Posts Tagged ‘buddhism


4.21.14 – Music in Nature

I often get a chance to retreat to local quiet gardens – open spaces untouched by human hand or technology.  I use these times to slow down, take stock – meditate.  And I’m always struck, when the sounds of the city eventually vanish, that I think I can hear a sort of music in these natural surroundings.  The wind in the trees, the bird song, the insects buzzing around, a pool of water rippling from a steady stream entering it, bushes rustling from squirrel activity – it’s all rather a symphony of natural improvisation to me.  If you close your eyes – focus solely with your ears – you can almost work out notes and scales being performed – hear the key of the countryside.  The low hum of a low note that grounds the always changing symphony of subtle close chords – a deep murmuring hush … then a fly buzzes by your right ear – a nut is being broken apart by a squirrel just behind your left ear.  It’s a surround-sound Avant-garde, ambient, experimental, improvisational piece that you’re listening to….  always changing, always interesting music of the spheres – spiritual.

Sitting in this nature, with eyes closed, allowing yourself to believe you are listening to a live concert, it really can become so.  We just have to set our brains to that frequency (the “radio of nature”).

I’ve held a long fascination with experimental ambient soundscapes and minimalistic, abstract music.  I’ve followed the work of artists such as Terry Riley, early Tangerine Dream, Eno, Cluster, Robert Fripp, Stockhausen, Sigur Ros, John Cage, David Sylvan, Steve Reich, Popol Vuh (band), and although electricity/synths/technology are involved, in many ways, I think this style of music gets close to the existential feelings we have in nature – and reflects the randomness, the vibrations, the profoundness of the natural world – the unknowable.  Even minimalist artists such as Terry Riley and Steve Reich somehow for me tap into an elemental truth of raw nature – its circular, ever-repeating, yet still random events.  For me, it’s those particular artists’ way of musically representing something elemental and deeply intense – humans’ response and reaction to nature & it’s terrible beauty – again, completely unknowable.  It’s Zen like, and of course, mathematical, as is nature; there’s a profound logic involved – a spiritual science.

If you get a chance, the next time you’re out in nature – away from the hubbub of the city, close your eyes; let your ears do the seeing.  It’s a real concert.



“Music is the pleasure the human soul experiences from counting

    without being aware that it’s counting”

– Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz – (Inventor of Calculus)


“The ear is the way”

                          – The Upanishads


“Can you hear the rushing of the river?  That is the way”

                  – Zen Buddhist saying



10/17/2007 – The Undiscovered Self

Over recent years, I have found great inspiration and motivation in Eastern religions and their respective philosophies.  Buddhism, in particular, has had a very positive effect on my life.  About 8 years ago, during a period of profound change, re-evaluation and sorrow, I found myself drawn to that part of the library that offered a different viewpoint on life from that of the Western perspective.  Somehow, these teachings connected all the dots for me, and spoke to me in a very real and natural way.  No dogma was involved, and Zen/Buddhism appealed to me more as a “science of the mind” than an organized religion.  I read all that I could get my hands on, and eventually taught myself how to meditate – which, I might add, was a major turning point for me.  Grasping the concepts of compassion, impermanence, selflessness and emptiness – not just on the surface, but to understand these insights deeply – was by no means a “walk in the park” and took some radical soul-searching.  However, once the reality of the four noble truths got under my skin, I began to see my life, and all life, through new and different eyes.  In every aspect of my daily life, the teachings enabled me to see more clearly, be more pliable to life’s twists and turns, to let go of what I couldn’t control, and to see others’ points of view with compassion, empathy and tolerance.  In a nutshell, my life became happier, more peaceful and more fearless.  I took to heart that famous phrase, “know thy self”.  Buddhism allowed me to see my true nature, and in doing so, I saw the world – its beauty, its gifts, its mystery and its problems – in a more subtle and transparent light.  It seems to me, in these threatening and uncertain times, that the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) of 2,500 years ago, are still so very relevant today; for it’s one’s mind – how one thinks and perceives – that forms our world, our reality and our vision for the future.

As Daniel Pinchbeck points out in his book, “2012”, “Today’s technology, its poisonous by-products, weapons of mass destruction, and inhumane repercussions are projections of the human psyche, expressing our current stage of development.”  Carl Jung wrote, “The only thing that really matters now is whether man can climb up to a higher moral level, to a higher plane of consciousness, in order to be equal to the superhuman powers which the fallen angels have played into our hands.  But he can make no progress until he becomes very much better acquainted with his own nature.”

On my inward journey (I’m still traveling), I stumbled across some very special literature; and I hope some of these books are, in some way, helpful to you:


Entering The Stream Samuel Bercholz What is Zen Alan Watts
The Miracle of Mindfulness Tich Nhat Hanh When Things Fall Apart Pema Chodron
Being Peace Tich Nhat Hanh The Wisdom of No Escape Pema Chodron
Two Treasures Tich Nhat Hanh The Book of Life
  1. Krishnamurti
The Four Noble Truths The Dalai Lama The Light in Oneself
  1. Krishnamurti
Healing Emotions The Dalai Lama Inner Revolution Robert Thurman
The Art Of Happiness The Dalai Lama Breath Sweeps Mind Jean Smith
This Is It Alan Watts Compassion Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen
The Way of Liberation Alan Watts What Would The Buddha Do? Franz Metcalf


And these magazines, which can be found at the newsstand:  Shambhala Sun and Tricycle

“… Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle”


             Thanks for spending some time with me today.



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