Same as the first (2013), except even quieter. I'll be at the diner in Isabel Monday morning, August 11 at eight o'clock for breakfast and then a hike to Thunder Butte should anyone wish to go. Last year aside from an open invitation to the world for this "event", I personally contacted probably a couple dozen people. Three met me there (photograph below). But this August will be a quiet one for me on the plains, poking around and thinking things over. This year's ruminations on the Kototama sound practice below the photo.



Harold Bloom has written, as I am able to understand him, that Shakespeare changed the world, or human consciousness, because his characters changed through "overhearing" themselves speak. It occurs to me this is pretty much exactly what happens in Kototama sound practice except one overhears simply the basic sounds of the human voice without the arbitrary meanings assigned by one or another particular human language. The audacity of the Kototama Principle, I believe, is to assert not just that these sounds have meaning in themselves, but that they are the fundamental building blocks of reality.

For a long time, my understanding was that one part, perhaps the biggest part, of human beings waking up was to begin to speak in daily life a sort of one true Kototama language. That is, there is one right word for everything and if we speak it out - if we look at the mountain and call it by its true name - we will inevitably come into harmony with things, and this will be the New Age for the human race.

That may be so, but as I wrote on my original post on this site five years ago, I am not even close to being there yet. In fact, it is more interesting to me now to consider that there may be two kinds of language for human beings, the sound meditation and the language of daily life.

The first way I want to discuss this idea of dual languages is to refer to bicameralism - the ideas of Julian Jaynes. Now I don't want to give the wrong idea here; basically all I know of Jaynes' ideas are what I've read in the occasional essay that pops up on 3 Quarks Daily or Arts and Letters. But it seems almost too perfectly related to the Kototama Principle, the history of it as Sensei Nakazono used to present it. The idea seems to be the ancients were incapable of introspective thought, but instead were guided by voices in their heads that they took to be the voices of the gods. My understanding is that in Jaynes' view then there was a kind of evolution into modern-day capacity for inwardness or introspection, a big step up from the strangeness of ancient awareness.

This idea makes a Kototama person sit up and take notice - or at least it is intriguing to me - but from a Kototama perspective the idea would be that the old "voices of the gods" is the sound-meditation language still echoing in the ears, you might say, of the human race even though the practice itself had been stopped. In other words, after we stopped making the sounds of Kototama, we eventually lost our ears, our ability to hear those sounds, which near the end seemed as strange and mysterious as the voices of the gods.

(You can test this out for yourself. Take the basic sounds of Sugaso order - I A O U E, pronouncing the I as in be and the E as in way - say them three times quickly and then go look in the mirror and say Candym... just kidding.)

Richard Dawkins, as I recall, has described Jaynes' work as being either "complete rubbish" or something wonderful. So is the writing on this website, but I am beginning to think, or at least get glimpses, that from the sound practice emerges a second kind of consciousness that is quite outside the confines of my everyday language. I'm not quite sure what to make of that last sentence. I am trying to grow some new ears is basically what I believe I am saying.

This spring I read Robert Utley's biography of Sitting Bull and came upon this very striking (to me at least) paragraph from a letter sent by ten Hunkpapa chiefs in 1862 to Pierre Garreau at Fort Berthold, dealing essentially, it seems to me, with the heart of a conflict between two very different cultures:

  • We notified the Bear's Rib yearly not to receive your goods; he had no ears and we gave him ears by killing him. We now say to you, bring us no more goods; if any of our people receive any more from you we will give them ears as we did the Bear's Rib....We have told all our agents the same thing, but they have paid no attention to what we have said. If you have no ears we will give you ears, and then your Father very likely will not send us any more goods or agent.

  • We also say to you that we wish you to stop the whites from travelling through our country, and if you do not stop them, we will. If your whites have no ears, we will give them ears.

This affected me at first almost viscerally, just as an old athlete. Odd as this may sound, it seemed like the best kind of trash talking - bold and threatening but also intensely serious, honest, and confident. Then the sadness of it - first that they were aware the strange powers approaching were deaf to their voices, and then the historical knowledge we have that the deaf ones had the power and were going to use it mercilessly.

And then finally the surprising and incredibly eloquent connection with my own Christian upbringing - how well I remember Jesus saying, He who has ears, let him hear. I believe we all think we understand this saying, and we all believe that we are the ones in the know, that we have the right kind of ears. So why after 2000 years of Christian ascendancy is the world still so screwed up?

Jesus also said of course we all must become like little children, and I believe I understood that in the way he meant it. In fact it runs pretty deep in me. The title of this website is a salute to Wordsworth's powerful visualization of this, and I always thought the disciples were being either incredibly dense or willfully obtuse with - So, what are you saying, we have to go back in the womb? It never occurred to me, though, to wish that someone had said - So where can a guy get a pair of those ears? Or that Jesus had just outlined that quite specifically. Well, and I hope it's obvious by now, my idea about the way to grow the right kind of ears is to overhear yourself - for me it works best out in a meadow somewhere - in Kototama sound practice.

One last thing - "Intimations of Immortality" begins with the line "The child is father of the man". Perhaps my favorite English poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, has a short poem dismissing this as nonsense, but I always thought it made perfect sense. I've asked young students about it several times over the years and they've pretty much come up empty, which doesn't happen too often.

I've also asked young people if our ancestors are older or younger than us, are they the ancient ones or the young ones, and this has been an interesting thing to talk about with them.

Related to this, but harder for me to get a handle on, is what I think should be the relatively simple idea of "foreground". Emerson famously speculated on the foreground of Walt Whitman's poetry. And again about Harold Bloom, when I first taught a high school English class on Shakespeare ten years ago, I can't tell you how many times I read and reread his discussion of foregrounding and Shakespeare. I just couldn't see it until one day I was walking out to the meadow behind our house and got the little poem posted elsewhere on this site.

What I'm getting to is it seems to me now that being born is not just a "coming into" but also a "coming from". The language of everyday life is the language of coming into awareness and knowledge, individuation, and so forth. But the language of the sound practice, which we have lost, is the language of connection - and I've tried pretty hard to avoid this kind of sweeping statement on this site - with the universe from which we have come, of which we are a part, and to which we will return.

I reread Black Elk's great vision this year closely and for the first time in quite a while. I was particularly taken with the voice "that went all over the universe and filled it". I believe we all know what this is. It's in the Bible, particularly I think in Psalms, it's in Abraham Lincoln's pretty remarkable "mystic chords of memory" line - hell, to me it's even in a sports stadium rocked by cheers for what people are watching unfold in front of their very eyes.

My story once again, which I continue to stick with, is that this Kototama Principle of sound meditation is the way to access this connection, to join the poet in saying "now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened."