In the year 1970 I was given encouragement to read a book by the Russian philosopher and mathematician, P. D. Ouspensky, called In Search of the Miraculous. The contents, upon first reading, resonated very strongly inside me. Subsequent readings only strengthened the feeling that here was a book with substance, here was a man who knew something, here was a teaching I could follow.
Several years prior to this time, I had been introduced to Eastern mysticism and had spend many hours engrossed in reading such authors as Aurobindo, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, and works by Theosophists - Blavatsky, Besant, Leadbeater, Bailey, and Krishnamurti. I found Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi, joined theSelf-Realization Fellowship, and practiced Kriya exercises daily, eventually becoming a Kriyaban.
At the same time my inner world was opening up, in the outer world I was glimpsing the truths of the Tarot, the I Ching, the Kaballah, sacred geometry, and magic squares. Such materials convinced me that there was a sacred and secret knowledge, everywhere the same and everywhere concealed. Fragments of this unknown teaching could be seen through the veil of ancient dogmas, under the seal of all religions, in the ruins of ancient temples; disguised in myths, legends, and allegories as a simple collection of stories unintelligible as mysteries unless one knew the key. The key was the science of vibration locked up in a trinity of words, letters, and numbers as absolute, as infinite, and as profound as the Logos.
The results of my seeking led me to a crisis at which point my thinking shifted from traditional concepts of isolated objects, of cause and effect, to the view that the universe is holistic, inseparable, dynamic, and must of necessity include the observer, the I, in an essential way.
As the indirect outlines of a continent of new meaning came into focus, ideas which had made no sense to me at all became revelations of mysteries. The Universe became alive - breathing, pulsing with energy, with vibration, with Music; myself becoming a living musical instrument whose cells and tissues and organs vibrate in resonance with the Fundamental Tone, the Source; my keynote resounding with overtones in other octaves, other dimensions higher than my own, providing me with transformational possibilities beyond imagination.
As a trained musician, I was not unaware of the significance given to overtones in ancient times. The belief that numbers resonated in different octaves was at the core of a philosophical system which held that music was a sacred and magical science. Now I became passionately interested in the effects of vibration upon matter, and more specifically, the effects of tuning systems upon man.
Although the subjects were not taught as part of the general curriculum, delving deeper into musicology I discovered that, throughout the history of music, two tuning systems had been used - one cyclic, the other divisive. The two systems have always been considered irreconcilable. Historically, moreover, the two systems are associated with different civilizations: the cyclic with the ancient Chinese and Pythagorean Greek; the divisive with the Babylonian, Indian, and Western. Preliminary studies indicated that while great significance was attached to the cyclic principle of tuning by ancient peoples (the ancients absolutely enshrined it in their culture), it appeared that little was written about the divisive principle or music extant. Divisive tuning lacked that overarching sense of cosmogonic linkage between microcosm and macrocosm which permeated to the core the cyclic principle of tuning, or so it seemed to me.
Perhaps it was only one of those odd coincidental occurrences. I was reading for the first time the book previously mentioned, In Search of the Miraculous, when I happened upon the following passage (p. 124) which went straight to the core of divisive tuning.
“The laws which govern the retardation or the deflection of vibrations from their primary direction were known to ancient science. These laws were duly incorporated into a particular formula or diagram which has been preserved up to our times. . . In the guise of this formula ideas of the octave have been handed down from teacher to pupil, from one school to another. In very remote times one of these schools found that it was possible to apply this formula to music. In this way was obtained the seven-tone musical scale which was known in the most distant antiquity, then forgotten, and then discovered or found again.”
The ratios of the pitch of the notes of this ancient scale are given thus:
1 9/8 5/4 4/3 3/2 5/3 15/8 2
do re mi fa sol la si do
One schooled in music theory immediately recognizes this scale as the one in Just tuning, the system used in Indian music. Referred to as “post-Pythagorean, it is based upon the division of the octave. Excited by the implications inherent in this new finding, I scanned the book in hopes of finding more references regarding scales and tuning systems. Instead, I read the startling words concerning “objective music.”
“Objective music is all based on inner octaves. And it can obtain not only definite psychological results but definite physical results. There can be such music as would freeze water. There can be such music as would kill a man instantaneously. The biblical legend of the destruction of the walls of Jericho by music is precisely a legend of objective music. Plain music, no matter of what kind, will not destroy walls, but objective music indeed can do so. And not only can it destroy but it can also build up. In the legend of Orpheus there are hints of objective music, for Orpheus used to impart knowledge by music. Snake charmers’ music in the East is an approach to objective music, of course very primitive. Very often it is simply one note which is long drawn out, rising and falling only very little; but in this single note 'inner octaves' are going on all the time and melodies of inner octaves which are inaudible to the ears but felt by the emotional center. And the snake hears and he obeys it. The same music, only a little more complicated, and men would obey it.”
Objective music! The words jumped out at me. For as long as I could remember, I had longed to understand how music can create magical effects. Reared in a family of musicians, expected to follow suit, I rebelled strongly against the idea of becoming a professional pianist. Whether one is performing boogie or Brahms, one still entertains an audience. To reduce music to the status of mere entertainment always seem to me to be an insult to the Muse and unbecoming to the man. Just as a bird’s song causes the life process to unfold in a tree, I knew intuitively that music that we innocently sing or play is shaping and molding our inner and outer environment in a subtle, yet unknown way. I knew, contrary to modern thought, that aesthetics was not someone’s arbitrary and subjective opinion, but rather was a science founded upon mathematical relationships. I knew. But I could not explain or verify or even realize what it was so important to me that I knew.
Now, on the pages of this book were written the words of a man who purported to know. His name was G. I. Gurdjieff. I had to find out more about this objective music, and about this man.
My books are the response to this inner and outer search.