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Listen For The Hidden Messages of Music

The passing of a musician today brought back to mind an important thing about music. You might listen to music superficially, but that doesn’t mean the Music is superficial.

Many esoteric ideas, even secrets, are hidden from the masses under the guise of nonsense, or frightening, imagery.

Take Blue Oyster Cult, for instance. The name of the band tells you that they are a “Cult” and that should frighten off plenty of people. Think of the best known BOC song, and you probably think of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” which appears to be a song honoring Death, The Reaper. It’s a love song. Really. Blue Oyster Cult was known early on for songs like “Career of Evil.” So, they must be an evil, certainly not spiritual, band…right?

I learned at an early age that I couldn’t go to the bookstores in my local town and get esoteric or deeply mystical spiritual books. I had two places to turn to get such knowledge: Within and Music.

It didn’t take long for me to learn that BOC was the “thinking person’s hard rock band” and that their posturing of “evil” were actually more literary references and esoteric information, not the least of which was alchemy.

Today though, I was thinking about Allen Lanier from BOC and his passing. A friend reminded me that one of my favorite, seemingly superficial, BOC songs was written by Allen. It was one of his favorite songs too. It appears, on the surface, to be a love song. The title of it should be a clue to anyone paying attention. The song is “In Thee.” It’s as Rumi as you can get. Lyrics even make allusions to Rumi and Sufi beliefs:

Blue Oyster Cult

Mirrors

In Thee

( – A. Lanier – )

Once we breathed the breath Of sweet surrender
Pure, pure Arab air filled our Atmosphere
But pride it makes stars of us all
Until we fall
For everyone to see.
CHORUS:
Well, I’ll wrap myself in cities I travel
I’ll wrap myself in dreams
I’ll wrap myself in solitude
But I wish I could wrap myself
In Thee.
IN THEE. It’s about as straightforward a call to the Divine Embrace as any Rumi poem. The trick to listening so you can mine the secret treasures Music holds is to really listen. I teach students that the first thing to do is consider whether something might be a love song to the Divine, or a secret song about the Divine, rather than about a person, place or thing. The deeper hidden meanings are often there and found in this way.

I had to learn early that this doesn’t mean that the artists or writers of such Music are always conscious of it. Music can be an unconscious, subconscious or seemingly “channeled” act. Often, musicians will tell you, songs reveal things that their writers did not realize at the time. Given that Music tends to pull the deeper out from within us, it shouldn’t be surprising that the sacred is often hidden under the surface of differently-appearing lyrics or titles. People who embrace the magical, the mystical, the spiritual, or the deeper aspects of Music, hear things casual listeners never will.

A Sufi friend of mine once said, “I love Blue Oyster Cult. ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ is so…SUFI!”

Later songs from Blue Oyster Cult continue the tradition of mixing alchemical titles and symbolism with deep thought:

Blue Oyster Cult

Club Ninja

Perfect Water

( – Donald Roeser – Jim Carroll – )
Do you know Jacques Cousteau when they said on the radio
That he hears bells in random order, deep beneath the perfect water?
Love! That is frightening, but still so inviting.
To drown inside a sound that lay so far underground.And to think… And to think:
This is perfect water, passing over me.
To flow inside the spiral tide;
To drown my eyes like a blind ride.
And to cross the perils of black water – It waits for me like mother and daughter.
A life of perfect order! A strange and perfect water!
Or From BOC’s Stone of Love:
There is a voice without a sound
Whose wisdom speaks in foolish rhyme
There is a choice that I have found
Between the fear and safer time
The choice is but a stone
Stone of love
Anyone versed in esoteric symbolism understands much deeper intent in the term “stone” of course.

So today, thinking of Allen Lanier’s passing, I have to say, “Thank you for the tears and the spiritual insights, as well as the intelligent laughs, hidden under the surface.”

May the True Atmosphere in Music envelope us all, as we learn not to be deceived by first impressions.

Rest In Peace Allen Lanier. Until next we meet, in some form or another. My bet is that next time, you won’t be the first person with a “grill.” No, you weren’t a saint anymore than most rock stars. But you let the Divine Love come through you, and who could ask for more than that?

Listen to “In Thee” by searching online…or get the album (please) Mirrors by Blue Oyster Cult which has the original (and still best version) of Lanier’s In Thee on it. As always, I strongly suggest you support the musicians who make the Music, however you can.

Thank You Allen.

R.I.T.

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Tibetan Singing Bowls Aren’t Tibetan and Quartz Crystal Bowls Are Texan?

There are many great stories and claims that surround the Singing Bowls. There are a few basic facts however that most people do not know at all. Tibetan Singing Bowls didn’t originate in Tibet. Seriously. Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet from India, also brought along with him the Singing Bowls. Yes, “Tibetan Singing Bowls” are actually “East Indian Singing Bowls” and foreigners who later learned of the Bowls didn’t really know the difference between the names of the areas.

When people would travel to the Himalayas to ask about the mysterious Singing Bowls they often met monks who claimed they had no idea what the uninitiated were talking about. This, while the monks ate rice or cereal out of the very metal Bowls for which the curious were seeking!

Never say enlightened people don’t have a wicked sense of humor.

Tibetan Buddhism is an unusual form of Buddhism that mixes typical Buddhist thought with the Magic that already had a solid hold on Tibet when Padmasambhava came to it. It was little wonder then when a Lama student of mine, who later deemed me a Lama, was thrilled when in an initiation I continually picked items related to Padamasambhava only. “I knew it! Of course you would pick the things related to him, which are about the Bowls and Magic!” He thought it surprising that I wasn’t surprised.

Then there are my friends steeped deep in various metaphysical practices. Some talk about the “Quartz Crystal Bowls” having come from Atlantis, Lemuria or the like.

The truth is, the original Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls come from Texas in the U.S. Not the most likely of places, or spiritually legendary, but that is the fact all the same. The Crystal Distributing Company made fine crystal in Houston, Texas. Eventually they hit on the idea that they could make Singing Bowls out of crystal. Today the process is very intense, but the people who still make them correctly, and which play properly, are the original innovators in Texas. There are many copied versions now, but such Bowls are rarely tuned correctly, like the ones in Texas are. If Pete Townshend and I use the original ones from Texas, and not the imitators, you can bet there is a reason.

So perhaps the truth about the placement and origins of Tibetan Singing Bowls and Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls are a little different from what your online metaphysical store might claim. The facts are fascinating all the same, it seems to me, without invented stories and claims.

The deepest revelations about the Bowls of course don’t come from stores, or words, but simply by the Sound.

I hope they speak to you when I play, as they do to me.

– Kenton Knepper

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Crystal Singing Bowls Performance In Unusual Places and Times

I have performed my Crystal and Tibetan Singing Bowl BowlSounds at many intimate and wonderful places. Recently, I was asked by a family to perform my BowlSounds for a funeral. Why a funeral?

This particular event revolved around the passing of a person who used to come visit me and attend certain Singing Bowl performances. She owned a Bowl she purchased from me, and sent my cat and I a book on how cats were secret Zen masters. She loved my cat greatly. My cat was getting older now, 22 in fact, but she outlived our friend “Jane”. My cat had suddenly become blind the day before I heard of Jane’s passing. Many things were up in the air and uncertain it seemed.

When I was asked to perform for Jane’s funeral, of course I agreed. I was the sole music for a wedding ceremony, and now I was to join other musicians in a funeral.

I’ll tell you why this isn’t as strange as it might at first sound. Those of you who know my story, know I began to play the Bowls anew with the passing of a dear friend and mystic. Soon after this, I was playing Bowls for a friend who was making his transition too. That was the time the Bowls began to play differently than they ever had played before. People felt the difference. No one could name it, but the sensation they had listening to my Tibetan and Crystal Bowl performances was unlike any others they had heard or felt. In these transitions of dear and important friends, the Bowls and I changed.

I began to buy more Bowls once I was set on this mission of BowlSounds playing. For a while, every time I bought a new Bowl, someone I knew passed on. Really young people, not just older people I knew, were making their transition suddenly. I finally said to What Is that if I were to have this job I had to purchase Bowls without causing people to leave the planet. Otherwise I would stop playing entirely! With that, I was able to buy Bowls, or receive Bowls from others, without people passing on. That was a real relief. It might have been deemed superstitious, but if such things happened to you, you’d want to be sure that whatever powers might be wouldn’t continue having people pass on every time you bought a particular thing you needed for your work too.

The message I got at the time was simply that, when used consciously and correctly, the Crystal and Tibetan Bowl performances were about helping people make transitions. That didn’t at all mean people had to transition out of their current bodies. Instead it meant that the Bowl performances were intended to be transformational. Things couldn’t get better for people, they could not evolve, and have things stay the same.

So the power of the BowlSounds performances comes from that sound that some have called “Home” “The Universe” “Other Planes” “Inner Dimensions” “Music of the Spheres” and such. The Bowl performances are intended to help people make transitions and transformations in their lives, to better connect with their innermost Self, to feel a sense of Universal Love, and to transform the limits of the outer into the Endless Possibilities that vibrate within us all.

To me, performing for a funeral of a friend literally meant to help her in her transition, as well as help friends and family connect and transform into their new lives as well.

BowlSound performances are always about connecting on new levels, reaching for other realms, transitioning from one level of awareness to another.

Helping people transition from this plane to another is not so different from helping people transition from the mundane to the spiritual, from the outer to the inner, from the single life to the wedded life. Each moment that we sense is larger than mundane life is perfect for Crystal and Tibetan Singing Bowl performances, if those performances are done properly, with right intent and awareness.

BowlSounds is always about Beyond the obvious or mundane. They mean to connect us to the idea that every place, every moment, every situation, is of cosmic importance, occurring on sacred ground. No matter where you are, or are not, or what you are doing, or being.

Even funerals.

If you want things to get better, that is, to change, then the BowlSounds can help you tune into those transformational powers.

Perhaps that was why ultimately I had to get back to Music and the Crystal and Tibetan Singing Bowls. I am too much of a Scorpio to be able to ignore transitional and transformational work, and the BowlSounds are sure to do just that for us all.