Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sincere Kudos to Gagdad Bob

Gagdad Bob and I have had our disagreements over politics and religion, and I've hardly been reticent about expressing them both here and on his blog. But I also believe that he is one of the finest writers I've ever read, and that he writes some wonderful as well as provocative things about spirituality, politics, psychology, philosophy, and art and ties them all together in novel and fascinating ways.

Today he posted a beautiful entry on his blog, One Cosmos, about religion and spirituality that has helped me to understand his perspective better than before, and I think his perspective is worth understanding as one goes about the thrillingly arduous task of developing and refining one's own. Here is a key passage from his post today:


I have always been a great music lover, and now I see that, even in my atheistic days, it was one of the things that kept me connected to Spirit, for music is a spiritual transmission, pure and simple. Great music casts a luster of noetic light from one world into this one, somehow riding piggyback on vibrations of air. No one knows how or why this should be so in a species that was simply selected by evolution to hunt for food and sexual partners. Why on earth should vibrating air molecules be beautiful, even to the point of moving one to tears or to ecstacy?

Imagine two deaf people arguing over whether or not music exists. Perhaps one of them even discovers a musical score and considers it proof positive that music must exist. He decides that this musical score represents the inerrant notes of the great God-musician, and founds a musical school based on the score, in order to transmit the musical teaching to others.

But the point, of course, is not to study the score but to hear the music. The score is pointless unless it achieves the purpose of making music present. It must be read, performed, and understood experientially, not theoretically. Where was music before humans made it present? Roughly speaking, it was in the same place God is before you make him present. I don’t mean to sound flip, but this is why it is so easy to find God, because the finding is in the seeking. Don’t worry. If you seek earnestly and sincerely, you will soon enough find, just as, if you pick up a guitar and learn a few chords, you will soon be able to play Smoke on the Water. You will be able to start making music present, in however a limited degree. And as you practice, you will be able to make more and more music present--music that would not have existed had you not gone to the trouble of practicing and bringing it into being.


One of my biggest problems with traditional religions is that they've tended to be more concerned with "studying the score" than with "hearing the music" of their enlightened founders. However, Bob's writings remind us that one might still be able to hear the music from within these traditions and, in some cases, be MORE likely to hear it from within them than from without. I don't want to lose sight of this fact even if I personally can never be Jewish, Christian, Muslin, Hindu, Buddhist, or Taoist.

I never, ever thought I'd say this, but I'm seriously considering reading Bob's book and making it a highly valued part of my collection.

3 comments:

Finding Fair Hope said...

Oh, Steve. We always knew this is the way you're heading. It's like being in love, I guess. Good luck to you.

dr.alistair said...

yeah, listen to the music........

Nagarjuna said...

FFH: Like "being in love"? I don't think I'd go THAT far. :-) I guess you could say that I DO love Bob's writing at its best and am better able to separate it from things he says and from aspects of his personality of which I'm decidely NOT so fond. But then nobody's perfect, least of all me. :-)