Sound, the energy of Creation
In ancient times the therapeutic quality of sound was well known. The vibration of sound has such a pivotal role in the ancient thought that its nature is likened to that of the universe itself.
The instant of transition from the state of Pure Existence to that of “manifest creation” is described in the majority of ancient traditions as an acoustic event: a word, a sound, a drum beat, a thunder, etc.
The Thought that precedes Creation “coats” itself with the density of sound in order to give life to those vibrations that, travelling spherically, create space and time, generating movement out of stillness.
This primordial aspect of sound is also reflected in the human psyche: our first sensory experience of perception has to do with sound, hearing being the first sense developed by the human fetus.
The range of frequencies that the human ear can perceive is far broader than the range detectable by the eye. Converted in musical terms, the acoustic vibrations that we can perceive cover approximately ten octaves, whilst light vibrations cover little more than one.
The use of sound vibration is one of the the most ancient method to maintain or transform the level of consciousness so as to obtain balance in body, mind and spirit.
If an acoustic vibration was the starting point of all the cascading events leading to the evolution of this Universe, the same vibration can be “sailed upstream” to reach the threshold, the access point of Spirit into matter.
Hence the importance of sound (music and singing) in every ritual or ceremony of spiritual and religious kind. In these events a real act of analogy with the music of creation is performed.
Dancing and singing in ecstasy, mantra repetition, praying and singing hymns are all methods to resonate with Spirit.
Furthermore sound can be charged with intention. If on a physiological level we have the phenomenon of entrainment (in which the brainwaves activity synchronize to external rhythms and musical patterns), on a subtler, energetic level transmissions of information can take place.
We can use the waves of sound while singing and playing music to carry the energy of our intent. This is a crucial factor in sound healing.
As a consequence, according to the ancient thought, the duty of whoever was in charge of practicing this Sacred Art was to seek balance and purity within. This was necessary to be able to combine vibrations according to and in the resemblance of the universal laws.
There is an old story that stresses the importance of the intention. The story is about the “correct” pronunciation of mantras and it says:
A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student’s humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried. A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.
The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself — but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!
“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”
“Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”
The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.
“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.
“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”
“You obviously don’t need it,” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.
The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island. *
In the Rig Veda the musician is defined as svabhānu, one who holds the light within. Therefore he or she is, amongst mortal beings, the more similar to the gods. If a civilizing hero is present in the mythology of any ancient people, he will always practice the sacred art of music, being a bard or musician. In addition, in every mythology, music is revealed to mankind by supernatural beings.
The word music itself is derived from the Greek word for Muse. The Muses were superhuman entities, daughters of Zeus, in charge of passing on to humans the purest form of the arts, inspiring intellects with the direct knowledge of the perfect cosmic dictates.
Moreover the ancient Greeks used to define geometry as “frozen music”, a fascinating picture that is as poetical as scientifically accurate. The precious knowledge of sacred geometry can provide startling insights as to understand how the whole development of Nature is based on harmonic proportions. These harmonic proportions are in fact musical events.
In ancient times knowledge was approached as a whole, without the modern inclination to an extreme specialization in different fields of research. Each single aspect of science (from the Latin scientia – knowledge) was included and analogically inter-connected: mathematics, geometry, music and astrology were all different facets, or points of access to a single, wide-spread knowledge of the nature of things.
Modern scientific research is constantly proving and confirming what has been passed on for thousands of years in esoteric and mystery schools, sometimes in the form of symbols or in a language rarely accessible for the rational mind.
For instance, the studies and experiments of Hans Jenny, forerunner of the Cymatic science, demonstrate the existence of a strict correlation between sound vibrations and the creation of form. A specific form in matter corresponds to each specific frequency of vibration. With adequate equipment, a sequence of sounds can be seen as a sequence of changing forms. If we take out a single one of these forms from its changing context we obtain the “frozen music” of a single geometrical figure.
The scientific String Theory echoes the thousand years old concept of the Vedic tradition that everything is in a constant wave motion. All that exist is made of moving energy, whose vibration is kept alive by nothing less than sound. OM or AUM, the primordial sound that created and that is sustaining the universe.
This scientific evidence represents a further step towards the re-connection of spirituality and rational science, a fundamental stage in the evolution of our consciousness.
The intimate relationship between sound and the creation of matter is becoming more and more clear, encouraging us to evaluate the actual power of music, the art of using sounds. Through the performance of our “worldly” music, we get in touch with its very source, the inaudible cosmic symphony. It is the fundamental tone of the universe, the “music of the spheres” of Pythagoras and Kepler, modern heralds of a science of the Sacred Sound which dates back to times immemorial.
If a common definition of music is “the art of combining sounds in an order that is experienced as pleasant for the ear”, we can think of matter as music and we can define it as “the art of combining vibrations in an order that can be experienced by consciousness”.
The repetition of a mantra, the litanies of the Sufis, Gregorian chants, the use of tibetan singing bowls on the Himalaya and of the lyre in Greece, the modern tuning forks tuned to ancient harmonic intervals, the modern electronic equipment of Hans Jenny and Royal Rife are all examples of how the power of sound has always been used to “tune” the individual to the Whole.
Exorcisms and shamanic healing methods provide further examples of the power of the intention in sound and voice. In many traditions evil spirits living in human bodies are considered responsible for causing sicknesses. They can be recognized and called by their own names (which may often be a sound or a melody) in order to be chased away. The essence of a creature is hidden in its name, therefore the name has a power over it.
In a few indigenous cultures the importance of the unique melody of each soul is well known. It is sung at the moment of birth and death of a person as well as in other crucial moments and rites of passage of their life.
In the ancient thought the name or the song of a being or of an object is the being or the object. It is the vibratory nature of things revealing itself in an acoustic form.
Sound (as well as thought) has the ability of actually changing the molecular structure of water. The experiments conducted by Masaru Emoto clearly demonstrate the link between the vibration of sound and the arrangement of the molecules in this extraordinary element which is capable of storing information.
Since our bodies are made of a high percentage of water, and sound being capable of creating forms (as stated above), it becomes clear (when it comes to sound healing) how ancient knowledge was based an a highly scientific comprehension of these phenomena.
Using specific frequencies it is possible to change the molecular structure of water, bringing it to acquire harmonic proportions, in the likeness of the order of Nature. It is also possible to influence the shape and consonance in the many layers of the human energetic field.
This complete access to the state of a person, from the deep cellular level to the subtle electro-magnetic field around the body can be considered the basis of sound healing.
* from the website: www.dharma-haven.org
Sources and suggested readings:
Hans Jenny – Cymatics, a study of wave phenomena and vibration (book)
Hans Jenny – Cymatics, bringing matter to life with sound (video)
Masaru Emoto – The message from water
Jonathan Goldman – Healing sounds
Roberto Laneri – La voce dell’arcobaleno (The rainbow voice)
Joscelyn Godwin– Mystery of the seven vowels
Randall McClellan – The healing forces of music
Marius Schneider – Primitive music
Russill Paul – The yoga of sound
Paul Devereux – Stone age soundtracks – The acoustic archeology of ancient times
Daniel J. Levitin – This is your brain on music