Contents Message from the National Representative
The Mysticism of Sound by Hazrat Inayat Khan
Salutation by Rabindranath Tagore, contributed by Ananda
Can Music Uplift Your Soul? by Azad Daly
Five True Sounds by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Implication and Use of Sound and Music in Fairy Tales by Nuria Daly
Urs Festival by Shakti Celia Genn
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Beloved Sisters and Brothers Autumn 2017 This is the first newsletter of the year so it is a portent of things to come: our retreat with Murshid Nawab in May being a highlight. It promises to be a wonderful and deep experience. As for me personally, I have just signed off on my book so it is now in the production stage – hopefully it will be out by the time of the retreat. My own aspiration is that it will be out by St Patricks Day! With Nawab’s encouragement I have also started a blog (www.witchteacher.com) so that I can pursue some of my ideas and expand on a few of the concepts in the book. The whole process of writing and publishing has been enlightening and I have learned so much from it. The synchronicities which have happened really make me feel that it was all meant to happen. The topic of this edition of Spirit Matters – The Mysticism of Sound, is one which has always fascinated me; I noticed that particular sounds often accompanied transitions from one realm into another in some of the fairy tales I was writing about. You might find this interesting in the article I have written for this newsletter. Many years ago I wrote an article called ‘Ponderings on the Unstruck Sound’ which was published in our Sufi Journal ‘Toward the One’. As this is so relevant I have included this article in my book. I hope you enjoy this newsletter and that 2017 turns out to be a really good year. For me being able to walk freely and without pain is a miracle and makes me feel very optimistic – a new lease of life. I wish you all the same. With love, Nuria National Representative Sufi Movement in Australia
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Recently I read this quote by Hazrat Inayat Khan: “According to the thinkers of the East, there are five different intoxications: of beauty, youth and strength; then the intoxication of wealth; the third is power, command, the power of ruling; and there is the fourth intoxication, which is the intoxication of learning, of knowledge. But all these four intoxications fade away just like stars before the sun in the presence of the intoxication of music. The reason is that it touches that deepest part of man’s being. Music reaches farther than any other impression from the external world can reach. And the beauty of music is that it is both the source of creation and the means of absorbing it. In other words, by music was the world created, and by music it is withdrawn again into the source which has created it.” It made me ponder the power of music and the vibration of sound, and how spiritual practices such as zikr in Sufism and the repetition of mantras in Hinduism and Buddhism, and the sacred chants of other religious traditions, profoundly affect our mental, emotional and psychological states. Music has the power to touch us deeply, speak to our soul, and move us in a way that perhaps no other medium can. I hope that you enjoy this issue of Spirit Matters. Yaqin
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The Mysticism of Sound Quotes from The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan Contributed by Sue Headlam I have found that in every word, a certain musical value, a melody in every thought, harmony in every feeling, and I have tried to interpret the same things in clear and simple words to those who used to listen to my music. I gave up my music because I had received from it all I had to receive. To serve God one must sacrifice the dearest thing, and I sacrificed my music, the dearest thing to me. I had composed songs, I sang and I played the vina. Practising this music I arrived at a stage where I touched the music of the spheres. Then every soul became a musical note, and all life became music. Inspired by it I spoke to the people, and those who were attracted by my words listened to them instead of listening to my singing. I played the vina until my heart turned into the same instrument. Then I offered this instrument to the Divine Musician, the only musician existing. Since then I have become His flute, and when He chooses He plays His music. The people give me credit for this music which, in reality, is not due to me, but to the Musician who plays his own instrument. When we pay attention to Nature’s music, we find that everything on the Earth contributes to its harmony. Divine sound is the cause of all manifestation. The knower of the mystery of sound knows the mystery of the universe. Music touches our innermost being and in that way produces new life, a life that gives exaltation to the whole being, raising it to that perfection in which lies the perfection in which lies the fulfilment of man’s life. What makes us feel drawn to music is that out whole being is music: our mind and body, the nature in which we live, the nature which has made us, all that is beneath and around us, it is all music. When one bell is rung, by the sound of that one bell other bells vibrate. So it is with the dancing of the soul. It produces its reaction and that again will make other souls dance. How the words “Love, Harmony and Beauty” delight the heart of everyone who hears them. One may wonder what it can be in these words that is able to exert such a natural power upon the human soul. Because they are the very nature of life. Love is the nature of life, beauty is the outcome of life, harmony is the means by which life accomplishes its purpose, and the lack of it results in destruction. Each individual composes the music of his own life. If he injures another he brings disharmony. When his sphere is disturbed, he is disturbed himself, and there is a discord in the melody of his life. If he can quicken the feeling of another to joy or to gratitude, by that much he adds to his own life; he becomes himself by that much more alive. Whether conscious of it or not, his thought is affected for the better by the joy or gratitude of another, and his power and vitality increase thereby, and the music of his life grows more in harmony. Page 5 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 1 March 2017
Now if I am to do anything it is to tune souls instead of instruments. To harmonize people instead of notes. If there is anything in my philosophy, it is the law of harmony: that one must put oneself in harmony with oneself and with others. Music should be healing, music should uplift the soul, music should inspire; then there is no better way of getting closer to God, of rising higher toward the spirit, of attaining spiritual perfection, only if it is rightly understood. There is nothing better than music as a means for upliftment of the soul. Music should be healing. Music should uplift the soul. Music should inspire. Among all the valuable things of the world, the word is the most precious. For in the word one can find a light which gems and jewels do not possess; a word may contain so much life that it can heal the wounds of the heart. Therefore, poetry in which the soul is expressed is as living as a human being. The greatest reward that God bestows on man is eloquence and poetry. This is not an exaggeration, for it is a gift of the poet that culminates, in time, with the gift of prophecy. Each human personality is like a piece of music, having an individual tone and a rhythm of its own. What science cannot declare, art can suggest; what art suggest silently, poetry speaks aloud; but what poetry fails to explain in words, music can express. Whoever knows the mystery of vibrations indeed knows all things.
Salutation In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet. Like a rain-cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed showers let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation to thee. Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee. Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee. Rabindranath Tagore Contributed by Ananda
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Can Music Uplift Your Soul? By Azad Daly On seeing the theme for this edition’s newsletter the Mysticism of Sound it set me thinking how music has played a fairly dominant part in my life. I thought of some, of the many, occasions that music has had an effect on my life. My taste in music is pretty Catholic as in the sense of being all embracing. I like Classical, Opera, Folk, Pop and World music to mention a few. My first love for Opera was learned at my mother’s knee where she would tell us the storyline of the segments of the operas she had seen in Derry’s ‘Opera House’ – at least that was the name of the building in Carlisle Road. This was a burned out derelict building when I first saw it - long before ‘The Troubles’ as they are euphemistically called. She used to tell us the storylines in vivid detail – I always remember how Tosca killed Scarpia and placed candles around his dead body. She thought she had saved her lover from the firing squad only to find she had been betrayed and flings herself off the top of the building. Gripping stuff! This is not to say that we were ‘well off’; on the contrary, my father died at an early age, and my mother was left a widow with four children (from a total of nine) under the age of thirteen. This happened just as the Beveridge Plan aka Welfare State was coming into being, so there was very little as regards a Widow’s Pension or Children’s Allowance. Growing up in the 60s was also great from a music point of view; I don’t think I need to elaborate on this, as some of you will have your own memories of this era. So music has had a great influence on my life, as I think can be said about most people lives. Which brings me to the point of this piece. Some years ago I came across Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and was completely captivated by it. I see/hear this, particular piece of music, as a spiritual journey which builds up layer by layer as the music soars to a breathtaking crescendo which I hear as either a/the point of spiritual enlightenment or an experience of the Divine! The music then plays softly as it concludes. For some reason, unknown to me, people have called this piece ‘the saddest piece of music in the world’ and it has been played on many sombre occasions. Here is a cut & paste from Wikipedia to illustrate this: Broadcast over the radio at the announcement of Franklin D. Roosevelt's death Broadcast over the television at the announcement of John F. Kennedy's death Played at the funeral of Albert Einstein Played at the funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco Broadcast on BBC Radio several times after the announcement of the death of Princess Diana. It has also been used in many movies and television programmes. But for me I don’t find this sad at all! I have played this many times (hundreds) after doing my morning practices and I find it a beautiful and inspiring way to start the day and I most definitely regard this adagio as ‘soul music’.
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Try it yourself and see (and hear!). You can go to this link for further information: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adagio for Strings I would like to acknowledge the effect that our late Murshid Hidayat’s music has also had in my life. I would also like to acknowledge in this year our beloved • Murshid Inayat’s 90th Anniversary on February 5th • My Father’s 70th Anniversary on February 6th & • My Mothers 40th Anniversary on February 7th Azad
Five True Sounds The following is part of the Introduction of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book entitled Silence. Contributed by Sue Headlam
Bodhisatva is the Buddhist term for someone with great compassion whose life work is to ease people’s suffering. Buddhism talks about a bodhisattva named Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening. The name Avalokiteshvara means “the one who listens deeply to the sounds of the world”. Page 8 Spirit Matters Volume 21 Issue 1 March 2017
According to Buddhist tradition, Avalokiteshvara has the capacity to listen to all kind of sounds. He can also utter five different kinds of sounds that can heal the world. If you can find silence within yourself, you can hear these five sounds. The first is the Wonderful Sound, the sound of the wonders of life that are calling you. This is the sound of the birds, of the rain and so on. The second sound is the Sound of the One Who Observes the World. This is the sound of listening, the sound of silence. The third sound is the Brahma Sound. This is the transcendental sound, om, which has a long history in Indian spiritual thought. The tradition is that the sound om has the innate power to create the world. The story goes that the cosmos, the world, the universe was created by that sound.
God is a sound. The creator of the cosmos is a sound. Everything begins with a sound.
The Christian Gospel of John has the same idea: “In the beginning there was the word” (John 1:1) According to the Vedas, the oldest Hindu texts, that world-creating word is om. In Indian Vedic tradition, this sound is the ultimate reality or God. Many modern astronomers have come to believe something similar. They have been looking for the beginning of time, the beginning of the cosmos, and they hypothesize that the very beginning of the universe was “the big bang”. The fourth sound is the Sound of the Rising Tide. This sound symbolizes the voice of the Buddha. The teaching of the Buddha can clear away misunderstanding, remove affliction, and transform everything. It’s penetrating and effective. The fifth sound is the Sound That Transcends All Sounds of the World. This is the sound of impermanence, a reminder not to get caught up in or too attached to particular words or sounds. Many scholars have made the Buddha’s teaching complicated and difficult to understand. But the Buddha said things very simply and did not get caught up in words. So if a teaching is too complicated, it’s not the sound of the Buddha. If what you’re hearing is too loud, too noisy, or convoluted, it’s not the voice of the Buddha. Wherever you go, you can hear that fifth sound. Even if you’re in prison, you can hear the Sound That Transcends All Sounds of the World.
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The Implication and Use of Sound and Music in Fairy Tales. By Nuria Daly I was much struck by the mention of sound and music in some of the fairy tales I worked with in my upcoming book ‘The Witch as Teacher in Fairy Tales’. This book came about when Murshid Nawab, many years ago, told us an ancient Chinese Han Fairy Tale, as an allegory for Service, at our Summer School. I was so taken with the idea that even ancient stories from other faraway lands and cultures, contained an understanding of mysticism and spirituality, even though this was hidden. So, I begged Nawab to send me the full story of Golden Chisel and the Stone Ram: and I then interpreted it using a Jungian understanding of the symbols but from a Sufi perspective. This was published in Toward the One Journal of Unity in 2007. Following this, Nawab sent me four other stories to work with, each one containing an increasing focus on the hero’s quest for the beloved or soul. These five stories became the core of my book. When I decided to write a prologue, this expanded into what became the main part of the book - the Weaving – a weaving of the elements or strands of these five fairy tales, into our modern lives. They are just as relevant now as they were when they were told hundreds and perhaps thousands of years ago. At the same time, I was able to work through some mysteries of my own in relation to the character of the witch. It was mentioned to me that some of the wonderful Sufi saints would disguise themselves as magicians or witches, in Sufi teaching tales. When I heard this, I suddenly understood the role of the witch as a teacher in fairy tales. Another strand of meaning which I found in the stories was that of sound and music; in fact I quote extensively from Murshid’s book, The Mysticism of Sound and Music. We work with music and sound in our Sufi practices; the chromatic zikar especially opens and resonates the various centres or chakras by use of particular sounds, like a sounding of the chakras. In zikar we move and chant to a special rag – a most powerful practice. And of course, we have a practice of hearing the inner sound. The first story to specifically mention sound that I came across was The Little Humpbacked Horse. In this, Ivan, the hero, is initially portrayed as singing a merry song to a dark-haired beauty. This dark-haired beauty is the only mention of the feminine, until much later in the tale. Ivan ‘wins’ his little humpbacked horse in a massive battle with a ‘demon’ mare. This little horse became his steed and his guide. Ivan also sings as he feeds and cares for his magical horses. Our reluctant hero is tricked and forced into catching and bringing the fabled firebird to the Tsar. Ivan’s little humpbacked horse is, for him a voice of guidance, which always helps and advises him. In a beautiful glade in the forest, the firebirds come, every dawn, to drink water from the stream. Ivan puts out special food for the firebirds and waits, but his little horse tells him to ignore the chatter of the birds and seize the nearest one. This he does. In our inner life, one of the first things we must learn is to ignore the chatter of our mind, so that we can focus on the ‘work’ at hand. To catch the light of the firebird is our first task in the inner life. Ivan is again tricked and forced into going on his next quest to find the glorious Tsar Maid for the Tsar. She later in the story becomes the Tsar in her own right, with Ivan as her consort. A female Tsar! (not a wife or consort.) She represents the Soul/Beloved in all her wisdom and beauty. Ivan, after finding the Tsar Maid on the sea shore, lures her with sweetmeats, laid on a golden service, within a golden tent. He is warned by his little horse that when the Tsar Maid takes up her musical instrument and plays on it, he is on no account to fall asleep, otherwise he will fail to catch her. When we are on our inner spiritual journey (in meditation, or contemplation), we must not be lulled into sleep, by the wonderful music or song of the Soul. But of course, Ivan does drift off to sleep (we all do) and is woken by his horse furiously neighing – yet another sound – a warning! This time Ivan has one more chance and he manages to overcome his sleepiness by becoming angry with the Tsar Maid for trying to cheat him. The energy of anger does have its uses, even on a spiritual quest. Sound is again used in this story, right at the climax of this great tale: where Ivan is forced to accomplish his final feat of transformation, on behalf of the Tsar. His little horse whistles loud and long three times. This piercing sound has a profound effect on the psyche, directed towards the crown chakra – it becomes the sacred sound of Hu. At this point in time, Ivan plunges in and out of the three cauldrons (one boiling, one icy cold and one just right): he emerges completely transformed, beautiful and handsome. On seeing Ivan’s transformation, the Tsar himself dives into the cauldrons and is boiled on the spot. Ivan had done the inner work, transformed, and thus became the consort of the Tsar Maid.
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In the story of the Fairy of the Dawn, Petru, our hero, is on a quest from consciousness, through various realms, towards the Centre, where the Fairy of the Dawn guards the sacred spring, from which Petru must take the water of life and bring it back to his father the Emperor, so that his ‘sight’ will be cured. In the process Petru too has gained a horse – a magnificent brown horse, which now guides him. After many battles he arrives at the copper woods, the silver woods, and the golden woods. In each of the woods his horse guide tells him, that he must not pick the flowers on either side of his path. Each time he cannot resist, and must fight a monster – a Welwa, in a fearsome battle. Each time he overcomes the Welwa by gaining mastery over it, and each time the Welwa turns into a beautiful horse – another voice of guidance. Towards the end of his battle with the Welwa of the golden woods, the Welwa ‘uttered a sound so loud that Petru thought he would be deaf for life.’ This loud sound which the Welwa made is one which accompanies a great moment of transformation. It is very real and very loud. Petru now journeys through the realms of the three great and fearsome goddesses. First through the realm of the female aspect of mercury – a freezing cold realm, related to communication and intuition. Then through the super-hot realm of the goddess of thunder, where the sound of thunder and of drumming is so powerful on the inner journey. Finally Petru comes to the realm of Venus/Freya – a place which is neither too cold or too hot, like the three bears story. Here the great and glorious goddess Venus or Freya, is in the aspect of an old hag; she has been relegated to the depths of our unconscious, when the patriarchy took over. Freya was a powerful pre-Olympian goddess. When something is repressed, it erupts in a distorted fashion. However, Petru treats her with great respect, as he sees in her the beautiful Venus/ Freya that she really is and was. She gives him a tiny flute. Whoever listens to this flute goes to sleep and nothing can wake them. He is instructed to play this flute while he is in the land of the Fairy of the Dawn.
Here is the final part of the tale where sound is most important. He has control of the great beings in that most inner realm, by use of sound. As Petru played his tiny flute everything in the domain of the Fairy of the Dawn was asleep – not only the giants, lions, tigers, and dragons, but the fairies themselves who lay among the flowers. At one stage, Petru needed to stop playing the flute, so that a giant would awaken, long enough to be of help to Petru, in getting across the river, and into the magical castle of the Fairy.
Petru finally enters the castle and finds the Fairy of the Dawn in the forty ninth room (7 x 7) – a powerful magical number, deep in the heart of the castle. In the centre of this most sacred space is the Well, and by the Well slept the fairy of the dawn herself. As Petru looked at her, the magic flute dropped by his side and he held his breath. He had been warned not to look at the Fairy as she was terrible to behold. As Petru gazed at her, a mist came over his senses and the Fairy opened her eyes slowly and looked at him. At this stage he completely lost his mind and his sense of himself, but he did remember his flute, and playing a few notes on it, the Fairy went to sleep again. So it is that when we are deep on our own inner journey, it is vital that we have mastery over our self, and of the sacred inner sound. As we are a drop in the ocean of consciousness it is easy to lose our sense of who we are / our sense of dropness and thus become lost for ever. Working with sound, as in the singing Zikar, Wazifas, and the Chromatic Zikar, we learn mastery, so that we too can discover the sacred ‘water of life’. But the story does not end there. On his way back through the realms of the goddesses, Petru is warned to trust no one. But he cannot believe that his own brothers could betray him and try to kill him, for this sacred water. They wanted their father’s power for themselves. Just as Petru was about to be pushed into a lake and drown, his horse neighs – Petru knows what this means and saves himself, returns home to his father the Emperor, and cures his blindness, so that He and the whole land is healed and in harmony. So at the very end it is the warning sound of his beautiful brown horse, his beloved guide, which saves him. In the same way, we can take the story of this as journey into our own lives and learn from it. To remember the sound of silence and to listen to the inner voice.
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By unlocking the hidden spiritual truths of fairy tales, we gain understanding of the deep mystical meaning hidden in the depths of such stories, and how these insights can be applied to the lives of modern day truth seekers. Through study we realize the journey itself and the great battles we must fight to overcome the demons and dragons deep within us. In The Witch and the Fairy as Teacher in Fairy Tales, Sufi leader Nuria Daly explores the inner realms of the creative imagination and our common crucial purpose of finding and integrating the Creative Feminine. This book introduces many worthy themes for reflection as a wonderful eye-opener to reading the symbolic psychological dimension of popular stories.
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Urs Festival Dargah of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Delhi, February 2017 By Shakti Celia Genn
This short report shares just a few highlights from the Urs Festival for our Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan that I attended at his Dargah in Delhi this year. It also notes that Murshid Nawabâ€™s November retreat at the Dargah will be in English and can provide accommodation for up to 18 or 20 people in the renovated Dargah guesthouse.
The Urs programme began in the evening of February 3, after the traditional Friday Qawwali, with a Vichitra Veena recital. The Urs Festival continued over the weekend culminating in the Urs Celebration on Sunday February 5. On the Saturday morning we were delighted by plays, music and song performed by students in the Informal School Music Class and the Dargah Hazrat Inayat Khan Hope Project School. It is wonderful to share the joy and enthusiasm of the teachers and students as these young people begin their journey of learning about sound and music. Then, in the afternoon, many of the talented students of the Hazrat Inayat Khan Music Academy gave lively musical presentations.
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Throughout the Urs Festival we were often spiritually transported by exquisite performances from a number of highly accomplished Indian musicians. These included a Veena recital by Vidushi Saraswati Rajagopalan and a Santoor recital by Padma Shri Pandit Bhajan Sopori (in photos below).
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On Sunday 5 February, the day of the Urs, we took part in the procession through the basti alleyways from Dargah Sufi Inayat to Dargah Sharif Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia for the ceremony blessing the chaadar and Qawwali. This was followed, in the afternoon, by a Universal Worship, and more wonderful music. The following photos show the arrival back to Dargah Sufi Inayat of the newly blessed chaadar, Murshidâ€™s tomb surrounded by flowers, and the peaceful grounds of the Dargah complex.
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It always feels to me as a privilege and a blessing to spend time at our Murshid’s Dargah. And perhaps even more precious than the transcendent music, interesting talks, and meetings with new and old friends, are the opportunities for quiet time sitting with Murshid in the days before and after the festivities. Murshid Nawab’s 24 February posting on The Inner Call (http://innercall.towardthe1.com/changingretreat-plans) describes, with a quote from Pages in the Life of a Sufi by Musharaff Moulamia Khan, something of the joy and blessing of being at the Dargah. Murshid Nawab is now holding an 8 day English language retreat at the Dargah from 8 – 15 November this year. As he says in the post, the Dargah Guesthouse is being expanded and will accommodate up to 18 or 20 retreatants this year. This provides the opportunity for more people to participate in the retreat without leaving the atmosphere of the Dargah. I strongly encourage people to consider attending this year. And I also would like to acknowledge how this expansion, as well as the general upkeep and repair of the Dargah, is only possible due to the generous donations that many are making. These are greatly appreciated and, as I was shown in a tour of the facilities, they are put to good use.
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Newsletter of the Sufi Movement in Australia