"This is the essence of the ritual -- to create a holy space and summon the gods to the here and now, to this place at this moment ....
The abbess adjusted the mirror slightly and the light hit the god's eyes. Kai guang, opening brightness. The god's eyes were open to the world below: the abbess, the worshipers and the vast expanse of the North China Plain, with its millions of people racing toward modern China's elusive goals -- prosperity, wealth, happiness."
A hat tip to Sam Crane at The Useless Tree for bringing to my attention The Rise Of The Tao -- a lovely article by Ian Johnson in this past Sunday's New York Times, which explores the often-complex relationship between religion and politics in contemporary China, by way of an insider's glimpse into a couple of powerful Taoist practitioners. Definitely worth the read.
And while we're on the topic of "opening brightness," I can't resist the temptation to point your heart/mind/ears in the direction of my friend Jayme Spirit-flowing-through-Banjo Stone's new album, appropriately titled Room Of Wonders -- a truly delicious auditory collage, inspired by folk dances from around the world. "Ways Of The World" and "Troll Kingdom Polska" are, among the video-clips posted, two of my favorites; and be sure not to miss Jayme's rendition of Bach's Allemande from the French Suite No. 6 in E Major :)
What I notice, in listening to Jayme's music, is that I tend to "hear" it first as a movement of energy in my lower dantian. This belly-brain energy is then drawn up slowly (like drinking a thick sweet milkshake through a long straw) along the front of my spine, all the way up onto my soft palate. The energy-sensation then flows laterally, widening and merging with the spaces of my inner-ear, producing a sensation of hearing/tasting/feeling the music, as a connoisseur might taste a very fine wine. Finally, there is a gentle smile, and a sense of my eyes opening wide and softening, as though inviting/allowing the brightness carried by the music to flow, inside-out and outside-in, simultaneously.