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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nada Brahma by Joachim-Ernst Berendt

World Is Sound: Nada Brahma
Music and the Landscape of Consciousness
by Joachim-Ernst Berendt

As an aspiring physicist in my previous life as a single, diligent, fanciful grad student a decade ago, partial to non-fiction of the more interesting kind, I read this book for the first time. It left me with mixed feelings as I noted in my journal then. After a decade, re-reading it from my small but inspiring collection of books, I haven't changed my mind much about it.

Berendt, a renowned jazz theorist/musician from Germany, stated: In reality, we and the Universe are vibration and the sound that comes into our brain stimulates not only the brain but also the entire immune system. The auditory nerve has three times more connections to the brain than vision does, as well as connections to the thymus gland and the immune system. It also has direct connections to every organ in the body, and the sound transmitted through the auditory nerve, particularly if it is synchronous, can heal the body.

It is the title of this book that tempted me to give it a try. Berendt has an interesting thesis in this book, merging mathematics and music, drawing parallels between cosmic rhythms and sound vibrations, to state that World is Sound - i.e., Nada Brahma.

Vedic literature recognizes the concept of Nada Brahma. Brahman, the essence or potent power of the cosmos (English is truly inadequate to express these ideas), should not be a new concept to the people from the Indian subcontinent at least. Aham Brahmasmi ("I am the Brahman") is a chant that most boys are taught at the time of initiation into their spiritual existence. If Brahman is understood to be the central, or, primal force not much unlike man's inner consciousness, then Nada Brahma simply states that Nada, Sound, or, Music is that Brahman!

I subscribe to this school of thought freely and emphatically. Bheejaksharam or Pranava mantram or Omkaram as it is referred to in Sanskrit, is recognized as the primal vibration that existed before creation and the only sound that will pervade the cosmos after the great destruction(pralayam). There is no denying the power of the right vibrations to stir the depths of your soul and lift your consciousness. Music, certain kind of music at least, has the power to move us to tears. The resultant resonance is proof enough that Berendt has a great point.

Berendt's extensive research is very impressive. Particularly, the sections about Zen mondos, Japanese Koans and Indian mantras, Kepler's thesis and harmony of the planetary motion.

But the spin out in this book tries to over-generalize the concept and comes out sounding like one of those 60's New Age ideas that seemed fashionable despite its subjectivism. Although I have a lot of respect for Berendt's hypothesis, I could not see the depth and strength of his thesis. But, I would gladly recommend this book for the musically-inclined-philosopher type who likes to see the harmony in Nature and longs for a Unified central theme to our existence here on Earth.

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Blogger Dee said...

excellent...this book is on my list now

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


12:39 AM  

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