Friday 26 January 2001

The sky is grey amp

The sky is grey & overcast, but last night's gale has subsided.

The Consortium meeting considered that the best option was to focus on finding a GC house in Germany before acquiring a property in NJ.

Meetings this morning:

A short meeting with the Kitchen Team at 09.15.
The Level Two to address their tasks for the day.
The Level One for comments on their performance yesterday evening, and their task for the day.

In between, Hernan took several of the staff into the 16th. century cloisters and church, which are the heart of this complex. This 1940s addition we use is built on to that glory, with a 1960s extension to this, as if it were an encrusted wart.

The church has a picture of angels miraculously transporting the house (convent) of St. Loretto. This refers to an historical event: 800 years ago when the convent was threatened by a Muslim army. According to legend, miraculously the house was transported to some 40 miles from here. A recent architectural investigation by the Catholic church has established that the house could not have been constructed from this region.

Many performances over lunch. The following was posted on the board at lunchtime. It is a prĂˆcis of a draft of a working document, but appropriate at this time for these people in this place.

Discipline & The Act Of Music.

i May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse.

ii A key injunction of discipline is to act always in accordance with time, place and person.


The benevolence of the creative impulse

i Just below the surface of our everyday world lie riches. But our everyday perceptions miss what is available. The inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse is simply and readily available to all. Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice, and ears.

ii Sometimes, music leans over and takes us into its confidence. When we have known this for ourselves, our lives are never quite the same again. When angels descend from the heavens on chariots of fire and blow trumpets of gold in our ears, our lives can never be the same again.

iii The question for the aspirant musician becomes: how may this happen again? This is a beginning. Discipline is how we continue to call on music, through many long & quiet years when it appears to have deserted us.

iv Discipline is also how we keep ourselves alert for when music might visit once more. We never know when our Friend might call. This visit is outside our control or volition: this is in the gift of our Friend. What is possible, is to prepare a welcome.

v Discipline is also how we do nothing.

vi Discipline is a way of life; that is, a way of living. Music is a way of living: are we in time and in harmony with ourselves, and others?

The act of music is the music.

vii Music is a quality organised in sound and in time. The quality is eternal. The forms of organisation are governed by time, place and person.

We consider three kinds of time: time's arrow, or sequential time; time's cycle, of periodicity and recurrence; and a particular kind of time where intention is involved: we may think of this last kind of time as "creative time".

In the world of creative time, when a decision is taken, the action has already taken place. In the world of sequential time, we experience this as the future leaning back and pulling a succession of events towards the outcome. The distance between the two - the taking of the decision, and the unfolding sequence of events which lead towards the realisation of that decision - involves all three kinds of time. Our engagement in this process is maintained by discipline.

So, another way of looking at discipline is to say that it confers effectuality through time. This is experienced subjectively as an expansion of our present moment. A present moment is a moment of presence.

So, we can say that discipline addresses:

the duration in linear time of our awareness;
our sense of personal presence;
how to expand our present moment in order to address specific and practical tasks which require extended periods of linear to unfold;

and that this action takes place within society and community.


My Life In The Act Of Music

i This suggests there are alternative futures available to us:

One is the future which is provided by the conditions of our lives - the conditions determined by where we are born, when we are born, and to whom we are born. These conditions are genetic, cultural, historical and, some would say, astrological.

Another future is the future which is possible for us. This is the future which is uniquely available to who we are. This possible future is one we are born to discover and then create for ourselves.

The degree to which we are able to achieve this is significantly determined by the degree to which we acquire discipline.

ii It is not possible for the musician to play music.
But, it is possible that the musician is played by music.

We may not be able to govern the weather, but it is possible that we push the boat onto the lake & raise the sail. The wind may not blow, but if it does, we are ready and available.

The aim of the musician is to create a construct through which music may enter our world.


The Three Disciplines

i The musician has three instruments: the hands, the head and the heart.

A prime aim of discipline is to co-ordinate and harmonise the functioning of these three instruments.

Three words describe the functioning of the hands, the head and the heart: doing, thinking, feeling.

In musical vernacular, these three areas are often simply referred to as technique, ideas, feel.

ii The three instruments are necessary in making judgements. Where the senses fail to render a decision - it looks ok, smells ok, but is it ok? Or an argument is persuasive, or not; the feelings can judge: this feels right, or not.



i Discipline is also a process.

Discipline is "acquired" in a series of stages. With experience, we begin to recognise the discrete quality of each of these stages. There are three stages: the beginning, the middle & the end. Each stage has itself three steps: the beginning, the middle and the end. This provides nine points in any complete process where qualitative shifts occur.

That is, if the process is to continue on course. If these qualitative shifts do not take place, at best, the undertaking continues on a flat plateau until the nominal aim is achieved. This is an end, rather than a completion. Less successful processes unwind, or continue but in the opposite direction to the original course.

There are three endings to a process:

A finish, where something is lost;
A conclusion, where nothing is lost;
A completion is a new beginning.

ii The process of acquiring discipline is a movement from mechanical activity to intentional action. The process of discipline aims to:

1. Co-ordinate the functions - the three kinds of doing - the hands, the head & the heart: this is sometimes called "the harmonisation of functioning";
2. Achieve coherence in the degree & intensity to which we are what we are: that is, our inner togetherness or "being";
3. Unify our intention: that all of what we do serves the same aim; that we accept direction from central command at our "World HQ".

We achieve this separation by practising the discipline of each of the functions, their co-ordination, and then their harmonisation.

Through applying ourselves to this practising, we generate energy.

Through the energy made available, we may be able to put some of it in the bank. This "saved currency" is then available for future investment.

iii stages & steps

The three stages of any discipline are these: injunction, application, and verification.

We begin where are, and unfix our moment by doing nothing, and watching while we do nothing.

We move on from where we are, through introducing flexibility to our functioning by letting go of "bad habits" and acquiring "good habits".

We become where we are by doing something with efficiency and becoming someone who is efficient.

Then, we begin again.

0 We begin where we are
1 Doing nothing
2 Watching while doing nothing

3 We move on from where we are
4 Letting go of "bad habits"
5 Acquiring "good habits"

6 Becoming where we are
7 Doing something efficient
8 Being someone who is efficient

9/0 Being where we are

When we arrive at where we are, as if for the first time, we begin to "hang together", or to cohere. We are beginning to be our own person.

But who we are can get in the way. So, beginning again, we recognise that by holding on to who we are, to being something, this gets in the way of music on download. So, we let go of who we are and begin again. At a particular point in a mature life process, this confers:


The degree to which this may be so is governed by our ability to bear suffering.

These two following comments are from postings to the Guestbook following the GC course last year in Gandara, Argentina --

John Morton ( 07-Apr-2000 20:18 GMT
Canada One quickly gains a sense of how demanding this type of course must be on the participants, and how rewarding the outcome can be. Work upon oneself of this sort is often the most difficult task one can ever accomplish: it can seem to be exhaustingly energy-intensive. Since it takes about six months for central nervous system cells to physically conform to the new pathways such training creates, this sort of self-development is initially stabilized solely by new assemblages of electrical potentiation that are cultivated within the nervous system...and that can appear to take a lot of internal energy to produce, support, and maintain!

Thus, such work can seem to be exhausting, even though this sensation of exhaustion is primarily just a feeling associated with, and not directly caused by, the production of new neural pathways. One is not so much dealing with an actual lack of available energy here but rather, with the transient unavailability of the customary sensations of ease associated with the efficiencies of established neural pathways. And it is often difficult to separate this sensation of exhaustion from our normal mechanical responses toward actual physical exhaustion. This is because actual physical exhaustion interferes with the normal function of nerve cells; and the body's responses to the sensation of this situation can be mechanically triggered when habitual neural pathways are not being used due to a lot of new associational pathways are being formed.

(It can be helpful to realize this; and also to further differentiate between the difficulties of this process and the achievements attained through such processes. That way in the future, when these new achievements are employed to overcome very different obstacles, those new obstacles won't be re-inforced through a conceptual association to the sensation of exhaustion encountered in obtaining these achievements).

When dealing with such a sensation of exhaustion, it is often helpful to gather one's awareness around the core of conscious association related to the processing of sensory input. This can help one to let go of, and not hold on to, this illusory sensation of exhaustion (as difficult as that is!). An important presentation of such a technique can be found in the ancient Chinese treatise, "The Secret of the Golden Flower" (always use the Thomas Cleary translation into English: the Richard Wilhelm translation is hideously inaccurate).

This ancient classic was considered so important that it was openly circulated and accepted by both Buddhist and Taoist schools. But then, the primary purpose of the esoteric secrecy surrounding active schools of self-development has less to do with hiding knowledge than it has to do with creating an environment in which the work of those inside can occur without interruptions, or disruptive influences. Thus, such schools were often organized within surrounding circles of graduated contact to the outside world, with the outer circles making allowances for the needs of those not working within, but attracted to, the schools.

Douglas Baldwin ( 07-Apr-2000 19:26 GMT
USA Two brief stories:

When on the second level one course ever, fifteen years ago, I had a vivid dream-like experience. After being introduced to the circulation, I sensed in my sleep that night a massive energy which whipped through the rooms of the fellow Crafties and returned to my sleeping form, waking me instantly.Having also been introduced to the principles of the left hand, I woke the next morning to find a tiny pimple on my left forearm. The next night, having been introduced to the principles of the right hand, I experienced the same whip-like energy, but circulating in the opposite direction. I awoke with an identical pimple on my right arm.

As I was reading the diary entry regarding the "It's a sign!" story, my internet connection suddenly shut off. It was a sign, I'm sure.

The Level One presented their day's work of applying one small piece of quality.

Dinner featured specialty Neapolitan pizza, chef Massimo the Triumphant, with tiramisu for dessert - another dinner time success story featuring Allesandro the Good.

The Level One came together for their final meeting, with other house members present, at 21.00. Several of the team presented comments on their course. The Level One was formally declared completed at 22.13.

Level Two met shortly afterwards to take a decision on how to approach an exercise which is hovering, inviting them to take it to a finer, better, more complete completion than managed to achieve by dinner time. This may take them well into the night.

And I am now 75% packed.