Music and Civilization
The problems confronting the Indian and the Western musicians, in their respective spheres, are accurate symbols of the more extensive tasks which are to be faced by India and America. Again let it be repeated that all these problems and tasks revolve around one single need, the need for uncompromising, deliberate and complete regeneration. There is today hardly anything left in the world of human personalities which is absolutely pure or uncontaminated by materialism, intellectualism, sentimentalism and sensualism. All the vehicles of the human soul, as all the vehicles of tone, have been more or less clogged with waste matter or perverted as to function and form. As said recently by a Persian Bahai: "This is the great washday of God." God, in the race and first of all in the individual, is cleansing His soul garments which have been befouled by a constant contact with the waste matter of previous cycles of unwise activity. In many cases the garments have to be thrown into the fire and new ones have to be woven patiently by the soul on the ancient pattern which is eternally true because based on the vital functioning of the human organism.
Musical instruments are to music what human personalities are to civilization. As culture becomes more complex and more refined, instruments and personalities reach a higher point of mechanical and material perfection, as resonant substance is made to answer fully the call of the Spirit; then resonance is worked upon in such a way as to divorce it from the incarnating Spirit. Finally, the outer form of the instruments becomes the foremost consideration; the instrument is made to look artificially "beautiful" and surcharged with ornaments. Formal beauty takes the place of functional excellence, of the perfect adequacy of form to function. The original, the clever, the dazzling supersede the true and the necessary. Virtuosi swarm upon the dead body of Music, as sophists and intellectual jugglers on the corpse of Civilization.
When spiritual vitality has thus abandoned the body of Music and of Civilization, when disease is clogging the physical organisms of men and women, a radical process must be passed through, if death is to be avoided by individuals and races at large. This is the great process of alchemical regeneration: a twofold or rather fourfold operation implying the purification of the bodies (emotional and mental as well as physical) and a new descent of the soul, which will cause a reawakening of the root and an increasing flow of sap. Purification is accomplished by the power of spiritual knowledge, selfless love and sacrificial activity. These three forces all cause suffering. It is the path of woe. The man with spiritual knowledge finds himself an exile in the world of perverted or deluded minds, a lonely wanderer through the human wastes. Selfless love brings betrayals and the uttermost weariness of the heart. Sacrificial activity results in ceaseless crucifixions. But the descent of the soul can only take place in those who have trodden this threefold path lo woe, in those who have become mystically the Woe-man, the womb of their own Christ-child. When the mystic Heart is emptied of its blood flowing from the Wounds of the crucified man (Iesous, or Io-sva), there is born the Christ child, Krishna the flute player. The tones of Krishna's flute awaken the root below; and Life springs anew, the vegetation of man: Civilization. Civilization, as the name indicates, is born in the city: But the true civilization of the soul is the product of no earthly city, but of the Holy City within the regenerated man or the regenerated race, of the mystic Shamballa (or New Jerusalem), the divine resonance of the perfect zodiac of tone: Nada.
For the race at large, East or West, this century, which really extends from 1875 to 1975, is essentially the age of self-purification — as we have seen already. The initial impulse was given in the hundred years that preceded it, which was the age of redemption (the idea which haunted the mind and soul of the great Romantics in Europe). But now we have come to the necessary phase of self-purification. True self-purification depends obviously on the power of the Self within. But during this entire period the Self is hidden. It speaks only through a two-fold maya, through a mask, the mask of matter, the mysterious mask of its feminine aspect, in all realms — through the written word in another sense. It is only as the next era dawns that the manifested tones of Krishna's flute are to be heard, the seven tones of the Ray and the twenty-two srutis of the Circumference (22 divided by 7 equals 3.14 or approximately the relation of circumference to diameter). In other words it is only then that the manifested sphere of the new world, the radius of the new vegetation, the model of the new civilization, will be projected as actual facts by the race — or at least by a certain portion of it.
The present centurial era is, therefore, in a sense but a preparatory period. It is the time for purification. It is the time when John the Baptists ought to arise everywhere and utter the great worldwide cry of old, badly translated as: "Repent ye"! and meaning really: "Rise beyond yourself! Search for the Universal Soul within!" It is the very message uttered by Mahatma Gandhi, the message of Satyagraha, the call for a new Crusade of the Spirit to release Satya from its bondage — in every individual.
The Satya of Music! I have attempted in this small and precursory work to show the way to it. But what is needed are Crusaders who will tread the path of woe which alone leads to the full realization of this satya, the path of Satyagraha. This Syntonic Reformation mentioned before can only become a reality if men and women musicians attempt to purify themselves from the spiritual lethargy, the lack of tone, which characterizes our present humanity. For the center of all reformations is always, first and last, the individual.
But India has a danger of her own to escape from: that of spiritual selfishness. Many perhaps are those who realize the need for individual purification, who renouncing the world and meditating upon the great Truths have gained the power to utter the tone of their own being and have known the true sruti experience within their innermost nature. But having realized the Truth which could be realized by such practices as are known all over India, they content themselves to bathe in the light they have discovered and do not hear the call of humanity. Such a light is, however, but a reflected light. Krishna does not speak to those who give up action and cast away all sense of relationship with the race. Krishna speaks only to the Warriors, to the Crusaders who are offering themselves to the cause of Humanity. He is not true to satya who craves to enjoy its bliss alone in the forests. He is but a perfect resonance which no spiritual Tone will ever fecundate.
Purification is needed, but for the sake of the civilization that is to come. The steel blade must be tempered but to serve in the war for righteousness, in that war where blood is not spilled (for the heat of such blood burns the victorious), but where falsehoods and superstitions are destroyed and adharma flees before the triumphant dharma. In other words, what is needed is the seed of a race of Civilizers, who think, feel and act in function of the race which is theirs, by physical birthright or by soul right, and of Humanity as a whole. The root of Aryan civilization has begun to stir in India. The call of the Hidden Self is being heard by a few. This call must become music, for the root is essentially music, for music is the innermost layer, the body of power, the inner strength of civilization.
Civilization is born of Tone and perpetuates itself through the syntonic ritual celebrated day in and day out in the homes and temples of the race. This syntonic ritual must be understood again in its deep spiritual sense and performed not perfunctorily or by lips, but with the energy of the Self pervading all tones, incarnating in all rags. Vegetation and civilization; these are the two terms of a nearly perfect analogy, as often repeated, and music is to civilization what the flow of sap and magnetic growth are to the plant. Civilization patterns itself upon music, as the sand spread on a vibrating disc falls into geometrical shapes under the impact of tones. Likewise the tides of sap, of blood, or of the sea give rhythm to the growth of plants, bodies or continents. The cycle of vegetation follows the cycle of the solar year; the cycles of civilization and of racial development coincide with larger zodiacal cycles, among which the great year of 25,868 earthly years (cycle of precession of the equinox).
Civilization is not as simple a matter as often conceived. It is dual as the plant organism is dual: root and leaves. Civilization exists first and foremost as an archetype, or as a collection of archetypes, in the Platonic world of Ideas. Thence it involves into the mental matter of the race, a few great Minds acting as the seeds, and later, roots of the civilization to be. The outer forms of civilization, this or that culture, are like stems and leaves growing and providing eventually a material basis to the flower and fruit. This descending, involving tide of civilization from the spiritual cyclic plane to the plane of individual or racial mentalities, is essentially music. It is the true root music, the music of the beginning, which will find its counterpart in the music of the end at the time of cyclic flowering, when music unites with the other arts, especially with plastic motions, in order to constitute the synthetic drama, somewhat inadequately foreshadowed by Wagner, and quite definitely conceived by Scriabin before his death.
As the great Theosophist, William Q. Judge, said, it is upon sound (or Nada Brahma) that the evolution of the visible from the invisible depends. The root music of the cyclic beginnings is the manifestation of this creative sound. It represents the male potency of being. It is descending music when the greater cycle is on its downward motion; but when the race is reaching spiritward, the general trend and progression of music, of gramas and scales, is an ascending one. Aryan-Hindu music being the root music of the great cycle of our present humanity, it follows that it responds to the magnetic tides of the spiritual Sun of the race. Its very dharma and mission is to capture and condense these magnetic Waves of solar Will so that the race be fecundated thereby — very much in the way in which the chlorophyll of the leaves condenses, the solar radiations into food and fuel for animals and men.
This is the meaning of the syntonic ritual throughout months and years. For these magnetic waves emanated by the sun are constantly changing in polarity, direction, etc. Thus the singer who wishes to condense them by the power of his songs must adapt the latter to these variations. Rags and the like must therefore be sung in accordance to the chart of the variations of solar magnetism, that is, at definite times of day, month, year, etc. The result is that when the musicians of an entire race understand and practice such a scheme of syntonic correspondences, there are songs being sung at every minute of the day, year in year out, somewhere in the land, condensing the Waves of solar Will. At every moment the race as a whole is thus vivified by this Will; at every moment the tonic power of sound energizes the root and the flow of the mystic sap of humanity is regular, constant and strong — as the flow of blood in a healthy body.
Indeed the correspondence is true; for India is the very heart center of humanity — greater India that is. If the Indian heart ceased to beat, this humanity of ours would die. But humanity is ill, very ill; because its heart is very weak; and the heart must be tonified if death is not to ensue. It must be tonified by the power of solar Sound, inaudible as well as audible. The inaudible Sound is that which is uttered by the great spiritual Teachers and Avatars of the race. It is the Sound produced by the rhythm of perfect lives embodying the Will of master souls, by Incarnations of the spiritual Sun. Audible sounds are those uttered by the real musician souls of the race, the syntonists, those who know how to condense solar magnetism into tones which resound throughout the globe and revivify the human race.
When the root is healthy and strong, when the flow of sap is steady and rich, then the stem rises and conquers space, unfolds its leaves which capture the heat of the physical sun. Then a culture is born. The human earth is green and soon covered with crops. Then also, on a somewhat different plane, the syntonic ritual becomes a racial necessity if culture is to grow to its fullness. Music is then the Music of Prakriti, the music of the zodiacs of sound, and the syntonic ritual molds itself accurately into the pageant of the seasons. The most wonderful example of such a syntonic ritual we have been give by China of the classical period, when music was the pivot of the harmony of the State, as seen by Confucius.
Chinese philosophy considers all things as being produced by the operation of two complementary principles, yang, masculine and yin, feminine. As the yearly cycle unrolls itself, yang first predominates, then yin; every month or zodiacal sign being characterized by a certain definite relation between the two cosmic polarities. To such relations the various lyus (or tones of the duodecuple zodiac of sound) were made to correspond. Each month had thus its tonic and dominant lyus and all ceremonial songs or hymns had to be sung on this tonic. Likewise, as the State was considered to be the reflection of the cosmos, every function in the State was represented by a tone. When the Emperor was officiating his tone was taken as a tonic; this was changed when the Empress or various ministers became in turn the centers of the rites.
Music was thus essentially the great mediator between heaven and earth, or the cosmos and the State. It bound the one to the other. As an emanation of the celestial it fecundated the social. As a symbol of human perfection it forced, by the law of sympathetic resonance (the basis of magic), the celestial energies to embody themselves into the guardians and organizers of the State. It transfigured manmade laws into cosmic harmony. It balanced all forces into a perfect "syntony" wherein every tone was fulfilling its cosmic function, each restrained by all, all fortified by the individual strength of each. On such a music rooted in the fundamental tone of Nature itself, was erected the wonderful structure of the old Chinese civilization and culture, which, though being outwardly disrupted now, will be transferred to the patrimony of the new race, perhaps on other shores, perhaps on a new continent.
We have a similar conception of the function of music in the Platonic system of State organization. Later, we find the idea of the syntonic ritual embodied, at least in Syria, in the early Christian Church. We have seen already from texts written by Bar-Hebraeus that the musical modes of the Syrian Church had in the beginning a very definite cosmological meaning. Every festival had its specific mode. Throughout the Christian mystic year the modes were being sounded out energizing the ceremonies performed within the Church, which was in a sense the Holy City, the womb of a future race regenerated by faith and by the communion of all its members in the blood of Christ, the Root center of this future humanity. What the State was to Chinese civilization, the Catholic Church, one and universal, had been to Christian civilization. Blood relationship and the family ideal was the basis of the former, the communion of the faithful united by sacramental participation in the blood of Christ was the cornerstone of the latter. Now with the foundation of the United States and the slow birth of a new race in America, we witness the attempt at realizing the Democratic State based on the intangibility and civic equality before the Law of the individual human being, independently of any consideration of a race, creed or sex — a sort of applied Buddhism. Here, also, a new type of syntonic ritual will be evolved, based on the extended cycle of perfect fifths (symbols of the free citizens); that is to say, it will manifest in proportion as the new race is ready to live true to the new and spiritual ideal of American citizenship — which obviously it is not doing at the present time.
At the source of all these attempts at organizing human society according to some great cosmic pattern, we find the great ideal of brotherhood and of the supremacy of the Law, which is the essence of Gautama's teachings and living message. It is true that Chinese civilization existed long before the sixth century B.C. But so did the essence of Buddhism. While Confucius re-modeled and revivified the old Chinese systems, Gautama the Buddha reformed and gave a fundamentally new impulse to the archaic Buddhistic ideals. He ushered in a new era of human development, a vast cosmic cycle. He regenerated the heart of humanity by giving to it a new keynote, by formulating in his Heart doctrine the method and doctrine of future attainment. Thus while the Chinese State is still based on blood relationship, (that is on a physical, racial basis), the original, Buddhist Sangha knows of no racial or blood ties and is the seed of the Universal Brotherhood of the Satya Yuga which is to come. The original Sangha degenerated outwardly. The Christian Gnostic brotherhoods were persecuted and outwardly disappeared. Likewise the Pythagorean, Chinese and Gnostic music have degenerated; and the syntonic rituals are no more. Thus the plant of civilization is decaying both in China and in Europe.
But the Root of music is not dead. It lives in the Indian heart and a new offshoot is slowly rising from the Aryan Root. Let the Root be revivified! Let the fire of growth and the living sap rise in the new germ trying to pierce through the dark soil of Patala-America! The old world is dying out; but a new one is being born. Let the dead bury the dead. But above all let the living live! Aryavarta must be resuscitated, for this is spring time, for this is the time for the Root to be awakened again and for the Will of the Hidden Sun to take possession of its human vehicles, for the Tone to sing its many souls throughout the ritual of days and months "mounted upon the universal wheel of Time". The Tone resonates in each and all. The center of the Syntonic Reformation is the individual. Let then the individual be regenerated.
By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1979 by Dane Rudhyar
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