1. What Does "Nada Brahma" Mean?
2. Nada Brahma-as Koan and as Mantra
Including an Excursion into Logic
3. In the Beginning Was the Sound
On Sound, Logos, and Rose
4. "Before We Make Music, the Music Makes Us"
From Macrocosm to Microcosm
5. The Sound Calls
... stars and elementary particles - plants and marine
animals - crystals and leaf forms - the male and female
bodies and sexuality - cathedrals and cloisters - the structure
of the earth ...
6. Sound is More Certain than Time and Matter
7. Harmony as the Goal of the Universe
8. Sound in the Belly
On "Male," and "Female" Sound, Amen and OM
9. Temple in the Ear
On Listening, Silence-and Wakefulness
10. Nada Brahma: What do the Musicians Say?
On Indian Music, Jazz, Rock, Minimal
Music--Including an Excursion on Hermann Hesse
11. The Myths Were Right:
God Created the World from Sound
1.Zen and Modern Japan
2. India and Jazz
3. Postscript on Science
Sources - Literature - Notes
Index of Names and Subjects
All music, based upon melody and rhythm, is the earthly representative of heavenly music.
Open spaces--nothing holy!
How unbelievably modest are human beings who bind
themselves to only one religion! I have very many religions, and the one
overriding them is only forming throughout my life.
The universe and I exist
together, and all things and I are one. As all things are one, there
is no need for further speech. But since I just said that all things
are one, how can speech be not important?...Behind the divisible there
is always something indivisible. Behind the disputable there is always
something indisputable. You ask: What? The wise man carries it in his
A crucial impulse for the growing consideration of mind and spirit in theoretical physics came from the (often minimal) deviations of the results in physical experiments from what scientists would have expected on the grounds of the laws of physics. Again and again, physicists and mathematicians have been confronted with these minimal and unpredictable deviations. They began to ask: Where are the energies, the impulses behind these deviations? What is it that keeps slipping through the ever-finer net of our experimental measuring capacities?
In interpreting findings of modern physicists, the French physicist-philosopher Jean E. Charon points out that electrons have a "choice," an option to choose between different "ways of action," and that they actually exercise their option. But this is just what the mind is per definitionem: the agent that chooses.
The more recent models of explanation in microphysics and cosmology are totally unthinkable without the concept of option. Physicists no longer attempt to do away with these "possibilities of freedom" or to deny them. They have accepted them and have increasingly realized that accepting the option means accepting a mental and/or psychic element.
No doubt, Charon's ideas are
speculative--rejected by many of his colleagues--and yet a continually
growing group of physicists--clustered in France around Charon and in
the United States around leading research institutes in Pasadena
and Princeton (the "Princeton gnostics")--believes that it has found
the source of these mental and psychic impulses in the electron and in
Charon writes: "Inside its micro-universe, the electron encloses a space that is able, first, to store information, second, to make this information available again during each pulsation period of its cycle by way of a sort of 'memory system', and third, to control complex operations by communicating and cooperating with the other electrons of the system."
The electron is a sort of "miniature black hole." Its structure is similar to that of the black holes in outer space and, to a certain degree, to their preliminary form, the heavy pulsars that I have talked about. Like black holes and pulsars, the electron has an extremely high temperature (between 60 million and 650 million degrees Centigrade; try to imagine such temperatures in the unimaginably minute space of the microworld!) and similarly has an immense density (between one thousand billion and one million grams per cubic centimeter). Like black holes, it is also characterized by curved space and curved time in the sense of Einstein's theory. Thus, the time of electrons (and of black holes) is not identical with our "material time," which leads from the past to the future. It is rather a "mental time" which "runs cyclically," so that everything once stored can be retrieved during any further cycle. For Charon, the electrons are the "prime stores" of memory. They are among the few elementary particles that do not disintegrate; in other words, they exist from the beginning of the cosmos to its end. As Charon writes:
"An electron that was successively part of a tree, a human being, a tiger, and another human being will thus remember for all time the experiences it has collected during these different lives. The electron will maintain within itself all of its experiences as tree, as human being No. 1, as tiger, and as human being No. 2, to whose organisms it belonged at certain times."
The groundwork for these discoveries was laid as early as the twenties by the Swiss physicist Wolfgang Pauli. The "Pauli exclusion principle" holds that atoms are able to "know" and to "remember" whether they have been in contact with a specific atom before and that they "know" the state of other atoms.
The electron's recollections are stored and controlled by its spin, and they are assembled with the help of photons. Each progression of the spin leads to an increase in information. What is most surprising and, in our present context, most wonderful is the fact that these progressions take place in steps comparable to the steps on the string of a monochord.
Photons control not only memory but the process of cognition. As Charon points out, they are messengers: "Here, a photon of the outer shell disappears, thereby making its impulse, its energy, and its spin available to a photon of the electron shell." In this way, the interior photon now possesses the potential that previously belonged to the exterior one. And this phenomenon also takes place in whole-number progressions. It is as if the particles were communicating their "tones" with each other. The language in which they communicate is a language in harmonic progressions, in tones!
pp. 133, 134
More than once (most impressively perhaps in the change from OM to Amen), we have found that the sound we mean is not simply a sound that becomes audible and then disappears. Sound stands for primal sound. Sound is expression and symbol, an audible representative of the inaudible nada.
When you blot out sense and sound, what do you hear?
The echo of what you then hear is the sound from hara.
Of all the great musicians of classical music, I know none whose sound could make this point so impressively audible as Pablo Casals, that wonderful and wise cellist. Even jazz musicians, who in their own field are literally surrounded by great sound creators, speak of him with breathless admiration. The Austrian tenor saxophonist Hans Koller once said in an interview: "Actually, we tenor players have it easy. All you have to do is listen to the great tenor players of the jazz tradition. They all really have their own wonderful sound. There is only one musician in Europe I know of who could be compared to them: Pablo Casals."
On a radio program in the early 1960s, Koller played a recording of the unaccompanied solo improvisation "Picasso" by the tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, immediately followed by a recording of Casals' sound in Bach's Suite in C minor for unaccompanied cello. The concurrence was astounding, but an additional phenomenon also became clear. It is easy in the case of a wind instrument to envision the sound as coming from the player's belly, because a column of air moves directly through his body into the instrument. In the case of a string instrument, however, there is only a "spiritual" column. In fact, that column is the crucial one. Even if there is an actual column of air, the spiritual one is stronger. It was like meeting an old friend after many years when I read the following sentences in a book by the German psychologist and musician Silvia Ostertag:
"When I heard Pablo Casals play for the first time, something strange took place inside me. It was at a master class in Zermatt, Switzerland. In each of the lessons, there were also participants who were there only as auditors. I was one of them, one of many. Casais was teaching, and I still remember the moment when he took his bow and played a tone, one single tone. It certainly wasn't the case that I had been asleep up to that point, but in the moment when this tone was sounded, I felt as if I were waking up, violently and yet tenderly....
"It was as if this tone had reached an inner ear that hadn't existed before. It seemed as if this tone had gone through all heights and had struck me in my innermost self, a part of myself which I had been unaware of. And yet, this innermost self was more familiar to me than anything I knew of myself, otherwise I would not call it my innermost self.
"When the sound of the tone had died away, I found myself unsure for a moment whether Casals had really played it or whether the room had just become really quiet. If I wanted to describe it ... , it was a tone in which all tones were sounded and in which at the same time was all silence....
"It was many years ago that I heard Casals for the first time. Not only have I never forgotten that tone, but ever since that experience I have been trying to become the kind of person who, through my hearing and my deeds, would open my entire life for the sake of this "tone." . . . Back then I experienced something that transcended the horizon of our rational understanding, something inconceivable, unconditional, something eternal ... the tone in which all tones were sounded--the tone that contained all silence."
pp. 135, 136
Dealing wirh sound means dealing with listening. Experiments have shown that no other sense can register impulses as minimal as those that the ear can register. The amplitude of the vibrations of our eardrum lies in the area of 10 [to the] -9 [power]. That is smaller than the wave length of visible light and even less than the diameter of a hydrogen atom. The smallest stimuli our ear can just barely perceive, on the other hand, have to be amplified by a factor of 10 [to the] 6 [power] in order to reach the level of the highest volume perceivable, by a factor in the million range. Were we to amplify the smallest impulses our eyes can register by the same factor, we would be blinded instantly. Hans Kayser points out the astonishing fact that our ears are the only human sense organ that is able to perceive numerical quantity as well as numerical value.
"The ears not only recognize exact numerical proportions, that is, numerical quantities like 1:2 as an octave, 2:3 as a fifth, 3:4 as a fourth, etc.; at the same time they hear ... values that they perceive as C, G, F, and so on. So the tone value fuses two elements into one unit: the element of sensing--the tone, that is--with the element of thinking, of numerical value. And this happens in such an exact manner that the value of the tone can be checked precisely against the value of the number, and the value of the number against the value of the tone.
"Among all our human senses we
only have one organ that is capable of this fusion--the ears. In this
way sensation controls deliberation--or to put it differently: Our
soul is thus capable of deciding on the correctness or incorrectness
of an intellectual quantity. Conversely, the phenomenon of tone value
also gives us the opportunity to develop proportions and numerical
values in the realm of the psyche."