Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx

A macroscopic view of myth (Gr: Μύθος) as logos (usually translated as “word”) reveals important associations, insights, and interpretations, all which deserve our attention and can assist us in our exploration of the human soul and its journey towards freedom. During the 9th – 8th century BC, Homer (in his poems the Iliad and the Odyssey) equates myth with speech and conversation, but also with advice, opinion, and promise. During classical times (5th and 4th century BC), myth continues to be treated as a story, as evident by the dramatic works of Sophocles and Euripides.

In the context of philosophy, myth becomes a powerful pedagogical and initiatory device, especially as it appears in the dialogues of Plato. In works such as Phaedo and Phaedrus, the philosopher employs myths to structure his arguments in order to equate knowledge with memory – not simply as remembrance, but also as a recollection from a previous incarnation. Continue reading “Myth, Catharsis, and The Riddle of The Sphinx”

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”

The Spiritual Meaning of Music, From Ancient Greece to Today

In Ancient Greece, music was the gift of the Muses to man. The Muses were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and all knowledge and art were under their dominion. They were the sponsors and protectors of mousikai, an integral part of the fabric of everyday life, which was comprised of singing and lyrics, and the Όρχισης (Orchisis)—an organized group of dancers. The term mousikai is used in order to distinguish from what today we call “music” – the science and art of organized sound.

Besides a cultural practice, mousikai was also a means to higher levels of consciousness through the art of sacred geometry, placing it in the sphere of the divine. In Greek antiquity, the Olympian god Apollo is directly connected with the Muses and with mousikai as a divine art. He is represented as their leader in dance and song, and given the epithet mousagetes (leader of the muses), as the historian Pausanias informs us in his “Description of Greece.” Continue reading “The Spiritual Meaning of Music, From Ancient Greece to Today”