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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #16 
I briefly saw some comments about superstition and misguided mysticism of ICM music culture from David Watson Russell (I think that was his name) who questioned this "primitive," "non-rational" kind of a world view. He has subsequently deleted his comments. -- Which I retrieved from my cache
Quote:
India does indeed seem to be burdened with more than its fair share of superstitious thinking :·(

That tends always to be true in areas of poverty, famine, corrupt government, overpopulation, etc., though. When reality is unbearable and one is helpless to change it, the human minds retreats to a fantasy world. I've always noticed that the worst parts of any town I was in had the largest number of churches, and we see the same trend in North-America in the stark differences between, say, the rural South and the large cities of the coasts, or Mexico and much of South-America as compared to the U.S. and Canada, and those countries of the world with the largest number per capita of atheists are those with the highest standards of living in the world.

Does the same ignorance that leads people to believe in the supernatural lead to the creation of dysfunctional societies, or is it dysfunctional societies that create such miserable conditions that a larger number of their people seeks escape in fantasy? I think it's likely both processes end up working at the same time and build upon each other, regardless of which started first.

In the same way we could wonder which came first in those countries with the highest standards of living. Were they simply lucky in the beginning to have had an unusually large number of educated and enlightened people who were then, naturally, able to build more prosperous states, or did they luck upon their prosperity first, which then eliminated the need for so many of their people to seek escape in religion and other forms of mysticism?

Again, it's hard to say which came first, but likely each process feeds off of, and supports, the other. In any case we should probably address the problem from both ends, and try to raise the standards of living of these areas, as well as encourage the spread of rationalism.

Maybe then Annapurna can someday be appreciated purely for the great musician she was, rather than as an air-freshening wizard ¦·D


David
I would like to state my opinion that this music is actually all about mystery and magic and has much less to do with getting worldwide applause/acclaim and technical virtuosity and making really good recordings. My teachers always told me that this music is not only about getting the notes right and that this a kind of yoga.

Two of my greatest musical influences (Nikhil Banerjee and Kishori Amonkar) both told me that Music is Sadhana.

Just as Yoga is about much more than getting flexible and limber, this music is more about exploration of inner space than being a really good technical musician IMO. Many in the West seem to miss this and perhaps this is one of the reasons why there are so few great ICM musicians who are Westerners. This instinct and yearning for the "mystery" I think is a critical ingredient for greatness.

Why is it so improbably that everything mentioned in the article is not at least partly why Allaudin Khan was such a stupendous musician and Naad Yogi.

For those who do not know what Sadhana means maybe this might help:
Quote:
"What is sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you. … Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best."
~Yogi Bhajan

Sadhana means daily spiritual practice. It is the foundation of all spiritual endeavor. Sadhana is your personal, individual spiritual effort. It is the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve the purpose of life. It can be done alone or in a group. Sadhana is whatever you do consistently to clear your own consciousness so you can relate to the infinity within you. Before you face the world each day, do yourself a favor and tune up your nervous system and attune yourself to your highest inner self. To cover all your bases, it will include exercise, meditation, and prayer
If you read more closely on the daily routines of Baba and other great musicians maybe it will be easier to see that for them Music was Sadhana.

Of course from some perspectives this world view and belief system might seem outlandish and medieval -- but I would wait to see what (the quality of music for example) these new perspectives produce before I cast my final vote.

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Kirya
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Lars

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Reply with quote  #17 
Nice Kirya, I agree completely.....

Lars

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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #18 
Ghost I thought your post was magnificent.

The more I learn the less I know. One thing I have observed, and that is: the more fanatically certain I am that I am right, the more likely it is that I am completely mistaken. I find the stories of Tansen etc wonderful, I have no idea if they are true or not - nor do I feel that is particularly important. The thing of it is, they COULD be true and that is something those who are so certain it is all rubbish might bear in mind. They may be fantasy as well - machts nicht!!

Life may be full of charlatans, delusions, half-truths and outright deceptions. But life is also full of surprises and even miracles. As they say (or used to say) in the US Senate: we can disagree without becoming disagreeable. The devotion of Annapurna Devi to her art and her gharana is worthy of our respect and admiration sandalwood or no. GF
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David Russell Watson

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
I briefly saw some comments about superstition and misguided mysticism of ICM music culture
No, I didn't mention ICM music culture, but India in general, along with Europe, the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America.

You seem to be certain that nobody participates effectively in ICM without a faith in the supernatural, but I wonder if you really have anything to base that on. Islam and Hinduism have very different ideologies and world views, and yet both groups have produced many great classical musicians. You have to wonder how that's possible, if a specific mystical world view is necessary to produce the music.

I also wonder how much you're really concerned with "defending" (as if it needed it from me) ICM culture as you are to promote your faith on a music forum.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
from David Watson Russell (I think that was his name)
You have quite the selective cache, that retrieves my post but not my name ¦·D

(Not to worry, Kirya, I did understand that for the slap in the face it was meant to be :·)
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
who questioned this "primitive," "non-rational" kind of a world view.

Why do you put quotation marks around words that don't appear in my post? That would seem deceptive to me, but what I would call disrespect for truth and accuracy I suppose you would wave off as simply belonging to a different world view from mine, a mystical world view in which truth is relative ¦·)
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
I would like to state my opinion that this music is actually all about mystery and magic and has much less to do with getting worldwide applause/acclaim and technical virtuosity
Who mentioned getting worldwide applause or technical virtuosity? Certainly not I.
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
Many in the West seem to miss this and perhaps this is one of the reasons why there are so few great ICM musicians who are Westerners.
A more likely explanation is that there are simply very few Westerners interested in ICM to begin with. European classical music, for one, is in no way inferior to ICM, and being closer at hand, it's only natural that the majority of great musicians born in the West would end up in that tradition.

Sadly to say, I have even found that a large number of Westerners find Indian music repugnant.

There's also the monetary incentive, for few people in the West or East either one are going to be willing to pay for expensive instruction and musical instruments (if instrumentalists) and practice hard for several years if there's little hope of being able to make a decent living at it in the end.

Who could look at these realities and wonder why there aren't many great musicians of Indian classical music coming from the West?
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
This instinct and yearning for the "mystery" I think is a critical ingredient for greatness.
I think, as has been discussed on these forums many times before, that practice is a far more important ingredient :·D
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
For those who do not know what Sadhana means maybe this might help:

"What is sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is something which you want to do, have to do, and which is being done by you. … Sadhana is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best."
~Yogi Bhajan

Sadhana means daily spiritual practice. It is the foundation of all spiritual endeavor. Sadhana is your personal, individual spiritual effort. It is the main tool you use to work on yourself to achieve the purpose of life. It can be done alone or in a group. Sadhana is whatever you do consistently to clear your own consciousness so you can relate to the infinity within you. Before you face the world each day, do yourself a favor and tune up your nervous system and attune yourself to your highest inner self. To cover all your bases, it will include exercise, meditation, and prayer
Ok we get it: Indian music is part of Hindu religious practice, and Hindu religius practice must always be part of Indian music, and ex-president Bush Sr. is on record saying that he can't see how an atheist could ever be acceptable as a president.

You're still much better than a fundamentalist Christian though, Kirya, because they would deny us a place in their imaginary heaven, whereas you just deny us the possibility of ever being good musicians :·)

Of course I in my turn deny those of your mindset the possibility of ever being good scientists, but... are you even bothered by that? ¦·D
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
If you read more closely on the daily routines of Baba and other great musicians maybe it will be easier to see that for them Music was Sadhana.

Of course from some perspectives this world view and belief system might seem outlandish and medieval -- but I would wait to see what (the quality of music for example) these new perspectives produce before I cast my final vote.
I don't know what you're waiting for; there's already more than enough great music on record from the secular world to judge from, and beside it a lot of music on record from individuals making a great show of their spirituality and mystical outlook, but which is quite awful.

A few of those stinkers have even been lampooned on this very forum. In fact I've noticed a pattern in which the more a musician feels the need to make a great show of how deeply spiritual and mystically attuned he is, the less actual musicality he tends to possess. It's always seemed to me that the former is just an attempt to cover for the latter, lol.

Thanks for resurecting my post, though, which I deleted because I decided that a music forum wasn't the place to discuss my views on religion and other forms of irrationalism, regardless of how rudely and digustingly pritlee provoked it.

Thank you because, as we see, I found I had so much more to say :·)

David
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #20 
Dear David

Clearly I seem to have touched on something here that I did not intend to.

I copied the text of your post and then wrote my original response and when I tried to go back to your post it was gone so I made a guess at your name -- mostly correct, even if it was in the wrong order. No disrespect was intended and the slap you felt did not come from my hand.

Since it does not seem to be clear, my point was that these myths/folklore/legends are all very much part of the "ICM culture". (Quotes can be used to signify a special term -- none of the quotes I previously used were actual words you said, they were my paraphrases thus I used the quotes to actually signify that they were not your actual words).

My point certainly was not East vs West and that no Westerner could ever play ICM well.

You seem to see these mythical beliefs as part of unfortunate India and I see it as part of the magic and mystery of ICM. Perhaps we just see things differently - I am not at all saying you are wrong and I am right or that I am better, simply that it is possible to see these same things quite differently.

However, I am saying that riyaz is wonderful, but that riyaz that is sadhana will produce better music. Nikhil Banerjee practiced 10-12 hours regularly but always told us that the attitude we had toward the riyaz was as important as the hours we put in. This is simply my point of view and I do not claim it is any kind of absolute truth. You don't have to be Indian for this to be true. You and perhaps many others disagree. So it goes, it is just a point of view and nothing more.

The origins of ICM are quite mysterious and mostly unknown -- e.g. who originally invented Raag Yaman or Bhairavi or Malkauns? Nobody really knows but people keep trying to reinvent and recreate these ragas again and again and very often the new interpretations are quite fresh and we see that these core ideas are still alive after thousands of years. That to me is pretty magical.


Peace. Happy New Year.

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David Russell Watson

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Kirya"
Dear David

Clearly I seem to have touched on something here that I did not intend to.
Maybe you should have left my post in the waste basket where I put it

David
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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #22 
PEACE MY BROTHERS

I'm glad this has now run its course.

NOW

I have encouraged many times that it would be a very interesting discussion to have that looks at the spiritual and metaphysical aspects as well as including the mystical legends of indian classical music in approaching the sitar or surbahar.
NOT as a necessity to learn or an east versus west. Hindu - Muslim -Christian - agnostic - atheist - Judaic - or any other versus each other, but to have an adult respectful discussion behind the myths, legends, and mystical aspects that affect the music and techniques.

My dear friend & Guru Patric Marks loved to introduce himself to western or mixed audiences this way:

" My name is Patric Marks, I am a Christian, I learned the sitar from a Muslim Teacher, and I am going to play a Hindu raga. This is what Indian music is all about"

This was a simple honest and elegant way of showing the diversity of this music and the instruments we love.
As I posted before I PERSONALLY choose to believe the legends, and like to approach this music and culture from a spiritual perspective.
BUT
I completely agree with David that it is not necessary if you choose to completely ignore this aspect and approach this instrument & music from a secular perspective.

We should all remember -As Larry Darrell learned:
The path we tread is as sharp as the edge of a razor.
The path to knowledge (or salvation) lies on three paths.
The first is the path that lies through the spirit and worship.
The second path lies through sacrifice and good works for the betterment of our fellow man.
The third path lies through study, and learning. (Add practice of your instrument)
Each person must choose the path which is right for themselves.

There is no right or wrong path only the one that is right for you.

Could we have such a metaphysical discussion here? Can the stories of Annapurna Devi, inspire a respectful discourse on the sitar - surbahar - been - and ICM from a different perspective?
Could it give another perspective that might be beneficial to all no matter what your personal beliefs are?
It fits the sitar forum if nothing more than an interesting historical and academic exercise, because remember...
No matter which path you choose we're all in the same path of knowledge.

Your friend
Hamletsghost 8)

Or you can just tell me to go stuff it

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Lars

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Hamletsghost"
My dear friend & Guru Patric Marks loved to introduce himself to western or mixed audiences this way:

" My name is Patric Marks, I am a Christian, I learned the sitar from a Muslim Teacher, and I am going to play a Hindu raga. This is what Indian music is all about"
Hitting the like button.....

Lars

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mahadev

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Reply with quote  #24 
hahhahaha...........

The forum at its best.
I once seriously upset a European lady who told me that tuning a sitar is meditation.
I told her , nonsense. Tuning a sitar is not meditation, its tuning an instrument.
She never spoke to me again....

Check this out
Fictitious Tibet:
The Origin and Persistence of Rampaism by Agehananda Bharati
http://www.serendipity.li/baba/rampa.html

Quote "for these people, the East must be mysterious, otherwise life has no meaning."

Just play. No amount of mystical mumbo jumbo will help you putting your frets in the correct position or playing even a simple scale.

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nicneufeld

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Reply with quote  #25 
Even as I was reading through this post, I was planning to reference the Patric Marks above, one of my favorites (in no small measure because I'm in the same situation). Glad to see it referenced. I appreciate both points of view here...David's entertainingly acerbic defense of the non-religious perspective as well as Kirya's traditional/religious viewpoint.

Western classical music could also be an interesting parallel, as centuries ago, during its height, you would be hard-pressed to make the case that religion, specifically Christianity, was not utterly enmeshed with it. And today I know atheists and agnostics personally who feel perfectly at ease playing a Bach cantata full of reference to Jesus Christ. Approaching the music purely from a musical perspective, they are every bit as capable of playing it (the music...not the religious experience, etc) as a Christian musician.

Even among revered and lauded Indian musicians, there is no uniform agreement over what is considered superstitious, and what not. The degree of seriousness assigned to things like time of day for raga...some might approach it as a fine tradition to honour when convenient, whereas others might see it as an actual, very serious rule that must not be disobeyed. To each his own, I suppose!

Mahadev, whatever you have to tell them to convince them to tune their instrument in the first place. I don't care if they believe that tuning is meditation as long as they tune their instrument at all!

I like the simple aesthetic of music as music. The classical music of India has more than enough appeal, depth, and beauty to be utterly captivating without any additional layers of religious trappings or spirituality. Douglas Adams' remark was "Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" But that is my perspective, only. I'm certainly not hostile to religious belief at all...if your views on religion and spirituality happen to intersect with this music, more power to you! Just as a Western classical musician who is Catholic or Lutheran might enjoy a higher spiritual feeling of worship when playing religious works by Bach or Beethoven.
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evening84

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Reply with quote  #26 
I lurk here from time to time from my home-base at the Tabla Forum but any discussion that incorporates ICM and Douglas Adams, my favorite music and one of my favorite writers, is just too hard for me to resist.

The fact that the way certain actions set up waves of compression and expansion of air molecules that we perceive as wonderful is wonderful in itself. Striking a stretched goat-skin or plucking a string attached to a gourd are two such starting points. From that simplicity, an amazing complexity can develop through simple changes and gradual build-up and accumulation of various effects. ICM is a manifestation of just that - the incredible layers of complexity.

Culture, religion, climate, spiritual mumbo-jumbo, modes of transportation, modes of amplification, internet connectivity, or lack thereof, are all facets of the environment where this development takes place and will continue to take place. We may take any factor - lets say religion. Music may advance because of it; Music may advance in spite of it; Music may regress because of it. There is a great sense of awe and wonder in simply detaching it from the trappings and enjoying it for what it is.

For what it is worth, to any open-minded person , I think , ICM is the best that India has to offer. That and a multitude of ways to cook a cauliflower and savor a mango. Be careful though - if the open-mindedness strays too far into credulity, there are incredibly sophisticated creatures waiting to exploit that niche. Deepak Chopra MD is a case in point.

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gillo

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Reply with quote  #27 
Isn't the world grey, not black and white? If you do anything with commitment, rigour, dedication etc etc then it will become a spiritual experience of some sort... isn't it? I have found in the past that hard practice, with no religious/spiritual motivation or goal, ultimately leads to various experiences, be they spiritual, superstitious or psychological, that totally enhance my life, either generally or in the particular moment. This is probably one of my primary motivations for playing this music on this instrument (along with actually making music of course) and I am not a religious person at all.
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Kirya

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Reply with quote  #28 
Some of you may have seen the link to UC Berkeley interview with Ali Akbar Khan -- it is interesting as it touches on many of the things that have been discussed here, the culture that surrounds ICM at least from his perspective if nobody else. This worldview is not so different generally from many other really great ICM musicians that I have had a chance to see up close who grew up in a traditional Gurukul system.



Some of the highlights from the interview from my perspective, all actual quotes of AAK in bold directly from here: http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/roho/ucb/text/khan_ali_akbar.pdf

On page 14
Quote:
Well, it’s not improvisation, actually. There are three-hundred-sixty different
kinds of exercises. Just like you have all kind of things, materials; you can make a house, you can make a car, you can make many things with those materials. So those exercises are good for any kind of music. Classical music. It’s different here, classical music. Once you learn,then you’ll get the idea. First thing, this music , what I play, this is a music to give you peace to your soul. We have got two atmas.

One atma is where we are talking about this and that. Then param atma, the other soul is on top of that. It is sitting there, like a Buddha. If you don’t do right things, he won’t say anything. If you do the right thing, then he will take you to the right place.

And the other one will say, “Ok, let’s jump from the Golden Gate Bridge,” and they will enjoy that. “Oh, sure,sure, why not?” Great fun in that. [laughter] But that param atma is the soul of the sound. Through this sound, you can reach to God. It’s connected. It’s like the ocean. And people say
improvising. It’s not improvising, because at least you learn three-hundred-sixty exercise

On page 35
Quote:
My father (Allaudin Khan), he became a devotee of Ma Sharda. Then after many, many years what I heard from my mother. The whole night, my father used to practice in his room. Not practice, play. We call it Sadhana, which is more than practice. It’s research. More than research. So he would do that.
He Then describes how is mother saw a phantom young woman (Ma Sharda) hanging out with Baba AK in these early morning hours of practice or rather sadhana

On page 43
Quote:
Actually, when God (Brahma) created this universe or something in heaven, the first thing he created was six ragas. Ragas means male. Raag. Nowadays, we always say everything is raga, everything is raga, everything raga. It’s wrong. There are only six main ragas that he created, composed in such a way, that the sound is coming are particular from your body, from your soul. From your body, from every corner, every part of your brain, that kind of thing.

That means you are giving real medicine with these sounds. So he composed six ragas. Rag means male and ragini means lady. And then he found his best disciple is called Lord Shiva.

You don’t just jump into these songs—you have to learn at least three-hundred-sixty different kind of exercises for voice, just like yoga. Three-hundred-sixty. My father learned all these things, and taught me. And then he learned from Brahma. Lord Shiva was the disciple of Brahma, Vishnu. Lord Shiva thought there’s only six male [ragas] that will become experts. Because in those days, they are not so slow there, they can learn anything within an hour, you see. Not a year, hours or minutes or seconds.
On page 80
Quote:
When I perform. Because my father actually taught me how to perform. He said, “Just don’t think anything; the sound will tell you everything.” So when I perform, after fifteen minutes, I become the audience. And I will be with you on the chair, not on the stage. I’m listening [to] the music from there. And that music is coming from heaven, from your guru. The guru is performing, the guru is saying everything, everything, and you are just like a microphone or machine, and the sound you are catching and hearing. What’s happening that time, you don’t know. Because you are not playing with the notes; notes are playing you.
Quote:
Crowley: Let me ask you this. When you’re working on your raga, what determines
mood and time? If you can say that.


Khan: God already fixed time. God fixes morning, evening, early morning, like that. Brahma created the melodies, he already fixed the notes. And not only notes, there are many, many microtones there.
:wink:

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Kirya
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Hamletsghost

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Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
mahadev wrote:
I once seriously upset a European lady who told me that tuning a sitar is meditation.
I told her , nonsense. Tuning a sitar is not meditation, its tuning an instrument.
She never spoke to me again....

OH I WET 'EM
GOOD UN....Thanks
AND
Good Evening Max
I was hoping you'd chime in.....
I've read serendipity articles before - some pretty good some pretty out there....

LOVED the Tibet article - Even tho I take issue with a FEW of the points it is pretty spot on about the shysters out there that pump religion for gain - or self agrandizement. No referance or offence to any certain or your personal religion. We all know good and bad in every organized or disorganized religion. I'm sure we could all quote some false proffit :twisted:

The Swami Vivekananda referances were very interresting> I actually read a number of his writings and his biography in preparation for the World Congress of Religions in Chicago in the 90's as I was contracted to provide all the sound and lighting. Quite interresting the juxtoposition a hundered years make as that year Mother Amachi of Kerala was the presiding official and one of the keynote speakers.
There were quite a few Bhajans sung - Sitarists - and Carnatic musicians that performed as well as western classical & religious artists in on stage. Quite an interresting mix, and worked well transitioning one to the other.

Now Max -
I really was looking for your take on this subject - not from an organized religious perspective - or legends - or history - etc etc etc
(you've made your position pretty clear before :wink: )
I wanted to hear of your experiences in the mountains - Your feelings - would you be willing to share with us any personal insites into any transcendant experiences you may have had high up - playing your instrument with only the mountains as your audience - the glorious feeling of the mountains wispering or thundering back to you as you play - the feelings you have had watching the dawn:
Quote:
It was night still, but the stars were pale in the sky, and day was at hand. I had a strange feeling of suspense. So gradually that I was hardly aware of it, light began to filter through the darkness, slowly, like a mysterious figure slinking between the trees. I can’t tell you, so as to make you see it, how grand the sight was that was displayed before me as the day broke in its splendor.
Have you then played your sitar at such a moment? And can you - would you descibe your feelings - or is it just too personal?
This is how I've imagined such a moment would be like to be sitting there with you (along with the storms - cold - rain - exhaustion and exhillaration you've experienced).

Your Pal
Brian 8)

I REALLY like where this is going guys -

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fossesitar

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Reply with quote  #30 
I am a fan of Lobsang Rampa, who was a very prolific writer. So, of course, was Carlos Castenada.

Are they frauds? Well if they are they have incredible imagination and creativity, so much so that if one reads the books one is left with the feeling "nobody could make this stuff up". But of course that remains a distinct possibility.

For a truly wild history of the planet earth going back millions of years, read "The Hermit" by Lobsang Rampa. Even if he made it all up, it could be very close to the truth since there is a growing tendency within the scientific community (still small, but growing) to question whether humans evolved on this planet or were brought here from another.

It did not seem to me (reading the article dissing Lobsang) that the author had read much of Lobsangs work. What is wrong with kites anyway?? "The Hermit" and "Dr. from Lhasa" are very interesting and entertaining books to read. He always insisted that all of his books were true and was not prepared to argue about it, needless to say he took a lot of flak but then, as they say in the old country "there is no such thing as bad publicity" : )

Here is a link to the Rampa website:

http://thelivingmoon.com/44cosmic_wisdom/02files/Lobsang_Rampa.html
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