From Chapter Six of the book
How to Achieve Peace of Mind

How to Achieve Peace of Mind

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Listening

By Jerry Dorsman

“Bathe in the center of sound, as in the continuous sound of a waterfall. Or, by putting fingers in ears, hear the sound of sounds.”
-Tantric Sutra

Most of us are drawn through our senses to the world outside of ourselves. Indeed our senses seem specifically designed to connect us to things in the world. Rarely do we go inside; we keep moving outward through the senses.

That’s why meditation can be so helpful. Through meditation, we go inside. We look behind the senses to find a beautiful and joyous world within.

Your sense of hearing allows you to go inside more easily than your sense of sight. That’s because hearing happens on the inside. Sound comes to you from all around and you experience it inside. With sight, you experience the object of your vision inside as well but you usually feel that the object is outside of you. With sound, you can close your eyes and feel as though the sound is happening within.

So it’s easy to feel as if you’re in the center of sound. You always are the center of sound. Sound is circular, coming from all directions all around you. It comes to you. With sight, you go to it. Sight is linear. It transports you out of yourself: your eyes focus on an object, and bang, you go to the object.

The Tantric Sutra leading into this section embodies two methods that will help to free your mind by using sound.

The Methods:

1. “Bathe in the center of sound as in the continuous sound of a waterfall.” For a moment, close your eyes and listen. Where do you hear the sounds? Don’t try to locate the sources of the sounds. Instead, locate your hearing.

This is easiest with a continuous sound such as a waterfall. Try sitting near a waterfall, closing your eyes, and just listening. After a while, you will go deep within your center. The sound Meditative waterfallitself will continue to move you toward your center. Then, be aware, the sound will begin to blink on and off. You will hear it, then you will have a brief moment when you will hear nothing. This is the true center of sound: silence is at the center. It is the silent point within you that “hears.”

All sound is heard by something with no sound, and that is your center. When you go there, you feel peace.

Without a waterfall, you can use music. Of course, by using headphones you can easily feel at the center of sound. But with music, you’ll find yourself following notes and these notes will light up spots all over your brain. Look for the center of sound behind the notes. The center will appear in the melody and the harmony created by the notes—in other words, in the composite sound. So, in music, listen for the composite sound. That will lead you to your center.

After you practice this meditation for a while, you can quickly find your center by listening to any set of sounds. Even the sounds produced in the middle of the day on a busy street in the heart of New York City!

2. “Or by putting fingers in ears, hear the sound of sounds.” The sound of sounds rests at a still point, silent point within you. By plugging your ears to all outside sound, you can hear it. This is a short-cut, a quick way to “hear” the inner silence, a fast journey to the center of your being. Try it. After a few moments you’ll feel deeply alone, not lonely but alone—fully alive, fully vibrant, within yourself.

The sutra has two parts because these two techniques work together. Both help to take you to your center— that ecstatic, peaceful space inside. The first one helps you find your center through sound. The second helps you hear “the sound of sounds,” or soundlessness, which is the center itself.