Monday, October 28, 2013


Perfect Harmony

People have a whole bag of words from which they draw to talk about God and religion: "prayers," "hymns," "church," "temple," "mosque," "Bible," "Koran," "doctrine," "morality." These are "God-words" in our theological/religious lexicon.

My guess is that one word that is probably not found in most people's bag of "God-words" is the word "resonance." But, for me, "resonance" is in the "Top Ten" of my favorite words that I use when I talk about and think about "God." 

The simple Physics definition of the word "resonance" is: "sound produced by a body vibrating in sympathy with a neighboring source of sound." For example, a musician strikes a tuning fork and her instrument is adjusted to resonate with the sound (to be in tune with it). 

In fact, scientists today tell us that in a very real sense, every aspect of all the elements of the entire universe "resonate" with one another. From the tiniest sub atomic quarks to the vast expanse of cosmic galaxies, everything and everyone is "resonating," vibrating in sympathy with each other, creating one sound of perfect harmony.  

The ancient Eastern religions clearly understood the idea of "resonance" well before the scientists of today began to use such a term.  The ancient Hindu tradition was well aware of the universal song of the universe. They understood something about cosmic harmony - everything "resonating" to produce the universal tone of "OM." 

To this very day the only real (or necessary) Hindu payer is the intonation of the sound "OM," a sound made during mindful meditation, a "humming along" with the harmonious vibration of the universe.

Likewise, when Buddhist monks chant a mantra over and over, they are not "thinking" about the content of the words of the mantra. The chanting of a mantra is like the humming of the tone "OM." The mantra is a vibrating sound emitted from deep within the spirit of the ones who chant, an intonation in resonance with the vibrating cosmos.

In a similar fashion, when monks in the Western tradition sing Gregorian chant, the focus of the chant is not on the content of the words being chanted. The purpose of a chant is to emit a harmonious tone "resonating" with the song of the cosmos.

I once attended a "chant class" at a Benedictine monastery. The monks were told to ignore the words they were chanting, and instead as they sang, they were to listen for the voices of those surrounding them and attune their voices to one another so that they would create "one" sound - a tone in union with and resonating with the song of the "One" (the OM). 

Many people say lots of prayers (for most of my life I said lots of prayers), thinking that the content of the words being prayed were somehow "boxed up" and sent "up" to God who would then read what was in the boxes and then answer them accordingly. I don't think about prayer this way anymore. In fact I no longer "say my prayers." 

I have come to believe that every prayer is actually a form of "resonance." - The content of what we think we are "boxing up" in the words of a prayer (or a hymn) is basically unimportant . The sounds we make in the prayers we utter are just "tones" that come from deep within us, tones in harmony with others who pray, tones vibrating with and in "resonance" with the "one" song of the universe sung by the ONE abiding Holy Presence.

As the sun rises on this glorious desert morning, the wind is rushing and I can feel the rays of the sun warming the morning chill. The nearby fountain gurgles, birds chant, and in the absolute silence of the desert I can hear the harmonious song of the cosmos, and I hum along with it: "OM."

I pray a lot these days. I almost never use words anymore.

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