Monday, March 4, 2013
Balinese Gamelan, the "Interlock Flow" and resolving the dualistic mind: Pt 2
"There is good and bad, and the river that divides the two, running deep through the core of everything and everyone. The mirrors we encounter in our lives, those who stir our hearts, will reflect all of this back, in all the beauty and devastation we carry as a burden of being human. The Lesson being, not to get tripped up on judging what we See, but to honor the mirror itself, and its infinite capacity for wondrous reflection. "
With regular frequency, an odd but wonderful thing happens when practicing gamelan in the Anak Swarasanti studio. Though all parties present do not utter a word, from seemingly out of nowhere one can hear, quite clearly, the distinct sound of a human voice accompanying the music. Basically somebody is singing along that isn't actually there. It sounds a bit like a musical chant actually, and alternates between male and female in tone. Appropriately, these non-corporal verbalizations seem to come from a talented Balinese singer, as if their part was written specifically for the composition being played. I've noticed this dozens of times now, and have come to enjoy the company of this ethereal, if just ever-so slightly creepy phenomenon. Now, one could make the assumption that perhaps I am just a little off, or maybe something is wrong with my hearing. Or, perhaps I just need to trim down on the meds. Well, I can't really defend myself from being a bit off, but I certainly do not take any medications, and my ears are just fine (despite the Metal years, dude). So what then, could possibly explain the perfectly audible and hauntingly beautiful vocal stylings of a person who does not exist?
The answer is found in part one of this story, but to sum it up, this is just how Balinese music is intended to work. There's not really a human voice present at all, but the audible artifacts of interactions between paired instruments with slightly different tunings, played in interlocking sections. If it still sounds like magic, I am convinced that it actually is to some extent, regardless of "rational explanation". Balinese mysticism explores the idea that acknowledging and honoring the opposites, whether it be man/woman, flat/sharp or the sangsi/polos within a gamelan orchestra, is the path to grasping full consciousness. Furthermore, Integrating the opposites allows us to share the strength of both to create the ultimate balance: Life. Indeed, the transcendence of dualism is the simple Balinese explanation of humanity itself. We are, according to the oldest religious texts of Bali, the result of balance struck between the positive powers of Heaven and the negative of the Underworld. We are the river between the concepts of good and evil, and "as above, so below" the same river runs through all of us as well. It's worth noting that in Bali, children are seen as angels descended from Heaven to help mankind, and that they are born entirely good, the closest earthly tie to celestial divinity. I completely agree.
While all of this might sound fine in the relatively obscure, ethno-cultural context of Balinese mythology, what is so fascinating to me is how this theme of "reality in the balance beyond dualism", also adopted by many other cultures throughout history, mirrors the bleeding edge of modern scientific knowledge. I've been following some of the fascinating and incredibly creative integration work of computer geek/scientist/spiritologist Gregg Braden,who has dedicated his life to revealing vital information on the subject. For instance, Mr Braden states that one of the fundamental tenants of quantum mechanics is the idea that there is a "soup" of possibilities that exist within the infinite invisible energy fields that surround us. In fact, there are two kinds of "quantum possibility waves" in this soup, the coming wave and the going wave, which categorize all the possibilities in our lives as either, well, coming or going. However, when these waves are directed (and I do mean intentionally directed) to interlock, the wave transforms into a pulse…literally a "standing" wave, producing the atoms that construct what we perceive to be reality.
This isn't guesswork by the way, but the result of massive amount of scientific research in the field. You may have heard about how quantum particles cannot be observed, without actually changing the observed system. This is what scientists believe to be proof of our conscious ability to affect the material future, as well as the material past. The interesting part of this, to me anyway, is that quantum possibility waves are most deeply influenced by a particular electro-magnetic powerhouse… The Heart! Which, not surprisingly, is the epicenter of our personal electro-magnetic energy production. So it is the heart (which, btw has memory cells much like the brains, but has thousands of times more electro-magnetic energy) that transforms the combination of lower chakras (emotions) and higher chakras (thoughts) into feelings, the drivers to all our Beliefs. When our emotions and and our thoughts combine, the heart is literally influencing the physical reality we truly Believe in. So if this is indeed true, nothing could be more critical than that old saying "Be careful in what you wish for". A good start might be, only wish for that which brings you Peace.
His work is definitely a lot to chew on, but as a creative person with an interest in the science of belief, most of what Mr. Braden is saying falls into place. In a sense, emotionally driven visualization is the essence of our capacity to be creative, and this applies all the way to the extent where we can harness thoughts and emotions to create our desired physical reality. In practice, it points to the heart as a mechanism to integrate "what is coming" with "what has gone", into the "what is" reality we call from the possibilities that surround us, from birth to death.
In my day to day life I struggle with dualistic thoughts, always trying to "conclude" something so that I may neatly wrap it up and move on to the next quandary. And in the past, if I've been really stuck in an impossible to resolve situation, one method to cope has basically been to let myself go numb as survival mechanism, just push through with the least amount of damage. Nothing could be further than what really needs to happen. This is where the power of real prayer, the ultimate creative visualization of the heart, helps to guide the possibilities toward that which heals.