7/19/05

esoteric music theory: "The Mysticism of Sound & Music"


Here are some quotes by Khan from his book "The Mysticism of Sound & Music".
Thanks to my buddy Brian Berge who compiled these.

It is owing to our limitation that we cannot see the whole Being of God.

Among all the different arts, the art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe.

Music is the language of beauty, the language of the one whom every living soul has loved.

Music excells religion.... For those who follow the path of the inner cult, music is most essential for their spiritual development.

Music alone can be the means by which the souls...may one day be united. Music is...rhythm and tone which reach far beyond language. The more the musician is concious of his mission in life, the greater service he can render to humanity.

When meeting those who have touched some perfection in music...one can feel the harmony which is the real test of perfection not only in their music, but in their lives. If this principle of music were followed, there would be no need for an external religion. Some day music will be the means of expressing universal religion. ...There will come a day when music and its philosophy will become the religion of humanity.

Freedom is the nature of the soul, and for the soul the whole tragedy of life is the absence of that freedom which belongs to its original nature....The only reason why the soul has entered the body...or matter is to experience the music of life, and to make this music clear to itself.
...The unlimited part of ourselves becomes limited and earthbound for the purpose of making this life, which is the outward life, more intelligible.

The one who finds the key to the music of the whole working of life--it is he who becomes intuitive; it is he who has inspiration; it is he to whom revelations manifest, for then his language becomes music.... There is no other language: it is rhythm, it is tone.

First he must hear what his own heart says; then he hears what is in the hearts of others--in their presence and in their absence.

The staircase is made for us to ascend, not for us to continue stepping in one place.

11 comments:

MST said...

"When meeting those who have touched some perfection in music...one can feel the harmony which is the real test of perfection not only in their music, but in their lives....."

I love your blog David and I know these aren't your words but I respectfully disagree that those with "perfection" in their music necessarily have "perfection" in their lives. I've met some f^%$#ed up musicians who play beautifully and some beautiful people who play some f^#@ed up shit. I think it's difficult to make blanket statements about anything really.

As for Buddhism and the like, I think whatever helps people make it through the day without killing other people or themselves is great but I still think there is no one truth and worshipping idols (statues in general) of any kind is all the same in the end......just my two cents. You asked for comments:)

David Valdez said...

I agree with you that there are great people who play not so great music and vice versa. I do think think that if a person has really found some real inner harmony they are much more likely to be able to express that in their music. If a musician is truly peaceful then even if they play F%&*ed up music they still can transmit this peace to the listener. I believe that music is sort of like a carrier wave for the expression of the musician's inner intent. The music just serves to put the musician and listener in sympathy. It doesn't matter so much what the music is, it matters more what state the musician is radiating. Of course it helps if it is beautiful music, but even that can be very minimal in it's effect on the listener. How can one who feels no love really radiate love to others. Of course the comment you are talking about is only a small excerpt from an entire book. There is no way to really understand what he meant unless you read it in the context of the entire work.

Now a reply to your comment on 'Buddhism and the like'. First of all Hazrat Inayat Khan is neither a Buddhist or an idol worshipping Hindu, he is a Sufi.
Sufis are a mystical sect of Islam and in no way do they worship idols. There believe that all religions are essentially the same in their essence. There is only UNITY and that can manifest in many different forms of religion. Sufis are encouraged to seek the truth in all religions. They believe that holding a particular belief blinds you to seeing the reality that lies behind that belief. They encourage respectful inter-faith dialog and have great interest in all traditions. Sufism is about learning to replace negative qualities with positive ones, it also teaches how to gain control of our lower nature which is called the 'Nafs'. They believe that if all people actually practiced what their religions teach, the world would be a much better place.

Personally, I have spent about 18 years studying comparative religion. I have found much useful teaching in about every religion that I have studied.
There are elements of every religion that don't seem right to me, so I just take the elements that seem true. I am not advocating any particular religion religion here. I think that everyone should be free to learn from every tradition. That said, there are some sacred traditions that have some very advanced understandings about how music affects the human psyche. Sufism is one of those, Hinduism is also one of these.

To criticize Hinduism for 'worshipping statues' shows an incomplete understanding of the Hindu tradition. They are using the statues as symbols that represents various functions of the universe. Yes, they treat these statues as gods. This is because it is harder to worship something that is formless than something with a form. They never forget that there is a higher all encompassing level of reality beyond these 'idols', they call this Brahma. I am not a Hindu, but I do have great respect for this tradition.

It is so sad that our educational system does not teach us about the religions of other cultures. Without this understanding we can not really know how other cultures really think about the world. History does not make any sense if you do not understand religion. Even if we do not accept the beliefs of other cultures, we should at least know what they are. A perfect example of this is when George W had to have someone explain to him what the difference was between the Sunnis and the Shia. You may say,"Of course, because he's an idiot", but not many college educated Americans know the difference either.

MST said...

DV says, "To criticize Hinduism for 'worshipping statues' shows an incomplete
understanding of the Hindu tradition. They are using the statues as symbols
that represents various functions of the universe. Yes, they treat these
statues as gods. This is because it is harder to worship something that is
formless than something with a form. They never forget that there is a
higher all encompassing level of reality beyond these 'idols', they call
this Brahma....It is so sad that our educational system does not teach us about the
religions of other cultures."

It is so sad that most religions don't trust the intelligence of their "congregation". It is so sad that "priests" have to talk down to people. If they trusted people, if they had any faith in them, they would give them ALL the information they needed, without pandering to idolatry and pageantry. Having grown up in it, I don't appreciate the after effects.

Once again, not to be a butt or anything, just commenting lovingly:)

MST

David Valdez said...
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David Valdez said...
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David Valdez said...

I've deleted this comment several times due to my typos. here it is again:

MST,
It sounds like you are a Catholic school casualty MST :-) There are reasons why in every religion there are exoteric (outer) teachings and esoteric (inner or secret) teachings. Let's take the Catholic church for example. Until the late 18th century members of the clergy (as high up as the pope himself) practiced theurgy. Theurgy is western ceremonial magic; for example demon summoning, talismanic magic, creating elementals, ect. These type of practices were of course done in secret because the lay-catholic would totally freak out if they really knew what was going on behind closed doors. Without years of dedicated study to these practices the average person would greatly misinterpret these practices or even worse, try them without proper preparation. In almost every other religion there are similar examples. In Hinduism there are yogic practices that if tried by the unprepared lay-person would result in insanity or illness. Not everyone wants to devote their entire life to studying the religion they practice
so there is no way that they could even comprehend the most esoteric teachings of their religion. There must be some sort of 'dumbing' down for the masses because the masses really wouldn't even be interested in the esoteric aspects. Symbolism and pagentry is used so the masses can gain something through subconscious absorption rather than the intellect. This has been the way every organized religion has operated all the way back to the ancient Egyptians. I know that this is probably the last thing that an ex-catholic wants to hear. I don't ever think that a priest should ever talk down to anyone but people need to taught at their lever of understanding. It is no use to teach a music student about Coltrane subs if they don't even know what a major scale is yet, right? Again, I'm not Catholic and do not agree with many of their teachings. I'm just playing devil's advocate here and explaining why I think religions do what they do. DCV

MST said...

It is no news to me that religions use pageantry as a means to control and brainwash while secretly holding on to their own "advanced" forms of ceremony. Nothing you've said is anything I don't already know - I come from a long line of theological scholars.

Religions of ALL forms (not just Catholics and, yes, including the Eastern mystics) use their teachings, however beneficial they might be, to control the masses. It's all about power structures. Yogis, high priests, ancient rituals, knowledge for the wise, controlling the masses, seminaries, sexism......Count me out. I find my spirituality on the tops of mountains, in the dissonance and resolution of chords, in the eyes of people I love. Religion is a tool. Always has been, always will. I don't care what variety it is.

I do, however, still love your blog

MST

David Valdez said...

MST,
I can’t really argue with you. There does tend to be a lot of darkness in organized religion.
The thing that got me interested in studying comparative religion were the esoteric teachings about music. If it didn’t explain some hidden aspect of music I wasn’t really interested in it.
My interest has not been in the ‘outer teachings’. I’ve wanted to know anything that I could about how vibrations affected the human being. If I could learn about this topic by studying Vedic philosophy, Neo-Platonic thought, Islamic tuning theory, Alchemy, or Buddhism then so be it, it was all the same to me. It was all just about the science of vibrations and those acoustical laws didn’t change from culture to culture. I didn’t let the outer teachings or as you say forms of ‘brainwashing’ keep me from extracting the pearls of wisdom from the oysters of these traditions.

On my earlier comment about my view that everyone should be taught comparative religion in school; this is not to indoctrinate students into religion, but to educate them in how other people think and why history has taken the course that it has taken. With this education our youth could decide for themselves what to believe. They may find that their parents Catholicism is not as interesting to them as good old fashioned Wicca, or maybe they prefer the drumming of Santeria to their Lutheran hymns, or maybe, like you, they decide seek their spirituality in nature and in music. For me, I’ll seek out knowledge anywhere I can find it. DCV

MST said...

DCV,

And I can't really argue with you (well I COULD but just because I enjoy a good debate and you're such an intelligent person!) regarding the years and years of not only theological tie ins to music but also the scientific and philosophical writings on the subject. Almost all of the original musical theorists were always well respected scientists and philosophers as I'm sure you know. Such a wealth of knowledge. I agree. I just don't believe the surrounding structures of religions are necessary, which is why I enjoy science and theory more than religious ceremony.

Brian Berge said...

MST wrote: "Almost all of the original musical theorists were always well respected scientists and philosophers as I'm sure you know."

I think the original musical "theorists" came along before what we call science or philosophy. Just a thought.

David, what's "Islamic tuning theory"? (Could you gi'me a link to more info' on that?)

David Valdez said...

Arabic tuning theory:

http://sonic-arts.org/monzo/arablute/arablute.htm

http://www.raqs.co.nz/me/instruments.html

http://www.tagg.org/articles/epmow/tuning.html