Ciaran Hope, Creator of the Music for the Hollywood film “The Letters”

Sacred Music Radio was delighted to interview the well-known composer Ciaran Hope, creator of the music for the Hollywood film “The Letters” which was based on the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Ciarán spent a year working on the music, which was recorded with the Macedonian Radio Symphonic Orchestra in Mother Teresa’s hometown of Skopje Macedonia and the New Dublin Voices Choir in her spiritual birthplace of Dublin Ireland. Sony Classical released the soundtrack album in 2016.

Born and raised in Ireland, Ciaran was already reading music at the age of three before he was reading English, later studying composition at the DIT Conservatory of Music and at the Prague Conservatory before attending the UCLA film-scoring programme on a Fulbright Scholarship. Ciaran is also a graduate of BMI’s prestigious Conducting Workshop, where a select group of just eight composers out of their 400,000 are chosen to spend two weeks working intensely with a conductor and live musicians at the musicians union in Los Angeles.

His music has been the recipient of several awards such as the IMRO prize at the RTE Musician of the Future in Ireland, the International Solstice Composition Prize, a National Training Commission for Film and Television Bursary and an Arts Council of Ireland Postgraduate Award. His music was a finalist at the 2012 Park City Film Music Festival, the International Clarinet Association Composition Contest and the International Song for Peace Contest. He was a member of the orchestrating team on the score of the feature film The Insider, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Ciaran recently completed a much anticipated violin concerto for the celebrated Irish violinist Cora Venus Lunny, with the support of a prestigious Arts Council Project Bursary Award.

The music you wrote for the film The Letters has been really moving for so many people. How can you see music improving people’s lives?

Music has an amazing power over our spirit. It carries us through our darkest hours and helps us celebrate our joyous occasions. It has an amazing power to still the mind and help remove the static noise that life often inserts into our thought process. For those that perform music, the practice often elevates us to out of body experiences during performances and composers can have similar experiences while channeling ideas onto our manuscripts.  This particular meditative aspect of music seriously influenced the sound of my score. I felt that Mother Teresa, this simple human being, deserved a simple score to represent her honestly. To capture this unassuming characteristic, I predominately used strings in the orchestra, with a small woodwind section and for the most part, no brass. I also chose to represent Mother Teresa’s resilient spirit with solo cello. It was interesting because musically, everything had to be extremely subtle, so as to keep the music in the correct humble yet reverend state. The result is a highly contemplative soundtrack where the spiritual suggestiveness of the music, in particular with choir and orchestra, becomes apparent.

Clearly so much of your music is what people would call sacred music. What events in your life or your background have enabled you to create such beautiful music or is it all an amazing natural ability?

I think the most significant thing driving my compositional process these days is my meditation. It was the cornerstone of my process when composing both the score and my violin concerto. I try to imagine myself as a channel for the music rather than inserting my ego as a creative intermediary.  I guess the journey started in my youth, when I was raised Irish Catholic and given a deep yet gentle grounding in religion and spirituality. In school, I feel some of the priests teaching us were incredibly smart and contemplative men who started to make me think deeply about the meaning of existence. By the time I moved to California, I believe my mind was ready to take a spiritual journey. This started in earnest when I discovered Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet by accident in a St. Vincent De Paul store in downtown LA. Around the same time I took some meditation classes that explored new age concepts such as aura healings and how our spiritual energy flows in our bodies. Finally, after a lot of searching and reading I found myself involved in a contemplative meditation practice where the goal is simply to still the mind and listen to the sound of creation within us. It is with this daily practice, and though this state of being that my music is now created.

How do you see your future career progressing?

It’s very hard to see the future. I am a strong believer in fate and just work hard and let my ‘karma’ unfold.

At Sacred Music Radio we would like sacred music to become more popular. How do you think this could be achieved?

I think there is a growing awareness of sacred music. In Ireland for example, there is presently a huge resurgence in community choirs and as a result a massive amount of sacred choral music is getting performed all of a sudden. As people’s awareness grows, their desire to be further exposed to sacred or spiritually driven music is nurtured. On a personal level, I see this manifesting itself in my most performed music over the last year – my sacred choral compositions. I think as more westerners are exposed to eastern philosophies and spiritual practices, their curiosity will naturally lead them to the sacred and spiritual music that is available in the World. A sacred music radio station is a fantastic start. I wish there were more programmes on radio around the world doing what you are doing at Sacred Music Radio to be perfectly honest!

You have studied with so many amazing masters of music. Who has influenced you the most and how?

Every single composition teacher I have studied with has left his or her mark on me. My very first composition teacher was a man called Joe Groocock. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, I spent 5 years studying with Joe and during that time, his bible was Bach. His most common gentle rebuke was to ask, “Would Bach have done that?” The works of Bach were his life-long study and he was tireless in encouraging me to emulate this – Fugues and canons were regular events! I also spent 2 years studying with the wonderful Eibhlis Farrell and it was only recently when I was teaching some students about one of her choral pieces that I realized just how much her choral music had influenced mine. I hear echoes of her work in my choral writing for The Letters and I hadn’t realized just how much I had imbibed during our time together. My other major composition teacher was the Czech composer Ladislav Kubik. I spent 4 summers lugging my scores off to Prague to spend a month studying at Charles University and The Prague Conservatoire with him and he absolutely changed my life. He opened me up to the possibilities of ‘what if….”. I took off my training wheels and somehow started to let the creativity flow, and this embryonic method of writing that I began to develop turned into the meditative contemplative creative style of composing that I practice to this day. It may seem strange to cite it, but I consider my meditation teachers to have been significant influences on my compositional habits. In particular the teachings by Sant Baljit Singh of the Sant Mat meditative practice have evolved my philosophical understanding of creativity and its intertwined relationship with our spiritual development. At this point they are one in the same to me. I interpret music from the ether that I didn’t create and hope that people recognize it for what it is. It’s a very free way to create and I have felt much closer to my music since I have embraced this understanding of my process.

 

Sacred music from the world’s religions what effect have you seen it have on people?

I think this question is best answered from a personal experience. I recently attended a performance of my “Agnus Dei” in the Rome’s imposing Pantheon. Originally built by Marcus Agrippa in 27 BC, the venue is one of the eternal cities most ancient temples. Tears streamed from many of the singers eyes as the choir performed the piece. It stunned me to see the deep connection that the performers were experiencing with the music. I have attended several performances of the piece and another common occurrence during a performance is for the audience to get quieter and quieter until you can literally hear a pin drop. I wrote the music in such a way as to mirror my own daily decent into a deep meditative state and have been pleasantly surprised to see audiences undergo a sort of light meditative experience for themselves while experiencing a performance! For me, music is a gateway to the soul and a way for us to subtly experience the sound of the creator.

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Interview with Andras Corban Arthen

Rev. Andras Corban Arthen is the spiritual director of the EarthSpirit Community, a religious and educational organization dedicated to the preservation of Earth-centered spirituality, particularly the indigenous European traditions; he is also president of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, and serves on the board of advisors of the Ecospirituality Foundation. He has been a presenter at many interfaith events, including the 1993, 2004, and 2009 Parliaments, and the 2007 World Interreligious Encounter.

Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss his work and the importance of music within paganism.

1) Could you give us some background on yourself?

I am originally from Galiza, in the northwest of Spain. I was raised in Spain, as well as in the Caribbean, but I’ve spent most of my life in the United States. I live as part of an intentional community in Glenwood, a small working farm situated in the middle of a forest, in the Berkshire Hills at the western end of the state of Massachusetts. I am the spiritual director of The EarthSpirit Community, an Earth-centred group which I founded back in 1977. I am currently a Vice-Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, one of the oldest and largest interfaith organizations, which hosts events in various parts of the world that bring together anywhere from 7,000-10,000 people from all religions and spiritual paths to explore ways to find mutual respect and understanding so that, together, we can help address some of the world’s greatest problems. And I am president of the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, an organization which was founded in Lithuania in 1998 to promote the preservation and restoration of the pre-Christian indigenous religions of Europe.

2) For our listeners that don’t know as much about Earth centered spirituality, could you give us a bit more information?

Earth-centered spirituality refers to religious or spiritual traditions whose teachings and practices have evolved from a direct communion with the natural world. A lot of these traditions focus more on experiential approaches to the Sacred – including animism and mysticism – instead of emphasizing religious dogma or revealed scriptures. They often are tribal or communitarian in structure. The best and most accessible examples of Earth-centered spirituality can be found among indigenous peoples around the world.

3) What work do you do with EarthSpirit Community?

A big part of my role in EarthSpirit is to do outreach work on behalf of the organization. I travel a good deal, teaching, lecturing, engaging in interreligious dialogue, attending various conferences, giving interviews, developing connections with like-minded communities and organizations, etc. My work with the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and with the European Congress of Ethnic Religions, is a direct extension of the work I do on behalf of EarthSpirit. In addition to this, within EarthSpirit I also help to lead ceremonies, conduct rites of passage, perform legal handfastings (pagan weddings), provide spiritual counseling to members, and help organize our various events.

4) Through your work with MotherTongue, which brings together vocal and instrumental music, you have witnessed first hand the impact music can have. How important do you feel music is in bring together people of different faiths?

I think that it is, in fact, one of the most important and effective ways to bring together people of different religions. Music is a universal language, and because it is so familiar and so accessible, it can easily break down whatever walls of fear and prejudice may exist among people. This was brought home very powerfully to us at the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, where pagans made our first significant appearance before the global interreligious community. The term “pagan,” of course, has long been burdened with negative connotations, the result of prejudices and misconceptions which have existed for centuries. We knew that a lot of people at the Parliament would have misgivings regarding our presence there, and we went prepared with workshops, panel discussions, literature to hand out, and so on; but we still encountered a good bit of resistance and wariness. Then MotherTongue performed a concert of pagan sacred music – some of it traditional, some original – which also included stories, poetry, dance, costumes; in short, all of the elements of a religious ritual, but presented as a performance. The response far surpassed our wildest expectations: people of all faiths joined in the chants, danced in the aisles, and many came up to us afterwards with tears in their eyes, to tell us how much the music had moved them, how it had reached them deep inside and awakened in them a clear understanding of who we were, of what our spiritual traditions were about. In the space of an hour-and-a-half, prejudice was shattered and replaced with joy, with acceptance, with respect; and from that point forward, every single presentation at the Parliament was standing-room only.

5) In 1991, you worked as representation of the indigenous European traditions at the United Nation interfaith conference on Religion and Prejudice- do you feel that has been much improvement or development in this area since?

Without a doubt. The high point of that conference, for me, was when the panelist representing Christianity openly stated that the best thing Christians could do, as their contribution to a dialogue on how religion can help eliminate prejudice, was simply to be silent and to listen. Christianity, he said, was responsible for much of the religious-based prejudice found in the world, so he suggested that Christians should listen, for a change, to some of the victims of that prejudice – particularly indigenous peoples and pagans – in order to understand the extent of the harm that has been done in the name of their religion, and then, to ask forgiveness and seek to make reparations to those who are still being victimized. I have spent forty years spreading the awareness – especially throughout the interreligious movement – that the various traditions which came to be labeled “pagan” actually represented the indigenous cultures and religions of Europe; that they endured atrocities similar to those suffered by indigenous peoples in other lands; and to underscore the fact that some of those traditions have nevertheless managed to survive into the present. In 1993, the first modern Parliament of the World’s Religions was held, and the Parliament, as one of the foundational organizations of the global interfaith community, has helped create an environment where that message could be heard and heeded. As a result, entities such as the European Congress of Ethnic Religions have been formed to preserve and to foster what little has survived of the indigenous European traditions, and to develop bonds of solidarity with other indigenous communities and organizations throughout the world. Just judging from the increasing number of invitations I’ve been receiving to speak and teach about this subject, I’d say that there’s definitely a growing awareness and interest about it.

6) What was the most moving part of the 2015 Parliament of World Religion at Salt Lake City?

There were two things in particular which were extremely meaningful for me. On the one hand, I was deeply moved to see my son and my daughter – who are in their twenties – play a central role in organizing and managing the Parliament’s program for young people. They both attended the first modern Parliament in 1993 when they were very young children, and it has remained an important part of their lives as they have grown up. They have participated in the young people’s program several times, speaking and performing at plenaries, offering workshops, taking part in panels, and so on. To see them this time in positions of leadership, giving back to younger people some of the things they have learned and done over the years, made me feel incredibly proud of them. On the other hand, I was very grateful to be invited, along with my dear friend Inija Trinkuniene – who is the krive (supreme priestess) of the Romuva religion of Lithuania – to speak on behalf of the indigenous religions of Europe as part of the Parliament’s Indigenous Plenary. The spontaneous, wildly enthusiastic response we received from the thousands of people in attendance, as well as the words of welcome and kinship expressed by many of the indigenous speakers, were profoundly rewarding.

7) Does music play an important role in Paganism?

Yes, it does. Among neopagans, for example, the evolution of original sacred chants back in the late seventies and early eighties revolutionized the pagan movement: it created a form of universal pagan “liturgy” that enabled people coming from very different paths to experience common ground with one another. Among traditional European pagans, the sacred songs have, in many places, been the key thing which allowed the traditions to endure, even through centuries of Christian religious colonization and acculturation. In Lithuania, for instance, there are thousands of polyphonic dainos which go back to pre-Christian times, and which have been used to transmit the traditional spiritual teachings from one generation to another until the present time.

8) Many believe that the old religions disappeared after Christianity- how do you explain the continuation of paganism?

Because Christianity has had such a major influence over almost all of Western culture, there is a widespread sense that, once a country officially adopted Christianity, all of its citizens became Christians. Although that has mostly been true, it has not been entirely the case. Pockets of indigenous forms of paganism can still be found throughout Europe, mostly in remote rural places where certain conditions exist which have aided their survival. Some of these factors can include, for example, a deeply-rooted ethnic identity; localized anti-Christian sentiments resulting from a variety of reasons; the preservation of the ancestral ethnic language in counterpoint to the official language of that country; an identification of the pagan religion with a strong sense of nationalism and with physical features of the land; the thorough integration of the spiritual practices into the fabric of everyday life, which can render the religion invisible; wariness and secrecy toward outsiders; and political, social, or economic upheavals which have diverted attention from the surviving religion toward more presssing matters. I have spent four decades looking for some of these survivals, and have found a number of them in places ranging from the Gaelic-speaking parts of the Scottish Highlands, to Brittany, Euskal Herria, Lithuania, Latvia, and several of the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe. I am currently working to finish a book detailing my search for indigenous European pagan survivals.

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Interview with Marcus Braybrooke

Revd Dr Marcus Braybrooke is the President of World Congress of Faiths,  co-founder of the Three Faiths Forum, Peace Councilor andauthor.  He and his wife Mary have been involved in interfaith work for 50 years, having joined the World Congress of Faith in 1964. Alongside encouraging interfaith relations in the UK, Marcus has travelled widely to attend interfaith conferences and to lecture. His contribution to the development of inter-religious co-operation and understanding was recognized in 2004, when he was awarded a Lambeth Doctorate of Divinity by the Archbishop of Canterbury. To find out more about Revd Dr Marcus’ work, please visit here. Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss the current shape of interfaith relations, and the role music has in it.

How do you think we can best achieve interfaith harmony?

Local activity is very important. This week is the National Interfaith Week and Next February there will be World Harmony Week, which is sponsored by UN. It provides a great chance for people to get involved in local events, and encourages people to meet and learn about different religions. Internationally, we are trying to bring pressure on the governments, campaigning at the UN on the major issues. The recent Parliament of World Religion in Salt Lake City discussed topics ranging from the dangers of climate change, hate and war, to women’s rights and we focused on what we can do together.

What do you view as the biggest obstacle to achieving this?

Of course we aware that that there are issues preventing us from achieving harmony. The greatest danger is the way people use religion to embitter  conflicts  and to justify killing other people. For some, actions are deemed acceptable because they are doing so in the name of their God: But a criminal act in the name of God is always a crime against God.  We need to challenge teachings in religion which encourage exclusivity. Many people believe that only one religion is right and all others are wrong. We need to help people recognize that they can still believe in their religion whilst respecting others at the same time.

A lot of that stems from the dogmatic approach to religion that has developed. What can we do to discourage this?

This can be a major obstacle. The issue comes from people taking the texts too literally and not in context of the religious teaching.  For example, you should read the Bible with a mind of Christ- or any scripture it in the light of your overall knowledge of its teaching . If you get a letter from someone you love, and there is a strange letter or sentence within it, you realize the mistake because you know the person, and know they would not be saying that. One of the things that is important about interfaith is that it’s not about watering down a religion. People need to recognize that the more deeply you go into a faith, the more you feel akin with other spiritual people. People of faith meet in the presence of God- it’s a call to get to the very depth of you religion, and that is where the dogmatic approach to religion becomes a problem.

I feel like there needs to a concerted effort to encourage empathy between people of different backgrounds. How do you believe this can be achieved?

The first thing is encouraging people to meet. Hostility comes from a feeling of being estranged. Once you meet, you discover that you make friends and often forget which religion people belong to, as we often use religion as a badge of identity. It’s important that people try and learn about other religions. So much is available online nowadays. Throughout Interfaith Week, this was achieved through people going to other’s places of worship and sharing meals together. Acting together and campaigning for shared goals, such as the environment and animal rights, or helping refugees is one way of achieving this. One way the World Congress of Faith has addressed this is through interfaith worship. People of different faiths pray together. Our last, before the London Olympic Games focused on the Golden Rule, which is to be found in every religion and we heard each religion’s version of it. There is so much we can share.

Michael found himself drawn to the ability of sacred music to unite people after he trained to perform a service called the Universal Worship Service- was there a significant moment in your past that led to you focusing your work on encouraging interfaith relations?  

After writing a book on 1000 world prayers, which draws on prayers from all different traditions, I began to recognize the harmony between them. There are so many words of dogma where faiths disagree, but what motivates me is the mystical tradition, that sense of overwhelming oneness. I was on the underground looking around at the passengers, and could feel the sense of unity. They were not strangers. We are all children of God.

How can we engage with the next generation to ensure that our message of interfaith relations is spread and strengthened?

A lot is happening now at local level. One of the encouraging things about the Parliament of World Religions was the number of young people. There was a great emphasis on youth leadership. Last November there was a World Religious Peace Summit in South Korea, which began with a gathering in the Olympic stadium, and it was full of young people. It demonstrated that in some parts of the world, there is a strong desire from young people to get involved in interfaith activities. In this country, I feel that the encouragement will most likely come from the activist approach.  However, a lot comes down to where you live. In some areas, people are very accepting of multi-faith communities, having lived in one for years, yet others still view it as a novelty. Encouraging spirituality, as opposed to doctrine is important.  . The real sharing is getting people to meet through hearts and minds, not just through theology.

Do you think that music from spiritual traditions has a capacity to connect tradition and modern life?

Music is tremendously important. I have stressed in the past the need to get away from the verbal. We had a wonderful concert in London that ended with Peter Gabriel’s arrangement of music from different traditions. For everyone, the highlight of the Parliament of World Religions was a concert with musical contributions from all traditions. At that level, we were moving beyond our particularities. The reasons we get together don’t have to be specifically religious. The Three Faiths Forum has a mixed choir, where members come from lots of different traditions, and they just come together to enjoy the singing. Similarly at the Parliament of World Religion in Salt Lake City – one of the most moving moments was when there was a great choir of children singing together. Music is a great way of bringing people together.

How do you feel Sacred Music Radio can develop to further help build interfaith relations?

First, the music encourages inner peace and harmony and may help us to appreciate other cultures. Sometimes the stories of those who wrote music are inspiring. It will be good to hear from people what it is about sacred music that moves them, and works towards further breaking down barriers and encouraging a longing for universal peace.

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Interview with Jonathan Arnold

Rev. Dr Jonathan Arnold is the Chaplain of Worcester College and a professor of theology at Worcester College, Oxford. Dr Arnold specializes in Reformation History and Music and Theology, having recently written ‘Sacred Music in Secular Society’. After studying at St Peter’s College Oxford, Dr Arnold went on to train as a singer at the Royal Academy of Music, from where he became a Vicar-Choral in the choir of St Paul’s Cathedral and a member of The Sixteen. Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss the changing face of sacred music.

How do you feel we can best encourage sacred music amongst the younger generation?

The demographic of people who are spending their money or time to listen to sacred music has traditionally been perceived as the middle aged and above. However, what we are seeing now is diversity in our culture, which allows people of all generations to engage with a wide of variety of music from different cultures and places. This has meant that it has become something that is accessible to the young as well as the older generation.

A key way to encourage sacred music amongst the younger generations is through education. One aspect of education that I consider to be a priority in schools is an engagement with different art forms in classes, whether that be music, visual art, or literature that come from different cultures. What we don’t want to lose in our schools is a sense of the diversity of the sacred in the different cultures of our world. Once people are exposed to different forms of sacred culture, they can experience them for themselves and undertake their own exploration of what they may want to follow.

You focus a lot on diversity in schools, how do you think we can achieve interfaith harmony outside of the classroom?

In one word- music. One of the great things about music is that it can break down faith barriers and within faiths; it can break down denominational barriers. I am reminded of an interview I carried out with Peter Phillips, the conductor of the Tallis Scholars. He told me that in his concerts, there is no speaking. One of the reasons for this is that if someone stands up and states that they are Roman Catholic, immediately someone else will say they are something else. We create a division when we try and decide if a piece of music is part of Catholic liturgy or of another denomination, rather than letting the music speak for itself.  When we listen to a piece of choral music by Byrd, Victoria, Bach or Rutter we need not necessarily say that it is Catholic music as such, it is just music.

You yourself performed classical choral repertoire- what was it within sacred music that moved you the most?

One of the wonderful things about music is that it can be enjoyed and appreciated by everyone. I might be moved by Arabic or Jewish chants as equally as I would be by western music of the Christian tradition. Within the interfaith situation, we can appreciate that and see that it comes from the same source, which is, of course, a divine source. We shouldn’t need to explain that because music and sacred art goes beyond words, which can so often create boundaries between faiths and cultures. Music can take us to a place where words are not necessary, as music reveals something of the ineffable reality of the unknowable divine. It is speaking of the inexplicable.

Do you think that sacred music can help us to understand and interpret what is mystical in our lives?  

One of the reasons for the popularity of sacred music, both within and outside a religious context, is that it takes away the need for an ascent to a particularity institutional religion. If you are listening to a particular piece of music, you can ascent to it without necessarily following a strict doctrine or creed. That is why people enjoy going to concerts of sacred music, or listening to it online or on a recording, because they are not required to kneel down and pray etc. They can take the music on its own terms and move to a place beyond words.

Based on your belief that the sacred can take us to a place beyond words, do you think that sacred music can help us understand spirituality as personal?

A lot of sacred music in its original composition is tied to its function within a religious institution or organization. Yet, what is happening now is that people are accessing sacred music in ways that are not related to institute religion. The interesting question is how do institutional religions respond to that fact? Is it time for faith to reclaim sacred music as part of the religious tradition and make people aware of its function within a faith context or is it enough for sacred music to stand-alone? The future role of sacred music is certainly an interesting area to watch.

In your latest work, ‘Sacred Music in Secular Society’, you suggest that the spiritual nature of sacred music continues to hold an immense attraction in the secular society. Could you expand on this?  

The book is a study of how we in the west are consuming sacred music, by which I mean how we access sacred music and the context within which we listen to it and engage with it. Within the book, I mainly focus on western sacred music, specifically Western Europe from the early Middle Ages through to today. If we look at how Christian sacred music is now being accessed, it is not necessarily being heard within a liturgical context. The rise of digital media has meant that people can access sacred music just about anywhere, either through downloads or live streaming. It is a way for people to bring sacred music out of the church setting and into their home.

How have you seen attitudes change towards sacred music?

There has already been a huge rise in interest in sacred music, and this interest goes beyond the liturgical settings- attendance to cathedrals in Britain has risen sharply. People are going to cathedral worship in much greater numbers then they did 20 years ago, which is one indicator. Another is how popular sacred music has become within classical music and in the concert halls. Before I became a chaplain at Worcester Collage, Oxford, I was in fact a practicing professional singer, and I performed in a cathedral setting and on a concert stage with various choirs. It was whilst working with these choirs that I was able to see how audiences, as opposed to congregations, reacted and responded to sacred music. Sacred music has not only become more accessible than it ever has been in world history, but it is now more easily consumed and desired by the public.

What direction do you see your upcoming work taking you in regards to the role of sacred music?

In the research I have undertaken so far, I have focused on case studies of performers, composers and listeners. Through these, I engaged with the professionalization of sacred music, undertaking interviews with people who have informed opinions about sacred music in our society including Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Moving forward, my research is taking a sociological and psychological approach. I will be focusing on two categories of listeners, cathedral congregations and concert audiences. I have two surveys on the go, which can be found here http://www.experienceofmusic.org/. Through these surveys I hope to understand how people respond to music in a particular settings and come to some conclusions as to where the sacred is concentrated in our society and how people use the language of sacred music.

Is there a particular piece of sacred music that you favour?

There is no one piece of music that I favour. Music can often be a surprising joy and I am always keen to hear new music and gain more experience. There is so much powerful and wonderful music that has been written that I sometimes return to the great works of Bach or Palestrina, for example, but there are some great living composers of sacred music that I am optimistic for its future in our society.

How do you feel Sacred Music Radio can develop to further help build interfaith relations?

Would it be possible to have tracks ready to play on demand and would it be a good idea to have podcasts of interviews?  

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Interview with Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar is a former monk and long-term peace and environmental activist. Inspired in his early 20s by the example of the British peace activist Bertrand Russell, Satish embarked on an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage. In 1973, he settled in the UK, taking the position of Editor ofResurgence and Ecologist Magazine, a position he continues to hold. If you would like to find out more about Satish, you can read his autobiography ‘No Destination’, alongside his other books including ‘You Are, Therefore I Am: A Declaration of Dependence’.

Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss the current shape of interfaith relations, and the role music has in it.

In your 60s you undertook a truly amazing pilgrimage with your friend, which saw you cover the 8,000 mile journey from India to America- How did this incredible journey change you?

Going around the world without any money gave me a sense of profound trust in people and in the universe. The idea that someone could go through Muslim countries, Christian countries, capitalist countries, the wilderness, and the desert and can survive gave me a profound trust and faith in people.

How do we feel we can best achieve interfaith harmony?

We have to see people as people, and then whatever occasion you are organising, always consider bringing people of different faiths. Different faiths should be celebrated, not viewed as a division or source of conflict. It is wonderful to have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews and many other faiths, as it creates a diversity of philosophy, religion and faith. It would be boring if 7 billion people on this earth were all following the same religion or faith. If you have a garden, you wouldn’t want one with only roses, you would want many different types of flowers to create a beautiful garden. In the same way, you need many different types of faiths to make our world a broad, varied and all embracing place. We should celebrate the diversity of religion in the same way we celebrate biodiversity, national diversity, and linguistic diversity. There is no religion that is better than another. We have to say that religion is not truth-truth is in religion. You are looking for truths. All paths lead to God. Whatever way you follow, you can follow the paths and practice to live in harmony in the universe.

What do you believe the biggest obstacle will be to achieving this?

The most difficult obstacle to interfaith relations is the conditioning of our minds. We have been conditioned to think that one religion is better than another and we have a narrow self-interest to only promote our religion. We have to look beyond our narrow interest and consider our common ground. If you look deeply, you will find that all religions have more in common than they do differences, such as love for the earth, compassion and a sense of service. The best way to bring harmony is to highlight the way we all come together and share our visions. The differences are small but we exaggerate them and highlight them rather than commonality- the best way to overcome our divisions is to highlight our similarities.

Do you think music from spiritual traditions has a capacity to connect tradition and modern life?

Music is a great power of uniting people. When you are singing together, you don’t have differences as these melt away as you sing. We transcend our divisions and become one, we are members of one human community Music is the best way to unite people and for us to participate in singing.

Is there a particular piece of music that you feel promotes interfaith harmony the best?

There are many kinds of musical traditions, and I find them all wonderful. I enjoy sitar music, which is played by many Muslims in India, as much as I enjoy more accomplished musicians in the West, such as John Tavener. When they play, you are moved and transported to another world and inspired, regardless of whether you are Hindu, Muslim or Christian. This is why I believe the tradition of sacred music is very important.

How do you feel we can best spread this message amongst the younger generation?

The best way to engage with the younger generations is to invite them to musical or interfaith events. I feel like young people are hungry for these experiences. In the 60s, Bob Dylan and the Beatles had a deep love for peace and were great with engaging with younger people. We need to find some music that is accessible to young people. John Lennon’s song Imagine moved millions of young people, so we need to find music that inspires and moves young people in this era. Music can inspire. You can marry popular music with music that has deeper spiritual values, which is what they achieved in the 60s- they had great ideas, which were spiritual and uplifting.

What do you think is the best way of improving our environmental and ecological awareness?

The best way is to understand that the freedoms we enjoy are limited. We cannot have unlimited things which create global warming, climate change, pollution of the oceans etc. All these kinds of activities will lead to a disaster for humanity and the earth, and therefore we have to restrain our consumption and live an elegantly simple life. Elegant simplicity should be embraced- when you have a life of elegant simplicity, you can have a life beautiful things, good food, well made clothes which last a long time, houses which are built by hand which are ascetically beautiful and you are happy. Have a few things, but have good things that last a long time so that you don’t waste anything. If we can eliminate pollution and waste and celebrate the gift of the earth that we are receiving every day, we can stop the destruction that is happening.

In some of your work, you speak of the ways in which modern education fails to equip students for life. What do you think it is about practicing real skills over acquiring theoretical knowledge that enhances our lives?

Within education, I work on two projects. The first is the Small School in Hartland, Devon, which is a school for young children aged 11-16. These children learn how to grow and cook food, build houses and make things with their hands. We believe that children should have the education of the head, heart and the hands, which does also involve academic education. However, we also recognise the need to have feelings and emotions, and we need to develop how we feel and how to cultivate our feelings of compassion and joy. All these values are just as important as learning mathematics or physics. Development of the heart and the head should go hand in hand together. Through hands, we can manifest our imagination into reality. We should not be teaching our children to just be consumers, we should be teaching them to be makers and creators. Don’t think about consuming, think about making and consumption will follow- when you have cooked something, you will then eat it. I want to emphasis the practical education of young people, where they learn skills of life.

The second project is Schumacher Collage, where the students participate in practical things, such as gardening, and cooking. This way head, heart and hands are included in the education of the older students. We believe subjects shouldn’t be divided into departments as it encourages isolation. All the subjects are interconnected; we have to consider how they all fit together, as we need to find a balance and a harmony. Education is very close to  my heart, and through these projects I hope we can create a holistic education that is not compartmentalised.

The third project is editing Resurgence & Ecologist magazine which is an educational publication presenting a holistic world view.  Through Resurgence & Ecologist we promote culture, conservation and community values. We have regular articles on social justice, ethical living, spirituality and environmental sustainability.  The magazine was established in 1966 so next year we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary at Worcester College, Oxford from 22nd – 25th September.

Through these three projects I have been able to make a small contribution in the ongoing awareness about the values of good life and good society.  It has been my privilege and joy to be of service in a small and humble way to humanity and to the earth.

http://www.resurgence.org/

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Interview with Rev Frank Phillips

Rev C Frank Phillips is the current pastor of St John Cantius Parish, which is a patron of sacred music. After receiving a Master of Divinity from St Louis University, Phillips was ordained as a priest and went on to each music history and theory at a high school for 11 years. Since becoming pastor of St John Cantius Parish in 1988, Phillips has established Saint John Cantius as a parish renowned for its commitment to renewing the sacred liturgy and classical Church Music.

Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss community’s reaction to sacred music.

How do you feel we can encourage spiritual and sacred music amongst the younger generations?  

I believe they first have to experience the music by hearing it. Recordings are a start, but the impact by hearing it in the context for which it was written has a lasting effect.

You continue to promote sacred music at Saint John Cantius Parish, what drew you to becoming a Patron of Sacred Music?  

Simply put, it was my musical background. Using the sacred music at Mass and devotions comes from my acquaintance with Monsignor Hellriegel and Monsignor Schuler and from the studying of the Vatican II documents on the Sacred Liturgy as well as previous papal documents on Sacred Music.

What work does your parish do to promote sacred music, not only within the church but also in the local community?

We use brochures which list the times and renditions used along with the Internet and word of mouth.

Do you think that music from spiritual traditions has a capacity to connect tradition and modern life?

Without a doubt. Our young people are thirsting for this type of music, because it draws them into the mystery of what is being celebrated. How can one be a Mass listening to say the Creed of one of Mozart’s Masses and not be moved?

Many people believe that sacred music helps build interfaith relations, how you think we can best achieve interfaith harmony?

Many of our choral members and orchestra members are from different faiths. The music brings everyone together in a unique way. This is a different form of evangelization. In fact some members who either sang or played at St. John’s have become Catholic.

Do you find it difficult bringing sacred music to your parish on a regular basis?

The clergy play a big part in promoting good sacred music. The main obstacle we face is that the Church will have to learn to pay good musicians a good living wage. If you have volunteers for key positions, you may just get what volunteers can offer.

What are your thoughts on the dogmatic approach to religion?

Dogma invites one to delve into the mysteries of our faith. Without the solid dogmas, which the Church teaches, we may just have feelings-and feelings change.

After having looked at Sacred Music Radio (http://sacredmusicradio.org ), and gained a better understanding of its aims, what direction would you like it to head?

What would be a thought is to use the media for further education as well as invitations to learn more on the part of the listeners.

Rev C Frank Phillips is the current pastor of St John Cantius Parish, which is a patron of sacred music. After receiving a Master of Divinity from St Louis University, Phillips was ordained as a priest and went on to each music history and theory at a high school for 11 years. Since becoming pastor of St John Cantius Parish in 1988, Phillips has established Saint John Cantius as a parish renowned for its commitment to renewing the sacred liturgy and classical Church Music.

Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss community’s reaction to sacred music.

How do you feel we can encourage spiritual and sacred music amongst the younger generations?  

I believe they first have to experience the music by hearing it. Recordings are a start, but the impact by hearing it in the context for which it was written has a lasting effect.

You continue to promote sacred music at Saint John Cantius Parish, what drew you to becoming a Patron of Sacred Music?  

Simply put, it was my musical background. Using the sacred music at Mass and devotions comes from my acquaintance with Monsignor Hellriegel and Monsignor Schuler and from the studying of the Vatican II documents on the Sacred Liturgy as well as previous papal documents on Sacred Music.

What work does your parish do to promote sacred music, not only within the church but also in the local community?

We use brochures which list the times and renditions used along with the Internet and word of mouth.

Do you think that music from spiritual traditions has a capacity to connect tradition and modern life?

Without a doubt. Our young people are thirsting for this type of music, because it draws them into the mystery of what is being celebrated. How can one be a Mass listening to say the Creed of one of Mozart’s Masses and not be moved?

Many people believe that sacred music helps build interfaith relations, how you think we can best achieve interfaith harmony?

Many of our choral members and orchestra members are from different faiths. The music brings everyone together in a unique way. This is a different form of evangelization. In fact some members who either sang or played at St. John’s have become Catholic.

Do you find it difficult bringing sacred music to your parish on a regular basis?

The clergy play a big part in promoting good sacred music. The main obstacle we face is that the Church will have to learn to pay good musicians a good living wage. If you have volunteers for key positions, you may just get what volunteers can offer.

What are your thoughts on the dogmatic approach to religion?

Dogma invites one to delve into the mysteries of our faith. Without the solid dogmas, which the Church teaches, we may just have feelings-and feelings change.

After having looked at Sacred Music Radio (http://sacredmusicradio.org ), and gained a better understanding of its aims, what direction would you like it to head?

What would be a thought is to use the media for further education as well as invitations to learn more on the part of the listeners.

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Interview with Mario Reading

Mario Reading is a renowned author and expert on French apothecary and seer, Nostradamus. He has written a number of books on Nostradamus, including The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus, alongside a number of novels, which feature the John Hart Series. During a nomadic youth, after studying Literature at the University of East Anglia, Reading sold rare books, taught riding in Cape Town, studied dressage in Vienna, played polo in India, France, Spain, and Dubai, ran a seventy horse polo stables in Gloucestershire, and helped manage his Mexican wife’s coffee plantation.

Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss the attraction of Nostradamus.

You are viewed as a ground breaking expert on Nostradamus, the French apothecary and seer- what drew you to the area in particular?

I grew up in the South of France, and of course Nostradamus is a big figure there. He was actually born about 40 miles from where I lived, so I have always heard of him. You can’t go through Province without seeing statues and his old house, so I was very aware of him.

A friend of mine was commissioned to write a book about Nostradamus, and hadn’t realised how difficult it was to translate from the old French, and years ago he asked me to look at the translations, and I got interested. I realised I could do the old French and a publisher at Watkins said they would love to have a book on Nostradamus, would I write one. So I did a small one, and finally I did a complete Nostradamus. I had the historical and writing background to back up the ideas.

How did Nostradamus go about getting the visions that have gained him so much attention?

He wrote them in rhyming quatrains (4 lines). I don’t think he even thought they would be successful. The quatrains only came out in the last 11 years of his life, and quite surprisingly for everyone, they became quite successful. The way he worked on them, from what I can tell from his own writing, was quite intuitively. He would fill up a copper basin with water and then put ink into the water so that the water was black, and he would take copious amounts of nutmeg, which is a hallucinogenic. He would then put a cloth over his head, look into the water and just let himself go. He would dictate anything he saw while in the trance to his secretary. I think he genuinely felt that if he could open up the future to the world, then they might be able to change it for the better.

He thought that by learning from the past, we could really change the future, and he was writing, as far as I can tell, with a 700-year view. If you take that he was writing in the 16th century and writing through to the 21st century, he honestly thought that if the world listened to him, some of the horrible things could be stopped.

You’re latest work on Nostradamus offers an interesting insight into what is to come- what has recently occurred that confirms Nostradamus’ predictions?

My most recent book, The Complete Prophecies for the Future, which I wrote back in 2005, contains a lot of the prophecies, which have since come true. The ecological disasters are one example. There is also the quatrain about Hilary Clinton: Nostradamus writes about the masculine woman who will exert herself to the north, who will annoy Europe and almost the rest of the world, pushing it to a breaking point. Also the financial disaster of 2008 and the North Korean Crisis of 2006 are all well index dated. This has all been written down and people can see by looking at the book how correct he has been.

What is the background of Nostradamus- how did he end up discovering his abilities of seeing into the future?

He became a doctor after quite a long trial, and it really came to force with the loss of his wife and children. He was a plague doctor and I think he was utterly tramuatised by that and his in-laws tried to sue him for her dowry after her death, because if a doctor can’t cure his own people, who else can? I think he went on a long walk through Europe, and during that time, he came to the understanding that he had some powers of looking forward. He never thought he was prophet. Rather, he hoped, like a little hole in a cloth, that if he walked towards it, he would be able to see a small bit of the future.

Are there any other spiritual figures that you have explored, or is your focus predominately Nostradamus?

I’ve decided my knowledge is basically Nostradamus. Although the complete collection, which is full of historical writing, might be hard to read, it is interesting. I’m a novelist though, that’s the joke! I’ve written several novels as well as the Nostradamus stuff. The only sidetrack is the Dream Book that I wrote, but that against links back to Nostradamus.

Moving beyond Nostradamus, you are a self-declared Music Obsessive, what affect does listening to music have on you?

I love music, and I’m obsessed with it. I have a collection of well over 1000s of LPs and records at my house. It goes without saying that music overwhelms me- it works in sense that nothing else does on a very profound level. And if one is coming to terms with death, one has to make sure one dies a good death, and I believe music can help with that. In fact I believe it most deeply.

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Interview with Jonathan Goldman

JONATHAN GOLDMAN, M.A. is an international authority on sound healing and a pioneer in the field of harmonics. He is author of numerous books including Healing Sounds, The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing and his latest book The Divine Name, winner of the 2011 Visionary Award for “Best Alternative Health Book”. Jonathan is director of the Sound Healers Association and president of Spirit Music, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado. A Grammy nominee, he has created over 25  best-selling, award winning recordings including “THE DIVINE NAME” (with Gregg Braden),  “REIKI CHANTS”,FREQUENCIES,”, “ASCENSION HARMONICS”, CHAKRA CHANTS”, and his latest “MERKABA OF SOUND”.Jonathan is a lecturing member of the International Society for Music Medicine. He has dedicated his life to the path of service, helping awaken and empower others with the ability of sound to heal and transform. In Spring 2011, Jonathan was named as one of Watkin’s Reviews “100 Most Spiritually Influential People on the Planet.” Also, in 2011, Jonathan was inducted into the Massage Therapy’s Hall of Fame.

Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss the development of sound healing and the role sacred music plays in improving our health.

What drew you into studying music and the impact it has on a person?

I had an experience that changed my life. I had been playing professionally in rock and roll bands since the age of 16, in between going to college, and one night I was playing in Cape Cod. We came in from a break, and started playing and I became aware that the ambience in the club was one of negativity and violence. Understand that, no doubt the alcohol that people were consuming contributed to the atmosphere, but I realised that the music I was creating was not helping the situation. I had the thought- what if music could be used to make people feel better? You have to realise that this was back in the late 1970s- it was a wild time. About two weeks later, this thought shifted slightly, and I started to consider: what if sound could be used to heal. That thought literally shook me to my core. A few days later, someone handed me a piece of paper, and it was a flyer for a workshop on healing with sound, created by a person called Sarah Benson. I took the workshop, and it changed my life- I had a divine experiences in the class, and Sarah has since became a dear friend to me and my wife. I dedicated one of my books, the Seven Secrets of Sound Healing, to her, and we call her the Divine Mother of Sound Healing.

From this experience, I founded The Sound Healers Association. Incidentally, I do not think that dance music or rock and roll music is bad at all. For example the Beatles ‘All You Need is Love’ or their song in which we are told “The love you make is equal to the love you take.” is some of the more extraordinary spiritually uplifting music on the planet. But at the same time, the music I was creating was punk rock/new wave music- it was the only thing you could do as original music at the time. In truth, it was not really positive music. Because of my revelation about the potential healing nature of sound and music, I took my record company, and we became one of the very first therapeutic music companies on the planet. I totally changed everything about the type of music we used, apart from one thing- the name of the company. The company, for some reason, was called Spirit Music. To this day, it is still Spirit Music, and the company is getting on for 35 years.

You yourself established a degree programme on sound healing because of the lack of higher education on the topic- how have you found the success of sound healing in further education since establishing the degree?

I went to school, had my Bachelors Degree in Filmmaking, and then later on, as I began researching the power of sound to heal and transform, I decided to try and get a masters degree. I went to Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and created a programme that looked at the use of sound and music for healing, and to this day, I believe it still exists as an independent subject for people. I came across someone who had her doctorate on the subject from another university. So I imagine this area of study continues to grow. I was originally involved in a doctorate programme which focused on the use of sound for healing, but dropped out after my first book was published. What’s interesting is that most of the focus within higher education has been on the therapeutic aspects of music- music and the brain, music and this and that. Yet, in my latest look, I specifically look at using self created sound because we can all make self created sounds- we can all do some form of singing. It is very different to getting up and singing “God Save the Queen” or some other song, because that is more entertainment. Here, we are talking about using sound as a vehicle to shift and change your brain, your body and your aspiration. This is called entrainment and it is an aspect of physics. When you sound in this manner, you are able to shift and change your vibratory rate. You are at a level of healing and in touch with a higher level of consciousness, manifesting mediation; mindfulness and generally making yourself and other people feel better.

In your work, you have looked at mantras and chakra frequencies. Could you explain the impact these sound have on the mind and body?

We found that when people hear sound, they think of music, and then say don’t know how to play an instrument, so therefore cannot take part. But everyone can, as we are talking about simple, basic sacred sounds, such as “oooo” or “ahhhh” or “Om”. This is one of the reasons why mantras and chakra frequencies are so effective. You don’t need to have a technically good voice or be well versed in music in order to experience the positive effectives. Obviously many of the players on Sacred Music Radio are esteemed musicians, but you also feature music that t is communal, which is very important.

When we listen to music, the sound goes into our ear and brain and it does affect our heartrate, our respiration and our brainwaves, and this is very important. When we work with self-created sounds, we get some really interesting phenomena. I just want to list eight things happen when we listen to sacred music that are scientifically validated:

It increases the oxygen in us, lowers blood pressure and heartbeats, increases lymphatic circulation and produces increased levels of melatonin. Melatonin is used by people for various things- helping to sleep, depression and hormone levels. We all know how powerful stress is in terms of causing illness. If we can reduce stress, we can really heal ourselves. You also get an increase in nitric oxide, which is a molecule associated with the emotion of healing. It is a vascular dilatator, which means it basically opens up and helps the flow of blood through our body. Endorphins are also released, which are those wonderful self-created opiates, which release these natural pain relievers.

You have helped co-ordinate World Sound Healing Day, could you explain to the readers the aim of the event?

First and foremost, the idea behind World Sound Healing Day is that hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, stop for 5 minutes and begin to breath slowly and deeply to create heart-brain coherence, which is where your heart and your brain synchronize and then they make the “ahhhh” sound. They make this sound for about 5 minutes with the intention of creating a sonic valentine for Mother Earth—the Gaia Matrix. The idea is that this encoded sound of light and love can literally shift and change the consciousness of all living things on this planet. Now this may sound like a crazy thing at first. But the heart gives out a electrometric field, as does the brain and when they are in coherence, the field that is created can be anything from 500-5000 greater than when they are out of sync. Then we add the components of sound. And this sound is encoded with the energy of compassion and love. We have people making this sound coupled with the intention of sending love to the planet and it is extraordinary. This idea initially stems from the work of The Global Consciousness project, which is out of Princeton University as well as being coupled with HeartMath Institute in California. With the Global Consciousness Project, they have random number generators, which are computers that just puts out zeros and ones. This is the mathematical equivalent of flipping a coin- out of 100 times you will get 50 zeros and 50 ones. Except, they found that when incidents occur of high compassion, the numbers become less random- you have more ones or more zeros. Now because during events of high compassion, these numbers are so different you can actually graph the results. Normally, if the numbers were even, you would have a straight line. On the World Sound Healing Day website, we have a graph, which looks like a small Mount Everest, which occurred on a prior World Sound Healing Day. This seems to have occurred because of the event of World Sound Healing Day. We are talking about events of high compassion, not events of high excitement such as a sporting event, but rather events like meditation or global prayers such as World Sound Healing Day.

From my perspective, there is a reason why the majority of prayers on our planet are vocalized—they are chanted, they are sung, they are whispered, they are spoken. I believe that very simply sound amplifies the power of prayer. This is one of the reasons why events such as World Sound Healing Day are so effective.

So the idea is that we can literally interface with the energy field of the earth and create shift and change. We have people across the world getting together and doing events where they sound together for 5 minutes. We do an event in Boulder, Colorado where I live and we get a few hundred people together to sound out an ahhhh sound. In the middle of all these people is a crystal bowl filled with water. At the end of making this ahhhh sound, we hand out cups of water from this bowl and the water is so sweet because the vibrational structure of the water has been changed by the sacred sound. A lot of people have not been in situations where they themselves are taking part in making a sound for half an hour or longer and it becomes an amazing spiritual experience. Your nervous system changes, and hormones are released. It is just extraordinary.

You have studied with numerous masters of sound from both the scientific and spiritual tradition- who was the most inspiring?

There was a French Doctor, Alfred Tomatis, who recognised the significance of Gregorian Chanting. In the 1990s, Gregorian chant became very big, and this was due to Dr. Tomatis. He explained how Gregorian chant uses sounds that are high in harmonic frequencies and this stimulates our brains, making us feel better. I want to honor Dr. Alfred Tomatis. Also, I had as a mentor Dr. Peter Guy Manners, from England, who had dedicated his life to working with sound as a healing modality. He was one of the great pioneers in the field of sound healing. He even invented an instrument, which used direct application of sound on the body for healing.

Looking to the future, how do you see the field of sound healing progressing?

My wife and I are finishing a new book on sound. It will be out next year, and we’ve found that the more we research this, the more powerful the evidence is for the impact sound can have. We’re dealing with a sound that anyone can make and yet It’s also an advance yoga sound,. While I’ve never been much of a researcher, as I dropped out of my Ph.D. program to pursue my teaching of sound healing, the scientific and medical evidence about the healing nature of sound is quite amazing. More and more data is manifesting. In the new book, my wife and I are ultimately presenting a hypothesis to suggest that self-created sounds can make new neural synaptic connections in our brain. Such a phenomenon would assist healing people with head injuries and various types of illness in the brain. We now have an understanding of neuroplasticity in the brain, which means we can regenerate and grow new portions of our brain. I believe self-created sound may be one of the simplest and most direct methods of doing this. . I’ve been working on this for several years and it’s a really interesting and exciting aspect of the potential of sound to heal.

One of the main areas we focus on at Sacred Music Radio is the role it has in uniting people from various faiths-how does sacred music achieve this?

When you make sound together with someone, you get a release of oxytocin and all the barriers that may have existed before hand, all of a sudden disappear. That’s one of the reason that people resonate together when they experience sacred music—particularly when they all sound together. All those wonderful levels of oxytocin occur and bring everyone together. At the same time, of course, when we resonate to the energy of sacred music, we are entraining with the Divine. What could be better?

After having looked at Sacred Music Radio, and gained a better understanding of its aims, what direction would you like it to head?

I think it’s so wonderful that you are presenting all this sacred music from across the planet; it’s a brilliant thing. I think that any music that connects you to the Divine is sacred music. Sacred Music Radio lets music interface together. It uplifts them and lets them have a deeper connection to the divine.

I want to leave you with a quote that a friend of mine said. He said ‘sacred sound is the mystical state in vibratory form’, I thought it was great.

JONATHAN GOLDMAN, M.A. is an international authority on sound healing and a pioneer in the field of harmonics. He is author of numerous books including Healing Sounds, The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing and his latest book The Divine Name, winner of the 2011 Visionary Award for “Best Alternative Health Book”. Jonathan is director of the Sound Healers Association and president of Spirit Music, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado. A Grammy nominee, he has created over 25  best-selling, award winning recordings including “THE DIVINE NAME” (with Gregg Braden),  “REIKI CHANTS”,FREQUENCIES,”, “ASCENSION HARMONICS”, CHAKRA CHANTS”, and his latest “MERKABA OF SOUND”.Jonathan is a lecturing member of the International Society for Music Medicine. He has dedicated his life to the path of service, helping awaken and empower others with the ability of sound to heal and transform. In Spring 2011, Jonathan was named as one of Watkin’s Reviews “100 Most Spiritually Influential People on the Planet.” Also, in 2011, Jonathan was inducted into the Massage Therapy’s Hall of Fame.

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World Sound Healing Day- Any sound or thought we have, we heal the planet, we heal ourselves, we heal ourselves and we heal the planet. You can make a difference, it’s our choice.

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Interview with Dan Millman

Dan Millman is the author of numerous books read by millions of people in 29 languages. He teaches worldwide, speaking to men and women from all walks of life, including leaders in the fields of health, psychology, education, business, politics, sports, entertainment and the arts. His lives in New York City and his website is www.peacefulwarrior.com.

His latest book The Four Purposes of Life: Finding Meaning and Direction in a Changing World was released earlier this year, and Sacred Music Radio was fortunate to sit down with him and discuss his work.

How did you go from being a college athlete and coach to writing books about personal and spiritual growth?

In retrospect, it all seems a natural evolution in my case, combining a love for teaching, leading me to first explore how to increase talent for sports, and then into the larger arena of daily life and a quest for those skill-sets that would improve our talent for living.

Given the title of your book, can you give us a short description of the four purposes? And why these four?

As I note in the book’s prologue, people have various ideas about our purpose for living. Some say it’s all about love, or service, or knowing God. One could argue that there are ten or twenty purposes, or as many as there are people. Still, just as we divide the compass into four cardinal directions, it occurred to me (in a moment of lucidity), that we are, most fundamentally, here to learn the lessons of life and all that entails (the first purpose I present in the book); but we can’t ignore that purpose involving our work — our career and in some cases our calling (the second purpose). I wrote a major book, one of my most popular, called The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose, so I couldn’t very well ignore this mysterious system or what it reveals (covered in the third purpose); and finally, I present what may be the most important purpose of all (the fourth purpose) — the one that appears in each arising moment.

In The First Purpose — Learning Life’s Lessons — you suggest that Earth is a perfect school and the daily life is our classroom. Then what are courses we need to pass in order to graduate?

Again, in a previous book — and a course I now present at www.dailyom.com titled “Master the Peaceful Warrior’s Path” — I present twelve gateways or golden keys to self-mastery. These twelve arenas address self-worth, self-discipline, energy, money, mind, intuition, emotions, courage, self-knowledge, sexuality, love, and service. Yet in this new book, we can appreciate these areas as required courses in the school of daily life — what we are really here to master within and through the theater of our work, relationships, and physical challenges.

You wrote, “We learn to ride the shifting tides of emotion like skillful surfers as we grasp the great truth that we don’t need to feel compassionate, peaceful, confident, courageous, happy, or kind—we only need to behave that way.” Isn’t behaving differently from what we feel a form of pretense or denial?

This may be one of the most controversial areas of my teaching, because it runs counter to our dominant social programming and beliefs about how we have to fix or improve our feelings, or quiet our minds, before we can live well. So let me put it in the simplest terms within our context here: It is only possible to show courage when we are feeling afraid of something. Is behaving with courage when we feel afraid denial? I think not. It is the same for any feeling and any action. We can feel whatever we feel, yet behave with kindness, with courage, in a peaceful way. Paradoxically, doing so reflects a warrior’s spirit.

 

The Second Purpose deals with Finding Your Career and Calling. Why is it important to differentiate between a career and a calling?

A primary purpose of this book was to replace confusion with clarity. Just as I draw a clear distinction between self-esteem and self-worth in a previous work, here it seems useful to help people understand that some of us have a higher calling, drive or interest that may or may not be a career (or work that produces income); and that not every career becomes a calling. Sometimes they merge, and sometimes they remain separate in our lives.

 

You write that many young people are pressured to choose a career path before they really know themselves, so they end up choosing what they think they should do rather than what they really want to do. Can you say more about this?

Until we know who we are — our talents, interests, and values — we may make the right choices for the wrong person! Although there are exceptions, social scientists say that early marriage, for example, is the number one predictor of divorce. Similarly, having to pick a long-term career before we understand ourselves often leads to a mismatch between work and emerging values. That’s why I recommend in the book, “Until you find your career and calling, just get a job. Meanwhile, stay open to new opportunities.”

 

The Third Purpose seems the most mysterious, based on a number system and one’s date of birth. Where did you come up with this as the third purpose of life?

As I explain in the book, I learned the fundamental elements of this system from an unusual mentor. Quite skeptical myself at first, how working with the numbers in one’s date of birth could possibly provide accurate information about core elements of one’s life, it was only after working with many, many people and years of study that I fully came to appreciate the power and clarity of this mysterious method, and how it provided deep insight into our individual life path — information usually hidden beneath the distractions of daily life.

 

In The Fourth Purpose, dealing with each arising moment, you suggest that “there’s no such thing as a future decision?” What do you mean by this?

Thinking about doing something is the same as not doing it. We can think about and talk about decisions we are going to make (in the future), but decision are always made by action, in the present moment. The rest is the subjective merry-go-round. As E.M. Forster wrote, “How can I know what I think until I see what I do?”

What steps can someone take to immerse themselves in each moment, and find the flow or the zone, as some athletes experience?

I receive emails from a number of athletes who have experienced what feels like a mystical moment of transcendence, and they want to know how to be in “the zone” all the time. I respond that the quality and intensity of our awareness and attention change all the time. Naturally, there may be some moments that feel extraordinary, when a golfer can “see” the line to the hole with absolute clarity, and a tennis play can put every shot right on the line. We can increase such moments of clarity or absorption by practicing what we do rather than just doing it.

Each of the four purposes leads readers toward greater clarity — even spiritual awakening. In your other books you describe instances of your own awakening. Can you select one recent moment of transcendence and share what you felt with our readers?

Many people love miracles and moments of transcendence — the idea of getting ‘smacked across the head by a Cosmic Oar’ — and many of us pursue such altered states of consciousness by various means and methods. But the reality of my life has been less like a light switch turning on, and more like a dimmer switch slowly turned up, over time and experience — brighter in some moments than others.

Nature has always been my primary teacher — watching streams flow around obstacles, pursuing the path of least resistance; observing how trees grow strong roots, but flexible branches that bend in the wind; how the seasons change in their own rhythmic cycles. The natural world, along with training (in any sport or art) can teach us all the universal laws I describe in another book, The Laws of Spirit.  Now I’m happy to share the four purposes of life that lend meaning and direction to anyone’s life, in any moment — especially helpful for those at a crossroads, in transition, going through changes.

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