The Voice and the Shabd
Jul 30, 1996 09:25 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
Thanks, Dan, for posting the section under discussion again.
Rereading it I see the answer to my own question about
different origins for different texts. She says that they come
from a wide range of time periods and indicates that not all
are Buddhist. What is hard to follow is how, or in what sense,
all these 90 texts are a "Book." AFAIK there are not
compilations of sutras that are bound together as single books
with a single title in Eastern religious literature. Maybe
someone can cite such a case. More likely seems to me that
they all happened to be together in the same place, and "Book
of the Golden Precepts" is either HPB's term for the collection
or else a local designation.
Several clues in the first fragment place it in proximity to
Surat Shabd Yoga as taught in the Radhasoami movement and its
offshoots. This tradition, although Hindu, is heavily
Sikh-influenced and is therefore indirectly touched by Sufism.
Among these clues are the insistence that the voice is
experienced in "the place between thine eyes." This is
precisely what occurs in what shabd yogis call bhajan
("song"). Shabd, by the way, is synonymous with Voice in this
mystical sense. Bhajan involves hearing the Audible Sound
Current through blocking the ears and concentrating one's
attention at the eye center (i.e. Third Eye.) When one hears
the sound, one can "follow" it up through various realms, with
the aid of the living Master, who meets you in the your Third
Eye to help you along. Being a "Walker of the Sky" seems
related to being able to "go in" in Radhasoami parlance. That
is, to leave the physical realm and travel through higher
domains. Second clue, then, is the recommendation that you
close your eyes and block your ears in order to pass into a
higher stage of "inner touch." (I don't get the part about
blocking the mouth and nostrils, which would cause one to pass
out.) This is also recommended in Radhasoami texts. Third
clue is the teaching that the inner sound is heard in a series
of different forms. People within RS tell me that the sounds
given by the Voice are exactly the same as those in their
initiation secrets, except that the order is different. This
isn't written down anywhere in RS literature AFAIK.
I have been practicing a form of this yoga for some time now,
and got a physiological explanation of it from a psychologist
friend. It turns out that even when you are totally still,
respiration and heartbeat are enough to cause the cilia in your
cochlea to vibrate. The roots of these touch the auditory
nerve. Thus in complete rest and silence, one hears the
sound(s) caused by this baseline stimulation of the auditory
nerve. Hearing these sounds, one can "follow" them in the
sense of a sensation of floating in a current. I have never
used the technique to get out of the body or hunt for a Master,
but simply to reach an altered state in which the body and mind
seem to dissolve and one becomes part of the flow of cosmic
energies. This fits in with the Edgar Cayce meditation
guidelines, which advise one to raise the energy to the Third
Eye and then listen for the Voice-- which in this case is
called the divine voice.
Bhajan is only part of the practice recommended by Radhasoami.
The main part of meditation is supposed to be devoted to
Simran, which is repeating silent mantras while focusing in the
Third Eye. Doing Simran is supposed to prepare you for Bhajan.
BTW there is some evidence of Theosophical/Radhasoami
connections in the Mahatma letters and other documents, which
was discovered by Dan Caldwell. Salig Ram, a major RS guru, is
discussed in the MLs, which dismiss RS practices as illusory
but praise the character of the movement's founder.
All for now.
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