June 14, 2013

The Sound of the Bell

Have you ever considered that qualities like sound have spiritual characteristics? Try this little experiment. Strike a singing bowl and listen closely. What do you experience as you follow the waves of sound? Hear a single note on the piano and it feels thin and lacking. Play several notes at the same time, a chord, and there is harmony, the sound becomes rich and full and pleasing.   

There is a phrase, by the physicist and contemplative Arthur Zajonc, “coming to know the inside of every outside.” It is the awareness that the sensory world around us, light, sound, color, taste, touch, all have an interior and spiritual dimension just as they possess outward and observable qualities. When you begin to practice some kind of meditation or contemplative prayer you discover how such practices serve as a tool for greater insight into your own deep inner and spiritual life. In the same way contemplative practices opens us to the rich interiority of the world around us, in nature and even in the seemingly inanimate objects.

As we discover ways to calm ourselves, become clear, be quiet, focus attention, the vastness of what appears invisible is unlocked. Over time we awaken more and more to the beautiful and the good around us all the time, even in the midst of difficulty and suffering. Contemplation in its variety of methods teaches us that life is overflowing with experiences of truth and meaning.

“Coming to know the inside of every outside” is an experience anyone can have. It is not only for the mystic. This deep spiritual dimension is available to any who are free to take note of what is around them. Whether in the light of the sun darkened by the haze of the atmosphere that creates the brilliant red of a sunset, or the single notes of music played together to make harmony or the simple song that sounds at the strike of the singing bowl, the inner reality of the outer world is made known for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.  

Thomas R. Morris