I have evolved a long way since my Southern Baptist ministerial days! I began my theological life as a liberal Southern Baptist theologian! There is a contradiction for you to ponder!! I moved to a Bultmannian, Tillichian liberal Protestant theologian, and then to an adherent of the Primordial Tradition in the school of Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, Julius Evola, Harvey Spencer Lewis, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Elémire Zolla, Alain Danielou, Jean-Louis Michon, Gottfried Leibniz, Aldous Huxley, and Plato. While Plato came the closest to satisfying me, in the end he did not! That satisfaction was reserved for the modern scripture, A Course in Miracles, when it came into my contact. It brought together the truths of Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Perennialism and modern psychology in a unique way. It remains the most satisfying theological system I have come in contact with! Therefore, my past decade or more has been devoted to an experiment in practical application of the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles. The system is very close to Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought, yet also provides the ultimate Advaita of the Hindu Vedanta. I am an Advaita Vedantin following the Metaphysical path of A Course in Miracles. At the practical level it has been my intention to see if I can live in the perspective and awareness of Oneness rather than the duality that is the common perception in this world. When I first approached this I spoke with my friend, Dr. Ken Wapnick, if it were possible to live a non-dualistic life in a dualistic world! He responded, “Of course! That is the purpose of A Course in Miracles. It takes a lot of hard work but it can be done.” He should know. He did it. Now that he has left his body, he has left us with an example of one who did just this in his life!
I have had some limited success in living out an awareness that is Advaita. I say “limited” because the longest I have maintained that awareness was six weeks. Yet those six weeks were the culmination to me of my theological quest. Other ACIM students have made similar attempts. The students of Tara Singh have, since his “death”, been meeting together to hold practical sessions on “Objective Thought.” That is essentially Advaita. Objective thought would not project the opposite!!! “Objective thought” would be impersonal, loving thought, shared with God! What would it be like to experience our thoughts shared with God? To me, the practical application of that would be an awareness of “not two.” Writing about this is extremely difficult! It would take, myth, prose and poetry to approach it. I attempted to do that in a connected series of writings I called “The Beloved and I are One,” in which I used my experiences at a nearby lake to serve as an artistic attempt to convey this experience in practical mysticism. It was good enough to get me my Doctor of Theology degree, but the experiment continues, the quest goes on until I can steadily hold the thought that “the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me!” Then Peace shall reign over the storm and in stillness shall the voice of God be heard!
When you sing serious music, you must understand that there is no intrinsic Truth in the musical form! The musical form needs something to bring it to Truth and that something is human experience. Singing is intrinsically human when it expresses deep emotions, but the musical form–even the melody–is not true, so don’t be so proud you can sing the notes to an operatic aria or a song from Lieder. If you have not brought human experience to the song, it is dead. Songs have to be sung. They cannot just be thought. So when you sing you must bring to the musical form human truth and let it be shown and felt. You must stream the truth to the music as you sing and this we call acting. All singing is also acting if truth has been brought to the music. Otherwise music is just a form that we use to create a block to the awareness of Truth. How often we see this. Some “great singer” sings a great piece of music–let’s say Schubert’s Die Winterreise–and we see him standing by the piano, his arms by his side, and as far as we can tell, there is no human truth being given to either the music or the audience, and there is always an audience for singing, even if it is just nature or God. No song is sung in obscurity!! He sings the music very well. His phrasing is good. His timbre is good. All the aspects of the musical form are good, but it is as dead as any lifeless form. The music has captured his mind and it sings through him as though on auto-pilot, as though a robot were singing. He has forgotten that his mental attention must be ahead of the musical beat so that he can present truth to the music as it comes. This takes a lot of concentration, of course, and so he contents himself with “just singing.” He tells himself a lie, that the music doesn’t need to be acted.
One of the best tools for a singer is oral interpretation of literature. One must take the text as a text and interpret it with human truth. Only then is he ready to “sing” that text with meaning in a song or aria. The “acting” will then be very easy and realistic. You won’t just stand there with your arms in one position and we will see on your face and in your body the human truth that you have brought to the music.
In the Stanislavsky Method, there are two “beats” involved in singing, the first “beat” is the awareness in the mind of a choice for how the phrase is being interpreted. The second beat is the musical beat. So, the dramatic beat must be before the musical beat or no truth is offered to the music. The music is very good at hypnotising the conscious mind into falling in line with its beat. If that happens, the singer is just a singing machine and there is no truth!! But if you know this you can also tell that the music is very good at giving the mind imagination out of which a dramatic beat can be chosen. It takes work! Creation takes work! We see little of it happening today. Singers struggle just with technique to sing the notes. They have no energy left over for human truth!!! But I also saw this in the singing of two generations ago among singers we now consider “golden age” singers. They just sang and added on some gesture here or there and called it truth, but such is as much a lie as we see today! Creation has always been difficult, and only creation can be called “art.”