The Yoga of Sound — Exploring Sound Meditation (Auditory Mysticism, Surat Shabd Yoga) in the Sacred Texts of the Great World Religions and Gnostic Traditions — Tuning the Cosmic Radio Dial
The Yoga of Sound — Exploring Sound Meditation (Auditory Mysticism, Surat Shabd Yoga) in the Sacred Texts of the Great World Religions and Gnostic Traditions — Tuning the Cosmic Radio Dial
By James Bean
Copyright October 2004 — All Rights Reserved
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 very worthwhile and philosophical film, I couldn’t help comparing the parallels between this SETI scenario and one of the world’s oldest forms of yoga-meditation: Surat Shabd Meditation, the Yoga of the Sound Current. ‘Shabda’ is based on 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 may find themselves ascending in spirit toward the place where the Sound emanates. This Sound connects all souls of the universe to the Timeless (akal) realm of the Great Spirit (Haq, Sat, Sach Khand).
Inner and Outer Sound in the World Religions
Being an initiate of Shabd Meditation and very much interested in comparative mysticism and 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 bubble universes into existence.
SACRED MUSIC IN THE WORLD RELIGIONS ATTEMPTING TO IMITATE OR MIMIC THE MYSTIC-SOUND
The Sound of God’s Voice said, “Let there be…”
“In the Beginning was the Word, the Logos, the Tao, the Shabda, the Nada, the Saut-e Sarmad………”
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 (Native American spirituality), 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, 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 real 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 Surat Shabd Yoga, 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 Audible Life Stream.
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 voice resemble the Music of the Spheres. A few years back I learned how to do this wonderful practice.
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 something 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 and have included them in their prayers: “I praise You. I call your Name that is hidden within me: A O EE O EE OOOOOOOIIIII OOOOOO OOOOOOUUUUUU UUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.” (“The Gospel of the Egyptians” in, The Nag Hammadi Library In English, James M. Robinson, HarperSanFrancisco)
The Gnostic Gospels are filled with many examples of chant and Names of God that were used by Egyptian mystics and monks during meditation practice to explore the Kingdom of the Heavens within, 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,” the heavenly state or realm of Ultimate Reality where the Nameless God resides, beyond all the veils of Light, Sound, and illusion.
Whether it’s drumming, Russian Orthodox or Coptic chant, or Gregorian plain-chant, an Indian classical raga or bagpipes, for millennia humans have been echoing various aspects of this 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, authored by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, Volume Four)
Across the many centuries and around the world, mystics, in the scriptures they left behind, recorded some of their experiences with inner Sound, the heavenly Music that comes from beyond the silence. Encountering the Sound Current might be as subtle as hearing a faint tone or hum in meditation, or as blissful as becoming one with a cosmic symphony on a higher plane of existence — an experience beyond what earthly language is capable of truly conveying.
THE SOUND CURRENT OF ENLIGHTENMENT IN BUDDHIST MYSTICISM
The Divine Eye According to the Buddha
“With the Divine Eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, a bhikkhu surveys a thousand worlds. Just as a man with good sight when he has ascended to the upper palace chamber, might survey a thousand wheel-rims, so too, with the Divine Eye, which is purified and surpasses the human, a bhikkhu surveys a thousand worlds.”
The Divine Ear According to the Buddha
“I have proclaimed to my disciples the way whereby with the Divine Ear element, which is purified and surpasses the human, they hear both kinds of sounds, the divine and the human, those that are far as well as near. Just as a vigorous trumpeter might make himself heard without difficulty in the four quarters; so too, I have proclaimed to my disciples the way whereby with the Divine Ear element … far as well as near. And thereby many disciples of mine abide having reached the consummation and Perfection of Direct Knowledge.” (The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha — A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, Teachings of the Buddha, translated by Bhakkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications)
“It is easiest to hear this Sound when it is quiet, particularly at night-time. Once you have identified this Sound, then you place your awareness on it without wavering. Resting your mind in the Sound, you continue to listen, going further and further into the Sound itself.” (“Mind Beyond Death”, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, Snow Lion Publications)
“As you calm down, you can experience the Sound of Silence in the mind. You hear it as a kind of high frequency Sound, a ringing Sound that’s always there. It is just normally never noticed. Now when you begin to hear that Sound of Silence, it’s a sign of emptiness — of silence of the mind. It’s something you can always turn to. As you concentrate on it and turn to it, it can make you quite peaceful and blissful. Meditating on that, you have a way of letting the conditions of the mind cease without suppressing them with another condition. Otherwise you just end up putting one condition over another.” (Ajahn Sumedho, a bhikkhu of the Theravadan school of Buddhism, from, The Sound of Silence)
“Avalokiteshvara Buddha (Quan Yin), the hearer and answerer of prayer, has visited all the Buddha-lands of the ten quarters of the universe and has acquired transcendental powers of boundless freedom and fearlessness and has vowed to emancipate all sentient beings from their bondage and suffering. … How sweetly mysterious is the Transcendental Sound of Avalokiteshvara! Is is the subdued murmur of the sea-tide setting inward. Its mysterious Sound brings liberation and peace to all sentient beings who in their distress are calling for aid.” (Surangama Sutra, “A Buddhist Bible, Dwight Goddard)
“Ananda and all you who listen here
Should inward turn your faculty
Of hearing to hear your own nature
Which alone achieves Supreme Bodhi.
That is how enlightenment is won.
Buddhas as many as the Ganges’ sand
Entered this one gateway to Nirvana.
All past Tathagathatas
Have achieved this method.”
(“The Surangama Sutra”, Selections from the
Upasaka Lu K’uan Yu Translation,
Published by Rider and Company, London)
“Listening to the inner Sound brings the heart into a position of acute inner awareness. It is not that the inner Sound has some magical property. Rather, it is that bringing of the alert mind, bringing openness and receptivity to Sound, is symbolic of the presence of Ultimate Truth. The Sound is always there. We don’t have to create it. It is featureless. It is ever present. So it is a good symbol for Ultimate Reality itself.” “In the sutra the Buddha praised this method, the meditation on listening, as the best method for enlightenment. Ajahn Sumedho had been teaching the meditation on the Nada Sound for some years so he was tickled by this connection to another Buddhist tradition. He hadn’t realized that there had been so much emphasis on this in traditional Buddhist meditation practices.” (Ajahn Amaro)
“O nobly-born, when thy body and mind were separating, thou must have experienced a glimpse of the Pure Truth, subtle, sparkling, bright, dazzling, glorious, and radiantly awesome, in appearance like a mirage moving across a landscape in springtime in one continuous stream of vibrations. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed. That is the radiance of thine own true nature. Recognize it. From the midst of that radiance, the natural sound of Reality, reverberating like a thousand thunders simultaneously sounding, will come. That is the natural sound of thine own real self. Be not daunted thereby, nor terrified, nor awed. O nobly-born, five-colored radiances … vibrating and dazzling like colored threads, flashing, radiant, and transparent, glorious and awe-inspiring, will … strike against thy heart, so bright that the eye cannot bear to look upon them. … Be not afraid of that brilliant radiance of five colors, nor terrified; but know that Wisdom to be thine own. Within those radiances, the natural sound of the Truth will reverberate like a thousand thunders. The sound will come with a rolling reverberation. Fear not. Flee not. Be not terrified. Know them (i.e., these sounds) to be (of) … thine own inner light.” (Extracts from, “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” — Bardo Thodol), edited by Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz)
Ajahn Amaro: “When he [Ajahn Sumedho] first taught this method to the Sangha at Chithurst that winter, he referred to it as ‘the sound of silence’ and the name stuck. Later, as he began to teach the method on retreats for the lay community, he began to hear about its use from people experienced in Hindu and Sikh meditation practices. In these traditions, he found out, this concentration on the inner sound was known as nada yoga, or ‘the yoga of inner light and sound.’ It also turned out that books had been written on the subject, commentaries in English as well as ancient scriptural treatises, notably, “The Law of Attention: Nada Yoga and the Way of Inner Vigilance”, by Edward Salim Michael. In 1991, when Ajahn Sumedho taught the sound of silence as a method on a retreat at a Chinese monastery in the United States, one of the participants was moved to comment, ‘I think you have stumbled on the Shurangama Samadhi. There is a meditation on hearing that is described in that sutra, and the practice you have been teaching us seems to match it perfectly.'” (“Who is Listening?”, by Rev. Guo Cheen)
Stages of Inner Sound Meditation in the Shurangama Sutra, a Buddhist Scripture:
“That Buddha taught me to enter samadhi [deep meditation, union] through a process of listening. I began with a practice based on the nature of hearing. (1) First I redirected my hearing inward in order to enter the current of the sages. (2) Then external sounds disappeared. (3) With its direction reversed and with sounds stilled, both sounds and silence cease to arise. (4) So it was that, as I gradually progressed, what I heard and my awareness of what I heard came to an end. Even when that state of mind in which everything had come to an end disappeared, I did not rest. (5) My awareness and the objects of my awareness were emptied, and when that process of emptying my awareness was wholly complete, then even that emptying and what had been emptied vanished. (6) Coming into being and ceasing to be themselves ceased to be. Then the Ultimate Stillness was revealed.” (Shrangama Sutra quoted in the white paper, “Who is Listening?”, all about transcendental hearing, the sound of silence meditation practice in Theravadan Buddhism, by Rev. Guo Cheen)
INNER SPIRITUAL HEARING AND SEEING IN BAHAI TEACHINGS
The following quote, which teaches us about acquiring ‘spiritual eyes’ is taken from, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, Vol. 2, p.31 by Adib Taherzadeh:
“Baha’u’llah teaches [quoting from] the Mathnavi [written by Rumi, the Sufi poet] that: ‘man will not be able to receive the Light of God in this day unless he acquires a new Eye. Eyes which are fixed on the things of this world can never see the glory of His Revelation, and ears which are tuned to the voices of the ungodly cannot hear the Melodies of the Kingdom.’ By ‘new eyes’ and ‘new ears’ He means spiritual eyes and spiritual ears. He states that since the Eye of the Spirit receives its Light from God it is shameful to let it turn to a stranger, and re-affirms that the purpose of God in creating the inner Eye was that man might behold the beauty of His Manifestation in this world.”
In, ‘The Hidden Words’, a Bahai text, Baha’u’llah reveals:
“O Son Of Dust! Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet Melody of My Voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My Word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive Ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness.”
THE SOUND CURRENT — THE AUDIBLE LIFE STREAM IN THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN TRADITION
The English Mystic Richard Rolle reflects in “The Fire of Love:”
“When Christ wishes it … he receives within himself the Song sent into him from the heavens, and his meditation is changed into Melody, and his spirit lingers in marvelous Harmony.”
“In the Light of God which is called the Kingdom of Heaven the Sound is wholly soft, pleasant, lovely, pure and thin … God, who is a Spirit, has by and through his manifestation introduced himself into distinct spirits, which are the voices of his eternal pregnant harmony in the manifested Word of his great kingdom of joy: they are God’s instrument, in which his Spirit melodizes in his kingdom of joy; they are angels, the flames of fire and light, in a living, understanding dominion.
“If you should in this world bring many thousand sorts of musical instruments together, and all should be tuned in the best manner most artificially, and the most skillful masters of music should play on them in concert together, all would be no more than the howlings and barkings of dogs in comparison of the Divine Music, which rises through the Divine Sound and tunes from Eternity to Eternity.” (Jacob Boehme, German Mystic)
“In the beginning was the Logos (the Word), the Logos was with God and the Logos was God.” (John 1:1)
The Divine Logos… is the helmsman and governor of the universe… The everlasting Logos of the eternal God is the very sure and staunch prop of the Whole… But the shadow of God is his Word [Logos], which he used like an instrument when he was making the world. And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things.” (Philo of Alexandria)
“Heaven is ever making Music, producing in accordance with its celestial motions the Perfect Harmony. … To such strains, it is said, Moses was listening, when, having become disembodied, for forty days and as many nights he touched neither bread nor water at all.” (Philo of Alexandria, on, The Music of the Spheres)
“Behold, my heart was amazed that thus the Word was revealed to one with ears unattuned, and that a wayward heart was able to grasp these things.” (The Master of Qumran, The Dead Sea Scriptures, translated by T.H. Gaster, Anchor Press)
“What else is Christ but the Sound of God.” (Acts of John)
Experiences with the Sound Current — people hearing heavenly Music — are also recorded in the Bible and other spiritual writings of the West. In the Book of Revelation we find this: “And I heard a Sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters, and like a peal of thunder. After that, the Sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.” (from Revelation, 14)
The Heavenly Sound of a Trumpet induces the ascension to the heavens at the beginning of Revelation, chapter four in the New Testament:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a Trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.'”
Enoch raised upon the wings of the Shekina to the place of the Throne, the Merkaba and the angelic hosts:
“And I took him, that is, Enoch, the son of Jared, from among them. And I lifted him up with Sound of a Trumpet and with a teru’a (shout) to the high heavens, to be My witness together with the Chayyoth* [angles] by the Merkaba* in world to come.”
(Third Enoch — The Hebrew Book of Enoch)
(Enoch Notes: *Merkaba is a Hebrew word and means ‘God’s Throne-Chariot’ and refers to the chariot of Ezekiel’s vision. The goal of the merkaba mystic was to enter the throne world, after passing through Seven Heavenly Mansions. *Chayyoth or Hayyoth (Hebrew), a group of mighty angels who reside in the seventh heaven.)
“Peter and I knelt down, gave thanks, and sent our hearts up to heaven. We heard with our ears and saw with our eyes the sound of battles and a Trumpet’s blast and utter turmoil. And when we passed beyond that place, we sent our minds up further. We saw with our eyes and heard with our ears hymns and angelic praises and angelic rejoicing. Heavenly majesties were singing hymns, and we ourselves were rejoicing.” (Secret Book of James, Nag Hammadi Library)
“Open your ears, and I shall speak to you. Give Me yourself, so that I may also give you Myself.” (Syriac Book of the Odes, 9: 1-2)
“God so wishes us to return to Him that He keeps calling to us again and again to approach Him. It is due to His sweet holy Voice that our soul is lost in ecstasy and surrenders totally to His will”. (Saint Teresa of Avila, Spain)
“I heard a noise like wind blowing in my ears and knew it for the Sound of the Holy Spirit which became like the voice of a dove. When the Lord spoke to me I lost all sense of time. I did not know if he was with me five or six hours or only one. It was so holy and full of grace that I felt as if I had been in heaven.” (Margery Kempe, The Mirror of Love)
Hildegard of Bingen, the German Mystic, wrote: “To the Trinity be praise! God is Music, God is Life that nurtures every creature in its kind.” She also said:
“The soul is kissed by God in its innermost regions.
With interior yearning, grace and blessing are bestowed.
It is a yearning to take on God’s gentle yoke,
It is a yearning to give one’s self to God’s way.”
“The marvels of God are not brought forth from one’s self.
Rather, it is more like a Chord, a Sound that is played.
The tone does not come out of the chord itself, but rather,
through the touch of the Musician.
I am, of course, the lyre and harp of God’s kindness!”
“I think that no soul may truly feel the angel’s song or heavenly Sound, unless it is in perfect love, though not all that are in perfect love have felt it, but only the soul that is so purified in the fire of love that all earthly savor is burned out of it, and all obstacles between the soul and the cleanness of angels are broken and put away from it. Then truly may he sing a new song, and truly may he hear a blessed heavenly Sound, and angel’s song, without deceit or feigning. Our Lord knows the soul that, for abundance of burning love, is worthy to hear angel’s song.” (Walter Hilton, The Song of Angels)
The great Masters teach that the Sound of God is within everyone — this Holy Stream of Sound is within every living thing. This is why those given to exploring inner space through meditation, be they from the East or the West, have discovered this Reality playing within themselves.
HEARING THE SOUND CURRENT ACCORDING TO THE GNOSTIC GOSPELS
“Listen within yourself and look into the infinitude of Space and Time. There can be heard the songs of the Constellations, the voices of the Numbers, and the Harmonies of the Spheres.” (Hermes Trismegistus, Corpus Hermeticum of Egypt)
Before the Sufi mystics of Islam, in ancient times there were Gnostics: Jewish, Hermetic, and Christian mystics who also described hearing the Sound, and seeing mystic visions of Light and the heavens while in deep states of meditation. The following is from, The Gnostic Mystery, by Andrea Grace Diem. In her book about Sant Mat and Gnosticism she frequently quotes from the Nag Hammadi Library, a new testament-like collection of sacred texts written in the Coptic language of Egypt (Gnostic Gospels no doubt copied from earlier Greek manuscripts):
“Man’s soul shall become, when it leaveth the body, a great flood of Light, so as to traverse all the regions until it cometh into the Kingdom of Mystery.”
“I turned to myself and saw Light that surrounded me and the Good that was in me; I became divine.” (Allogenes, which literally means “the Stranger” or “Foreigner”)
In Trimorphic Protennoia the gnostic writer (in the voice of God) describes how this transformation takes place:
“I cast a Sound into the ears of those who know me. And I am inviting you into the exalted, perfect Light. Moreover as for this Light, when you enter it you will be glorified … you will become gloriously glorious, the way you first were when you were Light. And I hid myself in everyone and revealed myself within them, and every mind seeking me longed for me, for it is I who gave shape to the All when it had no form. And I transformed their forms into other forms until the time when a form will be given to the All. It is through me that the Voice originated … And it is a Word, by virtue of a Sound; it was sent to illumine those who dwell in darkness…I am a Light that illuminates the All. I am the Light that rejoices in my brethren, for I came down to the world of mortals…”
“When describing the philosophical nature of the cosmos, Gnostic writers emphasize this Sound Current, variously referred to as Word, Voice, Logos, Speech, or simply Sound. Also, throughout Gnostic texts reference is made to the manifestation of a mystical Light, known as Treasury of Light, Immeasurable Light, etc. In the Trimorphic Protennoia it is described in the following way” (Andrea Grace Diem):
“I am the Word who dwells in the ineffable Silence. I dwell in undefiled Light and a Thought revealed itself perceptibly through the great Sound … And it the Sound exists from the beginning in the foundations of the All [multiverse or cosmos]. But there is a Light that swells hidden in Silence and it was the first to come forth…I alone am the Word, ineffable, incorruptible, immeasurable, inconceivable. It (the Word?) is a hidden Light … being unreproducible, an immeasurable Light, the source of All…It is foundation that supports every movement of the Aeons that belong to the mighty glory. It is the founding of every foundation. It is the breath of the powers. It is the eye of the three permanence’s, which exist as a Voice by virtue of a Thought. And it is a Word by virtue of the Sound … I (the Word) became a foundation for the All…” (Trimorphic Protennoina, Nag Hammadi Library)
More selections from Gnostic texts:
“I am a Voice speaking softly.
I exist from the first.
I dwell within the silence…”
“I am the silence that is incomprehensible.
I am the Voice whose Sound is manifold
and the Word whose appearance is multiple…
I am the hearing which can be attained by everyone.”
(Thunder: Perfect Mind, Nag Hammadi Library)
“He is the First Father of the All (universe).
He is the First Being.
He is the First Source.
He it is whose Voice has penetrated everywhere.
He is the First Sound
whereby the All perceived and understood.”
(Hymn in the Untitled Text of the Bruce Codex)
“It is I who am hidden within Radiant Waters.
I am the one who gradually put forth (manifested, emanated) the All…
It is I who am laden with the Voice. It is through me that Gnosis comes forth.
I am perception (enlightenment) and knowledge, uttering a Voice…
I am the real Voice.
I cry out in everyone,
and they recognize it (the Voice),
since a seed (of me) dwells in (each of) them.”
(Trimorphic Protennoia, Nag Hammadi Library)
“It is He to whom the universe has come; they were silent before Him and have not told of Him, for He is beyond speech, beyond thought. So This is the First Fountain; it is He whose Voice has penetrated in every place — this is the First Sound vibrating until the universe feels and understands.” (Bruce Codex of Egypt)
The Five Hebrew-Sounding Names (Panch Naam Mantras) of the Jewish Sethian Gnostics
Throughout Gnostic literature names of specific lights of the different realms are described:
Armozel of the First region,
Oroiael of the Second,
Daveithe of the Third, and
Elethe of the Fourth.
The Fifth Aeon, the Divine, is the all-encompassing Light.
(Andrea Grace Diem, The Gnostic Mystery)
Name One: Armoz-el of the first region,
Name Two: Oroia-el of the second,
Name Three: Daveithe of the third,
Name Fourth: El-ethe of the fourth.
The Fifth Aeon and Fifth Name not revealed:
the Divine, Self-Begotten One.
These sacred names, which correspond to five heavenly regions or planes, are words of power. By repeating various names of God while concentrating in the darkness, the energies of the soul that normally are scattered and dissipated into the world of the five senses are gathered together at the Single Eye. With this Singleness of Vision – concentration at the Third Eye Center, Light will appear. One will begin to rise above body-consciousness and begin the interior voyage of spiritual ascension (soul travel) accompanied by the Radiant Form of the Master. Trimorphic Protennoia:
“He who possesses the Five Seals of these particular names has stripped off the garments of ignorance [the material body and subtle bodies: astral, causal, etc…] and put on a shining Light. And nothing will appear to him that belongs to the Powers of the Archons [rulers of the lower regions]. Within those of this sort, darkness will dissolve and ignorance will die. And the thought of the creature, which is scattered, will present a single appearance and dark Chaos will dissolve and … until I reveal myself to all my fellow brethren, and until I gather together all my fellow brethren within my eternal Kingdom. And I proclaimed to them the ineffable Five Seals in order that I might abide in them and they also might abide in me.”
HEARING THE MUSIC OF THE SPHERES (SOUND CURRENT) IN SUFI MYSTICISM
“A Sound is vibrating in the whole of creation. When you open your inner ear you will hear a Continuous Sound, which will lead you across all limitations of mind and matter. My Beloved is speaking to you all the time. Alas! you do not hear his Voice.” (Shah Niaz, Sufi Saint)
“The whole world is reverberating with Sound. To listen to It thou must unseal thine inner ears, then shalt thou hear an Unending Music, and that shall lead thee beyond the confines of death.” (Shah Niaz)
The Mysticism of Sound by Hazrat Inayat Khan is an amazing book presenting the Sufi teachings on inner Sound. Hazrat Khan on hearing the Mystic-Sound:
“Abstract Sound is called Saut-e Sarmad by the Sufis; all space is filled with it. The vibrations of this Sound are too fine to be either audible or visible to the material eyes or ears, since it is even difficult for the eyes to see the form and color of the ethereal vibrations on the external plane. It was the Saut-e Sarmad, the Sound of the abstract plane, which Muhammad heard in the cave of Ghar-e Hira when he became lost in his divine Ideal. The Qur’an refers to this Sound in the words, ‘Be! and all became.’ Moses heard this very Sound on Mount Sinai, when in communion with God; and the same Word was audible to Christ when absorbed in his Heavenly Father in the wilderness. Shiva heard the same Anhad Nada during his Samadhi [deep meditation] in the cave of the Himalayas. The flute of Krishna is symbolic of the same Sound. This Sound is the source of all revelation to the Masters, to whom it is revealed from within; it is because of this that they know and teach one and the same truth.” (The Sufi Message Series, II)
“The person, who is in tune with the universe, becomes like a radio receiver through which the Voice of the universe is transmitted.” (Hazrat Khan)
“This creative current, filling all space, may be likened to the electromagnetic waves of the radio.” (Julian P. Johnson)
“…The Great Creative Current flows outwards and downwards to create, govern and sustain all regions. It passes out from this region somewhat like the radio emanations going forth from a great broadcasting station. It is the Audible Life Stream, the most important factor in the system of the Masters. This Stream permeates the entire system of universes. A thing of great importance to us is that the music of this ever-flowing current, the stream of life, can be heard by a real Master and also by his students who have advanced even a little on the Path.” (Julian P. Johnson, Path of the Masters)
“The subject of Shabd (Inner Sound, The Music of the Creator) is such that we cannot do justice to it by discursive reasoning. All that can be said is that ‘Shabd’ implies the Power of God that has created and is sustaining the various grand divisions, divisions and sub-divisions of the vast creation of God. It is a current from the Ocean of Consciousness and is characterized by Sound-vibration, or in other words, It is a live and active principle which, emanating from God, is enlivening all creation. It is the instrument with which God creates, controls and sustains His vast universe. It acts as a life-line between the Creator and His creation and serves as a golden bridge between the two. The divine currents, like the ethereal waves of a radio, are spread out in the atmosphere in all the directions of the compass, giving out delectable strains of music. We, however, cannot catch the ethereal vibrations and listen to the divine melody until we get in tune with the Infinite by adjusting our mental apparatus. Therefore we become etherealized more and more as we come in tune with the heavenly music. Shabd is the connecting link between God and man.” (Sant Kirpal Singh, Ruhani Satsang USA website)
“The vibrations of this Sound are too fine to be either audible or visible to the material eyes or ears…” (Hazrat Khan) Yet, as Masters and mystics often point out, there is another kind of hearing and another kind of seeing. The eyes and ears of the soul — the spiritual senses — can be developed. There is Light coming from beyond the darkness, and there is Music coming from beyond the silence, for those who have ears to hear — those who desire to meditate and discover the wonders of inner space for themselves.
“My Master has taught me a lesson:
It repeats itself-without me repeating it.
When I plug my ears with my fingers,
Without learning, I hear its melodies.
My eyes are longing for a glimpse of him:
Without seeing, I see his radiant face.
In every heart abides the Beloved, O Bahu,
In countless forms he reveals himself to me.”
(Hazrat Sultan BaHU, Sufi poetry website)
“Rise above thy mental horizon, 0 brave soul, and listen to the call of Music coming from above.” (Rumi)
“Bring the sky beneath your feet and listen to Celestial Music everywhere.” (Rumi)
INNER SOUND MEDITATION (NADA YOGA) IN JAINISM, SIKHISM, HINDUISM, AND THE SURAT SHABD YOGA TRADITIONS OF INDIA
JAINISM, LORD MAHAVIRA, AND INNER SOUND MEDITATION
“O Ascetic! Meditate on the Cosmic Sound of OM because it is like rain for extinguishing the fire of suffering. And it is also like a lamp which illuminates the subtle essence of the sacred teachings. It is the governance of good deeds.” (Jnanarnva, sarga: 38, Jainism)
“Close both ears with your hands and listen to the Inner Sounds.” (Acharya Mahapragya, “The Method of Using Preksha Dhyana”, Jainism)
“In the Divine Sound of God (Bhagawan) all the mysteries are revealed.” (Swami Jnananada, Pandita Puja, Jainism)
“What does one hear with these ears? It is a sweet Sound. … Closing my eyes, as if I were united with God, I was away from this world. Only my Peace incarnate and dispassionate Lord (Mahavira) and I existed [ego and worldly concerns had vanished in the state of complete tranquility].” (Shri Jinendravarni, Jainism)
THE UNSTRUCK MELODY OF THE SOUND CURRENT (ANHAD SHABD) IN THE SIKH SCRIPTURES
1. (Within me) rings the unstruck Melody of the Lord’s flute, yea, He in whose presence one’s mind is attuned to the sound (of the inner music). (Sri Rag, Kabir)
2. Seated in my higher mind, I live in communion with God and within me rings ever the unstruck Music (of Bliss). (Sri Rag Var, Shloka M. 3)
3. He, the Lord, is immersed in the unstruck Melody of the Word. (Asa, M. 1)
4. He, our God, is the King of the whole Universe, and there (in His Presence) rings the unstruck Melody (of Bliss). (Sorath M. 5, Chaupadas)
5. The Lord’s Name has no form, no sigh, and it becomes manifest through the Immaculate Lord as the unstruck Melody. (Asa M. 1)
6. In the cave of equipoise do I now have my seat, and the luminous Self of God has burst into me as the unstruck Melody. (Asa M. 5)
7. At the (tenth) door rings the unstruck Melody. The Lord echoes thus in every heart. (Vadhans M. 5)
8. Now I’ve closed all the nine Doors [of the senses], and (at the Tenth) now rings the unstruck Melody. (Sorath, Kabir)
9. The Mind is Filled with the Divine Music of the Spheres
“The Lord placed the soul in the body’s cave,
And the breath held the Music of Life.
He made each body with nine gates*,
With the Tenth Gate**; remaining well hid.
And the Tenth Door was opened to him
Who truly loved the Guru’s wisdom.
And there lives the Lord in His myriad forms,
as well as the nine treasures of the Name.
His limit cannot be found.
“Says Nanak, the Lord placed the soul in the
body’s cave and the breath held the Music of Life.
“Listen to this Song of Bliss, you blessed ones,
And all your heart’s longings shall be fulfilled.
You will reach the Transcendent Lord, and
your sorrows will depart.
All afflictions and sorrows are destroyed
at the Sound of the True Word,
And my friends, the saints were in ecstasy when
the perfect Guru revealed it.
Those who speak and those who listen are pure,
And they see the All-pervading Lord everywhere.
Nanak prays: Attaching to the feet of the Guru,
The mind is filled with the divine Music of the Spheres.”
(Guru Amar Das, in, Anand Sahib — Adi Granth/Shri Guru Granth Sahib)
(Notes: *”nine gates”: The nine visible orifices of the body. ** “The Tenth Gate”: The Tenth, or Hidden, Gate of the body: The Third Eye, in essence, is the Portal to inner realms. The Upanishads describe a human being as a city with ten gates. Nine gates (eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth, urethra, anus) lead to the outside world. The Tenth Gate, the Third Eye, opens onto inner worlds: the whole spectrum of levels of consciousness.)
HINDUISM, A RELIGION OF DIVINE LIGHT AND SOUND
Hinduism is very much a religion of divine Light and Sound; many Indian scriptures and spiritual traditions teach about the universe being created through the Sound of AUM, the ecstasy of hearing the cosmic flute of Krishna, or hearing the unstruck Melody (Anhad Shabad) of God that reverberates throughout the universe. Yogis of Nada Yoga and Masters of Shabd Yoga Meditation impart to their students knowledge about developing their inner spiritual sense of transcendental hearing.
“Our physical and astral bodies, our Indriyas and the mind, all have Sound as their basis. As we penetrate deep into them they only lead us to Sound. As we analyze our individual existence, it takes us to Sound before we reach the transcendent Self.” (Sri Swami Sivananda)
“By one who is desirous of attaining perfection in Yoga, Nada alone has got to be closely heard (meditated upon), having abandoned all thoughts and with a calm mind.” (Sankaracharya, “Yoga-taravali,” quoted in Nada Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda, The Divine Life Society)
“The yogi should sit the Sidh Asana [posture], and while practicing the Vaisnavi Mudra, should hear the sound through his right ear. By communion with the Word, he will become deaf to the external sounds, and will attain the Turya Pad or a state of equipoise within a fortnight. First the murmuring sounds resembling those of the waves of the ocean, the fall of rain and the running rivulets and the Bheri will be heard intermingled with the sounds of bell and conch…” (Nada Bind Upanishad)
The following is from the Nada Bindu Upanishad, on the practice of Nada Yoga (Inner Sound) meditation. It’s from Thirty Minor Upanishads — Including the Yoga Upanishads, K. Narayanasvami Aiyar, Santarasa Publications. (“Minor” as opposed to the twelve “major” Upanishads, which are most widely translated: Mandukya, Isa, Katha, Chandogya, etc. There are 108 Upanishads in all.)
“The Upanishads represent for the Hindu approximately what the New Testament represents for the Christian. The earliest of these spiritual treatises, which vary greatly in length, were put down in Sanskrit between 800 and 400 B.C.” (The Upanishads, Penguin Classics)
Nada Bindu Upanishad: “The yogin being in the siddhasana (posture) and practicing the vaishnavi-mudra, should always hear the internal sound through the right ear.
“The sound which he thus practices makes him deaf to all external sounds. Having overcome all obstacles, he enters the turya state within fifteen days.
“In the beginning of his practice, he hears many loud sounds. They gradually increase in pitch and are heard more and more subtly. At first, the sounds are like those proceeding from the ocean, clouds, kettle-drum, and cataracts: in the middle (stage) those proceeding from mardala (a musical instrument), bell, and horn.
“At the last stage, those proceeding from tinkling bells, flute, vina (a musical instrument), and bees. Thus he hears many such sounds more and more subtle.
“When he comes to that stage when the sound of the great kettle-drum is being heard, he should try to distinguish only sounds more and more subtle.
“He may change his concentration from the gross sound to the subtle, or from the subtle to the gross, but he should not allow his mind to be diverted from them towards others.
“The mind having at first concentrated itself on anyone sound fixes firmly to that and is absorbed in it.
“It (the mind) becoming insensible to the external impressions, becomes one with the sound as milk with water, and then becomes rapidly absorbed in chidakas (the akas where Chit prevails).
“Being indifferent towards all objects, the yogi having controlled his passions, should by continual practice concentrate his attention upon the sound which destroys the mind.
“Having abandoned all thoughts and being freed from all actions, he should always concentrate his attention on the sound, and (then) his chitta becomes absorbed in it.
“Just as the bee drinking the honey (alone) does not care for the odor, so the chitta, which is always absorbed in the sound, does not long for sensual objects, as it is bound by the sweet smell of nada and has abandoned its flitting nature.
“The serpent chitta through listening the nada is entirely absorbed in it, and becoming unconscious of everything concentrates itself on the sound.
“The sound serves the purpose of a sharp goad to control the maddened elephant — chitta, which roves in the pleasure-garden of the sensual objects.
“It serves the purpose of a snare for binding the deer-chitta. It also serves the purpose of a shore to the ocean waves of chitta. The sound proceeding from Pranava which is Brahman is of the nature of effulgence; the mind becomes absorbed in it; that is the supreme seat of Vishnu.
“The sound exists till there is the akasic conception (akasa-sankalpa). Beyond this, is the ashabda soundless Para-brahman which is Paramatma.”
A good example of Nada (Sound) Meditation practice is found in, The Shambhala Guide To Yoga, George Feuerstein, Shambala Books:
“First, the practitioner should block his or her ears with the fingers and focus inwardly, listening for the arising of the inner Sound. To begin with, a variety of sounds may be heard – the practitioner may hears sounds like: the sound of the ocean, a rain cloud, a drum, a kettledrum, a conch, a bell [ringing sound], a horn, a flute, a lute, or a bee [humming sound].”
The Nada Bindu Upanishad also mentions the possibility of hearing a sound that resembles the Vina, a somewhat sitar-like instrument used in Indian classical music.
These mystic or heavenly inner sounds are always resounding in the soul, thus when one attains a certain level of stillness and concentration, spiritual Sound becomes audible. In truth, the inner Sound is always there, it is our attention which comes and goes. We gain awareness of the Sound, and this creates the illusion that the Sound has “arrived.” When we get distracted or leave off our meditation practice it seems to us that the Sound has “stopped.” However, this otherworldly Sound continues, like radio waves flowing through the atmosphere, available to be “tuned in” anytime we want to listen (do bhajan: listen to the inner Sound in meditation).
SANT MAT — LIVING GNOSIS NOW
Ancient Schools of Spirituality including: Sant Mat, Kabbalah, Mandaean Gnosis, Sufism, and others, see themselves as preserving a kind of “Perennial Philosophy of the Ages”. Some see a line of Masters and Mystics, the keepers of spiritual Knowledge, as existing throughout all of recorded history. Some of these great souls include: Seth, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, the Essene Teacher of Righteousness, John the Baptist, Yeshua, Valentinus, Saint Isaac the Syrian, Rabia of Basra, Rumi, Hafiz, Namdev, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Tukarama, Mirabai, Dadu, Dariya Sahib, Tulsi Sahib, Swami Ji Maharaj, Maharshi Mehi, and others right up to the present time. If there were true Masters in the past, there’s no reason why there wouldn’t continue to be genuine Masters in the world today.
The Sant Mat tradition, also known as the Path of the Masters, very much sees itself as a modern-day continuation of the Teachings of the Saints of old, with living lineages or apostolic successions of Masters right up to the present time. The author Julian P. Johnson in, With a Great Master in India, says: “The Teaching of the Saints [which is what the term ‘Sant Mat’ means] has been one and the same system since the first Saint ever set foot upon this planet. … It is a science [method] based upon natural law and personal experience. The Creator Himself is its author and founder.”
According to the Masters of the East the ‘electricity’ or ‘energy’ of the Godhead that flows through all creation, and that’s present within every living thing, is called ‘the Shabd.’ Shabd or Shabda is a term for the Inner Light and Sound of God, sometimes referred to as ‘the Audible Life Stream.’ This Current can be seen as well as heard. This is the Sound of God if we did but know it, and is the Light of Eternity if we could only recognize it within ourselves. Surat Shabd Yoga, the spiritual practice of Sant Mat, literally means: “the attention-faculty of the soul (Surat) becoming one (yoked/yoga, or in union) with the Inner Light and Sound Current (Shabda) of God.” The inner Light-Sound Stream can be encountered during the silence of contemplative meditation when we directly open ourselves up to IT. Here’s a list of other mystic-terms for this same imminent Power of the Godhead used in various world religions and languages: the Sound Current, Holy Stream of Light, Ein Sof, Vadan, Holy Stream of Sound, Holy Spirit, Word, Logos, Christ (as in, “In the beginning was the Word…” Gospel of John, and, “Who else is Christ but the Sound of God.” Acts of John), Saunt-e Sarmad, Tao, Music of the Spheres, Nada, Ek Ong Kaar, Hoooooooo, Ism-i-Azam, the Voice of the Silence, the Lost Chord, Davar, Memra, Anhad Shabd, Song of the Creator, Naam, Bani, Kalam-i-llahi, Shechinah, Kalma, Dhun, Sultan-ul-Azkar.
The author Peter Fripp in, The Mystic Philosophy of Sant Mat, describes listening to the inner Sound during meditation practice:
“The Music of the Shabd is distant and unsteady when first heard, but as it deepens, it lifts the listeners into a hitherto unknown peace. … The Sound of the Shabd is like a constant theme with variations on all levels [planes or heavens]. These variations are described as the rushing of a mighty wind, the sound of a lute, the deep resonance of a bell or conch, or the tinkling of glass in the wind. There are also wonderful lights and radiance to accompany the sounds…The sounds and lights progress in a definite order, corresponding to each stage of the journey inwards, and they clearly indicate the disciple’s progress.”
Four Kinds of Drshti (Vision)
“Jagrat-Drshti (vision of waking state), Svapana-Drshti (the vision of dreaming state), Manas-Drshti (mental vision) and Divya-Drshti (Divine Vision). When the first three types of vision are concentrated, the mind becomes focused and the divine vision dawns. If one-pointedness is held in the divine vision, mind will move notably higher and grasp subtler and subtler sounds eventually merging with the Sound.
“Upon merging the mind with the Sound, there remains only the consciousness, free of the association with the mind. The consciousness free of the mind will be drawn to the flow of sounds, ultimately merging in Soundlessness or the Supreme Sovereign God. The internal practice of meditation ends here: the Supreme God is realized and the work is completed.” (Maharshi Mehi, Philosophy of Liberation)
Some have even described this form of meditation as “a conscious near-death experience,” that is to say, the Holy Stream of Sound can transport souls to higher states of being that may for some resemble NDE’s or OOBE’s (out of body experiences, soul travel). This is not a ‘do-it-yourself spirituality’ in the sense that one needs the guidance of a competent living Master in order to practice the meditation correctly in a healthy and balanced way. One should never attempt to climb the Himalayas without a Sherpa guide; in the same way one should not attempt meditation to this degree without the sound wisdom and spiritual direction of a living Guide. In the Shabd Yoga tradition of India the methods of practice are communicated at the time of Initiation by a Master. This is freely given — no money is involved. A Living Teacher, being fully acquainted with the ‘landscape’ of inner space, is able to impart to initiates valuable guidance on how to safely make the journey of ascension to the spiritual worlds during meditation practice inside. The complete details of Shabd meditation practice are not found in books and aren’t for sale, but are given to seekers by a living Master at the time of Initiation.
A Mystic by the name of Yogani Mataji said of Shabd Meditation:
“…Consciousness can be released from the mortal frame by attaching itself to the Stream of Celestial Music radiating from the top of the head and beyond. To do this…, one first must be initiated by a genuine mystic who has gained access to the higher realms. … Keeping the back erect and the mind alert, one continuously repeats God’s name as given by his/her guru. This simran [mental repetition of a Name of God], as Mataji termed it, should be done with one’s attention centered behind closed eyes. Coupled with this physical stillness and ceaseless repetition of God’s Name [step one in meditation], the next step is to contemplate the Light within. At first, Mataji pointed out, there will be only darkness but eventually Light will appear in the form of either small flashes or small star-like points. In any case, one should focus on the radiance, keeping one’s simran [repeating God’s Name or Names in meditation] intact and allowing the Light to draw the soul inward. The third and most important step, Mataji said, is to listen to the Sound that issues forth from the Light. It is this Internal Music which will numb the body and allow the consciousness to leave its ordinary dwelling. By riding this Current of Light and Sound, like a fish going upstream,the soul will be able to go back to its original Home. On the journey within, however, the soul must be guided by a True Master so as not to be detained in any of the lower illusory regions. According to Mataji, what near-death patients experience is only the beginning of a vast sojourn into great universes of Light, Love and Beauty.” (Enchanted Land, edited by David Lane, MSAC Philosophy Group)
COUPLETS ON INNER SOUND AND LIGHT MEDITATION BY SWAMI SANT SEVI JI MAHARAJ, SANT MAT TRADITION
“Begin meditation with internally chanting or repeating the Guru-mantra (the charged words given by the Master).
“And then try to visualize the radiant form or image of the Satguru in the still darkness of the inner sky (with eyes closed).
“Follow that with focusing your attention at the seat of the soul within, i.e. at the Third Eye or the Inner Eye or the Til Dwaar, by making the two streams of consciousness in your two eyes converge in a Point.
“When the two currents of consciousness meet in a Point, Divine Light appears within.
“Then, practice Surat Shabd Yoga (Yoga of Divine Sound) i.e., try to shift your attention to listening to the Divine Sounds or myriads of melodies (Anahad Naad) ringing inside. Listening to the Divine Sound destroys all the perversions, agitations and fickleness of the mind.
“Ascending beyond or transcending myriads of sounds, try to identify and tune in to the Quintessential Unstruck Melody, called “Saar Shabd” or “Anaahat Naad” which alone is capable of taking you and merging you into oneness with the Supreme Lord; this is the ultimate deliverance or liberation.”
“The tenth gate [third eye/third ear] is the gathering point of consciousness. Therein lies the path for our return. The tenth gate is also known as the sixth chakra, the third eye, bindu, the center located between the two eyebrows. This is the gateway through which we leave the gates of the sense organs and enter in the divine realms and finally become established in the soul. We travel back from the Realm of Darkness to the Realm of Light, from the Light to the Divine Sound, and from the Realm of Sound to the Soundless State. This is called turning back to the Source. This is what dharma or religion really intends to teach us. This is the essence of dharma.” (Swami Sant Sevi Ji Maharaj, Harmony Of All Religions) ////////
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