The Sufi Mysticism of Music, Sound, and Vibration

Within the sayings and practices of both Sufism and music, one can find all the necessary conditions that are needed to cultivate higher states of observation and consciousness.  Upon the attainment of these higher states, says scholar Irene Markoff, the seeker can finally achieve the desired “spiritual intoxication (wajd) and a unique and intimate union, even annihilation (fana’), in the supreme being.”

In Sufi music, this practice is known as Samāʿ (Arabic: “listening”). It is the mystical approach of practicing “listening” in order to achieve remembrance (Dhikr) of the divine spark in our heart of hearts. Through chanting — and while in a mystical trance — participants reinforce their ecstatic state with the aim of reaching a “direct knowledge (maʿrifah) of God or Reality (ḥaqq).” Continue reading “The Sufi Mysticism of Music, Sound, and Vibration”

Using Your Advantage. Is it Really Unfair?

“Find your unfair advantage” — Marc Ecko.

There are people who have unfair advantages, of course: e.g., parents with money and connections, a psychopathic ability to manipulate others, or perhaps a physical appearance that makes it possible to cruise by on looks alone. (I’m sure you’ve met people in all of those categories.)

But this isn’t actually what Marc Ecko means by “unfair advantage.” In fact, if you read about his career and life, he struggled, took risks, and did the work, going above and beyond his competition. He won out not by finding his “unfair advantage,” but, in fact, by using his fair advantage. He simply made the best of the skills and knowledge he had acquired, over many years.

It’s a curious thing, but people with skill often feel guilty about it — and sometimes even ashamed of it.

Continue reading “Using Your Advantage. Is it Really Unfair?”

Men, Women, Violence and Hate: Some Thoughts

Recently, I spoke to a relatively large gathering on the subject of manhood and initiation — no doubt a taboo subject today that may already have one or two readers tut-tutting with disapproval.

To be clear, by “manhood” I don’t mean exaggerated, macho behavior, boozing and fighting in nightclubs, leering at women, or any of the modern cliches that society seems to think is the essence of being a man. I am referring to — and spoke about — ideas of manhood from tribal society (especially ritual initiation into manhood, which can be found in every culture from African tribes to European ones) to classical civilizations (most notably the Confucian idea of the superior man, the Chun Tzu). Continue reading “Men, Women, Violence and Hate: Some Thoughts”