Fable 01– Tao is Right Here

Animals, Fantasy, Line Art, Bird, Fox, Countryside
illustration credit to GDJ at Pixabay.

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There was an apprentice who hesitated long enough on which tool she should pick up to reach enlightenment.

First she had to locate where the destination is.

Christians say it is above. Taoists say it is here within everything. Buddhists say it’s in the emptiness.

Then she needed to know the key.

Egyptians gave her a tree hanging with silent shining fruits; When the Egyptians lost their sound to name the fruits, the Jews preserved them with the sound of Hebrew; Christians marked a cross on the tree. Taoist say work on growing the fruits through breathing and simplification; Buddhists say through investigating your problems.

And every school has its language, prayers, glyphs, rituals, deities and splendid Kingdoms. At the orientations, the young students were given pamphlets written with brackets of brackets of information alluding to the unknown esoterics. No guarantee it is enlightenment sitting in the bracket.

She got a bad feeling that it is not her first lifetime tangled in this bafflement. When she was in 3rd grade, her father gave her a fable to recite for a school contest. The fable talked about a trapped fox who got a million methods but no way to get out. Way, path, Tao, is the same word in Chinese. That fox probably died while contemplating on which way to go.

She realized it is probably why she had failed at it last time and is here on earth again.

That fable suddenly shined like a white stone in the river of her memory, while she is stuck at the entrance of the Taoist’s way, the Yogi’s way, Buddhis’s way, and the Hermetic’s way again. All are splendid, all have shown wonder or magick, each differently. Hesitating, she remains in the cave, in fear of the practices may lead into different kingdoms.

The universe abhors her failing at the same spot every time, or her multiple life procrastination. It gives the classic initiation, suffering; it kicks her around, raises havoc in her life, no peace until she picks up one, any one.

Out of shock she grabbed the most convenient one and moved the step. Not the one by her lineage.

****

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From drowning in the suffering to moving towards the cave door, this is how it went.

First, there was pain. Virtue and evil coexist in her. Sometimes she understands it’s her own responsibility, sometimes she blames those who gave her life and lessons.

From the abyss she asks,

“Why was I born here on earth, half-aware and half-blind? I followed and practiced after you for the past six lives. What did I do to be cast into the most unilluminated world of all? I looked into fellow humans’ hearts and minds, it was pitch dark with rare sparks of light and compassion….”

In the storm she asks,

“What karma brought me here? ”

She knew she must have messed something up to be dropped in the black box.

Some clarity sprinkled with some unilluminated darkness makes the pain really sensible, highly. She asks why the universe chooses her to bear so much darkness projected from “others'” darkness and the pain inflicted by “others'” numbness. For she did not recall committing unforgivable sins. How is someone mostly kind and good deserving the most pain?

Even when the “external” disasters stopped, in a seemingly peaceful life she still was thrown off by the wind cuts. Whenever she saw shadows in others, she aches for there are impurities in human hearts.

She prayed to merge with Tao. “Please teach me how to fly in Mundi.” she asked. It was the way she knew to ascend and leave earth.

Her teacher said nothing but asked her to peel the onion.

She peels the onion; it was so pungent, her tear came down. It reminds her of all the suffering on the face of the earth she and others went through.

“From where does the pain come from?” The teacher asked.

“In my heart, for the shadow shrouding this earth.” She wept.

“‘My heart’ is an illusion. The shroud is an illusion.” the teacher said.

“How many more incarnations until I start climbing up the ladder of ascension?” She asked.

“Tao is not up, down or in the left, or right. ” the teacher said.

“I can’t bear with the suffering for any longer. “

“What suffering?”

“The vicious saw me and tread me with humiliation and shame; They are hurt at the sight of my light and I am hurt at the sight of their darkness. “

“The opposite is also in you still.” the teacher says.

“They shred me into pieces but I can’t harm. How do you handle this? Do I lack a tool? Tell me please, which school of practice solves this problem and sends me into ascension faster? Taoist, Buddism, Yoga, or Kabbalah? “

“Just peel the onion.” Her teacher said, “and don’t forget courage, courage out of compassion.”

#

Thus she heard.

Get to know the Onion.

Thus she heard, when she was lying on the acupuncturist’s clinic bed, after causing two modern therapists sad and at a loss of what to do:

“My teacher said, it is here and not here.” The acupuncturist twisted the needles under her skin, “You can feel it, right?” sending the thin river of Chi currents flowing down that path. The healer showed to her the first layer of the onion.

Thus she heard, from ancient Taoists coming before her, the type of breathing that generates the energy is there and not there, formless and soundless. The gems and elixir they left in the poems and music notes led her to peel the first layer of the onion.

Thus she heard, from Surangama Sutra, Ananda asked Buddha if the awareness is in the body or outside of the body. Buddha denied him twice. Buddha did not say what it is, he just kept peeling off for him what is not. “Not in the body, nor outside of the body.” For polarity is a misunderstanding. They are one, here and now.

Gate to Shangrila, Way to the Garden Paradise of Dilmun, All the best things, here and not here.

Once she had a peek at the core layer, she stopped crying.

The cloud opened; the sky is like a hand holding and pouring down iridescent light.

The light is the champagne, and she is the living glass.

Her internal layers flipped outside and were shown in the nature. The internal and external became interactive. It has always been. The waving tree; under the moon, the cat and the fantastical rodent walking on the same fence; the greeting passerby; people speaking her mind; She meets what she wants. The balance reached the nature and living beings in that neighborhood. The world she lives in encompasses all, layers upon layers like the onion. The virtue and purified humanity she wanted for all is in here. There is nothing to correct. It was her. At that moment in that vicinity, there and then, it was all good.

Tao is right here, in her and everything, in the middle. How do you tell people where “middle” is? At that moment she is grateful that humans are born symmetrical — some odd questions she had about creation and anatomy. Otherwise, how would you describe to someone who hasn’t opened the onion where to find Tao, something metaphysical shown in the physical.

Like lost travelers asking where is the road sign to heaven? Like that song, From her to eternity — Enter through desire, walk towards the mountain Mashu. The road will be less bumpy, and we will be less obsessed. We glide smoothly.

Or magicians who weave magical fantasies, from looking within to the middle and act outside in the middle. Virtue is where we arrive. That most worldly, mundane Confucious scripture left untouched, whose light seemed dulled by all the book of gods and grimoires, describes how we live eventually, naturally, towards Mt. Mashu.

西山暮霭 董其昌

The destination is here and not here, so soften up. Do not obsess.

Where is Tao? You can trust that it is in the “middle”, not just in your body because you and the world are one. Breath, down and up the middle. Act, with compassion and valor. Live, in silence. What does silence have to do with the middle path?

She learned that the shadow triggers and cuts her heart because some of it is still in her.

From then on she rests in silence. Of a pair of contradictions, had the opposite statement isn’t in her, she wouldn’t be debating it in her mind. Had she not been debating, she wouldn’t be talking. Listen to the words said, but hear their opposite ends. What is hidden is true. If she is hurt by the darkness in others, if others “shown” evil hurt her, aka their dark values contradicted with hers, eliminate her hidden evil first. Out of compassion, feel the mighty braveness. Filled with mighty, she sits still, does not fight. — it fits Laozi’s description of Tao.

Then she saw her past trajectories, back 10 years, 20 years, a life time, many life times, she was dancing erratically around Tao. Tao is there like a verticle middle line. Her dances deviated, but never left it, intersected with it here and there, yet to merge with it. It was beautiful.

Life on earth, appeared to be unenlightened and avarice, it encompasses Tao and everything in between. It is beautiful. Diversity makes beauty.

No one threw her here as a punishment. She is here because she desired it, because she is yet to understand how to enjoy life without desires. Suffering and drama came after desires. There is something masochism about reincarnation as a human. All pain is self-inflicted by desires. And we asked for it.

From the Taoist classic, The Secret of the Golden Flower: “The seven souls generate desires; the Spirit wants nothing more. The souls are Yin. The Spirit is Yang. The souls want death; at the underworld they eat fleshes and drink blood; The Spirit wants to live …. kill the souls and retain/rule with the spirit.”

We asked for the deadly erratic dance. Our heart and the souls were moved, hence we are here.

Her teacher gave her a mirror with a cross on it. He said, everyday before you walk out, place your body in that cross, so you are in the middle; then walk, between courage and compassion. which Buddhism calls, Vajra and Bodhisattva; which the west called Mars and Jupiter; which Laozi called Valour and Compassion.

Then she thought, the reversed cross given to a demon must be the opposite of that pair. His is Fear and Greed. But his is also part of IT. She does not hate or fear the demon anymore, for she saw him standing at a checkpoint of a layer of the onion, guarding polarity, the law of matter, and one feature of matter, time.

How to be at ease with him? Do not drive by deadly desires, that energize the erratic dance.

Though she doesn’t know what is a true will and how to power life with it yet. The pamphlet at the orientation said nothing with lots of words: words, the sealed containers only allude to but empty of meanings. She trusted the ancient Wiseman to keep walking a path.

— for all the beings who are sensing the suffering, which are the beads on the rosary of transformation.

Techno Improv Evokes Stockhausen at Moogfest and He Should be Happy

Lucinda Cheng


Moogfest 2019 banner. Photo credits to Forbes.

“New methods change the experience, and new experiences change a man. Whenever we hear sounds, we are changed, we are no longer the same, and this is more the case when we hear organized sounds; music.”  —  Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN

Poème électronique on Soundcloud

Buchla and Eventide synthesizers send resounding echos from tunnels in the space.

Drumbeats rains down like fluid life.

Electronic drum machine occasionally blasts violent and enticing beats like hell opens a dancing floor.

And there’s mellow guitar and loop.

From nine to twelve in the night on the 26th and 27th, Stockhausen is there with the band on stage, spiritually. 

Along with his controversy, level of acceptance among reviewers. And he should be happy, for he is not the only person that felt lonely musically and intellectually that day. There are three more. And together they are happy.

The Atlanta based band Poème électronique evoked their muses, Edgard Varèse, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, in a ritual at the beginning of the performance, continuing the forefathers’ style that opened up the music space since last century — music as living matter, and that includes organized noises.

Two weeks ago in North Carolina, techno and electronic musicians from around the globe flocked to 21 Theatre, downtown Durham, displayed their performance for Moogfest — the convergence of art, tech, and music, like art installations in a museum.

Poème électronique is orchestrated as a serious modern symphony with electronic sounds made by rare synthesizers, master level percussion, and human voicing over passages on quantum physics, the historical truth of religion and occult, electric waves in biology, and music theories — everything blended within the same realm — playing with waves.

The trio of band members: Dr. Marlow Forbin in Quantum Physics, also an open source pioneer,  Archer Norton, an underground techno musician that worked with Lady Gaga, Professor Stuart Gerber from Georgia State University School all have profound understanding in at least two of the fields mentioned above.

People have often thought that the Poème électronique is a music band, and the ritual is part of their music elements. Some went on to their website, where Forbin uploaded eleven chapters of his preaching in the interdisciplinary of science and magick, in Bible style. They think it’s cool as a form of art.

Forbin considers the music part of the ritual, or the science, art, and magick are talking about the same thing.

In the beginning, they came close to the audience, have all breath together. They let the sound of the om, ah, ou, vom vibrating through their throats while placing the gestures of the four original universe-creating force up and down their chakras. Then they placed a horn sign in front of their forehead, and roar out an earth-shattering ”ahhhhh” with wrath.

The next step is different than the summoning ritual two years ago. After two years since they evoked the chaos goddess Eris/ Kali, who threw a golden apple to the Olympus banquet and caused the Trojan war, today they bring it to a closure, by drawing the pentagons reversely in the air, while calling the deities’ and must musicians’/scientists’ names.

In Poème électronique there is no melody. Archer Norton plays the drum machine, a panel with engineered percussion sounds built in, and a line of buttons to set where in time you want to play the beats.

Gerber plays real percussion, a drum set, and all kinds of little gears.

Forbin plays synthesizer, which gives the only constant never-ending low howling sound.

Sheba plays guitar and loop in a subtle way.

Nelzby likes his tempo set from the first button on the beat timeline. “This is my one.” he used to say. From there he builds a set of beats based on “one, two, three, four” that don’t go wrong. Nothing is tilting.

Professor Stuart Gerber from Georgia State University School of Music likes sound experiments. The beats expressing free forms, and are precisely executed. He is not limited by genre. By throwing away the confinement of certain genres, he obtains the essence, the Tao. As the old saying goes, take the fish and forget about the basket. In the sounds, there is the conceptual, abstraction of everything dynamic — the ebb and flow,  the piling and disappearing of sand hills, thoughts, of life, events — pulled by the law of force into formation and decomposition.

When Archer kicks in, it’s interactive, violent dance beats. When the professor pronounces, he does so in solitary, and people also watch it like seeing a painting in the gallery.

When the two talks, it is the golden arches of the two-hour flow. The professor’s off beats balance Archer ’s on beats. Avant-Garde interlocks with punk rock. Stuart adds contemporary high art to Archer’s killer enticing tempos.

Forbin’s synth sets the base tone of the flow like Esther to dreams. The synth creates a dark, resounding echoing tunnel. It separates this band from other airy atmosphere bands. When Forbin‘s horn blows bellowing winds, at afar in that deserted other world, Gerber’s bells ring like a Japanese pagoda, spiritual and haunting. 

When the synth player triggered timbre, Gerber picked it up in no time and exploded the drumset like a box of ignited black gunpowder.

In fact, three of them are so distinct and strongly expressive in their own way, they were holding the music from three poles like a triangle field. The tension is strong. The synth sets the space in which the percussion sail.

It sails as a spaceship in its outer-space journey alone.

This is clear because Archer would play differently by himself, tri-pop mostly.

The sounds of Poème électronique comes from the original force. It’s primitive, non-picturesque, non-romantic. The resonating trance-inducing dark synth, the natural form of drum reminds me of Hang Gai, a rock band from Inner Mongolia. Hang Gai sings about the cycle of life on the grassland. Their huge drums remind one of shamanistic tribal ritual music. Poème électronique is ritual music. The mission of shifting the state of mind of the listeners plays a key component to the music.

Pairing with Forbin’s idea that the sums of waves create butterfly effect with their minor ripples, which change minds, and as a result, change the collective reality, it appears to me so that the whole thing is a ritual.

At the last step, they repeated the breathing, pentagon drawing and names chanting again, ending it with a laugh. Forbin turned back to the stage, blew off the white bucket Diptyque candle.

After all the heavy gears are pack and reloaded back to the car, Forbin, Archer , and Gerber stood in a circle reviewing the show.

Archer  said, “We definitely changed some minds tonight.”

Forbin nodded. That’s the real evaluation standard for them.

Maybe that’s why Archer  didn’t find much opportunity to speak in the music jam. The music is not musically enough, not audience-engaging enough for him. For Archer , music and community power is his magick. The relation of set and subset here between music and magick seems different between the duo magicians.

Archer  has stated that he came from another school of magick, where he thinks the old school rituals are completely irrelevant, and all you need to do is live by his two principals: Art Harder; Be Excellent to Each Other.

* * *

After twelve o’clock, streets in downtown Durham is as empty as a bachelor’s closet. The band members were sitting outside of their hotel bar discussing whether the long murky dreamy state of their flow has driven people away — but, most likely it may have just been Stockhausen’s spirit. A happy woman named Mrs. Bigs spoke to them.

She told a beautiful story about how drums in a village came to her, at the time, when she was standing in the mountain. The drums served a purpose for social activities and she knows vividly what stories each tempo were telling.

She then voiced the confusion that, after writing seven to eight stories she had finished none. At the time, I told her “maybe you are writing the same characters/story. Loop them into one. ” “you are thinking.” Given a second chance, I would tell her to jog down what came to her in a flash of thoughts as fast as possible.

Her speed of growth outpaced her speed of writing. She can’t lock down, and ever be happy with a resolution for her past story, because she outgrew her past understandings.  Some writers do feel odd reading their past work on paper.  The desire to capture everything there is to life has bound our foot.

That’s the paradox of art creation in written forms. How can you orchestrate anything down on a paper, when both your internal and external are ever changing?

You, as a traveling spot on a rope, rippling out waves towards both ends as you travel, looking back and forward on this waving rope, the story looks different to you every second. Moreover, the future, and (the understanding of) the past interchange each other.

To capture all these paths, you are drawing a flying spaghetti.

For performing art they can improvise on the fly. A writer’s improv is the stream of consciousness style. One just leaves it to the passing of time as a music jam.

Either do that or just jog down what comes to you in one snapshot of the time, in one sitting. In that time captured in amber, there is everything and a resolution.

When two same waves overlay, they emit a small baby wave with the same function. That’s where we choose to stand. We can be the oracle of an all-encompassing, perfectly resolved story at any given point of time.

There is infinity within the micro. Reaching outside and attempting to gather everything — those images of Cthulhu, Medusa says a lot about that — someone trying to be God through reaching outside.

Chasing infinity in the forms (plots), will make the story an octopus; we want the story to be a fertilized egg, built with constraint but in itself there is infinity.

As I think about linear time is an illusion, I think of some episodes in my life. It comes to me that maybe the world takes the shape of a target ring, and when we are conscious, we are at the outer arch of it.

Nine realms, or in Taoism, 9+9+9+9 = 36 realms.

Each has its own fabric and laws.

An occurrence at any spot in the rings will show and be responded to in all realms. Some cases of this would be, prophecy dreams. A hunch helps you avoid an accident.

Or reversely: your emotional state at its hype creates some interesting outcome.

Imagine an incident happens next month, on the first ring, our plane, like a waterdrop. A wave rippling out, passing a door crack, still the same wave, into a different medium, still, the same wave, reaching the inner consciousness, so you know at the center, that happens. Time basically doesn’t apply at the center ring.

You always know the probability of every major emotional/spiritually meaningful events that are going to happen on the outer ring, where time does apply. Those are the strong waves. Those are the life mission/destiny.

The weaker waves create synchronicity. For example, I am pacing at the airport thinking about this chapter out, and walked to my gate, sat down next to another Moog attendee, who taught me again about synthesizer and the illusion of brain perception. And going into the plane, his seat is next to mine.

And below is what we talked about.

* * *

More on information process and infinity

A techno musician engineers his sounds. By writing a wave function, and put in the time span. The shorter the span, the more frequent the wave oscillates, the higher the pitch.

A Fourier synthesizer deals with complicated sounds from the real world. It picks up the sampling frame, and process them into a coherent sound experience. A natural sound in real life would be difficult for the computer to decompose, for the sound can be split into infinite amounts of waves. As between two digits, there is infinity.

It decomposes the natural sound into a countable myriad of waves, and recompose them back into a digital version of its lesser self. – one dimension down, less but enough pixels for the brain to make a coherent sense. Just like a projector shooting red, blue and yellow one at a time at the screen faster than the brain can catch it, though we can still see rainbows when we move our eyeballs.

The brain is a synthesizer.

Similarly, the perceived world is dimensions downgraded from the real world. It picks out the sampling frame and makes sense of it by forming a coherent linear experience.

In software, the wave is a string of 1 and 0 translated by the sound card. The wave also goes through different units for sound effects through a pipeline of sound production. In hardware those are modules. You can assemble your own synth by putting together modules of your choice. It comes from the earlier computer Analogue.