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9ways

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In an earlier article I published entitled “SILENCE”, I wrote “From the perspective of a Sound Therapist, sound and silence must walk hand and hand, through this connection one can find deep penetration and understanding. I refer to this connection as the Three Variables, Awareness-Intent-Intuition; and in a future discussion I will delve more deeply into these”. That time has arrived, and I hope this brief column will offer an understanding of what I meant by this.

In the training I offer to educate students in an understanding of Sound Therapy, I tell them that their ability to listen and understand the transmission of information depends upon the Right Attitude and the Right Conduct. This is the foundation that a student builds their entire learning experience upon. This method has been in place since antiquity, so when you read that ancient learning centers existed in Babylon, Egypt, Bukhara, Greece, India, and Tibet for example, these were some of the guidelines that were bestowed on the student right from the start. Without this foundation on how to assimilate the transmission of information a student would learn nothing.

Now you assume through this understanding, that these preliminary instructions are the base for the student to build their learning upon. But every student is different, know 2 are alike. Their ability has much to do not only in receiving the information, but mentoring as well. As they gain experience through the conventions offered to them, they open to an awareness, develop intentions or set their course, and through thought processes including intuition, they create the personal guidelines they wish to establish within. Their success as a Sound Therapist therefore, is dependent upon many factors. And this is simply the formulation stage that they embark their careers upon.

The ‘quality’ of this student is dependent not only on their skill-set as a pupil, but also on their accumulated awareness, their orientation, and inner fortitude. These make up the variables that I’m speaking about. Some could say “what about this, or that?”, but from my view as their teacher this is what I am keeping an eye on. What is coming from their awareness, what is their intention, and is this simply intuition as a guessing game, or is it connected by a critical self-analysis. Lets establish some definitions.

AWARENESS: This is the perfume that arises from their studies and experience. It could also mean mindfulness in respect to paying attention on purpose, staying present, being non-judgmental, these sorts of things. Its an extension of just knowing. One could say “is the heart and mind connected?”

INTENT: The dictionary says that this means purpose, objective, ambition, goal, etc. but do these words rise from the mind or the heart, or possibly both? I objectively look at this as aspiration, but accumulating without desire. In the East, they see desire arising from ignorance, and aspiration having a more dynamic quality of seeing and acting more clearly. “It is the key ‘constructive’ element in action, as a workmanlike mental activity that integrates and stimulates other processes of mind, and as one essential, if not sufficient, causal factor of moral action.”[1] The fortification of Will is the engine behind intention.

INTUITION: I remember bringing this subject up during one of my field studies in the Himalayas in the early 1970’s. It seems that the East and the West have different views on this. The classic Jungian definition sees it as “a irrational function because its apprehension of the world is based on the perception of given facts. Unlike sensation, however, it perceives via the unconscious and is not dependent on concrete reality.” In Jung’s The Psychology of the Transference he states “Intuition gives outlook and insight, it revels in the garden of magical possibilities as if they were real.” However in shamanic conventions intuition plays a key part in understanding non ordinary realities. An interview I conducted with a Tibetan Lama near Mt. Everest said that intuition was like a 6th sense, similar to hearing or seeing. But that it was unreliable to most people because they had not been trained in it. Many reading this are probably familiar with the ‘oracles’ of Tibet, and this discussion falls within the parameters of the oracles who are trained at a very young age. The Lama insisted, that intuition could be learned to a high degree, but that only certain individuals could possess it at a level equal to any of the other 5 senses. And like any another subject, required steadfast learning, and guidance before it could be trusted.

Now intuition is a loaded concept in new age thought. Many rely upon intuition in favor of any formal studies whatsoever, being the sole judge of their abilities. And to be truthful, some are much better than others, and in my experience I have seen high degrees, but also many poor degrees of this. I seriously doubt that anyone would take a intercontinental air flight with a pilot flying on intuition, or having open heart surgery by a surgeon operating on intuition alone. But there is a substantial force at work internally, when things just don’t feel right is there not? The ability of listening to the body of the person your working with, in combination with acute observational proficiency can induce a intuitive nature to occur. Being able to recognize this and accurately assessing it is a very difficult skill set to acquire on your own. Which is why as a teacher I am evaluating this ability, and offering a mentoring relationship to properly cultivate this.

I think that there is an important lesson to be learned from Pythagoras in regards to the student-teacher relationship. It has been said that he was a strict disciplinarian in regards to conduct of students. If a student broke the institute’s code, they were expelled, and a tomb bearing their name was erected in the garden. Pythagoras taught that such a student was dead, “his body appears among men, but his soul is dead, let us weep for it.” Students spent years under observation before they could sit in front of him to study, and Pythagoras did so behind a veil. Something he had learned from his studies with a Thracian teacher years before he opened his institute in Crotona on the Gulf of Tarentum. As I mentioned earlier, the Right Conduct is an essential element not only to the learning process of the student, but as an evaluation tool for the teacher. Having trained hundreds of students in small groups, which afford intimate environments to study, the challenge of Right Conduct is very difficult for them. Primary reasons are the difficulties transitioning from Western methods to Socratic and Eastern methods; and allowing ‘new truths’ to supplant ‘old truths.’ The ancient schools insisted that students undergo change before any transmissions were offered to them. Students were observed, and basic studies were given, but as far as deep esoteric studies were concerned, the student was required to ’turn the mind’ and undergo a transformation before the Sword of Wisdom was offered to them.

Students need to acquire skills that offer deep internal penetration, and this can simply be found in silence. People will make an argument that silence does not truly exist, that external factors like microwave radiation or the internal dialog of the mind or the sounds of the circulation of blood or breathing itself prohibits absolute silence. And all though this is technically true, spending time without coarse external stimulus, and observing one’s own mind without judgmental activity, can offer insights that are difficult to obtain any other way. Reflecting on one’s own progress or sitting in stillness offers many positive measures. A type of breathing room for the Soul.

In closing, I hope that my discussion on what I call the Three Variables, has offered insight and understanding as a talking point, and that it is helpful for those seeking clear definitions on student-teacher relationships.

* My earlier travels and experiences with Tibetan Lamas in the Himalayas was much different in the 1970’s than today. Many who I met and interviewed have passed away, giving way to more modern clerics in those monasteries. One monastery I resided at burned down and has been rebuilt. Recent travels to Nepal, has shown a much different methodology than in the past. In many ways I was lucky and fortunate to have met many who shared much older views than their modern counterparts. Many places to the West of Nepal have changed especially closer to Iran where the rise of Shite philosophy has overshadowed small Sufi mystic communities, that had incredibly rich musical philosophical heritages.


[1] The Forerunner of All Things: Buddhaghosa on Mind, Intention, and Agency by Maria Helm, Oxford University Press

© 2016 Mitch Nur, PhD
9waysacademia@gmail.com

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RichG

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Reply with quote  #2 

Great article, Mitch. All of it well worth considering and contemplating.

In particular I am in deep agreement about 'silence' and 'listening' - two ideas or states that are at the core of my own teaching. (And yes, the argument that there is no such thing as 'silence' really misses the point.)

And the intuition piece.... not surprisingly I am in greater agreement with the shamans than with Jung.
"...it revels in the garden of magical possibilities as if they were real.” 
Well, real intuition deals with the real, not "as if".
It's far more substansive than Jung's implication of it being a product or response of fanciful imagination.

And yes, also.... the piece about intuition being a loaded concept in new age thought.
Too often I've seen imagined but ineffective "intuition" used as a lazy substitute or complete bypass for critical thought, for conscious and aware practice, for the development of discernable skills - including discernable, effective, real intuitive skills. 

We'd all like to be highly and deeply intuitive, but some are better at it than others. Some of us are inherently gifted with a 'pre-installed, pre-activated, fully operational' intuition, and some of us require a significant amount of discipline and active intent to awaken and develop that sense.


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Sacred Metal

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Reply with quote  #3 
As usual a great read, Thanks Mitch!
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Reply with quote  #4 

Thanks for posting Mitch. I know you speak this at almost every seminar you teach, but having it in front of me in one place makes more sense to me. 

 

Can't help it, getting old & slow to follow...


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Gongtopia

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Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks Mitch for another insightful piece.

To me, awareness/intent/intuition must work together. Intuition by itself is blind. But if you have real knowledge, intuition opens up further doors to perception. Intuition by itself is pretty much useless because you have no basis to understand what it is telling you. So much of the 'new age' stuff often seems like it's some sort of instant thing: 'Just follow your intuition.' Well, if you don't really understand it, you may follow your way over a cliff. It's all about studying everything you can get your hands/mind on to build up your knowledge and awareness to the point that you can successfully translate your intuition.

It's the same for intent and awareness. Intent alone is empty, and awareness by itself is hollow. But if you combine these 3 things they can work together to lead you along the path of growth and deeper understanding.

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