Saturday, July 5, 2014
Death, purification, vibration — meditations on the Hypogeum, part II
All of Being acquires organization as it grows; the physical organism develops cellular and neurological relationships which become more complex over time; the mental organism grows a sophisticated body of understanding; and the emotional organism, if it develops properly, develops a depth of feeling. Organic life, all of which goes through these steps in one way or another, is a reflection of greater principles which are equally expressed in the organization of inorganic life, and the physical laws of the universe.
Scientists marvel at these extraordinarily complex and intricate structures; yet all of them serve a single understandable purpose, which is expressed in the enneagram. The whole universe is a structure which attempts to evolve back to its source. The source is a source of perfect order, a single point of extremely low entropy (for all intents and purposes, an entropy of zero.) Scientists refer to this original state as the state before the Big Bang.
The point is that vibration, and the physical expression of vibration by living creatures, serves as a method of purification. In particular, as human beings grow older, we acquire not only desirable and harmonious levels of vibration and relationships, we also acquire undesirable and dissonant relationships. In religious practice, we call these characteristics sin; yet they have physical characteristics, material characteristics, like everything else, and from the strictly physical point of view, sin is an inharmonious vibration. (Hence Gurdjieff's Institute for Harmonious Development might just as well have been called, "The Institue for Non-sinful Development.")
The introduction of harmonious vibrations helps to purify or remove these inharmonious vibrations by bringing them into relationship. The dissonant vibrations, or sins, aren't eliminated; they are realigned.
Take careful note here: their original energy is preserved; but it is redirected.
Structures like the Hypogeum represent physical spaces that were designed to demonstrate and facilitate the realignment of vibration into harmonious structure.
Anyone who has been into the so-called "King's chamber" in the Great Pyramid has had a chance to note its extraordinary acoustic properties, which were engineered to reproduce a set of the same properties expressed in the Hypogeum. So in ancient times, sacred spaces were routinely designed for these purposes; and the secret traditions that preserved the knowledge of how to build such spaces lasted down through classical times into the monastic practices of the Middle Ages. There are still some physical structures left from the middle ages that reflect these principles, including the spaces of the great Gothic Cathedrals.
All of this is well and good; yet in the end, perhaps the most important aspect of this question of vibration is the understanding of its relationship to one's own personal inner practice in prayer, chant, and meditation.
In meditation and prayer, the vibrations most essential and useful to the purification of Being ultimately emanate from the sacred inner space of the one who practices. All of the ritual and formal practices that arise and are codified and repeated in hymn, traditional prayer, and sacred song owe their primal roots to the individual expression of vibration, that is, vibration that originally spontaneously arises in the spiritual seeker.
This may happen in meditation; and in so far as it is voluntary, that is, appears of its own volition rather than being invoked or deliberately "directed" by the practitioner, it remains pure, because its root has not been interfered with by a set of assumptions that have their origins in the ordinary mind. The spontaneous arising of vibration in chant and prayer is an intensely personal experience that is directly tied to the arousal of real feeling in a Being; it can't really be replicated in outer forms, and in a certain sense, it shouldn't even be taught: the adept ought to come to it entirely on their own, within their own secret and intimately sacred personal space, and engage with it as it arrives, never trying to make it happen. This kind of prayer is quite different than the prayer we learn from others or in spiritual organizations; and although both are valid, there is no substitute for sacred personal prayer.
Don't, in other words, ever try to chant or pray; instead, be chanted and be prayed.
The action of sacred, or inner, personal prayer is closely related to our understanding of our own mortality and death; and we don't come any closer to a personal and organic experience of our own mortality without this action of vibration, expressed in sound, which always emanates from the throat, although it has its source of arising in the much deeper parts of Being. All of the sacred sounds, such as OM and Allah, owe their origins to these personal and secret inner vibrations; and there is no greater longing, no greater spiritual nostalgia, than to try to remember the source of our rising and the root of our Being through the expression of vibration.
When we engage in this practice, we connect with a human experience so ancient that it is nearly unimaginable; it reaches down into the depths of what we are and reveals not only our own nothingness, but the somethingness of Being itself, which arises from harmonious vibration and lives through it.