By Betty Bland
Originally printed in the JULY-AUGUST 2006 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Bland, Betty. "In Tune." Quest 94.4 (JULY-AUGUST 2006):124-125.
The screaming siren pierced my quiet meditation. Although I should have been beyond the impact of the five senses, my ears caught the sound and insistently roused my responses. Sirens were designed with just that annoying characteristic in mind. They are intended to cut through our consciousness and to startle us into alertness. Moreover, because of their purposes, sirens are harbingers of disaster, crisis, or at the least, bad news, as in the case of a police car fast approaching.
Sound is vibration in the air waves that becomes intelligible to us because of the apparatus in our ear canals and the brain's ability to sort the vibratory messages received into meaningful information. This calls to mind the age old question, "If a tree falls in the forest where there is no one to hear, does it make any noise?" The vibration may be there, but is it only sound when it is translated into such by a receptor?
Whether or not the receptor is present to respond, the vibration is real and has its impact. If it were possible for a deaf opera singer to sound such a piercing note, whether anyone was present to hear it or not, that note could still shatter glass. The vibration is a physical fact, with a physical impact regardless of our presence or ability to perceive it.
Sound is defined as vibration within the range of hearing, but the range is quite variable, diminishing with age or trauma to the ears. We generally would not classify the high-pitched dog whistle as sound, except for the fact that we recognize the dog's response.
Some time ago I read that law enforcement was experimenting with the use of low-pitched inaudible sound as a way to help control riots. The idea was that this very low vibration could confuse people's mental processes and thus diffuse their angry intentions. I don't know about this, but I do know that after a long ride in a plane or car, for a brief while I feel more muddled than usual. Could this possibly be the impact of that steady deep vibration, rather than the fatigue factor?
Sound is a small but powerful range of vibration close to our physical existence. From sonic boom to heavy drumbeat, we cannot deny its power. But it is an accessible range of vibration that provides a metaphor for the whole arena of our manifested universe. All of creation consists of a complex multitude of vibrations. This is why several traditions refer to that first creative impetus as "the Word."
From Hindu tradition, the story of Indra's net expands this idea of the vast impact of any small sound or vibration on the whole. Indra, the king of the gods and the ruler of the heavens, has a palace above which is suspended an enormous net extending infinitely in all directions. This net consists of a myriad of interconnected junctions of a fine mesh, with each junction being responsive to all the others. The legend has each connecting point set with a jewel that reflects all the others in its many facets. Some have called these sensors bells that resonate with all other sounds; while others have compared them to mirrors reflecting the faces of all living beings. If these points of interconnection were defined in today's vernacular, they might be called holographic points. Whatever the image, the message is clear. What is done to one being impacts all beings. The whole is a living system that thrills in response to even the smallest occurrence.
We are vibratory creatures. To each of us inpidually, our vibration may seem to be dense and of little impact, but that is a false message delivered to us by this illusory world. Not only are we constantly bombarded by the whole of our world culture, but we are also contributing to that culture minute by minute. We transmit the vibration of our being into this milieu, impacting ourselves most of all, but also creating a resonance that sounds around the world.
If we could but control the message we send forth, what a difference it would make. It is difficult, but we can monitor and modify the words and actions that we generate. Yet how much more difficult it is to tame the mind and emotions. And herein lies the key. The greatest transmission we emit is not an external one, but a transmission of the very nature of our being. How often have we heard that to find the path, we must become the path? Our actions, words, and thoughts are the building blocks of the resonating chamber of our nature. If we want to have peace, we have to be peace.
Consider any outburst you may have had against another, or any time you felt superior to another, knowing that you are absolutely right. These are the seeds of fanaticism and violence that contribute to our current international plight. Not one of us wants to contemplate the possibility that we are a part of this cycle of attack and retribution; yet the "enemy" is a reflection of us and we are compelled to begin to heal ourselves and rein in our thoughts.
This is the task that is set before us. Personal transformation is the pathway of Theosophy and all quests for Truth. With sustained effort we can regulate our attitudes and actions, and little by little we can change our keynote to one of compassion and concern for all. Then the vibration of our being will be able to permeate the atmosphere, not with the distress of a siren, but with the call to responsible living and the music of altruism.
Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind? For as the sacred River's roaring voice whereby all Nature-sounds are echoed back, so must the heart of him "who in the stream would enter," thrill in response to every sigh and thought of all that lives and breathes.
—Voice of the Silence