Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weaving Threads part II

Sound can act as a practical weapon against death. The traditional method involves reading aloud to the spirit or being of the person who has recently died. The reading transmits practical instructions for handling the bardo space. This method has been used by Tibetan Buddhists for thousands of years and is now gaining popularity in the West.

Apart from a human voice reading instructions, there are other ways of using sound to help the being through death. One of the first times I met E.J. Gold, author of the American Book of the Dead he told me that sound can be used to navigate the Bardo.

This led me to try a series of experiments recording the ambient sounds of a variety of churches, museums, temples, street scenes, etc., wherever I could find interesting sounds that reminded me of death, psychedelic experiences, or the feeling of being out of body. Also ambient sounds that had a musical quality as John Cage might hear it.

The first results of this recording experiment was released on a cd called All Around the World.

From the liner notes:

There is also an underlying theme running throughout. This theme is a practical technology for preparing and surviving bodily death. The sonic motifs and collages contained here are designed to simulate the environment of the post-mortem journey through various afterlife scenarios.


More on the story behind that cd later.

It seems that the most practical way for gaining the ability to survive death is by simulating the conditions of death. The bardo reality can be seen as a puzzle to solve, a maze to negotiate, or a very elaborate maze - a labyrinth to navigate through.

Any kind of meditation encourages death of the ego to a greater or lesser degree. In some way, the conditions of death, its sensations, feelings, cognitions, etc. can be simulated through meditation. Not just seated meditation. There are many activities that have a meditative quality, one prime example being the playing or listening to music.

When a group of musicians is fully present with their music, they are effectively dead to their ordinary lives and personalities. They engage in a form of non-verbal communication, perhaps a form of telepathy, and take a journey together within the spacial contours of the music. I maintain that this musical journey simulates a bardo voyage. Going on a simulated bardo voyage = bardo training. As Brion Gysin, William Burroughs, and Aleister Crowley were fond of saying: We are here to go. Of course, not all music has consciousness expanding qualities, much of popular music seems superficial entertainment.

Years ago I assisted Jason Corsaro recording an incredible jazz group of Elvin Jones, Pharoah Saunders, Sonny Sharrock, and Charnett Moffatt. This Bill Laswell produced cd, Ask the Ages was recorded at Sorcerer Sound in downtown New York.It was before I knew anything about bardo technology. The combination of those musicians and the music they played, largely improvised, took me far outside my ordinary mind in an unique and unrepeatable way. Walking home after each session, I felt very energized, just plain naturally high, buzzing with electricity.

The power of the music from these Jazz Giants charted and reconnoitered new paths into the Unknown. It seemed to happen as naturally as breathing. It's all there, documented in the recording, and if you can find the cd, available for use.

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