“Stop thinking, and end your problems” Lao Tzu wrote in the Tao Te Ching. Like most statements in the Tao Te Ching, this one can be unpacked to reveal an insight.
Let’s begin with the word “problems”. I believe Lao Tzu uses the word “problems” to describe situations the mind has perceived, seized upon and set to pondering (thinking about).
Lao Tzu did not say “stop thinking, and end your challenges”. Challenges are part of the human condition, they are one of the means we can use to awaken our consciousness and grow as a human. A challenge is a situation. No more, no less. It simply exists.
When the egoic mind perceives a challenge, and reacts to it as being personally insulting or somehow disagreeable to what is desired, the mind has turned simple facts –– a situation, into a “problem”. This is what the ego does –– make problems out of situations in order to substantiate it’s ephemeral self that only exists in “time”, and which needs the drama of forms-in-conflict with each other to identify with.
Lao Tzu suggests we should back away from egoic perception of situations and practice stilling the mind to recognize peace –– even in the midst of challenges. This is a very different approach than thinking about situations, railing against them, and perpetuating problems.
In this series of blog posts we’ve been looking at how the N.O.W. Tone Therapy System is useful for ending problematic thinking that arises as a result of egoic engagement with situational challenges.
Today I’d like to write about an aspect of N.O.W. I call ReSounding Silence. This is the ability of N.O.W. to create sonic conditions that can be experienced (known beyond perception) as peaceful.
There are many different Teachers of Peace. Some of them sit on a chair in front of a gathering and speak. These teachers use words as “pointers” that lead one to experience the peace of spaciousness stillness. Other teachers stand in front of a gathering and simply offer their spaciousness stillness in the form of a silent gaze. Many students, many teachers.
N.O.W. is a Teacher of Peace that, at first glance, appears to be a pair of sound objects. There is no human form to observe and become attracted to, or reject. No words to ponder, misinterpret, or give significance to (beyond the ability of words to point to reality beyond the words themselves).
N.O.W. teaches peace by being peace, in a way that is nearly formless –– by using air molecule pressure variations (sound) that cannot be seen. N.O.W. is not the two speakers, N.O.W. is the unified sound experience the two speakers create.
As a Teacher of Peace N.O.W. is well suited to a variety of different students. N.O.W. can be used successfully with young children as no conceptual understanding is required of them. “Just listen” are the only words that need be spoken. And being language and dogma free, N.O.W. does not present a conceptual challenge to any established belief system. So N.O.W. is finding students in need of peace in many different walks of life.
ReSounding Silence ––
What I call ReSounding Silence is a sympathetic resonant condition of peace that arises between N.O.W. and the listener, as the listener recognizes peace within N.O.W.’s sounds and responds in kind, within themselves. All without the use of symbolic, dualistic language or human-form teachers.
N.O.W.’s special New Origin Waveform tones and sequences were 1.) created from a place of peace, 2.) this peace is embedded within the tone sequences, and 3.) the pitch intervals used in N.O.W. arise from the harmonic series, a type of truth in sound. Truth is experienced as peace, falsehood is experienced as discord.
To the first point: N.O.W. sounds were created from a place of peace. N.O.W.’s tone sequences were performed by me, in real time, on specially constructed and tuned instruments.
Prior to beginning each 3 minute recording session I would become mentally still and thought free. I had no musical or conceptual intention in mind before I performed the 3 minute tone sequence improvisation. I had no desire or thought to “make peaceful sounds” or to “create a relaxing moment”. No conceptual thinking, just a staring point of open, spacious stillness –– a place of peace.
Next, during the improvisational performance of the tone sequences I maintained a thought free state of mind. This was actually easier than it appears.
Because N.O.W. was created with actual physical musical object that were played, the very act of being focused on the objects and the sounds being created in each moment displaced thought. It simply is not possible to be thinking and be listening with intentional attention at the same time. My performance of the tone sources was not that much different than when one is in any sort of flow state –– engaged in a sporting competition, while dancing or while deeply engaged in any activity that does not require conscious thought, and that, in fact, consciousness thought would interfere with the completion, enjoyment or success of the activity should thinking arise.
After recording each 3 minute tone sequence I would mentally check in, and review if I had successfully remained thought free during the performance and recording. If I had remained thought-free I would keep the recording. If thoughts had entered I would reject the recording and not use it. As a result, the 3 minute tone sequence recordings in N.O.W. are embedded with my own spacious stillness –– consciousness.
The third aspect that contributes to N.O.W.’s ability to be a Teacher of Peace is truth-in-sound, directly experienced as peace –– the harmonic series.
The harmonic series, a sequence of frequency ratios (1:2:3 … etc) arises in vocal sounds, plucked strings or blown wind instruments. The intensity of the individual “partials” (the spectral lines in audio engineering language) will vary over time. This is in part what allows us to differentiate the sound of a flute from the sound of a saxophone both playing the same sustained note –– the timbral difference that arise from an ever evolving, dynamic variation of amplitudes within the harmonic structure of the sound.
But what does not change is the frequency ratios amongst the constituent tones. These always remain fixed in the relationship 1:2:3 … the harmonic series just IS. It is one of the wonders of the universe.
When sound is allowed to be itself, not in service to the production of word forms that give rise to dualistic language (guided meditation) … when sound is allowed to be itself, not in service to creating melodic or harmonic meaning (most music), then the listener is more likely to KNOW the truth of the harmonic series and thus experience the peace of this truth.
So N.O.W.’s sounds can be known as peace. They were created from a peaceful state. And when heard they pull the listener’s focus away from “problematic thinking” to I AM consciousness –– the state where thinking has stopped and problems have ended. And THAT, is the place from which all challenges can be met and transcended.