“The Source of Sound… in Silence” by Pheonyx Roldan Smith
I felt like I had some work to do on the computer one recent evening after dinner. I had taken the better part of the day to be by myself. There’s been a lot of activity around the house here in the Philippines lately with the arrival of my aunt Lucy and her husband Ron who are relocating here from the states. Understandably, the house here now serves as source central for meetings with architects, planners, surveyors and builders in preparation of building their retirement home on the lot next door.
This location is also serving as the temporary primary residence for them and their dog, Tootsie, an adorable little dachshund who loves to bark at just about every blade of grass as she establishes vocal ownership of her new territory to every passerby be they on two legs or four. Throw in a regular rotation of extended family and friends, aunts, uncles, cousins and daily musings of my three nephews next door (all under the age of 10 and usually searching for Tootsie), a few chickens, and the daily hum of motor bikes and petty-cabs running along the road just fifty yards from the house, and… “KABOOM!” You just heard the sound of my head exploding from the cacophony of sometimes epic proportions.
So lately, I’ve relegated myself to seeking quiet time to focus on work or to simply just be in the relative quietude of the bedroom, away from all the frenetic over-stimulation of the “outside world”. I pop out for brief social visits from time to time, mostly to let the household know I’m still breathing. Occasionally, I join in on meal times, but I realize that what I need most is time and space to focus on preparing for the next leg of my journey. That requires a little bit of creative escapism from the main ward.
I’ve even resorted to getting up at between 4:30 and 5:00 every morning so I can take advantage of the silent sunrise hours and catch some solo time to sit, meditate, do my yoga and/or qigong all before the rest of the household (and the rest of the surrounding world) even begins to stir the silence into the regular routines of the day. I know that some of you out there reading this right now can feel me on this and share a similar opportunity of growth.
For those on the path of appreciating the subtle power of contemplative mornings with a personal practice, you know that often one has to make special arrangements and even sacrifices in order to find those still, small places and spaces in time to do what needs to be done in order to stay… well, centered by all means possible. Especially when sharing a somewhat less-conducive environment. Let’s face it. On the whole, our westernized, automized, conventionalized modern world is a noisy place. And for those who are working on getting (and staying) connected to something much bigger and deeper than the immediate world around them, it’s important to find some quiet solitude amid the myriad of other beings orbiting around us. Actually, I’ll go much further and say that it’s essential that we find some quiet time and space to be. Sometimes simply to just listen.
With that all being said, I arrive to the primary inspiration for this writing. Now, I don’t normally do movie reviews… not really my thing. Don’t get me wrong. I love movies. Good ones anyway. And I particularly love movies that move and inspire me to laugh more, learn more and, most poignantly, love more. Everyone has movies they like and don’t like. Most often, big-budget Hollywood films fall into that yeah-it-was-all-right-but-I-wouldn’t-dare-pay-to-see-it-again category for me. But last night I was introduced to an amazing movie called “STONE”, and I simply have to say something about it. I’d never even heard of the film before last night, but it had two of my favorite and most amazingly talented actors (in my personal opinion) in it… Sir (he’s not really, but I like the sound of it) Edward Norton and the esteemed, Mr. Robert DeNiro. And if those two weren’t enough to make any movie-goer pee his or her pants, there’s also the beautiful and way under-rated Milla Jovavich (you know… the Fifth Element herself!) who holds the leading lady role in the film. I mean, it’s a clear triple whammy in my book! However, allow me to back up a bit here and paint the picture for you…
After some much needed mid-day quiet time (in the bedroom, of course), I decided that I needed to focus on some research for the next leg of the around-the-world trip. I set up my work station, took a seat and stared blankly at the computer screen. Tap… tap… tap. I waited for some clarity on just where to begin. Then there was that funny, familiar feeling. ”Not right now…” I heard something inside say, ‘Why not relax and watch some TV.” (LOL) Of course, the lazy part of my ego could have said the same thing, right?! Yes, that is also true. But I consider myself pretty well-practiced in the art of listening and distinguishing the difference between my own thoughts and the ones that, more or less come, from another or higher source… that which I’ve come to understand and rely upon as the primary Source of my own learning and growth path. So, I immediately checked in with feeling inside and nodded in agreement. ”Sounds good to me,” I replied in thought.
I closed the lid of the laptop, laid down on the bed, turned on the tube. There just so happens to be one in the bedroom under the sari I use to cover it with. It serves as an excellent backdrop to my traveling alter. I flipped straight to channel 21… it’s the “STAR” movie channel and only two short channel hops away from HBO. I flipped back two stops to HBO to see if anything was calling. Well, sweet Charlie (the guy who apparently lives in the speaker box) was calling his three lovely Angels to fight the bad guys again in their second feature film. But I’d been there, done that several times before. I was looking for something new. For what I’m not quite sure, but I knew it was something.
As I set my sights back to the STAR network (just can’t help but appreciate the perfect symbolism of even the name), the opening credits to a movie began to unfold. I thought to myself, “Perfect, I’ve at least got an hour or two of something here. Let’s see what we’ve got.”
At first I questioned its viability. The opening scenes begin to clip along revealing a morning commute travel sequence. The foreground is narrated by a string of sound bites of radio evangelists quoting off Bible verses and painting pictures of fallen sinners and scenes of Satan surreptitiously tripping up the feet of man. I think a little further to myself, “Okay Source, what have you got for me here… I mean, seriously?” My channel-surfing finger hovers over the back button ready to deliver me to the ass-kickin’ antics of the three Angels.
But then, in my brief moment of doubt, the venerable Robert DeNiro shows up on screen. My itchy button-finger takes a rest as I take a breath and gently lay the remote down by my side. I know I’m in for a good ride whenever DeNiro is involved. As “Jack” completes the morning commuter scene, he arrives at a large prison (excuse me… correctional facility) and passes through the steel-barred and camera heavy corridors of the criminally-challenged. Then my heart leaps and practically begins to melt when a gray jump-suited Edward Norton with hair unexpectedly gathered into white-boy-corn-rows shows up in DeNiro’s hot seat.
“Stone or Stoney is what my people call me. It’s what I prefer to go by.” Norton’s character says in a drawl somewhere lost between lower Alabama and southside of Detroit. I don’t let it phase me. The scene is set and I… am… hooked.
So, without giving the whole movie away, the basic gist of the story is that Stoney is incarcerated (obviously) and is currently serving number eight of a ten-to-fifteen year sentence as an accessory to the murder of his own grandparents when he was tripped out on drugs as a teenager. He’s in his mid-to-late twenties as the movie unfolds, and is feeling rather “reformed”, pleading his case for parole. Jack’s job, as Stoney’s apparent first step to his long-awaited parole board review, is to determine the sincerity, validity and worth of Stoney’s claim. As the story unfolds, Stoney’s history and the present moment details are filled in. I soon realize that not only is this a human story about pain, judgment and retribution (I should also point out that Jack is portrayed somewhat fundamental Christian), it’s also a story about profound awakening. As tingles of high vibration move through my body up to my crown, I look up at the sky and just giggle with a nod of just how good the Universe really is at coordinating things… especially when one listens. I settle in for what I perceive will be some important lessons and a few messages from above.
“So, what does that mean to you?” Jack probes.
“What does what mean?” Stone plucks back.
“Being reborn? What does that word mean to you?”
Stoney pokes at the question with his mind. You can see it in his eyes. Something gets turned on. He looks for the answer in Jack’s own eyes. He doesn’t quite see it, but it hits a nerve. Perhaps no one has ever really asked him that question before. He realizes that he’s never even used the phrase until just that moment. But in that moment, Stoney realizes that he needs to find out. Perhaps to better plead his case. Perhaps for some other reason yet unseen. But it sets a spark and the flame is about to be lit. An apt analogy, one discovers, even as the purpose of Stoney’s incarceration is eventually revealed.
You see, Stoney “finds the truth” while in prison. But not in the traditional sense as one might think. Oh, he searches through the usual annuls of “truth”. In the prison library, he gathers books on the teachings of Jesus and the Buddha and such. Apparently all that stuff is there for the prisoners to explore. I mean, it’s not so surprising really. How many times on shows like Dateline and Oprah and even Jerry Springer have you heard a prisoner’s tail about finding Jesus, completing his GED and even earning a law degree while serving time in Sing-Sing or the like?? I mean, why not make good use of your time while you’re there right?
However the answers that Stoney is seeking aren’t in any of the ancient texts of the Koran, the Torah or the Christian Bible. Instead, as he pans across the pantheon of indoctrinated material and he comes across a little tri-fold pamphlet that says “Zukangor”. And what his finds is so simple and yet so profound that it splits him wide open.
Now, I’ve studied and have read about a good many faiths, but I’ve never heard of Zukangor. So, I decided to do a little more research to see if it really exists, and lo’ and behold, turns out that the film-makers based Zukangor on a real religion but made up the name for the movie to avoid trademark and/or copyright issues. The faith that Stoney stumbles upon is based on the tenet beliefs of “Eckankar (something I have heard of), a new religious movement founded in the United States in 1965. It focuses on spiritual exercises enabling practitioners to experience what its followers call “the Light and Sound of God.” I won’t go into all the details of the faith itself. Feel free to Google or Wikipedia to learn more.
However, the primary tenet of the faith that spoke to Stoney (and sent my body vibrating when I heard him describe it to Jack) is the belief that one can become awakened, even enlightened, if you will, simply through the process of listening. That the Universe speaks to everything and everyone through sound. Sometimes it starts out as a buzzing in the ears… like a fly or a bee constantly zipping around. Sometimes it’s a ringing.
“It’s like the Universe is vibrating on a frequency that most people can not hear because there’s so much noise all around us. So many things to distract and drown out what the Universe is trying to say,” Stoney explains to the more conventional-minded Jack. “And when you first hear it, it’s like the Universe is getting your attention for the first time. It’s like it wants to raise your vibration. You become like a tuning fork for God.”
When I heard this, I just had to tilt my head back and laugh, even louder this time, as this epiphany moment came across me. One of the simplest and yet truest mantras I share most often with friends, clients, colleagues, even strangers I meet with whom I might have just shared a profound experience with is the mantra “I just listen.” It’s simple, and yet very, very true, and has led me to an utmost profound level of trust and appreciation.
I’ve spent nearly half a lifetime learning how to listen. Believe you me, it’s been a journey. And trust me when I tell you, I’ve not always been very good at it. In fact, I was down right horrible at it for a very, very long time. (I can feel some of you who have known me for quite a while nodding your heads in agreement. Uh-huh, I see you. =)~ I was good at giving directions. I was even pretty good at offering prayers. I was good at requesting… asking… even demanding of others. I was stubborn. I knew it all. I knew how it all was supposed to be. In other words, it was really important for other people, and even God, to listen to me. Now ask me how that all worked for me. LOL… some of you know from your own personal experience… not so well.
Then at the age of 33 my life essentially fell apart. Everything I was working for essentially dissolved before my eyes. The job. The kids and the family I once believed I’d have. The gayly white-washed vision of picket fences, vacation homes… one on the beach, the other in the mountains. All of it, practically in the blink of an eye. Something shifted. Life began to chart a new course. My ten-year relationship. All of it was sadly (at the time) coming to an end. And something within me, that still small, but very persistent voice, began to get louder and louder. I began to look at all the ways and means that nobody seemed to be listening to me… apparently not even God. I decided that I needed to change the way I did things. Like Stoney, I knew I needed to find an answer to the bigger question, “What does it all mean?” I needed to know what I was missing. I needed to understand WHY God wasn’t listening or perhaps simply not answering my prayers. I soon came to discover that it was I who needed to clean up and clear the old receiving tubes. I needed to learn how to pay closer attention and to learn how to listen. But I didn’t know how. So, I went searching.
During that process, I began to listen to what the Universe had to say. And I DO remember a lot of buzzing and ringing in my ears. The more I read, the more that wanted to be read came to me. The more I listened and paid attention to what the teachers in the books said, the more the physical teachers and fellow seekers showed up. And through an amazing period of learning to listen, paying attention, letting go, trusting, surrendering to the greater flow, and allowing myself to be further fine-tuned by the Universe, the more I awakened to the world that laid just beyond the constant barrage of mindless people-chatter, traffic noise, cell phones, television and radio commercials, and all the things that distract us from being able to truly listen.
Hey, it’s not easy! I’ll be the first to tell ya’. Like the other saying goes… If it were, everyone would be doing it! But for those seeking something more than what is just on the surface, learning to clear out all the distractions, most importantly the endless chatter of our own thinking minds, is the key to hearing the Source of all sounds… what many religious texts refer to as the “God-head within”. What the Buddhists refer to as the “Ohm”, the sacred sound of Creation. What the Zukangorians (aka Eckankarians… Eckanakarites?? ) and some String Theorists would call the “sound and light of God”, also known as the elemental vibration of the Universe.
It’s all around us. People often ask me how I know. I say to them, because I’ve learned how to listen. And in fact, I’m still learning how to listen in new and profound ways. Hey, it’s an infinite Universe among infinite Universes. I won’t claim to be able to hear it all. Our little, fragile human heads would most likely explode if we did. But I hear enough to know what I need to know. And if I don’t know something, I can either struggle and do that whole old-paradigm over-thinking of things and play all the angles, OR I can get still, create space, get quiet, take a deep breath, clear the inner-babble and… yup, you guessed it… listen.
Try it for yourself and see. And if you can’t get still enough and quiet enough… PRACTICE. Like I said, it’s not easy. It’s a simple enough concept, but it’s not easy. But like a teacher also said to me, it’s hard until it’s not.
It’s going to take some hard work and dedication on your part to get clear. To undo old patterns of not truly listening. Find a teacher. Join a meditation group. Find a spot in nature. Decide upon, commit to and then stick to a regular practice to nurture your process. Get rid of the noisy, difficult roommate or get a place of your own. Get the wife and/or kids involved. Do whatever it is you have to do, because guess what… no one else is going to do it for you. Your journey is your own. So, own it.
And when you do, it may start out as a faint buzz, like a bee darting in and out of your inner mind. Perhaps you will begin to hear the ringing that comes just before the choir of angels sing your praises. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid, but DO be ready to hear and see things you’ve never heard or seen before. You might just be surprised to see who’s been waiting for you when you arrive and eager to greet you with a big, beautiful “Welcome H’ohmmmmmmmmmmmmm!”
keep listening, Pheonyx
The OCG Awareness Project 365: One World. One Journey. One Purpose.
a documentary about community living, loving and learning amid global changes of the 21st century
Three easy ways YOU can support the Project today: (1) Click the LIKE button below. (2) SHARE this page with others. (3) DONATE today! → Yes, why not now? Absolutely, we totally agree… there’s no better time than the present! ♥ AND just so you know… NO gift is ever (never ever ever eeehhh-vah!) too big or too small. Every share and every love offering goes directly towards helping us help raise awareness, inspire others and build a larger, stronger, wiser, more connected community of beings all around the world. This we promise you.