Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Listening to the Gyuto Monks

Throat singing. Overtone singing. Various names for it, but. Listen. I’ve been listening all afternoon. Exploring the profound. The lowest lost human notes. And simultaneously, chorally, two tones and then three tones. Chanting. Praying.

I get the idea, as I’m sitting here. The feeling. That I’ve never been born. That I exist in a kind of liquid made entirely of sound. I’m closing my eyes, and I’m finding I’m empty and I’m full of this sound. The sound the ocean would make if it were human and there were no one around to hear. The ocean before people, singing a song it has been singing since the beginning of the world.

They are praying, but I do not know what they are saying. The words are in another language. One I don’t understand. And even those who understand the language say they cannot understand what is being prayed because of the distortion. The stretching and shortening and intoning and the guttural idiom into which the words have been transposed. The oceanic dialect into which the words have been submerged.

Chanting like the swells out in the ocean. Out away from the continental shelves. Out where the ocean is deep blue and black and wine-colored at midday. The sun. The infinite suns glistening on its surface. The cyclic swells coming and coming, sometimes deep. Sometimes shallow. But always underneath them a depth that is miles of strange. Miles of dark. Miles of creatures that swim slowly in a dance-like rhythm. Creatures that one can hardly imagine. Thick down there—a holy unholy presence that occasionally surfaces.

Occasionally the whale, for example. Occasionally the creature as large as an office building. Blowing. Leaping. Occasionally a pod of them. A pod of blue whales rising to blow and dive and surface and dive randomly all about one’s raft. One’s craft of sticks and rope and cloth. That may easily be smashed and randomized across the surface of the sea. But isn’t.

Or perhaps I’ve always existed. Perhaps I’ve always been floating like this. Undulating on the surface of the deep. Since before time itself. Listening to the sea chant in this way. Announcing joy. Articulating danger. Pronouncing order. Exploring chaos. Expressing gratitude down to the mellifluous base of its being.

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