Echoes of the Ancestors (insights and inspiration)
Observing the Path: A Personal Perspective on Meditation and Creativity
The music Phil Schurger presents on “Echoes of the Ancestors” is the expression of a dynamic journey through ten years of meditative and musical process. He has honed his skills as a composer in order to effortlessly act as a conduit of force and form, oscillating sounds up from the Emptiness of mind. Through meditation, he awakens the sensitivity of intuition, and navigates the tides of consciousness, catching compositions as they arise in the currents
of thought. It is a conscious-intuitive act of retrieving sounds and images of nature and culture, and uniquely sculpting them through an inner-alchemical process. Any object held in the mind can become a musical entity as Schurger becomes attuned with the sounds emanating from the stream of Mind, transfixed by the rising sounds.
The album opens with Lucid (Soma). Soma was an intoxicating drink in the Hindu culture that brought on lucid visions, and a sense of contentment. The composition emulates the motion through the shifting states of consciousness of the soma. It enters quietly, slowly developing, until you are enveloped in the experience of an array of batik textures and forms. It invokes the sounds of songs moving through the leaves in tree canopies. The solos act as a reprieve and contemplation period, culminating in a spacious contentment as the last melody comes back in expanded form.
Emptiness and the Practice of Non-identification
Over the years, I have often reflected on the lyrics of poet Robert Hunter’s song Ripple. In one of the latter verses of the song he states:
“There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go, no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone.”
In Hebrew Kabbalah, there are specific words for this idea of a path that is for your steps alone. The Sefer Yetzirah (see commentary by Aryeh Kaplan), one of the foundational texts of the Kabbalistic system, refers to this type of road as a Netivot, which is a personal path, as opposed to a Derekh, which is a public road. These Netivot are the 32 paths of the tree to be explored in the process of developing a more complete awareness of the scope of life and being. One’s relationship and understanding to the various paths on the Tree of Life are referred to as being Peliyot, which has the connotation of being hidden, concealed, and transcendent. The idea is that the paths are within you, ever present, ever expanding, and for you solely to etch out as you grow in your ability to express life more fully. As Hunter states, that path is for your steps alone.
(Part III) Application of the Elementals in Performance: Becoming Conscious of the Elementals in the Body
Through identifying with the emotions, thoughts, and images, we take them on, and become them. Non-identification is the beginning of the process of undoing all that we have created for ourselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, by no longer identifying with the transitory essences. One then may begin to come into a place in which these essences of the various emotions, thoughts, and images may be utilized through conscious action.
(Part II) Application of the Elementals in Performance: Air, Water, and Fire
The most obvious point of connection with the Earth element is your physical body. After all, you aren’t just a mind standing on stage in a room of minds! The Earth element represents the nature of structure, and can be used to adjust imbalances that may be present within the body. Earth in many respects is created by the interactions of Air, Water, and Fire in a given Space.
(Part I) Application of the Elementals in Performance: A Meditative Path to Captivating the Room
Our first task as a performer is to recognize the Time and Space of the room (discussed in Part I). This being achieved, we can move toward the more common elements of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth. Here in Part II we will discuss the elementals Air, Fire, and Water.
Perception as Essence Series (Music and the Cosmos in Traditional Cultures)
The potential to harmonize and direct an audience exists every time a musician or group of musicians walk on stage. As one gains experience playing live, you come to realize there is an Art and Science to opening the consciousness of a room as a performer. Anyone who has performed on stage enough will recognize the factors of the room, and understand that there are moments when one can shift the consciousness of the room in various directions through an applied action.
Perception as Essence Series (on music)
Meditating a symbol can often make other forms arise in the mind and direct the intuition to a well of information in regards to that symbol. It seems that symbols are something of the source from which they sprung: the Collective Unconscious, and thus their information is accessible to all who engage them.
“Music in all ages has given man a sense of mystical but immediate kinship with the transcendent and the universal.” -J.H. Masserman
Early in my music career I came to realize, as a both a listener and performer, that music has the potential to be a conduit for profound non-verbal, dare I say, mystical experiences.