Bliss without Bias

Posted to Subscribers on 13 November 2016

Dear Subscribers,

This post is a continuation of Balance or Bias posted on 11 November. If you missed it, you can find it online.

Before starting Part II, it might be appropriate to mention that we are only a few hours away from a full moon that is supposedly to appear the largest we have seen in 70 years.

Balance can be interpreted in many different ways, but my approach is to start with the elements. The elements are considered to be the building materials of the world. If we only consider fire, earth, air, and water, we are talking about material reality or the manifestation of ideas into material reality. I am choosing my words very carefully because sometimes common words seem simplistic; but the elements as understood by astrologers, by ancient Greek philosophers, and by Ayurvedic pundits for thousands of years are considered to be basic materials out of which everything else is formed. If we change the proportions of the elements, then the form changes. The easiest example would be to take water. Though it is considered as an element in its own right, it cannot actually exist independently of the other elements. Therefore, we find minerals in water as well as temperature. If there is very little fire, water is frozen and less mobile. If there is a tremendous amount of fire, water vaporizes and becomes steam, but both ice and steam consist predominately of water. The presence of other elements accounts for its elasticity and appearance. Within the body, we find water in countless forms and in basically every tissue and cell. The percentage of water affects the shape of the body as well as its flexibility, temperature, and capacity for renewal. Water is by nature retentive so having adequate water enhances memory, but just as views are sometimes distorted by water, we can form impressions that are biased by corneal fluids and such stressors as toxicity, i.e., internal pollution, including emotions. In short, seeing objects or emotions as they actually are depends on clarity, not varying degrees of capacity to mirror what one sees, thinks, and feels.

Water is security conscious and this is actually a bias that affects perception, but that does not mean it is bad to be concerned about security, merely that water is less likely to take risks, at least when it is acting correctly in its protective mode. Any element can become disturbed, even perverted, so we cannot always assume that water will be cautious or parental. I chose that word because water is very important for parenting since, unlike certain species, human offspring take a long time to mature. Water can also be childish, i.e., not mature, and it can become so emotional that thoughts cease to have a stage. Yes, it is an apt phrase because it implies that at any given moment, a person can be intelligent or emotional. It is however very difficult to be both simultaneously. Perhaps art provides that opportunity so I will detour for a moment and discuss my first impression of the Zoltán Kocsis performance of the Liszt Reminiscences of Bellini's Norma. It is a famous piece, composed obviously by a countryman with comparable performance skills. It starts out dark and, in my opinion, lacking clear interpretation, but it gradually acquires emotional depth comparable to the keyboard virtuosity. This is actually a good piece to use therapeutically because even though diabolically fast, it models how to resolve conflict.


There is also a later recording:


Norma was for many years my favorite opera, and, of course, I still love it, but the conflicts in the opera are immense and will continue to have immortality until humans become more like angels. I am not digressing as much as it seems. Music can be absolutely pure, meaning probably that it descends from the divine and is transcribed perfectly by the mind, meaning there is no intrusion of self or emotion into the music. This is sometimes considered the ideal, at least in the sense that the Greek model was that all forms of art should capture the divine. There are other kinds of art that can be used to mirror humanity to itself. Marsilio Ficino created a memory theater in which the images were on levels reflecting stages of consciousness. By resonance with a particular image, we could open awareness of what is contained in our own memory vaults. In the Christian context — he was a priest — the implications were that the contents of our psyches determine our own heaven and hell, not to mention afterlife.

After a series of tragic losses, Liszt was himself was drawn to the cloth, but the Reminiscenses of Norma belong to an early period characterized by more virtuosity and less reflection. In my opinion, Zoltán Kocsis played magnificently but not beautifully. His is however a highly theatrical performance that nevertheless fails to sound like bel canto, at least not to my ears. This rendition by Ashish Xiangyi Kumar sounds more like Bellini, at least to me. It is more lyrical and tender. He also provides the sheet music. To me, Zoltán Kocsis might be more faithful to Liszt whereas Ashish Xiangyi Kumar is closer in sound and interpretation to the opera.


Finally, here is an even more elegant interpretation:


However, my point is not what is more beautiful or better but rather which creates more harmony. Reconciling all the tensions in the Zoltán Kocsis version is much more challenging. It is hard even to relax since one naturally resists whatever is not harmonious. Taking huge liberties with the Greek philosophers, I would simply like to say that Empedocles put it succinctly, the elements are bound together by love and separated by hate. Thus, the more one likes the music, the easier it will be to listen to it and allow it to influence us.

Important and illuminating as that statement is, we still have to keep in mind that the emotional part of each of us is by definition feeling. It cannot engage in discourses or debates. It has only the power to yield or resist. In yielding, a bond occurs. By resisting, connection is denied. My kahuna mentor, Mornnah Simeona, stated this better than I can: "Whatever does not feel good to the unconscious is resisted."

I am on a campaign to bring these ideas into focus for the entire Planet because we need more olive branches and an eventual cessation of animosities.

So, back to where we were some days ago. Fire and water do not really understand each other. They can try to become schooled in a manner that helps to bypass the resistance. Water feels repetitive and slow to fire. It feels like it is always looking back, not ahead. Fire feels risky to water. It looks impulsive and like it is flying by the seat of its pants. It has ideas but no proof that the ideas will work much less that they are correct or worthwhile. Fire depends on loyalty so water's failure to endorse its passions feels like abandonment, and this sets off all kinds of alarms for fire. Water cannot understand fire's disappointment and feels misunderstood, but if the truth were let out of the bag, both are absolutely correct according to the measurements that are important to them.

Air and earth, of course, have their issues also, but I am trying for the moment just to frame a couple of ideas because Dr. Indunil and I are going to be teaching very long courses dealing with these concepts as they apply to anatomy, psychology, diet, herbs, and even alchemy. I tried tentatively— more or less against the counsel of Dr. Indunil — to introduce a few of the ideas right after Fukushima but realized that almost no one was tracking, but the point is that anything built with elements can have the elements rearranged. Moreover, they can always be rearranged into either more discordant or more harmonious patterns.

This is so easy to explain with music because you take the same notes, even the same score and instruments, but the sound is different depending on who is playing those notes. We can, of course, scramble the notes. We can do it for fun, like Victor Borge, or for illustrative purposes. There is a marvelous attempt on the part of late Romanian Sergiu Celibidache to show what Beethoven might have sounded like depending on how the music was performed.

Similarly, on the anniversary of Verdi, many tried to change the tuning to show that our present A = 440 Hz is actually destructive, i.e., demonic, another of those conspiracies against harmony. They wanted to use Verdi tuning. Being a great Verdi fan, I know that the change is necessary if we want to be more in harmony. It just takes a little adjustment because what we have been calling perfect pitch is slightly different from Verdi's idea, A = 432 Hz, what some are now saying helps them to hear God.

Here is a wonderful example of an already hauntingly beautiful romance, but in 432 Hz


Here it is in 440, still beautiful but . . .


We can obviously go on and on. In fact, I have been publishing posts for more than two decades already so there is quite an archive, but no where near the end of my scribbling.

My point is simply that we are are all pushed and pulled so much that besides having to defend ourselves from mischievous electromagnetic fields, we have to bring ourselves into harmony with the misaligned parts of ourselves as well as into harmonious relationships with others. We cannot afford to take anything we have been told at face value. We have to explore and discover for ourselves what is correct.

At the risk of boring you with more Vietnam stories, I will tell one about a post-Tet offensive effort on the part of the military to convince me to carry a weapon. I declined. They said that I lived near the political prison and that the Viet Cong would probably try to release the prisoners. I said, "Fine, everyone is welcome here. I am not on one side or another. They can join me for dinner." You can imagine what the indoctrinated minds of soldiers regurgitated. They reeled off lists of types of weapons, named other women carrying handbag size pistols, etc. I said, "You don't get my point. I do not have any enemies here. Everyone is welcome here."

They tried for days and days to convince me and finally came by one day with an enormous fire extinguisher, saying that if anyone came, I could freeze them and then call for help. I did not pay any attention at all to their instructions on how to use it because I simply knew there would never be an occasion to use it. How do we know such things? I did several other "insane" things in Vietnam because I was not worried for my safety. If one truly wants peace, one must treat all points of view equally. If one cannot listen, one cannot facilitate harmony. So, whether we are talking about the conflicts between mind and matter or the conflicts between individuals or simply the conflicts we have about unlearning what we learned incorrectly, we have to listen with an open heart and mind. Where music is concerned, we can listen with our ears and our hearts. Where food and medicine are concerned, we can pay attention to our bodies. Where people are concerned, we can start by regarding everyone as equal and as possessed of a mixture of good and bad life experiences. It has to start somewhere so if everyone were to commit to resolving issues as they arise instead of fuming, we might create a better world.

I am aware that I am rambling, but I am concerned that the biggest issue facing the world today is not jobs or survival of the systems to which we are accustomed, the biggest issue is peace. It cannot be achieved without renunciation of war. I believe that Mr. Trump wants peace because he is a devoted father who truly wants a better world for his own family as well as others. The problem is that we each think in unique ways. He waged a belligerent campaign and became conciliatory only when winning. He could probably have won on ideas alone without the hostility. Now, accusatory remarks will not work. He has to face the problems using his own reasoning faculties, which as I have tried to show with music, are always subject to idiosyncrasies. Until we are enlightened, we see through our defective lenses.

When Mr. Obama was elected, I said more or less the same thing: unless he truly renounces war, his hands will be stained with blood the first day in office. America is so bowled over by wild rhetoric that some think bullies have more strength than sages. This however is not true. Bullies cause more ripples and sages enjoy bliss without bias. Gandhi said it better than I ever can, but the bottom line is that ahimsa is the path of courage, not cowardice. Moreover, to avoid severe disturbance of the mind, one must sooner or later take the path of peace. It is my fervent prayer that Mr. Trump will declare a unilateral global cease fire the second he is sworn in as president. It would be the most courageous act in American history and would establish a basis for all subsequent reforms.

Many blessings,






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Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2016

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