This essay analyzes the performance of dhikr (the invocation of God through prayer, sons, and movement) in Aleppo, Syria, as an embodied practice mediated by specific repertoires of aesthetic and kinesthetic practices. In dhikr, aesthetic stimuli produce an experience of temporal transformation that participants narrate as "ecstasy." Performing dhikr also conditions a musical self, which in turn allows for the habituation of spiritual states. This suggests the importance of investigating the interface of embodied practices, temporality, and the aesthetics of spiritual practice. (Aesthetics, temporality, music, Islam, Syria).
Chanting the psalms, or psalmody, is an ancient practice of vital importance in the Christian spiritual tradition. Today many think of it as a discipline that belongs only in monasteries--but psalmody is a spiritual treasure that is available to anyone who prays. You don't need to be musical or a monk to do it, and it can be enjoyed in church liturgical worship, in groups, or even individually as part of a personal rule of prayer. Cynthia Bourgeault brings the practice into the twenty-first century, providing a history of Christian psalmody as well as an appreciation of its place in contemplative practice today. And she teaches you how to do it as you chant along with her on the accompanying CD in which she demonstrates the basic techniques and easy melodies that anyone can learn. "Even if you can't read music," Cynthia says, "or if somewhere along the way you've absorbed the message that your voice is no good or you can't sing on pitch, I'll still hope to show you that chanting the psalms is accessible to nearly everyone."
The Monks produce polyphonic chanting of incredible power and depth, creating resonances both musical and spiritual. This program also features a performance offering to The Monks by Mickey Hart, Kitaro and Philip Glass and featuring Jerry Garcia. It is important to remember, when listening to this recording, that these incantations are not songs, but prayers from ancient ritual traditions. Recorded during their 1988 American tour, in the sonically amazing confines of Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch sound studios, two nearly-30-minute recitations focus traditional Tibetan Buddhist deities and their respective powers upon the modern world. "Yamantaka" aligns the Monks with the divine Buddha form "Terminator of Death," chanting to exorcise human afflictions of anger, avarice, lust and envy. "Mahakala," the frightening six-armed protector, is invoked in this eponymous ceremony to protect the earth and all its inhabitants. A third track, "#2 for Gaia," is a live performance by Mickey Hart, Philip Glass, and Kitaro, recorded at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine as a tribute to the Monks, who were in attendance at the performance. Proceeds from all sales of this recording benefit the Gyuto Sacred Trust.
"An essential introduction to the philosophy and practice of the mystical tradition of Islam."--Cover.