His Call;
the Earth trembled;
the universe quivered in tune.
Thus He made the whole world an instrument of sound,
and an instrument for carrying messages,
resounding praise to the Creator of all.”
In this account, it says that it is our duty, our sacred purpose as human beings to echo this song of creation back to the Creator again by “making a joyful sound throughout the land.”
Chant and sacred music of the world religions can also cause souls to yearn to hear the Harmony of All Harmonies, to develop a desire to meditate upon the inner Sound of the Creator that fills the heavens. According to the Masters of Sant Mat and those who practice this form of meditation, this Current of Sound, Light, and Love will take us back to God again, will take us Home, if we become one with it. More later on this Yoga of the Word.
Sacred music is IMITATING, MIMICKING higher spiritual sounds, bringing some aspect of the Music of Heaven to the physical world. Tibetan bells and bowls do this very effectively. The inventor of the Sitar, the most well-known instrument of Indian classical music, said that it was his attempt to “capture the music of the Spirit in terms of the physical world.” (“The Pilgrimage of James,” George Arnsby Jones, Peacehaven Press) He considered his attempt “a failure.” As beautiful as the sitar is, the Real Sound is far more glorious than any sound or outer music of this world.
Harmonic overtone chanting (the singing of two or more notes at the same time!) is a vocal technique used in Mongolia, Tuva, Laos, and other Asian countries. The human voice is transformed into a sonic rainbow of tones and overtones making the human voice resemble the Music of the Spheres. A few years back I learned how to do this and it’s a wonderful practice, a great exercise for the human voice.
In India, many have verbalized the Sound of the universe as “AAAAAUUUUUMMMMM,” the OM chant. In Tibet, Buddhist monks created an otherworldly form of chant — their attempt to reproduce audibly some of the inner sounds they heard during their meditations. The various Christian, Sethian (Jewish), Hermetic, and other Gnostic schools of Egypt also devised forms of chant that they perceived as verbally mimicking/expressing the Real Name of God that otherwise is hidden in the silence of the soul. They chanted various combinations of vowels: “I praise You. I call your Name that is hidden within me: A O EE O EE OOOOOOOIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”
(The Gospel of the Egyptians in: “The Nag Hammadi Library In English,” James M. Robinson, Harper Collins)
The Gnostic Gospels are filled with many examples of chant and Names of God that were used by Egyptian mystics during meditation practice to explore the Kingdom of the Heavens within, what my teacher called “the Wonders of Inner Space.” These ancient texts provide many examples of souls ascending in spirit through various heavenly realms on their way back to “The Eighth,” where the Nameless One, the Ocean of Love and Compassion resides.
Whether it’s drumming, Russian Orthodox or Coptic chant, or Gregorian plainchant, an Indian classical raga or bagpipes, for millennia humans have been echoing various aspects of the Song of Creation. “For in the beginning of the times so did we all share in the Holy Stream of Sound that gave birth to all creation.” (Essene Gospel of Peace, Volume Four)
For much of recorded history human beings have reported hearing sound coming from beyond the silence. In the next installment I’ll focus upon inner mystic-sound in Buddhist, Bahai, and Christians scriptures.
“Who else is Christ but the Sound of God?” (Acts of John, Gnostic)