THE GUITARIST INSIDE
Posted by Mariana Scaravilli on Aug 8, 2017

 

I
A Way To Develop Presence


The first Guitar Craft course (March 25-30th. 1985) was held in the Claymont Mansion, West Virginia. The three aims of Guitar Craft then presented were to develop a relationship with the instrument, music and oneself. An alternative way of putting this: there are different reasons for learning an instrument.

Perhaps, as a hobby, and to be with others: that is, the act of music is primarily a social undertaking, and playing an instrument a way into social life.

Perhaps, there are some who would like to become professional. A developed skill-set will support the professional life, and the Guitar Craft approach to guitar does provide an efficient means of playing the instrument.

But achieving successful social or professional lives are not my primary interest.

Learning to play guitar, in the context of the Guitar Circle, is a way to develop presence: being present, being here in this moment, and knowing for a certainty that we are here, now.
If we are not present, we are not. Life is a fiction.
When we are present, life becomes real.

So, the question is, how to develop presence?
A quick answer: by developing the attention.
Where our attention is, is where we are.
If our attention is volitional, we are present where we Wish to be.

Without this capacity, life sweeps us along: we are unable to resist its power, or find our own way in the world.

Scary.

Tuesday, 29th. January, 2013;
Quinta Tonantzin Retreat House,
Tepoztlan, Cuernavaca, México.

 

II

At the end of the meeting, the flow was flowing in the Beginners’ Circle of fourteen. Thirteen others were in the room, including the Buddies, our Alexander Teacher, and translator.

If we close our eyes, do we have a left hand?
If so, how do we know?
What is the particular quality of experiencing that gives us confidence we have a left hand?

Please choose one note. When ready, begin to play this one note of your choice.

The Beginners’ Circle reformed in two groups, each with their own flow. Eventually, after some disturbances in the two flows, the full Circle reformed. And flowing flowed.

The flow does not have to be invented: it is already present.

Friday 21st. January, 2011
Monasterio Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles,
Monjas Dominicas, Sant Cugat, Spain.

 

III

A main aim for this course: Presence. A question addressed to the room: What does it mean to be present? Several answers were given to this, although none convinced me. A suggestion given in response: We know we are present because a moment ago we were not. And then, we are not once again. In time, we recognize particular elements that accompany being present.

One of the aims declared, by a Crafty from Cordoba, was to find energy for daily life. This is connected to presence. The Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists go out in public, and have to become present, very quickly, in front of an audience.

So, what do we do to become present? The Practice Of Doing Nothing is a beginning.

There is no limit to how far this can go. It can go as far as we wish; subject only to our capacity to be present.

Thursday 18th. October, 2012;
Casa Nuestra Senora Del Transito,
Franklin Villanueva y Maza, (5517) Lunlunta – Maipú.

 

IV

Presence in a group: if someone in a group is not listening to other members when they are playing, you can’t ask the audience to listen to them either.

Tuesday 23rd. October, 2012;
Casa Nuestra Senora Del Transito,
Franklin Villanueva y Maza, (5517) Lunlunta – Maipú.

 

V

The functional, external aspects of a guitarist playing their instrument are pretty clear. But what is happening inside?

May we wish for each other what we wish for ourselves.

How to find and strengthen Wish while playing the guitar in a Circle with others? How may our guitar playing support and develop our inner lives (whatever we understand by that)? How may Wish support our playing? How may we move Wish into our notes, and move this around the Circle to support the work of others? These others are not apart from me: we are the same person.

All this is part of The Guitarist Inside.

Tuesday 23rd. October, 2012;
Casa Nuestra Senora Del Transito,
Franklin Villanueva y Maza, (5517) Lunlunta – Maipú.

 

VI

Silence visited shortly after breakfast began. How to describe this, the visit of a good and continuing Friend to the Guitar Circle? There is no end to possible description because there is no end to Silence. If I were able to know what there is within Silence, it would not really help very much in terms of description. The good news: it is simpler to experience Silence, to dwell inside it for a while, than to talk about it. The extent to which we may dwell-inside Silence is governed by our capacity to simply be present. In a word, be.

Many of the faces around the table are familiar, and with an acceptance of each other that is exceptional; despite, because and regardless of our failings. This is so rare.

Guitar Craft, the Guitar Circle and The Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists have validated for me the promise of Sherborne House. The many earnest discussions, and observations presented in serious meetings, contrast very clearly with the work in the Guitar Circle: if we miss a note, we weren't there. No argument, no explanation, no justification: we simply weren't present. In the Guitar Circle, argument, explanation and justifications aren't necessary: we know the experience of absence so clearly in ourselves. We see the effect of a bum note moving outward from us around the Circle, reflecting our absence, disturbing the momentum until somehow it is redeemed. Someone in the Circle sees and hears the disturber-of-equilibrium moving towards them and, when the ripple arrives, strikes a note that is true. The Note continues on its way, restoring rightness to the harmony of the Circle.

Those who arrive in the Circle come from a variety of backgrounds and ways. Music is itself also a way and likely the best language we have to give voice to the totality of what it is to be human.

Gratitude.

Monday 16th. April, 2012;
Foresteria Sorelle Povere di S. Chiara,
Monastero S. Maria Delle Grazie, Farnese, Italy.

 

VII

The Guitarist Inside at 21.15.

How to become present, quickly, to a collected state? Presence confers greater effectuality in the world of function, of acting on materiality and things. If we are not present, we are not, so anything we do does not really happen: it only contributes more stuff and activity to the world of stuff and activity.

When we are present, something may happen. Presence itself is not enough. Being present is the beginning: it is only a beginning, but a very good and necessary beginning.

Then to circulating, with presence.

Personal presence is individual. It strengthens our connection to ourselves and the material world, but does not inevitably connect us to other people, living, sentient and conscious beings, and the unity of all there is. For this, we need a developed feeling life.

Bringing our attention to the centre of the breast, we strengthen Wish, our need to enter the world of the Good, the Real and the True, the unconditioned world of Consciousness, Creativity and Love. Our feeling of Wish confirmed and strengthened, this is blended with the presence of life in our body; and this is maintained while circulating a pattern around the Circle for an extended period of time. On this occasion, 48 times around the Circle.

The pattern is held by the mind. The mind enables us to extend our engagement with the time stream, to expand our Present Moment, connect with what is ahead, what is past and what is now, and hold them in an ongoing Moment.

But if we are not present, there is no present moment: a Present Moment is, after all, a Moment of Presence.

Tuesday 17th. April, 2012;
Foresteria Sorelle Povere di S. Chiara,
Monastero S. Maria Delle Grazie, Farnese, Italy.

 

VIII

A comment at dinner from a member of the Intro Team who attended a GC course 12 years ago: Our work has deepened.

Q:        Are there different kinds of attention? Is perception different from attention?
A:        Can this be linked to your experience?

Quick Answer: no.

In response to the question (are there different kinds of attention?) for now, distinguish between volitional attention - that which moves from us - and attracted attention; for example, Italian news kiosks with bunga bunga magazines and young Italian men walking by. Advertisers know of this.

Friday 19th. October, 2012;
Casa Nuestra Senora Del Transito,
Franklin Villanueva y Maza, (5517) Lunlunta – Maipú.

 

IX

The words Remorse Of Conscience were used by one of the commentators. Remorse Of Conscience is exceptionally powerful, and can from itself open the door to the Real World.

We can’t quite say – if our remorse is genuine, it opens the door – because if Remorse isn’t genuine, it’s not Remorse Of Conscience.

But subjectively, the experience is awful. And remarkable, and liberating.

Friday 20th. April, 2012;
Foresteria Sorelle Povere di S. Chiara,
Monastero S. Maria Delle Grazie, Farnese, Italy.

 

X

Breakfast at 08.00 with a changed atmosphere. We are now within The Middle. Good comments offered, experiential.

One comment addressed the declared intent of the Whizz yesterday evening: Whizz until the world is a better place!

Q:        How long would this take?
A:        The Whizz: what moves is intentionality. The Whizz yesterday evening was moving, and continuing to move, even where players were “behind” the “music” they were playing. Intentionality is not governed by time in the normal sense.

How to count from one to five? We can talk about intentionality, and whizzing to make the world a better place, but until we can count from one to five, what is possible?

Thursday 17th. November, 2011;
Monasterio Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles
(Monjas Dominicas), Sant Cugat, Spain.

 

XI

A question at lunch: Why Orchestrina? Why not House of Guitars? (May we note, when someone would like to ask a question, the question is rarely singular). An Englishman presented a good answer, at some length. It came down to this:

The former House Of Guitars/Guitarists had acquired an identity.

An identity is a quality; and a quality, once recognized, can be named. Reference was made to naming rituals, including in Guitar Craft, baptism and Christening. The identity of The Orchestrina Of Crafty Guitaristshad become apparent within the guitars/ guitarists present, its quality was recognized, and its name acknowledged.

Friday 18th. November, 2011;
Monasterio Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles
(Monjas Dominicas), Sant Cugat, Spain.

 

XII

Personal meetings. The first client asked a question about the mind.

The question came from the mind, the answer prompted another question, beginning with the word… but. This answer lead to another question, beginning with… but. My question: Where does a question come from? This produced a little flapping in the mind of the visitor. A recommendation: When next you ask a question, bring part of your attention within the right hand, and listen to yourself while speaking. The response: But doesn’t that mean…?

This is a classic example of Monkey Mind at work.

Saturday 19th. November, 2011;
Monasterio Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles
(Monjas Dominicas), Sant Cugat, Spain.

 

XIII

Comment at breakfast: This situation which often happens at meals, Silence, seemed to be here last night but at a twenty-fold force compared to what we are used to. At least for my part, I very much found it difficult to hold on, as if completely before the unknown.

A Real Presence makes itself known to us through Silence. The Silence that comes during meals is tangible, and was also present during the performance. This is a Creative force that so wishes to give itself away, it comes and bites us on the butt. This Creative Impulse comes from the unconditioned world. We experience it in the Silence that visits us, and music makes it more apparent. Music is a construct that facilitates the entry of the unconditioned: Silence moves into the music, and through Music we come closer to the unconditioned world, the World of Qualities.

An example of the conditioned world: when and where we were born, and to which parents. This is also known as "fate". Fate is the limitations placed on a life and is a given. We are each unique, with a particular piece of work to accomplish in life. No one else can do this. This is our destiny. Our destiny is not inevitable, not guaranteed: it is to be created.

Fate = conditioned.
Destiny = unconditioned, created/Creative.

The unconditioned world is not easily perceptible. We have moments when the unconditioned makes itself felt through Silence, often at meals and particularly last night. The unconditioned is always present, but works at a higher frequency than registers with our usual perceptual apparatus. This frequency is more easily “heard” by the heart.

Our world is off-course and old structures are crumbling. The world is changing, and the tempo of change accelerating at such a rate it is impossible for anyone to understand the global processes underway.
In adulthood, we begin to take responsibility for the larger world. Each of us has a task to discharge and, if this is achieved during the middle of a life, something becomes available at the end. Our proper work in life is associated with destiny.

What is needed in the New World? A network of people going out into the daily, phenomenal world, each with their unique contribution to realizing the greater destiny of the community, nation, planet. The intensity is intensifying, the acceleration is accelerating. Are we able to work together, in front of incomprehensible change and an unmanageable proliferation of situations, when necessary? In the Orchestra, we are practising for this. The Orchestra fits into the great transition currently underway. As has often been said in Guitar Craft, we have a Present Moment of two hundred years. So, we have 175 years left. If we succeed, fine. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter.

Something was present and available at last night's meal and performance. That an Intro Team is available to Music, immediately upon entering the performance space, is quite remarkable. It has taken twenty-six years to get to this, from the moment we strapped on our guitars after the first Guitar Craft Inaugural Meeting in the Claymont Mansion, West Virginia on 25th. March, 1985.

Sherborne House was one of the stately homes of England, and in October 1975 had not been stately for quite some time. I was there alone, a day before the Fifth Basic Course, in a sparsely-furnished dormitory with iron beds. On my first night I had a terrifying dream. I don't know whether it was to be taken literally, as premonition or as metaphor…

Sunday 20th. November, 2011;
Monasterio Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles
(Monjas Dominicas), Sant Cugat, Spain.

XIV

One Day

Inaugural Meeting at 09.45.

Acknowledging at 09.47 that The Chamber Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists is underway, moving around the Circle of 29 introducing ourselves with who, where, what, why and our aim/s for the course.

The principle of structure suggests that any complete event has seven distinct qualities. Cf the GC Aphorism: Ask why - seven times!

The seven degrees of relaxation move from the body and the physical, the small through to large muscles, and onto Absolute Liberation! Theoretically that is, because we have no idea what Absolute Liberation might mean. But, it is possible that we move from letting-go of unnecessary tension in the muscles, to letting-go of “unnecessary” thinking and our imaginary feeling-concerns.

What is a Complete Guitarist? The Guitarist Outside is fairly clear: the functional aspects of playing the instrument.

Similarly, the Complete Musician. The musician plays music, but only at the beginning or “lower levels” of musicianship. Only when Music leans over and the musician is “played” by music, that a musician is worthy of the name, and also when Music begins to enter our world in an authentic fashion. According to the principle of structure, the transition between the Musician Outside and the Musician Inside begins at the transition between the third and fourth levels of musicianship. And there is nothing inevitable about that process continuing.

What is The Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists? Is it only those of us within the Circle at this particular moment? Might The Orchestra be something more than this, more than the people here in this room?

GC is in its fifth life cycle, and the leitmotif is Presence. What exercises and practices are needed for us to become present – swiftly - in front of an event, such as a performance? To perform honourably is a pointed stick: it is necessary for us to become present. So, what do we do, the guitarist outside, to move to the Guitarist Inside?

RF Personal Aims:

  1. The development of the First Primary and First Secondary Exercises. Noting their growth, now after 28 years of being relatively static, represents metaphorically and analogously a moving-forward and development within Guitar Craft and the Guitar Circle.
  2. Continuing The Writing Project to a second draft ofThe Guitar Circle. This takes the book from being, essentially, an historic view of GC activities and undertakings, bringing it to the immediately-present. The Guitar Circle will provide information and recapitulation-material for those who have been involved since the beginning of Guitar Craft, but also wave a flag to those members of the family who have not yet become involved or attended a course.

Free dispersal from the Circle c. 10.20, returning with guitars.

Twenty-five guitars in the Circle.
Becoming present:
Please bring part of the attention to the soles of the feet;
to the top of the head;
and what is in between;
what is in front of us, and what is behind;
what is to our right, and what is to our left;
to what is above us, and what is below.
Returning part of our attention to the soles of the feet;
moving the attention up through the legs, up the spine to the top of the shoulders; the finger tips and the palm of the hands, up the arms to the shoulders; up the neck and to the top of the head.
Then, to the left hand: the palm, the back of the hand, inside the hand itself; into the thumb and each of the fingers in turn.
Moving from what is inside, to what is outside.
Returning to the skin, the boundary between inside and outside.
Then bringing part of the attention inside, and into the left foot.

When ready, please begin. Circa 10 minutes.

Bringing the attention to the sole of the left foot, up the left side on the in-breath, across the shoulders, and down the right side on the out-breath.

When ready, please begin. Circa 10 minutes.

Please bring part of the attention to the left hand:
the tip of the little finger;
the first digit of the little finger;
the joint between the first and middle digits;
the middle digit;
the joint between the second and third digits;
the third digit;
the joint where the little finger meets the hand.
From these seven distinct points into the whole of the left hand.

When ready, please begin. Circa 10 minutes.

A 15-minute break. Those working in the kitchen left for lunch preparations.

Moving to D natural minor; and the 1,6,7 voicings of the Procession chords. Mrs. Moscow took the Team walking, returning to the Circle c. 12.20.

The Guitarist Inside at 17.30.

A circulation – without thought!
This was pretty skanky.
Then, bringing attention within the body, from the soles of the feet to the top of the head to substantiate Presence, and a second circulation.
Is anything different? Yes!

Presence within the body is not sufficient to connect us to others. For this, we must be present within the feelings.
Bringing attention to the centre of the breast, using breath to strengthen Wish.
May we wish for each other what we wish most deeply for ourselves.
Breathing wish into our notes as they moved into and around the Circle.

Bringing attention to the sole of the left foot, rising up the left side of the body, across the shoulders and down the right side of the body, from the sole of the right foot to the sole of the left foot, and continuing.
Maintaining this “circular” motion experiencing the presence of life, holding Wish in the centre of the breast, while playing the Procession chords.
Then, moving Wish into the circulation of sensation, while continuing to play the Procession chords.

Then, three circulations and letting it go, c. 18.12.

Meeting at 20.45 of The Chamber Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists.

In the Circle: 25 guitars.
When ready, please begin.

Dividing into two groups, of twelve and thirteen.
Group One played for Group Two.

Group Two: what comments would you make of Group One’s performance for you?
What were you doing while Group One performed for you?

Group One: what would you say of your performance for Group Two?
A:         Grumbly.

Group Two then performed for Group One, who proffered comments to Group Two.
Group Two then presented their comments in turn to Group One.

Group Three, of eight players, then performed for the rest of the Circle.
Then Group Four, of seven players.

Returning to the full Chamber Orchestra who, following a count of four, played for one minute and eight seconds. Not everyone was keen to end.

The Chamber Orchestra dissolved, becoming The Guitar Ensemble Of Europe with Director Nunez.

22.08 An e-mail has gone off in response to a Work Proposal. Regrettably, it is not supportive. This upsets me: part of my work is, where possible, to support the initiatives of others. As a younger man, if I did not hear no, I assumed yes. As an older man, if I do not hear yes, I assume no.

Yes sets in motion a whole train of repercussions. Where the yes is a response to necessity, the repercussions are also necessary. Necessary repercussions are mostly within our capacity to address. Where our yes is not determined by necessity, the consequences are likely to be more than we are able to meet. If our yes is to an arbitrary undertaking, or an undertaking which has no proper call upon our attention, then the repercussions may well be overwhelming.

Monday 15th. April, 2013;
Casa Stella Maris, Caorle, Italy.

 

XV

Final Meeting: The Old World Is An Attitude.

The Old World is an attitude, of the primacy of the individual. This speaks to the unique contribution we all have to make. But the corruption of human nature, egotism, turns this around. Taken to the extreme, it is exemplified in the view that the world was created to serve my personal interest: I can do whatever I like, whenever I like, to whomsoever I like, without cost, accountability and responsibility!

The New World is also an attitude: one of co-operation between individuals, groups and positions/places in society; between (what was once called) different links in the Chain of Being. In this sense, the New World is profoundly ecological.

We sung our names around the Circle and within it. The course was declared complete at 22.20.

Sunday 20th. November, 2011;
Monasterio Nuestra Senora De Los Angeles
(Monjas Dominicas), Sant Cugat, Spain.

 

XVI

The Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists VIII

I

Around the breakfast tables: a good selection of both recent-returners and lifers.

A deep quiet moved to Silence. If I were asked what is the primary experience of Guitar Craft / the Guitar Circle, it would be: the presence of Silence. But this is not something that we can bring or “do”. So, what dowe do?

Q:        What is “taught” at GC?
A:         The development of a personal discipline, that we may hold ourselves present and quiet, that Silence may more fully enter into us and become part of who we are.

Q:        What’s that got to do with music, then?
A:         Music is Silence, speaking. In developing an instrumental facility, a musical capacity, we become increasingly available to give Silence a voice. The more we are able to be quietly present, the more directly and truly we are able to speak for Silence; and, at a certain point, to speak as Silence.

It is quite an experience to feel Music entering the notes we are playing. Something like, a good Friend entering the room, approaching and embracing us.

Thursday 29th. April, 2014.

II

Quietly enjoying breakfast with my chums, I noticed I was wondering whether Silence would put in an appearance. And then: a shift. Not a glide, not a whoosh, but immediately: what we recognise, and refer to, as the presence of Silence.

Nothing I report in the Diary is of greater profundity than this: when the qualitative world enters that of the quantitative; when the (non-existent) barrier between perception and actuality falls away - in an instant – and there we are: where we are. Occupying a moment in time, while out of time. Sitting with a Presence which is not constrained by time, but which enters the time-stream to visit, reminding those of us who live mostly-here that we are ourselves only visiting.

III

We have a public performance on Saturday. Technically, this is referred to as a manifestation of our work.

Firstly, this is a flag for those young people who are looking for something more valuable in their lives. Also for old people, looking for something more real than a glass of wine and dessert at the end of their day.

Secondly, the act of music is primarily social. Something remarkable acts through Music, moving from outside the time stream into the flow of events. This provides an energy, a certain something, that is available within the performance and becomes available to the audience.

Thirdly, the performance is for us. We are not ourselves from the timestream: we are only visiting. This is an opportunity for us to more fully experience who we are, what we are, while playing music.

IV

Preparing for Saturday’s performance. How to become present, rapidly? Then, strengthening Wish; noting that, when we connect with Wish, we discover we are not apart from our Friends in the Circle, and our Friends in the audience; and that we wish for others what we wish for ourselves.

Addressing some subtleties in the practice of this, acknowledging that intention is key and trumps a practical facility in the technique of the exercise.

Wednesday 30th. April, 2014;

V

From this morning’s various comments, there seems to have been two performances: the Dress Rehearsal, which was “better” than the public performance at the Galleria.

If we understood Performance, we would be able to “understand” the Creation. After all, God said: let’s put on a show! Even in the Perfect World, there were going to be some bum notes. This was allowed for, in theological terms, by the process of Redemption: “sin” (metaphorically, playing out of tune), contrition, confession, penance, forgiveness, absolution, atonement. Someone picks up the tab, and takes on the repercussions of our bad notes and poor timing.

As might conventionally be said, our public performance was in the real world. Actually, this is quite mistaken. Our manifestation in public was in the unreal world, and the Dress Rehearsal in the (relatively) Real World of a Franciscan Retreat House. The perfect world of the Dress Rehearsal didn’t go away when we moved into public: it went with us but was limited, conditioned and contained within the restrictions and restraints of the “imperfect world”.

Was it right for the Orchestra Leader to have called Asturias after The Whizz, or better for The OCG to have left the auditorium and perhaps-returned for The Whizz? Who makes the call: conductor, orchestra leader, principal, orchestra manager?

Both immediately-available calls were right IMO. No answer was available intellectually: the answer was only available in the moment, thinking on the feet while standing, in front of that particular audience, in that particular space, with those particular individuals comprising The OCG VIII. That moment of choice and making-the-call was part of the larger moment of the performance, part of the larger moment of the course, part of the larger moment in the life of The OCG, of which this is the eighth incarnation. There were other ways it might have gone, and last night they did not.

One aspect / part of the performance is for us, the performers. Another aspect / part is for the audience: our performance was a manifestation. The Dress Rehearsal was our “perfect world”. We took a manifestation of this perfect world into the imperfect world, to present it to basically decent, ordinary people, who know the world is mad. In strange and uncertain times, such as we are living in, sometimes a reasonable person might despair. But Hope is unreasonable, and Love is greater even than this. Despite our limitations, there were moments in the performance when something was in the air – a presence. Perhaps, our reasonable despairing-audient-person might recognise the “something-in-the-air” and gained hope from this.

Alan K’s comment on the performance: I might have done better. No! Alan did what he could. We all do what we can. And last night, that’s what we did.

Sunday 4th. May, 2014;
Casa Stella Maris, Caorle, Italy.

 

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