I consider myself a fairly ‘spiritual’ person.
Which is a bold and slightly wanky sounding statement. I guess what I mean by it is, I like to look beyond day-to-day physical life and ponder existence and consciousness. Stuff like “What happens after we die?”, “Who am I?”, “Why am I here?”, “How did I get here?”, “Am I more than my physical form?”, “What is God?”, etc, etc. Questions, questions.
There are certain things I’m…well…certain about, spirituality-wise. I understand that not everyone will ‘get’ this, but I’m putting it out there. When I was 16 and (ab)using drugs, I had this massive spiritual experience where, under the pressure of extreme suicidal feelings/hatred of my’self’, I suddenly broke free of who I thought I was, and came face to face with “God” itself. (Excuse all the quotation marks, I just find words can be confusing and misleading when it comes to these concepts. After all, words are just signposts the human mind invented, and cannot fully explain the things to which they point.)
So when I suddenly “woke up”, I realized that who I thought I was (this “Bec” person!), was almost a complete illusion that I had created. I had created my personality, or “Ego”, as a result of the experiences I’d had, the people I’d grown up around, the media’s influence. Some of this “Bec” WAS the essence of me, my inner nature (loving, sensitive, creative and caring), but it had become twisted and distorted through seeking physical and emotional gratification and power from others. Eg. “loving” became “obsessive”, “sensitive” became “so sensitive I took everything personally”. “Creative” became “inventing ridiculous fantasies & lying to myself & others”, and “caring” became “needy and possessive”. So I realized, I was so much more than this limited person. I realized I actually had nearly infinite choice in what I wanted to do, eliminating the ‘trapped’ feeling I’d been struggling with for so long. I realized that the ‘vibes’ (or thoughts/emotions) that I put out were directly responsible for the situations I was facing – therefore, that my thoughts and emotions were literally creating my world. And that was incredibly freeing. I felt wildly free, ecstatically happy and joyful for the first time in my life, since maybe I was a baby. It was the best feeling in the world, better than the best eccie you’ve ever had!!! This feeling followed me for most of the rest of that year. It was my first year of uni, and some of the courses I took really reflected back to me (in a more intellectual way) what I had gone through, and helped me look at the entire world in a new perspective. (Thanks Pat Wise, Arts in Perspective I & II & that random philosophy course I took) I realized that everyone else in the world had this same problem, just manifested in a million and one awesome different personas and problems. (We humans are so creative!) Only some of them hadn’t had the chance (or made the choice) to ‘wake up’ yet. Some of them still saw themselves in this limited way, didn’t quite ‘get’ why all this crappy stuff kept happening in their life, or why they felt compelled by their emotions and thoughts to do certain things. It made me feel incredibly compassionate and caring about every single person I met. I finally understood that underneath all our separate bodies and neuroses, we are one. We are all going through the same, basic stuff. We look for connection, truth, love and joy. We do dumb & convoluted things to try and get this stuff, forgetting how simple life really is.
Even if they didn’t understand why consciously, people were drawn to me during this time. I literally had people come up to me when I was sitting on a bench in the park at uni, and say “you look so peaceful, I felt like coming and being near you”. Hahaha. Mind-blowing. It was awesome, in a non ego-gratifying way. I passed love onto everyone I met, they felt it instinctively. Most wanted to be near me, some got weirded out and went away (usually because they were wrapped up in their ego, so they found me and my unconditional love bizarre & offputting).
After a few months, my ego started creeping back and my consciousness level dropped back again. Then I had some fucked up shit happen the next year, and slid further backwards. It’s never been as fabulous, effortless and amazing for me as those first few enlightened months were, but I will always have this ‘knowing’ inside, and a peacefulness buzzing in the background of my life. I can always get back to that ecstatic place by meditating or choosing to be conscious/aware of the moment. Which is pretty rad.
By the way, you have this ‘knowing’ inside you too. Everyone does. It’s what we really, truly are, at the base of ourselves. If you make the effort to clear the clutter inside yourself away, you will find this joy, love, and truth yourself. It’s beyond words and concepts, don’t try and understand it mentally or intellectually. It just is. It’s knowing before thinking.
Wow, I went more in depth than I expected into describing that spiritual experience. I just wanted to share that my experience was very real, and there is no doubt in my mind that “God” exists, just not in the traditional religious way that many people think. I believe that many religions are created around one switched-on person who has realized all of the above. For example, Jesus or Buddha. People begin following this enlightened person, and write down stuff they say, and create a system of life rules to abide by around this person’s teaching. The problem is, it gets twisted along the way by people less enlightened, and winds up just this watered down, institutionalized morality thing, instead of a way for people to truly achieve connection with God. The problem with most religions is that they seem to have forgotten that EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS GOD. God is not some Colonel Sanders man in the sky. Sorry if this smacks you in the face, offends or baffles you. It’s the truth, I’m speaking utter truth..this ‘God’ thing is quite simply everything. Other words that come close to describing God are “awareness”, “love”, and “now”. What else could God be, but you and I? That tree out the window? The sky above? Even this computer/phone screen you’re reading is from the earth, it’s metal and glass, rearranged by humans to form an ordered machine. Pretty fucking amazing. Don’t tell me there’s no mystery, magic and divinity in life!
Anywayyyy…what the fuck has this got to do with music????? Well, a lot. Music is a creative act, first up. And life is creation. We create ourselves and our lives each and every day. I would venture so far as to say that God IS the creative process. Music itself is considered sacred in pretty much every religion on earth. It’s a vital part of worship and “getting closer to God”. You’ve got rad Tibetan monk-chanting, Christian hymns and so on. In the Christian bible, one of the first things in existence was God’s “word”. Some religions even believe the world was created by sound – this was echoed fictitiously in C.S. Lewis’ prequel to his Narnia series, “The Magician’s Nephew”. (I love that book!) Aslan sings Narnia & its surrounding worlds into existence with beautiful, heart-piercingly pure notes. Music is primal magic. You can’t see or touch it, but you can hear it, and even feel it in your body if you concentrate. Its vibrations touch our emotions, our hearts and sometimes make our bodies want to move. I have become pretty selective about the music I choose to listen to (and make). The bulk of music is made with some form of Ego involvement, be it heartbreak, really negative feelings, or even just a general superficiality. You can hear this especially in lyrics, which can just sometimes spout utter crap. I prefer to listen to music that explores truth, or at least is attempting/struggling to get to some sort of truth. If I’m in a really negative state, eg. feeling overtaken by depression or feeling superficial, I can enjoy more depressing/shallow type music (some of my faves are Mr Marilyn Manson, old Metallica, a lot of punk, hard rock, rap and sad solo singers). Now I’m not saying that any of the types of music I just mentioned don’t have awesome grains of truth in them; I think the bulk of music does. They’re clearly made with a lot of love, joy of music and attention. But something’s off about them to me, the writer is just not entirely switched on or they’ve been written under the influence of emotions that aren’t pure like love and joy. And those emotions get transferred to you when you listen. However this is subjective too, I know a lot of people feel love and joy listening to super heavy metal, whereas I want to throw myself off a bridge after too many listens. (My brother told me you need a metal heart to love metal. I guess I wasn’t born with such an organ!) Probably my favorite band to listen to when I’m in a really conscious & enlightened state is Sigor Ros. Perhaps it’s because the lyrics don’t get in the way, as I can’t understand the language the singer uses. The music itself is just so soaring and wonderful. For example, the song Hoppipolla is beautiful, devastatingly happy & sad at the same time. It truly goes right through my heart and makes me feel pure love. I guess to me, pure love feels like utter happiness, freedom and a tiny tinge of sadness…it’s kind of like all feelings rolled into one.
Also, check out this amazing blind Aboriginal man’s music. (My mum loves him) This song is called “Born Blind”. He’s so fucking beautiful.
I try to put love, truth and enlightenment into my music as much as possible. I don’t always succeed, but I always feel most successful when I feel that I have done this. Some of the best things I’ve come up with have been utterly divinely inspired. By this I mean, the melody line has just come straight into my head, as if from God/The Source itself. I haven’t had to do squat. I know that God has a huge amount to do with music. I’m sure most musos would agree with this even if they don’t agree with the “God” word – a lot of times you don’t consciously think “Oh, I’m gonna come out with such and such”. The music just writes itself, and you are its instrument. It literally comes out of nowhere! That’s magic.
At times I’ve come to a block with my writing (cough – like right now – or maybe I’m just being lazy). I think this happens when I try to ‘force’ myself too much to come up with something I think people will like, or when I worry too much about making something ‘truthful’ or ‘conscious’ yet not be didactic. Sometimes you need to just let the music flow through you from somewhere else. Trust that it will come. And if you are blocked, it’s important that you ask for it to come. ‘Ask and ye shall receive’. “God” (NOT THE COLONEL SANDERS CHRISTIAN GOD) gives you what you ask for and more.
I’m writing as much to share with you guys, as to remind myself of these truths. I will integrate this more into my life and see how it goes. Don’t know how the hell to integrate it with the rest of the band; lol, maybe I should force us all to go on a meditation retreat together sometime.
To conclude, I’d like to recommend some books/sources if anyone’s interested in getting more spiritual:
- “The Music Lesson” by master bassist Victor Wooten. I discovered this INCREDIBLE book in a random bookstore in Byron Bay, and knew instantly I had to read it. It integrates both spirituality and music – it’s a spiritual text in the guise of a novel and has so many amazing facts/tricks/lessons about music. Eg. “if you’re off key (on a guitar), you’re only ever either one fret up or down from being in key”.
- “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle
- Anything by Neale Donald Walsh, particularly “Conversations With God” Parts 1, 2 & 3, and “Communion With God”
- “Silent Power” by Stuart Wilde – it’s a little bit wanky, but it has some excellent points on how to “stay spiritual” when dealing with others who aren’t so conscious. I think the author has a few ego problems himself, lol, he gets a bit self congratulatory at times, but there are good truths in this book.
- Check out mediation classes or YouTube videos – learning to look past your ‘monkey mind’ is a good place to start.
Not only will all of this help you become a better musician, it will help you to become a saner, more compassionate, loving and peaceful human. Peace and love to you…
EDIT: How could I forget The Beatles??! I meant to write a whole paragraph on them. Anyway, I was going to say that I think the reason they are one of the world’s most enduring bands is the truths in their music. They really got enlightened. I think their best work comes from really truth-filled songs such as “Within You Without You”, “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Let it Be”. Enjoy these mind-expanders below: