Music as Word of God

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W4TVQ
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Music as Word of God

Postby W4TVQ » February 28th, 2008, 4:36 pm

I recently heard a minister who was waving a bible at us and insistingthat "this is the Word of God." My first thought was, but the bible itself says it is not the Word of God; it says, in John 1, that the Christ is the Word of God.

Since then i've been thinking aobut the "Word of gGod," which to me means simply anything that communicates a link between our foreshortened awareness and the infinitude of God. It occurs to me that words, as such, are not well suited to this purpose, since they contain "meaning" which diverts us from awareness of the I AM. Words stimulate reason, rather than silence, and do not lead to the practice indicated by "Be still, and know that I AM God." I'm not against reason, but think it needs to be kept in its place as a form of -- shall I say, "entertainment"? -- incapable of conveying Light.

Lately, too, I have found that I am "learning" more about God from music than from words. The words are useful; the Upanishads, for example, direct reason into more useful channels and prepare the way for the Word of God to be heard. But I find that certain pieces of music convey a real awareness of the Unity of Everything that cannot be contained in words.

The music that does this for me is,
Mahler's second Symphony, the final movement, beginning almost in a whisper with the choir singing "Rise again, yes, thou shalt rise again, my dust, after brief rest!" Happly, they sing it in German, so the "meaning" does not interfere with the purpose of the music. The climax is a great tsunami of sound elegant beyond description.
Mahler's 6th Symphony, the soft, slow adagio movement that builds to a soaring climax that leave sone quite breathless.
Saint-Saens' 3rd ("Organ") Symphony
Wagner's Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Berlioz' magnificent Requiem, epsecially the Agnus Dei.

What makes these pieces of music exceptional I cannot really say, but they are. You could no doubt name others. I have even been "transported" by Pink Floyd's music.

Or maybe I'm just goofy. Whatever: I'm content with my goofiness. Ultimately, everything must reveal God in some way because everything IS God. Apparently, I am more sensitive to His revelation of Himself in music, while others may be more sensitive to His revelation of Himself in poetry, or Scripture, or visual "pictures" of His beauty such as a sunset or a huge moss-covered oak tree. Surely there's enough of Him to go around.

Just thought I'd share that, in case anyone else has a similar experience.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby jenjulian » February 29th, 2008, 3:22 am

I LOVE Pink Floyd!!!

And Bach on the grand pipe organ I use to play in the Catholic church, back in the old days.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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zoofence
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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby zoofence » March 10th, 2008, 5:08 pm

I recently heard a minister who was waving a bible at us and insisting that "this is the Word of God." My first thought was, but the bible itself says it is not the Word of God; it says, in John 1, that the Christ is the Word of God.


Very nice.

Yes, John 1. Fascinating stuff there.

Here’s how the Scholars’ Version translates the first few verses of John 1–
In the beginning there was the divine word and wisdom.
The divine word and wisdom was there with God.
and it was what God was.
It was there with God from the beginning.
Everything came to be by means of it;
nothing that exists came to be without its agency.


The Anchor Bible translates the first lines thus:
In the beginning was the Word;
the Word was in God’s presence,
and the Word was God.


As I read them, John’s opening lines powerfully invite me – even command me – to raise my sights far above and beyond what my Sunday school teacher considered.




I agree with you about music. There are many titles – classical, even operatic, as well as popular – that lift me out of my skin. And generate tears. I am fond of chants, and among them, particularly Om Namah Shivaya and Hare Krishna. A favorite tune is Amazing Grace.

As regulars to TZF know, I am firmly convinced that when the Teacher said, “This bread is my body, this wine is my blood”, he was speaking as a Teacher, and therefore meant ... This bread is God’s Body, this wine is God’s Blood, and so is every thing else, including every tune you ever heard and every tune you will ever hear.

If so, when we hear something that does not invoke the Divine, perhaps we need to re-tune our ears.

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby W4TVQ » March 11th, 2008, 12:08 pm

I like the Scholars' Version, though it can be confusing if you are trying to read cnsecutive passages.

Re: John 1:1-14 ... I have those verses branded in my memory because they were read every Sunday at the end of the service at St. Luke's Cathedral where I was an altar boy for years. It was called "The Last Gospel." Over the years they have percolated in my head. I know the "standard" Christian take on them is "Jesus was/is God, only Jesus is God, etc.," which leads to volumes and volumes of theological tomes discussing how he could be both "fully man" and "fully God," wars being fought over words like "homoousion," and a general arrival at no particular place. Thanks to Paul, we must regard ourselves as trash and therefore cannot presume to identify ourselves as "God made flesh" in the way he did.

Yet to me, the words "The Word became flesh" do not intend to imprison God in the flesh of Jesus, but to show us that the creative impulse in the One creates and indwells everything and everyone we perceive as "physical reality." If it IS, it's God. I've been accused of being a pantheist, and my response is simply, "If this be pantheism, make the most of it." Pantheism is only a dirty word if you are a "doctrinally correct" Christian, Muslim or Jew. The only revision I would make to the general concept of "pantheism" is this: Pantheism is defined as a belief that there is a god in everything; I would say, rather, evertthing is in God. Ruby Nelson has it this way: "If you look at the sky, you will know that I am blue. If you look at a leaf, you will know that I am green. ,,,If you look at the ground on which you stand, you will know that it is holy. Every particle of dirt under your feet is a manifestation of my consciousness expressing in matter ... If you could behold these particles of dirt with extended vision, you would see that they are vibrant with my eternal Light."

Of course, on these boards I am preaching to the choir, but in fact I am preaching to myself; all of this helps me get my thought arranged in a manageable sequence.

More later...

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby windabove » March 11th, 2008, 10:29 pm

I've been accused of being a pantheist...Pantheism is defined as a belief that there is a god in everything; I would say, rather, everything is in God.

I will suggest that your critics are themselves the pantheists. For is it not they who are asserting that god is in a thing? And on what other basis could a pantheistic concept criticize a monotheistic concept except be it by illusion of inversion?

Not to step into any theological hair-splitting or tail-chasing, but wouldn't any 'in' (in God, or god in) to God be instantly obsolete? I recite the following passage from "Whoso Knoweth Himself" by Ibn Arabi because it has been the extremely helpful to me toward Self-understanding (knowing that I already know). To the mind of belief it will have no appeal and probably not make much sense.

Understand, therefore, in order that thou mayest not fall into the error of the Hululis (those who believe in the incarnations of God): -- He is not in a thing nor a thing in Him, whether entering in or proceeding forth. It is necessary that thou know Him after this fashion, not by knowledge, nor by intellect, nor by understanding, nor by imagination, nor by sense, nor by the outward eye, nor by the inward eye, nor by perception. There does not see Him, save Himself; nor perceive Him, save Himself. By Himself He sees Himself, and by Himself He knows Himself. None sees Him other than He, and none perceives Him other than He. His Veil (phenomenal existence) is [only part of] His oneness; nothing veils other than He. His veil is [only] the concealment of His existence in His oneness, without any quality. None sees Him other than He...

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby Speculum » March 13th, 2008, 3:36 pm

... the Scholars' Version, though it can be confusing if you are trying to read consecutive passages.


That is true as regards the original book, which contains the five gospels (the four canonical and Thomas), and in which the flow of text is interrupted by the commentaries and opinions of the Jesus Seminar. However, The Complete Gospels, which contains those five plus numerous others -- and some excellent notes, is presented in a normal, easy to read format. I highly recommend it.




... but in fact I am preaching to myself


Isn't it ACIM which says somewhere that we teach what we need to learn!




What can I say about the passage from Ibn 'Arabi. As I have written here and elsewhere, those pages are among the most powerful I have ever come across (thanks to TZF's good friend)!

For those who have not yet seen it, there is a longer excerpt at TZF's Ampers&nd. Here, I truly do recommend that every seeker read those paragraphs at least once every month until they are burned into the psyche.

As for pantheism and all the other isms, I confess I used to relish hair-splitting discussions about them. Now, I realize that if God is Infinite, then by definition they are all identical, synonymous, and true. We are all always saying the same thing. All the contradictions, differences, and nuances, are simply a product of our perception of ourselves which we naturally and unavoidably project outward onto our reality which each of us calls "my life". We create divisions among us because we perceive ourselves as being divided. Happily, whatever we might think about it, this phenomenon is itself Divine, there being nothing else it can be, because again, God being Infinite means that God is all there is.

Ibn 'Arabi: ... thou never wast nor wilt be, whether by thyself or through Him or in Him or along with Him. Thou art neither ceasing to be nor still existing. Thou art He, without one of these limitations. Then if thou know thine existence thus, then thou knowest God; and if not, then not.

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby phyllis » March 13th, 2008, 5:15 pm

There are few sounds on the planet which I would prefer to listen to more than the music of Antonio Vivaldi.

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby jenjulian » March 15th, 2008, 1:18 am

As for pantheism and all the other isms, I confess I used to relish hair-splitting discussions about them. Now, I realize that if God is Infinite, then by definition they are all identical, synonymous, and true. We are all always saying the same thing. All the contradictions, differences, and nuances, are simply a product of our perception of ourselves which we naturally and unavoidably project outward onto our reality which each of us calls "my life". We create divisions among us because we perceive ourselves as being divided. Happily, whatever we might think about it, this phenomenon is itself Divine, there being nothing else it can be, because again, God being Infinite means that God is all there is.


A glorious world without isms!

Music can move my soul at times, but it can also be used to keep the noise and distraction going so that I do not go to the silence inside, which is where I start to connect with who I am. Music also sometimes moves my emotions more than my soul, and that just stirs up and dirties the water for me. So even if I believe intellectually that God is Infinite so therefore everything is God, I'm still on the journey inward to Know (that is beyond intellectually)who I am and what Reality is and some things aid in that and some hinder. Stopping all of the changes on the outside, which is just another distraction, has come to my awareness, and I'm settling into putting roots where I am and deeply reading my books and finding silence.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby W4TVQ » March 15th, 2008, 1:12 pm

"Music also sometimes moves my emotions more than my soul, and that just stirs up and dirties the water for me"

I understamd your point, Jen.

I'd tend to look at it this way:
Music stirs my emotions -- which are an aspect of my soul.
Reading stirs my intellect -- which is an aspect of my soul.
Prayer stirs some undefinable part of me -- which is an aspect of my soul.
Anything and everything I do, feel, see, hear or acknowledge in this plane arises from and affects some part of my soul.

"Soul," to me, is simply a word that signifies "everything you are, were, ever will be" ... and it is all God, so "stirring up" any part of it amounts simply to placing an emphasis, for the moment, on some aspect of God. It is all equally valuable, and without any particular aspect of the soul being acknowledged and rejoiced in, the soul is to some degree "unwell."

Just my opinion, for what it's worth

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby phyllis » March 19th, 2008, 2:38 pm

Anything and everything I do, feel, see, hear or acknowledge in this plane arises from and affects some part of my soul.
I agree with both Jenjulian and Art here. I think one's focus has to be on always trying to be aware of who the I is that is doing, feeling, seeing, hearing, and acknwoledging. For example, in "Zen language", are we hearing the music, meaning there is me on one side and music on the other, or are we being the music, where there is neither me or the music, just the event itself happening by itself.

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby anna » March 20th, 2008, 6:55 pm

Windabove’s excerpt from Ibn Arabi has a positively transformationall quality if you read it slowly and with an open heart: it excludes the “me” entirely upon the reading – you cannot read it with a separated and therefore finite point of view. If you do, it becomes muddled and incomprehensible. Instead, with the mere reading, it seems to automatically refine or narrow the intellect down to a kind of point, whereby there is no longer any me, nor mind, but simply Him. How miraculous! Therefore, I must conclude that it is an initiatory kind of use of words, which, when written, was written with that intention. Since upon reading it just this moment, it had this extra-ordinary affect upon me, I cannot but surmise that this is a case of “living words”, and full of spirit. Thanks for sharing it.

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby windabove » March 20th, 2008, 8:38 pm

Very well put Anna, beautiful description!

We forget that all thought is inherently dualist and cannot be otherwise. We then mistakenly believe that truth can be spoken or written and still be true - impossible. Yet with a certain craft and intention it is possible to defeat the mind with the very dualist concepts it feeds on, not by attempting to state truth, but by stating what is not true. Even this, though, takes a craft, a level of presence and skill of attention, that is probably extinct in modern times.

It is worth noting that publishable sacred writings, ancient or modern, usually provide plenty of thinking and/or believing food for the mind. Appeal to the mind serves two purposes, distribution and protection, and both are accomplished in one device. A work that is desirable to the mind at the same time preserves from the mind what the mind cannot understand or accept and would thus reject and shred. "Whoso Knoweth Himself" is one of those rare writings whose veiling device is very thin, and oh so powerful as a result.

Overall, though, it may be better to put more attention on collecting music, than books.
Last edited by windabove on March 20th, 2008, 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby jenjulian » March 20th, 2008, 10:35 pm

phyllis wrote:
For example, in "Zen language", are we hearing the music, meaning there is me on one side and music on the other, or are we being the music, where there is neither me or the music, just the event itself happening by itself.


I agree Phyllis. I think this is what Buber is speaking of also, in his description of the I/Thou relation. Music doesn't do this for me though, not right now anyway, but nature does, seeing the full moon does, spending special moment with the little girl that I take care of does. I have those times when the me/you dissappears and there is simply the oneness of the moment.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby W4TVQ » March 21st, 2008, 12:05 pm

Each of us is going to perceive the Christ in us by different means; music does it for me, the night sky for you, reading Byron for another, and reading the Gita for still another. For some of us, all of those means work at one time or another. We're all looking at the same Light, through different glasses, because the One Who is expressing Himself as "us" most likely did not care to bore Himself with hordes of identical creatons.

I had an example of that principle last night. Nothing as profound as reading ibn Arabi and shouting "eureka!," but important to me. I am currently attending a Methodist church here, because the pastor is, IMO, a Master Teacher and I have much to learn from him. Last night, though, I made a short trip "home," by which I mean I attended the Holy Thursday eucharist at the Episcopal church near here. Sometimes one does not know how much one loves something until it is at a distance. Every word of that liturgy was alive; there was an interval of 20+ minutes of silence that was absolute dynamite. The silences in a service can be as important, or more, as the spoken words, for in those silences we can confront God and He can confront us in a unique way. Ritual can be a means that opens us to be aware of what is always going on, the intimate communion between Maker and Creation, which we push down into the subconscious while pursuing everyday this-and-that.

No doubt, the Episcopal eucharist would not be the "special" experience for you as it was for me; or it would, who knows? As William James makes so clear in The Varieties of Religious Experience, the means by which the Divine establishes communion with us depends upon our individual psychology; that is why we have different religions, and denominations within those religions, and it explains equally why others need no religion at all.

What a fascinating Creation we inhabit.

Namaste
Art
"I can at best report only from my own wilderness. The important thing is that each man possess such a wilderness and that he consider what marvels are to be observed there." -- Loren Eiseley

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Re: Music as Word of God

Postby Speculum » March 22nd, 2008, 10:49 pm

The Ibn ‘Arabi excerpt does indeed erase the “me” in an extraordinarily powerful way. But it also erases the “you”. I know, that seems obvious, inevitable, but it is more than that, it is real. When I read those paragraphs, now thankfully at TZF’s Ampers&nd, I come away aware not only that there is no “me” separate from “you” (or anything else), there is no you (or anything else), separate from “me”. So, in those fleeting moments (would that it would permanently anchor), when I say “I love you” or “I hate you” or “I whatever you”, I realize that it is myself speaking to myself about myself. And it is not theoretical or hypothetical or academic, it is real. Those lines are so powerful that they shatter the barriers erected between me and what is, rip the veil, clarify the lens, and I see and I am – again, if only for a fleeting few moments. Nisargadatta does that, too. And so do a few, but only a precious few, others. The Gospels Teacher is described as Teaching “as one who had authority” (the Scholars Version translates that as, “teaching on his own authority”). I think that is the difference between a Teacher who is Teaching what He/She Is, and a teacher who is teaching what he/she has been taught. The reader/listener/seeker who is open and receptive, absorbs, even becomes, the former because the Teacher has no “me” barriers and easily overcomes the listener’s flimsy barriers (again, at least for a few moments, until we spontaneously resurrect them). The latter is simply heard, received as another’s perspective, because both still have barriers, both still perceive the relationship as “me” and “thee”, “you” talking to “me”; it is instructive, even inspiring, but it is not transformational.
"The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust


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