This piece was drafted a year ago as a second post-script to a post called why you don’t really want to awaken. The first post-script was called your original luminous brilliance. There, I attempted to clarify what I meant by “whose only beacon is this unlit light”.
This post revisits the preceding lines: … whose only muse is this nameless name. Here’s an extract from the original post, the poem, and a few quotes from different traditions about this “nameless name”.
Who’d have thought that the estrangement and agony, the confusion and the sheer vertigo of dropping out of every version of a self would eventually be known as a blessing, a grace beyond words? But words are all she has, so the song goes like this:
I found the unassailable
rock of refuge
I found the treasure
that can’t be bought or sold
exhausted and ill
I found healing
in that which is ever whole
I found delight
in every uninvited chore
I found my tribe:
the wild wideawake
whose only muse
is this nameless name
and whose only beacon
is this unlit light
The “nameless name” is sometimes referred to as “the Word” (“In the beginning was the Word …”) and “the unstruck sound” of Vedic scriptures. Poets and mystics throughout the ages have coined their own terms for this enigmatic primordial sound, while acknowledging that it can never be named.
Contemporary science now demonstrates what ancient teachings have claimed for millenia – that all living things – including you and me, in fact all things in existence, are made up at the most essential level of vibrating, pulsing energy.
Mystics and meditators are familiar with this energy. I was introduced to its vibration when practicing yoga kriyas – it was referred to as The Holy Name. It manifested in my auditory awareness as a roar similar to the thrum of huge dynamos at a power plant. Eventually it was perceived as a humming vibration around and within all phenomena. And further along, it was realized that my perception of it could not be set out, separated, from it.
In other words, like the Unlit Light of Awareness, the primordial Nameless Name is the essence of what one actually IS. They go together like up and down.
I’m sure many readers are familiar with this “roar on the other side of silence”. (See below.) What seems more elusive, however, is the closing of the gap of separation between the subject (me) and the sound (conceived as an object). The roar and its perception are One. One vibration that has neither cause, beginning or end.
In the Sanskrit tradition, this sound is called “Anahata Nada,” the “Unstruck Sound.” Literally, this means “the sound that is not made by two things striking together.” Its familiar symbol is the OM or AUM Sanskrit seed syllable.
The Tao that can be spoken of
is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the enduring and unchanging name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
He who would rest in perfect peace
must know the nameless name
whence all things rise, and bloom and cease
returning whence they came.
The unnameable is the eternally real.
~ Lao Tzu (a selection of verses from The Tao Te Ching)
If you want the truth,
I’ll tell you the truth:
Listen to the secret sound,
the real sound,
which is inside you.
I’ve been looking for a long, long time,
for this thing called love,
I’ve ridden comets across the sky,
and I’ve looked below and above.
Then one day I looked inside myself,
and this is what I found,
A golden sun residing there,
beaming forth God’s light and sound.
Seek the Sound that never ceases,
seek the sun that never sets.
The universe was manifested out of the Divine Sound;
From It came into being the Light.
The Sound is inside us.
It is invisible.
Wherever I look I find it.
High above in the Lord’s mansion
ringeth the transcendental music.
But, alas, the unlucky hear Him not;
They are in deep slumber.
~ Guru Nanak
Our tradition teaches us that sound is God – Nada Brahma. That is, musical sound and the musical experience are steps to the realization of the self. We view music as a kind of spiritual discipline that raises one’s inner being to divine peacefulness and bliss. We are taught that one of the fundamental goals a Hindu works toward in his lifetime is a knowledge of the true meaning of the universe – its unchanging, eternal essence – and this is realized first by a complete knowledge of one’s self and one’s own nature. The highest aim of our music is to reveal the essence of the universe it reflects, and the ragas are among the means by which this essence can be apprehended. Thus, through music, one can reach God.
~ Ravi Shankar
If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heartbeat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.
~ George Eliot, Middlemarch
(My emphasis in all quotes)
OM/AUM image credit: that buzz – an article about “the sound of silence” well worth reading at Sharanam Katherine Rand’s beautiful blog on the precipice.