Despite his skepticism regarding the therapeutic benefits of sleep concerts, Robert Rich remains convinced that the right music can open up an entirely new world of consciousness. When I ask why it’s important to pay attention to our subconscious and our dreams, he fixes me with a look that’s at once urgent and sympathetic. “So much of what we experience is in parallel to our sense of self. We have this little script that says, ‘me, me, me, me, me,’ all day long, and we place ourselves right behind our eyes in this physical world and think that’s all there is. But our organs of perception are constantly processing things in the periphery. If we ignore that, we’re ignoring much of ourselves.”
“I feel that we are becoming really disconnected from our planet and our bodies,” he continues, his expression becoming more urgent. “As we get older, we realize what a blink life is, how fast it goes, and the technologies around us conspire to distract us from what really matters—community, the planet, the environment, love, joy. The thing-ness of reality is very important, and if I have a lifelong goal, it’s to try to help people stay aware of being in this world, in a body, for the very short time that we’re here.”
~ Robert Rich, quoted in “Songs in the Key of Zzz: A History of Sleep Music,” Pitchfork (October 2015), http://pitchfork.com/features/articles/9738-songs-in-the-key-of-zzz-the-history-of-sleep-music/
However great the conceptual knowledge and understanding might be, in the face of real experience, concepts are like flakes of snow fallen on a burning fire.
Zen Master Zenkei Shibayama
Not far into a long lonely journey, Mulla Nasrudin saw on the road in the distance a piece of rope that looked to him very much like a snake. Dismounting from his donkey, he led it back down the road and cried out to some other travelers: “Stop! Stop! Danger lies ahead! There may be snakes!”
The travelers immediately came to a stop and began to talk with him and amongst themselves: “What? What snakes?! Is there a way around? Perhaps we should band together for safety!”
This discussion went on for some time, after which they all carefully crept forward as a group, highly alert to possible perils.
As they got closer, one of the more sharp-sighted travelers laughed and cried out: “Hey, Mulla, is that your ‘snake’? But it is nothing but a rope, an illusion!”
“Oh, I know that,” replied Mulla Nasrudin, unperturbed, “but it’s an illusion that I was able to put to very good use!”
Copyright © J. C. Graham (2015). Mulla Nasrudin and the ‘Snake.’ Copy and distribute freely if noncommercially, unchanged, with attribution, and including this notice.
Sorry I’ve been out-of-touch, Old Buddy, but we haven’t had power these past few weeks, ever since the unfortunate Squirrel-A-Whirl Incident (which shortly I’ll recount to you), so of course e-mail has been out of the question. Truth be told, the computer system has been up again since last Monday, but I’ve been so preoccupied coping with the chaos in the backyard, and our home’s wiring system, that this is the first chance I’ve gotten a chance to write you a note explaining what’s been going on with us. I think that you’ll agree that the course to our mishaps began innocently enough.
One day in early May, after work, Jill and I stopped by Buck-Moore Feed and Seed, to pick up a bag of seed for our doves (you remember: Pico and the gang). Casually looking around the shop, as the helpful attendent went to get a 50 lb. sack of Ful-O-Pep Parakeet Mix from the back, I noticed on a shelf by the front window, packaged in a box, the “Squirrel-A-Whirl” contraption. On the front of the box there was a picture of a cute squirrel evidently swinging around on a wooden dowel as the little fellow attempted to get to a ear of dried corn stuck onto the end of it. The picture showed three such baited dowels set out of a central rotating wheel.
“Keep squirrels away from your bird feeders, and have endless hours of entertainment yourself,” I read on the box. “Squirrels love to ride the ‘Squirrel-A-Whirl’ (TM) as the little acrobats feed and enjoy being swung about on our patented ‘Squirrel-A-Whirl’ (TM) carrousel. (Place in part of yard away from birdfeeders).”
And, in tiny letters at the bottom of the box: “Not responsible for any damage that may result from use of the ‘Squirrel-A-Whirl’ (TM) feeder. User assumes all liabilities.”
“What damage?” I thought. “Maybe a squirrel might fall off, but his kin would be unlikely to sue.” Little did I know…
<continue reading: The Squirrel-A-Whirl Incident