The Gaps between the sounds of the World
I had a pivotal experience many years ago of seeing the gaps between the sounds of the world. I was driving to my home town which I was moving back to. I had been reading Castaneda for sometime, and during the drive I was contemplating, whether I was to going to continue following this path that had recently been opened up to me.
When I was not too far from where I was going, I suddenly had the feeling that I should not go straight back home but should instead turn off. It felt like an omen and I didn’t feel as if I could ignore it. This was partly because I almost didn’t want to reach my destination undecided. I got to a slip road and pulled off and ended up at a place where I parked up to stretch my legs.
I had been practising listening to the gaps between the sounds of a world for a while. And I thought this for some reason this was a good opportunity to try. I sat on the bonnet of my car and listened intently. This was a quiet area near a huge suspension bridge. There was just the sounds of the distant cars on the road behind me and the lapping of the waves on the water near by. There I sat and listened to the world. The more I listened the more I could hear the blank areas between the sounds. These gaps opened up and became incredibly clear. The break in the continuity was obvious. The listening started to blur my perception of the world. The gaps themselves became more defined than the sounds. I started to feel a vibration in my ears; something like a silent alarm being triggered. Then I saw wisps of light begin to appear in the night sky. These formed into eight golden rings of light suspended sequentially in the air in front of me….like enormous rings of smoke.
These shapes seemed like a representation of the gaps I had been experiencing – like some sort of physical manifestation. I was unable to maintain the attention needed for distinguishing the gaps; the scene hung there for a moment then disappeared. I felt a calm and returned to my car to continue on my journey. I was now decided on my course of action.
It is obvious to me now that this is a powerful ‘Not-doing’, the activity Don Juan prescribed to Carlos Castaneda for ‘Stopping the world’. In specific this is the ‘Not-doing’ of ‘listening’. Not-doing is defined as the counter point to things we know well in the world – the ‘Doing’ of the world. In order to ‘Stop the world’ which is to end the description of the world, one must cease ‘Doing’. Stopping the internal dialogue is the means to end this description and the activity of ‘Not-doing’ is the way to achieve it. The most obvious example of ‘Not-doing’ is shadows as compared to the solid objects that creates them, they are that which is unfamiliar to us and unnoticed. Also the twilight is the ‘not-doing’ of the day so to speak. ‘Seeing’ is described as the ‘Not-doing’ of looking, ‘dreaming’ the ‘Not-doing’ of Sleeping and so on…
Quotes from “Journey to Ixtlan”
“The world is the world because you know the doing involved in making it so,” – Don Juan Matus
“Once you know what it is like to stop the world you realize there is a reason for it. You see, one of the arts of the warrior is to collapse the world for a specific reason and then restore it again in order to keep on living.” – Don Juan Matus
When one focuses so intently on the gaps created by the silences between sounds – One is unable to maintain the attention needed to continue with the internal dialogue. The world as such collapses and the description of the world is suspended, enabling the participant to ‘see’ the energetic nature of the world.
Excerpt from “A Separate Reality” by Carlos Castaneda
“(Don Juan said)…that I should focus all my attention on listening to sounds and do my best to find the holes between the sounds… I began to listen and I could distinguish the whistling of birds, the wind rustling the leaves, the buzzing of insects… I was immersed in a strange world of sound, as I had never been in my life… After a moment of attentive listening I thought I understood don Juan’s recommendation to watch for the holes between the sounds. The pattern of noises had spaces in between sounds!… the timing of each sound was a unit in the overall pattern… Thus the spaces or pauses in between sounds were, if I paid attention to them, holes in a structure…
“I shifted my attention from hearing to looking… The silhouette of the hills was arranged in such a way that from the place where I was looking there seemed to be a hole on the side of one of the hills… a space between two hills… It was as if the hole I was looking at was the ‘hole’ in the sound… Then the other sounds began again and their structure of pauses became an extraordinary, almost visual perception. I began seeing the sounds as they created patterns and then all those patterns became superimposed on the environment… I was not looking or hearing as I was accustomed to doing. I was doing something which was entirely different but combined features of both…my attention was focused on the large hole in the hills. I felt I was hearing it and at the same time looking at it.”