What’s so important about these tunings?
After reading the other material on this site, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Why is music played in alternate tunings – and the music on Memories of Home in particular – so important?
Because it has the ability to stop the inner dialogue.
The term inner dialogue was used by Carlos Castaneda to describe the constant mental dialogue we have with ourselves. It is at first glance what we “think about,” but when we consider it more closely we realize it is rather something that controls us because we often can’t direct it and, what is worse, we can’t turn it off.
It consists literally of everything we think about during every waking moment: worries about countless everyday events, planning what to eat, how to do a task, what to wear, how to spend an evening, a tune running through our heads, what others think of us and what we think of them. Think about it and you’ll realize you’re always thinking about something.
So why would anyone want to stop their inner dialogue? Most people don’t ever think about what they think about, which sounds fairly ridiculous except that it is of supreme importance for certain people who wish to develop past who they currently are into states of greater awareness of themselves and the world. Don Juan Matus, Castaneda’s nagual teacher, called these kinds of people warriors, and he
… defined inner silence as a peculiar state of being in which thoughts were canceled out and one could function from a level other than that of daily awareness. He stressed that inner silence meant the suspension of the internal dialogue – the perennial companion of thoughts – and was therefore a state of profound quietude. ( The Active Side of Infinity , p. 103)
… inner silence is the avenue that leads to a true suspension of judgment – to a moment when sensory data emanating from the universe at large ceases to be interpreted by the senses; a moment when cognition ceases to be the force which, through usage and repetition, decides the nature of the world. ( ibid p. 105)
The ultimate goal of man is to achieve true freedom.
The result of being able to achieve inner silence for a certain amount of time is the ability to stop the world, a state where the sensory world we are all used to ceases to exist and is replaced by something utterly different, a process and state of awareness Castaneda endeavored to relate in his books. (In particular, The Fire from Within and The Active Side of Infinity.) Achieving this state is the gateway to accessing vast new worlds and achieving total freedom, Don Juan’s ultimate goal. He said this state was the true nature of man.
From this beginning of inner silence can come all the transformations Don Juan taught Carlos Castaneda for thirteen years. The music on Memories of Home can assist a warrior to achieve this state.
Castaneda was not the only person to discuss these matters. Every culture has produced a few rare individuals who have attained such advanced states. Using different terms, they all seem to be talking about a single thing. A few of the other notable sources are these:
- The esoteric (inner) traditions of most of the world’s religions, as distinctly opposed to their exoteric (outer) traditions, teachings and dogmas, which are quite different and are intended for a different audience. The esoteric tradition within Islam, for example, is Sufism. The esoteric tradition within Judaism is Kaballah. Within Christianity, esoteric traditions are harder to find, as they were ruthlessly stamped out during the last two thousand years. Certain types of Gnosticism are examples, such as Arianism, which died out under the rule of the emperor Constantine. Catharism, which was eradicated in the thirteenth century is another. But the primary source are the inner teachings of Jesus, which can be accessed by considering Christianity not as a religion about Jesus, but about what Jesus taught. The Gnostic Gospels are a place to start. (See Elaine Pagel’s book The Gnostic Gospels for an introduction.)
- Other Western traditions that are not affiliated with any religion. Various Native American traditions from North and Central America are examples. Many North American tribes have traditions that exceed ten thousand years of existence, such as the Utes, the Navajo and the Hopi. In Central America, the best known are the Toltecs. (See below.)
- The entire inner teachings of Alchemy, which is not the idea of changing lead into gold, but of transforming the philosopher, the practitioner himself or herself into a being of completely different substances, qualities and consciousness. How exactly to do this has been a very closely guarded secret for over a thousand years. Recently, however, certain information has been released that has never before been available. The dedicated seeker will find many places to start.
- The Sufi movement. This is an ancient tradition that adapted itself as the esoteric part of Islam in the eighth century C.E. (See the notes on Idries Shah below.)
“The practice of the Sufis is too sublime to have a formal beginning.” … But as long as one remembers that history is less important than the present and the future, there is a great deal to be learned from a review of the spread of the modern Sufi trend since it branched out from the areas which were Arabized nearly fourteen hundred years ago. By a glance at this period of development, the Sufis show how and why the message of self-perfection may be carried into every conceivable kind of society, irrespective of its nominal religious or social commimitment. (Shah, The Sufis)
- The metaphor of the Holy Grail. The inner meaning of this tradition, which is said to have been started by the Sufis in Moorish Spain in the Middle Ages, is not the attainment of an actual physical treasure, but again the attainment of a certain state of consciousness within the person who seeks and eventually attains the Grail. That the Grail might be a physical treasure, object or even a person, as depicted in several popular movies (The Indiana Jones movies and recently National Treasure ) and novels ( The Da Vinci Code ) is an idea suitable for an audience not yet ready to seek deeper and more accurate answers. The true Grail is a state of being anyone can achieve who is prepared to make the required sacrifices.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The Tarot cards conceal keys to the exact transformational process that few have decoded. Norse mythology also contains many clues. Certain forms of Wicca, the Old Religion, provide developmental steps towards the same goal, as does the inner Faery Tradition from Northern Europe , and the ancient Polar Tradition, which is relatively unknown in modern times. The key to finding an authentic tradition is to determine if its emphasis for change is “in here,” inside one’s self, or “out there,” dependent on some other being, or idea of one.
All authentic inner traditions require a great deal of inner work on the part of the seeker or warrior. No boon, gift, blessing or redemption given by another can substitute for real work done by oneself on oneself; only guidance along the way by a qualified teacher, in one form or another, is of any real help. Deliberate confusion on this issue in the Western world for nearly two thousand years has held back individual spiritual development. Most people don’t even know such inner development is possible (or desirable). A pity.
It is said that when the seeker is ready, the teacher will appear, but these days, are there enough qualified teachers? How many Don Juans are there? If we regard Jesus primarily as a teacher, how many like him are around today? Is the situation hopeless? Not at all, since teachers do not always come to us in the form or manner we expect. One’s teachers may remain hidden perhaps for years, administering occasional tests to see of we are ready for more overt contact yet. I remember a scene from my childhood of a great many turkeys in a large pen, all pecking the ground looking for food. It was easy to see the one or two who raised their heads as if wondering what was really going on. Qualified teachers find us in the same way. Who stick their heads up repeatedly, looking for answers and willing to pursue them? Such risky behavior never goes unanswered. It is risky because one might get one’s head chopped off. (That losing one’s head might, in fact, be a good thing is a deep, esoteric mystery. But that’s a story for another time.)
Among modern writers and teachers, several may be identified who described the same perennial Theme of inner development. A few of these are:
Don Miguel Ruiz
- Don Miguel Ruiz, a Toltec.. His most cogent book is perhaps Beyond Fear. Highly recommended.
To achieve happiness, you need to express who you really are, not the person other people expect you to be. Through a process of self-scrutiny, you can discover who you were before you were domesticated. Then you can recover the freedom to use your own mind, your own body, your own brain to express yourself outside the dream which is life. (Beyond Fear)
- Idries Shah, whose many books include The Sufis, an overview of many Sufic concepts, which is a good place to start. The Sufis, at least in times past, talked around core topics more than they discussed them directly, a technique they adopted I suspect to avoid inevitable misunderstandings by readers and to prevent the misuse of certain knowledge. Instead they employed a master/apprentice system, much as Don Juan did with Castaneda. There is evidence, however, that this approach is sometimes modified, including quite recently, and more specific information (possibly in the form of non-physical impulses ) is now being given out. See The People of the Secret by Ernest Scott for certain information on this subject.
“O Man, that art so full of information penetrating into secrets; listen, for in silence is safety from slips – ‘They have fostered thee for a purpose, did thou but understand it. Have a care to thyself, lest thou feed with lost sheep.'” (The Sufis)
Fulcanelli and the alchemists
- Fulcanelli, the assumed name of a master alchemist who wrote two books in the mid-1920’s, the most approachable of which is Le Mystère des Cathédrales, translated into English in 1971. Authors writing about certain subjects eighty years ago (and for centuries before that) deemed that much of their knowledge was unsuitable for the general public due to the possibility of misuse. The threat posed by traditional, powerful churches which practiced unbridled thought control was also a great danger. So again the teacher/student method was used to restrict certain knowledge, and therefore reading Fulcanelli can at first be less than rewarding. However, by piecing together the views and published descriptions of different authors, one can begin to discern exactly what Fulcanelli and other alchemists were talking about. (Curiously, the Sufis again seem to be involved in spreading alchemy throughout Europe.)
- G. I. Gurdjieff. Writing at the same general time as Fulcanelli, Gurdjieff was similarly constrained. In addition, Gurdjieff wanted his students and readers to expend their maximum efforts to understand what he was saying. For it is only by personal effort that we can make any true and lasting advancement. Today, many of the books about Gurdjieff are much clearer. The best way to approach his teachings is possibly In Search of the Miraculous by Ouspensky, although many believe that Ouspensky failed to grasp some of the deeper, non-rational parts of Gurdjieff’s teachings. This is all tricky business, as an instructor of mine once said, and the seeker or warrior must expend some personal time and energy to glimpse beyond the literal, overt meanings to the much more valuable inner meanings.
Leonardo Da Vinci
- Leonardo Da Vinci. There is a lot of to-do about Leonardo these days, following the unexpected, astounding success of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. It’s singular success indicates how desperately people are searching for alternatives to their own lives and the world we all find ourselves in that are not available in mainstream sources. Unfortunately, the book has an ending that many find unsatisfying. This is because Brown didn’t penetrate nearly deeply enough into the mysteries he wrote about. This is not surprising, because none of the primary sources he mentioned in the text did either. Nonetheless, the success of the book has focused attention on its themes, and some people will seek deeper meanings. What might the Grail be, if it is not a physical object? What might the “bloodline of Jesus” mean if it wasn’t taken literally to describe a line of biological descendents? (Hint: substitute the symbolic word “heart” for the literal word “blood.”) The real problem with Brown’s story, though, is that it is about other people, certain exclusive bloodlines to which that you and I do not belong. Exclusivity is the central problem with Holy Blood, Holy Grail also; it’s about disenfranchised European nobility, and disregards what Jesus might have taught for whom he might have begotten – a fatal misinterpretation.
- Andy and Larry Wachowski (surprisingly). Never heard of them? They wrote and directed the Matrix trilogy of movies. The main message is in the first movie. Updating the same Theme for modern audiences, the film describes another complete reality behind the ordinary one, where a certain kind of freedom resides. If you are able to decode all the metaphors in this movie, you’ll discover the same transformational Theme. Endlessly discussed by now, “Neo” represents a new kind of human being we each can become if we are willing to expand our awareness beyond its ordinary bounds. Transcendence in the movie was symbolized by a telephone call from a certain place already outside the Matrix. Superbly hidden within an action/adventure movie are numerous clues to other realities. Gaining knowledge, awareness and the right kinds of experience is what “taking the Red Pill” is all about, and all the sources identified on this page can assist us in finding out how deep the rabbit hole really goes.
There are many other relevant sources, ancient and modern, but this list should be a sufficient beginning. The common thread that runs through them all is this: Reason is used, either orally or through the written word, to indicate that there is much to the full world that is not amenable to reason – that is beyond reason – and therefore that cannot be understood by reason at all. To become aware of and enter into these other realms one must suspend reason, one must gain a state of inner silence by stopping the inner dialogue of reason. To use Don Juan’s terms again, the world of reason that we are all familiar with is called the first attention. Don Juan was trying to get Carlos (and the rest of us, of course) to access the second attention, where one becomes aware of other worlds that are just as real as our own ordinary world. The first step of this process is achieving a state of inner silence.
An aid to taking this first step is listening to Memories of Home. The most effective way is this: Listen to the entire CD or tape in a quiet setting where you won’t be disturbed. Enter a light meditative state if you have practiced doing this before, or just close your eyes and relax your body in a comfortable sitting position. (Don’t lie down, or you’re liable to fall asleep.)
The tracks are arranged in a sequence that gives the best chance that at some point you will notice that you are no longer thinking to yourself. Your mind is still and therefore able to access what is mostly hidden behind the incessant inner dialogue . With some practice, you may find that the single cut “Nocturne” is sufficient to induce inner silence . If you program your CD player to just play this single track, you won’t have to reach over and switch it off when the piece ends. Relax and maintain this state as long as you can.
This is all it’s possible to say in a forum such as this, although there is much more material that will soon appear elsewhere, so check back from time to time.