Greetings visitor. You may find some (apparently) unconnected themes on this blog. I started out with the decision to dedicate my life to composing music at age 25. But the universe decided to unpick every musical role I came up with. Rather like the Sufis’ idea of fana and baqa, dissolution and recrystallisation, where the universe, and the person of wisdom both, are continually being dissolved and recreated. There came chords of flavours, the mathematics of flowing visual graphic sculptures, radical transformation of what teaching and learning are, new ways to programme computers to weave sonic textures…………. I experience life not as vocation but as vigorous detached outrageous revelation. Everything can be challenged and reworked in the vigour of regular self-reinvention and resculpting.
What is teaching for instance. Its certainly not bullet-points on a syllabus, nor is it imparting of information, we can do that by photocopying notes – a facility that a university lecturer I encountered chose not to adopt, so as to hide shyness behind a chalk reality. Teaching at its best is not information broadcasting but something far greater. If you understand a subject backwards and inside out, you will understand it as a spirit, not bytes. A living flame of presence and joy – the overlapping of two circles, not merely happy or studious but a third, magical middle condition. I suffered at school. I know what it feels like to be in an energy field of a false authority who is stressed. Its killing educational potential. I encourage students to look after their state of mind whilst working. One of my students said “That’s really radical.” It is. It shouldn’t be.
Ordinary is the ultimate reality. Even though it is authentically outrageous at the same time.
The food we eat affects not only how we feel and work but also how much we can shed our conditioning. I feel that what we like to eat does do us good (regardless of what it is) – contrary to the more robotic nutritionists – enjoyment again is important. I like Juliano’s assertion that good taste and enjoyment are the only considerations for, in his case, a raw food diet. For me, combining enjoyment AND nutrition is the best.
In music I discovered that music is not the rules. Through Terry Riley’s music I discovered the exquisite combination of concentration and relaxation that I aim for in my teaching, Terry since became a friend and played twice at my Planet Tree Music Festival, and he understood early on how sound, the breath and the body ideally connect energetically, something I encounter in dance and movement classes I take with Jhomm, my Korean dancer/choreographer friend. Its the breathing and the sensation awareness in and of the body that fills me with life and keeps my body brimming with health – the late Paul Benson, and Bruce Lipton both speak about cells breathing, they are each miniature, less specialised beings than the organs that they make up. Consciousness itself can invigorate cell life, not just the teeming cascades of atoms that the cell membranes so selectively either let in or not,…….. perhaps teaching is also like that, it needs its life field primarily to communicate life quality. Breath, music, knowledge, flavour, joy…….. these are the touchstones if we want to truly flourish.
When I sit down at the piano, (which I have recorded almost 3000 times) I am not focussing on making sounds. I am listening to my psyche’s streams of energy. It no longer has to do with virtuosity, with accuracy (Jhomm is less concerned with what a movement looks like primarily), the music is an energetic field of feeling and mindfulness, this is the clay I’m keen to shape, this is what glows, tastes incredible and refreshes my being utterly. Its because the form is transcended that this can happen. That’s what sets people off. When younger I heard “When the form of music is clear to you, then the spirit will become clear”. That’s rubbish. Without a sense of presence, music is dead, period. That’s the achilles heel of much western concert music. Mozart improvised, sometimes making many mistakes, then the form of the classical style took over, but the western classical tradition originated that ad lib way.
Breath, music, knowledge, flavour, joy…….. here’s to the blend.