“The eye takes a person into the world. The ear brings the world into a human being.”
What do we understand about sound, and do we really listen?
We experience sound when vibrations are received through the ear and other parts of the body.
We receive information from sounds and can also be moved by them in ways that, for example, we can't by sight alone.
The mysterious effects of sound were of great interest to us in our studies, as we set out to explore our inner experience in relation to sound and its power in the external world around us, through music, speech and language.
A recent study suggests early human species may have had better hearing in certain frequencies than humans today, in order to facilitate short-range communication in an open environment, such as a field compared with a forest.
In the modern world, we are often surrounded by a lot of noise...
Are we still able to hear the wind rustling through the leaves of the trees, the insistent noise of an insect or the fine flapping of the wings of a bird, like our ancestors could? Do we allow ourselves the chance to quieten within and really listen?
People long ago recognised the sacred quality of sound, as well as believing it to be the key to understanding the great mysteries of the universe. As we explored these rich subject areas, these well-known quotes began to have new meaning for us:
“In the beginning was the word.”
“Sound is God”
(‘Nada Brahma’ in Sanskrit)
We discovered that ancient and traditional music was a means to transmit knowledge and that for most world nations, music and the divine are closely connected.
With the creation of instruments and the refinement of our own instrument, the voice, humans have been able to express their knowledge of both the universe and their inner world.
We tried something practical by familiarising ourselves with music theory – learning about scales, keys and intervals. As a group, we explored singing together and listening to different types of music with a more connected attention.
“New possibilities began to emerge for me as I was able to experience being present to the various sounds I was hearing from the external world and the internal vibrations I was sensing in different parts of me. Between the two, I sensed something more real in myself. This brought a quieter, more real sense of attention and ability to perceive. I felt a new injection of life into one of the principles of G.I. Gurdjieff’s teachings that interests me, of the double-pointed arrow of attention. How can I return to this place more often?”
We read and recited poetry, both together as a group and by ourselves, and also experienced different ways in which to read poems.
“There were a lot of interesting moments. I found among the most vivid, was when we read the same poem. Every one of us offered something different and precious when we each read aloud. I tried to connect with the shared feelings experienced in the moment, smiling, laughing and crying.”
Beyond emotion, we recognised something deeper, something indefinable that spoke to us. When we studied poetry as a group, we brought together feeling and understanding. We then felt more able to appreciate the presence of poetry in all that we see and hear around us.
Perhaps we are not that dissimilar to a musical instrument ourselves. In the fine-tuning of our senses - in particular our listening, we can become more attuned to these fundamental laws of sound. Perhaps we could even rekindle our ancestral ability to hear a wider spectrum of frequencies, revealing much more of that which seems hidden.