I think a lot of presented knowledge is taken literally, where the letter takes precedence over the spirit of it. I am not saying this is absolutely the case here, but it probably should be examined.
Since ancient times many spiritual masters have taught contemplation on the inner sound as a way of achieving enlightenment and transformation.
What precisely is this inner "sound"? Is the word "sound" literal? Is it something heard by the ears, or an allusion to vibration, that which not only stimulates all senses, but the very soul itself. Our world is a quantum world, so it stands to reason that waves propagate patterns that transcend it, and that creation itself is based on waves (in the quantized sense).
Ancient masters were not aware of quantum theory. They sensed and saw truth, but had to come up with their own formulations of it from the limited cultural contexts from which they sprang. Superstition can arise when we take their words for granted without considering they must be transduced not only from one cultural context to another, but from one time period to another.
So, again, it pays to explore this "inner sound" within the context of the explanations surrounding it before we explore it directly.
The Buddhist Diamond Sutra discusses it, calling it the Sound Stream. The gospels of John and Thomas and other apocryphical texts discuss it (In the beginning was the Word....translated from the Greek Logos, ie vibration with meaning). There is evidence that the Essenes and Jesus practiced sound meditation. In the Hindu tradition it is called the Surat Shabd Yoga.
"Sound meditation", Logos, and meditation on the "Sound Stream" are descriptions different meanings, I think, and should not be confused. I'll discuss those further down.
First, I'd like to look at Surat Sabd Yoga, here:
Surat Sabd Yoga (The yoga of spirit and word) A form of yoga available to both householders and ascetics, developed in 1861 in north India by Swami Shiv Dayal Singh, the founder of Radhasoami Satsang. The initiate concentrates on an internal image of the guru, undertakes a chant (simran) of the sacred names given at the time of initiation and listens for ethereal sounds. Through a process likened to music (bhajan), the soul during meditation departs the body through the highest centre (chakra) of spiritual energy in the body - the inner eye located behind the forehead. With the mystical form of the guru as its guide, the soul begins its ascent through increasingly rarefied regions of consciousness.
According to Radhasoami cosmology, the world was created through something akin to the 'big bang'; but the only pure form of existence - the rarefied state of light and sound - that remains on earth is the soul or spirit (surat). The aim of Sura Sabd Yoga is to liberate the soul from earthly captivity, propel it through space and reunite it with the eternal sound current (sabd) reverberating throughout the universe...
Anyone notice the mechanical nature of this path? The image of the guru is given, the sounds are given, and through these mechanisms of focus we expect to "hear etherial sounds". And what presicely are we tuning into? What station is our internal radio dial being directed to specifically
What seems to happen is that the soul leaves the body, and the guru acts as a psychopomp through "rarefied regions". Why must we leave the body? What does this have to do with inner growth? And what happens to the body when we leave it?
pure form of existence" is a rarified state of light and sound expressed as soul or spirit (are they the same here?). So we are encouraged to get out into some rarified virtual reality (light and sound ARE the primary elements of ANY virtual reality) through specific maneuvers.
As I know it, DNA activates through light and sound among other things. It does NOT activate so we may "leave" our bodies. ANY activity that encourages extensive trance states, IMO, is highly suspect. We are meant to become more conscious in and of our bodies, not less. And flying to high realms of pretty lights and sweet music, being led by our third eyes by some "guru" does NOT increase grounded consciousness. It only opens up the body to forces drooling over the day when they can take over it.
The "teaching" that uses allegedly advanced forms of this yoga is called ECKANKAR. From
ECKANKAR was founded in 1965 by Paul Twitchell (c. 1908-71). The Sant Mat tradition was established by Param Sant Ji Maharaj (1818-78), who taught surat shabd yoga, the yoga of the "Sound Current." He believed that the universe was created by a series of sound waves emanating from the transcendent Divine and that, as the Divine Sound Current descended into the realm of matter, it became imprisoned. Humans, according to his teachings, are sparks of God trapped in a cycle of reincarnation who nonetheless can return to God by listening to the Divine Sound and repeating the Divine Names (mantras). Practitioners of Sound Current yoga require the assistance of a master who has already transversed the levels of reality between the material world and God.
Twitchell was a student of Kirpal Singh (1896-1974), one of the master teachers of surat shabd yoga who claimed to be spiritual descendants of Param Sant Ji Maharaj. Twitchell believed that Sound Current yoga had existed since antiquity and that his knowledge and his teaching authority stemmed not from Kirpal Singh (who visited the United States in 1955 and 1964) but from an ancient lineage of ECK masters of which he was the 971st. Moreover, he claimed he was taught directly by two masters who were no longer in their bodies, Rabazar Tarzs and Sudar Singh.
Drawing on what he had learned but dropping the Indian cultural trappings, Twitchell offered students a means of "soul transcendence" through techniques that placed them in contact with the Divine Light and Sound. ECK departed from Sant Mat by multiplying the number of spiritual exercises and adding many more temporal concerns (healing, harmony, and problem solving). Twitchell also rejected the Sant Mat ideal of ultimate oneness with God, suggesting that the goal of life is to become a "coworker" with God.
When Twitchell died in 1971, he was succeeded by Darwin Gross, who in 1981 passed his authority to Harold Klemp. Shortly after Klemp assumed authority, religious studies scholar David Christopher Lane charged that Twitchell had falsified much of his account of the origin of ECK. Klemp later acknowledged some truth in Lane's accusations but asserted that the essential truth of ECK was unaffected. Shortly thereafter, he oversaw the movement of ECK from San Francisco to suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota, where a headquarters and temple complex were constructed. By the late 1990s there were 367 ECK centres worldwide, of which 164 were in the United States. Estimates placed total membership at 50,000.
Quite an operation. Is it sincere? Discerning seekers would like to know.
Buddhists practice meditative methods of mindfullness. They do not seek to hear sounds, but to experience inner vibrations. There is a difference. Intending to hear inner sounds amounts to mental stimulation of the acoustic portions of the cortex. These can fire under conditions of sensory deprivation, just as the visual and sensory cortex can fire. Meditation is a sort of depriving the mind of stimuli, a willful shutting down through focus.
The meditations based on observation and even mindfullness do not impose silence, but allow the brain to stop its conditioned firing on its own. When the brain reacts with stimuli that are acoustic and/or visual these are usually hallucinations, and traditions advise to ignore them.
The sound stream is not this, but a state of the awareness of inner vibrancy resulting from the brain attaining a deconditioned resonant state. It is far more subtle, does not need a guru, and is not dangerous. Just explore the traditions, not expressed by students, but of the founders. Who was the guru of the founder of any tradition? Calling these founders incarnations of God is a cop-out. They were as human as anyone here.
Logos in Greek is the source of reason, and hence the source of mind, as well as its most fundamental expression/vibration. Logos is consciousness vibrating life. That is its creative potential. There is no structured method to access any particular word.
Logos is beyond all words, and is the vibration potential of consciousness to create. It must be revealed, and a teacher can only reveal his own access to logos, because that access differs from individuality to individuality. That is why a "student" only graduates when the teacher is transcended, and the student's own path to logos is discovered, again by the student's efforts not the teacher's, and not through any particular method, but an accumulation of knowledge that can include methods.
The founders of major teaching were guides to the methods that worked for them, and to the revelation supporting those methods, not protectors of its effects. Any guru who places him or herself as a bridge to realization negates the nature of human individuality, and the understanding that humans are in the image and likeness of the divine. Humans need to learn what that means, and guidance to that learning is understandable. People, however, do not need a psychopomp to take them by the hand to the divine doorstep.
If a method is proclaimed "dangerous", then it is either wrong and unatural or a con. I encourage readers to think on this.
Please also think about what Excogitator is saying below, keeping in mind the many things presented in this forum of false "spiritual" paths.
In fact, there are several spiritual Masters now on earth who teach this method - the Singh lineage in India (Sant Mat and others) and the Supreme Master Ching Hai, who calls it the Quan Yin meditation method. I have been practicing this method since 1993, and it certainly has transformed my life! Practitioners will tell you of the transformations they experience such as understanding our role this time around, rising above all worldly attachments, experiencing our true home in ways beyond words (so all fear of death disappears), and gaining a great inner peace (among lots of other things!). Psychic and higher faculties open too.
The thing is - to practice this alone is dangerous - and the only way to do it is to find an enlightened Master to initiate you into the method.
Notice all the promises, followed by the cautionary note that only the "enlightened Master" can initiate you into the method. Notice the carrot, followed by the contract and the urge to sign on the dotted line. I would not be so forthcoming if the "carrot" was more practical and less conditional, but it is to a degree that warrants much caution.
The assertion that one's life is transformed means nothing. Cultists have consistently made similar grand statements. Christian Fundamentalists say similar things all the time.
I can see how people can be critical of any paths, but those that work for them, where they have invested time and effort. I can see how people devoted to Gurdjieff, Mouravieff and the C's can consider those directions as the foundation upon which all their understanding is built.
I think being critical of spiritual paths is a healthy attitude as long as one is equally critical of the directions they can tend to take for granted. Otherwise, its easy to fall into doctrinist attitudes. The C's, in fact, encourage such a critical approach for everything and encourage us not to play favorites without testing, osit. Even then every path has truth in a certain percentage, and it's the spirit of that truth that matters more than the letter.
I agree with jOda that we should be open to presentations of other paths, as well. How can we test something if we don't give it due consideration? As such, I did a bit of searching, and a bit of critical thinking, and came to the personal conclusion that Ryan's sense that the above presentation may be "advertizing" is not so far off the mark, to put it lightly.