se rendre à la paix

by Melanie Moser


surrender to peace

as i moved more deeply into living this awakening, i came to understand that much of what we are attempting to reconcile in a spiritual practice can be better experienced through the creation of artistic expression.   here, the ineffable contact with the Divine finds its way into play of form.

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se rendre à la paix

En m'approchant plus profondément de cet éveil, j'ai compris qu'une grande partie de ce que nous essayons de réconcilier dans une pratique spirituelle peut être mieux vécue par la création d'une expression artistique. ici, le contact ineffable avec le Divin entre en jeu dans la forme.

It is simply enough to play — for the next while, I will be exploring a practice of listening, writing and creating in reflection of the deep and beautiful tradition of Hindustani Raga. (For more on raga, you can look here.) I assume this to be a life-long practice that will take me just far enough into the catalogs of this music to become a beginner. Even so, I am very excited to be embarking on this study and to have it permeate my mind and body. Below my reflections on this practice as I am receiving. Thank you!


late-morning ragas

by Melanie Moser



tard dans la matinée - le raga du 10hr - 12hr

june 4, 2019.  beginning the practice of mlle. NOISE with the raga Bhairavi, a late morning raga in the 10am-12pm window by most accounts.  i have chosen to take the next twelve months with a section of the day and explore the ragas and such from each.  a bit confusing as Bhairavi is listed separately from 6am-8, 8am-10, and then in this section as well (here along with Deshkar, Alahiya-Bilawal, and Jaunpuri).  i decided that the twelve sections of the raga wheel be linked each with a month (12pm being the summer solstice and 12am the winter).   i am not studying raga, yet.  i am just bringing some direction to the practice and letting the experience and as much sense as i gather about the scales and effects to influence the creation of a video/audio piece for each month/season/time on the wheel.  what i learned in the study of vichara is the threefold process of contemplation: sravana, manana, and nididhyasana — leading to the state of saksatkara (“where perception and conceptualization are in complete agreement and all doubts from all levels of understanding vanish forever — perfect realization of truth.   ADVIATA ‘I am Atman — I am Brahman’”).     this is to be, by self-definition, my “year of sravana” where i begin to look in the direction of this ancient study and let it wash over me as i explore the same in my visual practice and play.   

listen #1:  Rashid Kahn.   this is bit mournful but light and suspenseful at the same time. 

listen #2:  Ravi Shankar, raga asa bhairav from masetro’s choice.  the tenderness of his playing is immediate and geniune.  feeling perfect alignment for this moment in this day with a slight almost chill in the late-spring air.  very gently inviting my heart and front-body to open and bringing a lightness to my physical grounding.  perfect.  just in the alaap now. . . 



june 10th, 2019.  today the sravana practice with the deshkar raga,  Kumar Ghndharva vocal. possibly one of the most beautiful pieces of singing i have heard in my life.  it was itself life-giving — a transmission of the morning life energy flowing freely and powerfully through his voice, the perfect tempo for waking up, a walk through a forest, an easy blend of the feminine the masculine without effort just enough dew on the surface of things to remember the freshness of each moment. peaceful and helpful for seeing clearly — anger and emotions arising as i was moving but peace surrounding each as i continued through it.  the body simply circling itself in love.

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— the shaman manipulates magic for power —

my seeing is more powerful than anything.

i see energy. i see It.

(hutchin hill photo by the  shaman, c. 2014) 

l’historie a une chaman sur la colline (cote au montee), une version chamanique, guerisseur (magic man, witch doctor), magie, magique hauteurs , energie, forces, puissance, energie reticulaire, energie potentielle, energie solaire, energie eolienne, a bout de forces

seeing — qui peut voir, vu que, etant donne que, — je vois, s’assurer que, prendre (to see to), connaitre (to know), facon de voir (perspective) 

power — force, puissance (lens), facultes, pouvoir (authority; pouvoir absolu, abus de pouvoir, ivre de pouvoir, fore de frappe, redoutable, pleine puissance), droit (law; right), chef (powerful person), avoir le pouvoir,  etre habilite, en votre pouvoir, etre prive d’electricite (to lose power, coupure de courant), monopole — une femme puissant 

je vois ce.  je vois ca.  je vois lui.  s’y croire (think you’re it). et tout ce qui va avec.  en l’etat.  a mon avis. en ordre. ce qu’il devrait etre.  le faire (at it, sex).  degage (beat it).  mourir.  (cop it - uk to die).  je lui vois?  je le vois? 


june 13, 2019.  today’s listen is the Alahiya Bilawal raga again with Ravi Shankar — i just feel that it is good to stick with him, a master, and a mind tuned to the west to get acquainted with the musics as i can.  however, the kumar ghndharva piece was so stunning too - as many ragas there are likely as many masters to explore and learn of, and even more of them developing today, i hope.  this recording is a live sitar nearly 40 minute rendition, beautifully settling into the alap here with these sonic-youth-competing detuning and retuning of the strings — hard to tell if this is just a family gathering and they captured the whole set up time or if they really did take to it yet.   a baby crying and some men’s voices moving about in the background.  one thing you do not hear or see too much of is the engagement of any audience in live raga performance.  the reverence or experience is something different than the say gospel presentation where you cannot help but want to call out if the singer is deeply connected with christ.  here, the expression is more of a surrender, i can feel my inner being prostrating to the divine beauty of the sentiment held in this scale, this player, this recorded moment.  my inner being taking a seat even as i stand at the counter typing this on my macbook.   here there are some calls from the audience but hard to tell really.  it feels as if he is actually here with me sitting here to my left giving this teaching to me.  this raga, this scale a more popular raga apparently, according to the internet, but sitting with ravi here through this recording, i’m disturbed.  i’m disturbed by my inability to just give my entire being to this — whatever this is coming through the tiny speaker on my kitchen counter.  it’s taking my will apart.  i feel it in my solar plexus unraveling my own desire and replacing it with something much holier, something that could never be mine.  something that would not be chosen by my western mind or any programming available to me until this moment, truly.   something like weeping without sadness.  some sort of devestation without pain.  something that makes me feel shocked that i am even allowed to hear it!  allowed like a secret ambrosia that no one was meant to find on youtube in 2019 on a thursday afternoon in new york city but somehow actually intended especially for this very moment.  i just don’t want it to go on!  and i dont’ want it to end!  i want it to go back to the beginning and start again but it’s just enfolding in this beauty that is love.  it is absolute love.  it’s love.   in the form of math, music, notes, scales and in the hands of a master.  it’s terrible that people are turned off to indian music before hearing something like this.  what an experience.  

it reminds me of the feeling i had at the godavari river in nasik india where we were given little lotus flower candles to float out onto the water at dusk sold to us by a young mother and little daughter and i froze in ecstacy and profound humility stunned by the gift of this being given for me!  it was a profound shattering of my identity where i was somehow complicit in this great scam where me, just me was going to be given a precious lotus flower woven together with a few leaves and a small tea candle to alight onto an ancient and sacred river in the early evening in order to set an intention for my first trip to india.  i was frozen.  i could not move my body and i was suddenly weeping but not out of sadness or even of feeling but just absolute sweetness of the gift of life.  how could you go your whole life without that experience?  just that one time has been enough to carry me through.  and then, to have it again here, now seven years later without any warning.   just getting in my practice before the next part of the day.   no warning.  in between a text from my parents that is like a needle in my mind so distracting and just the absolute antithesis of the feeling i am suspended in, my impulse to send this piece to them, saying — behold!  it’s Christ!  — offering it to them from my heart like a piece of god himself — they would not like it at all!  

really want to find some writings on the subtle body and the koshas and how the different ragas are meant to affect.  listening in to this particular piece i truly feel like karma could be easily erased.  

and it keeps getting more beautiful, raising the energy now up into the heart center — but just so lightly and joyfully it’s just simple and sweet and just helping you get there — leaving you really uplifted for the start of your day, or for the second part of your day.  i feel like this could get you to get to work with the highest vibration — ready to engage any task in your way, even the last few minutes take you into your work, letting you leave your attention in two places, supported by the playing but set aside enough that you can wash the dishes.   and now it is regrounding me into my belly and down into my legs and feet like an energy bath of delight leaving me complete and whole and alive in a new way.  

june 14, 2019.  listening this morning at 10:21am — just into the “late morning” section that june is to cover.  today is the Jaunpuri Raga, with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan supposedly from a AIR Kolkata recording from late 1950’s early 1960’s (found on the YouTube channel of Subrata Chowdhury who says he is uploading the musics of himself and his friends “before it is too late” - dated Feb 2015) — sounds like it is a reel-to-reel tape recording that is sometimes pulling which adds to the exquiste beauty of the opening of this stunning piece.  similar to yesterday’s experience with Ravi Shankar and the Alhiya-Bilawal raga, the first minutes of this playing is taking me into a state so immeditately deep and beyond emotion that it is difficult to stand and pretend like anything in front of me holds it standard meaning.  the shattering of my lower heart today, similar again, to the will-center massage from the alhiya-bilawal, but this is much more of a coaxing inward to my deep feeling state.   it’s taking me to an impersonal place of registered emotion.  feeeling is better than emotion because it is acutally condensing the energies of my low heart, my deep center, into some sort of primordial form.  feels like clay - the metaphor of the human form as clay from the earth but in here the earth is cosmic not ground.   it’s an utter and complete descent into form, as if my legs were rooting into the cosmic One in a homecoming, an embrace of a mother or father but to the core, separate from my actual body, but believable.  it’s almost taxing to encounter this kind of surrender without warning.  it’s a demand from life through his mastery.   live.  live here.  vive.  je vive. god is here.  the movement of the body is natural.   very very serious, natural, aware, awake, present, alert — alert from the ground up.  

june 18, 2019.  this is the Deshkar Raag wtih Venkatesh Kumar — this practice is now my practice.  i cannot live without it.  somewhere there is a thought in my mind that i will tire of this music from where i have little idea, but each time the webpage clicks on i am just instantly transported into the light.  somwhere also along the path my mind became the problem.  i was not an anxious thoughts kind of person, more of a distracted by too many things kind of person, still am, which is why a practice like this is something so transportive.  each of these raags contains the widsom of the traditions i have been studying and practicing for the last ten years, on the meditation cushion, in lecture, reading and through the work and conversation of my podcast guests.   so to sit or stand as i am now, listening to just the music of it is super activiating on all the levels that have been previously turned on through both academic and aesthetic practice.  such a gift!  and so much to uncover through this — 

Venkatesh Kumar steps us right into this piece — i am instantly transported back to driving the Indian countryside in 2012 looking out the window at mountains and vast colorful slums across the roadside the man and his wife and three children and bags of supplies and two-by-fours on motorcycle in between the van and the next car, the beauty of the still speed of India, something about the time held in this music that allows for the seemingly precarious pace and capacity of the freeways surrounding mumbai and the streets of smaller villages still somehow completely crowded and packed with activity at half the people.   particuarly this piece is taking me to the edge of trymbakeshwar walking to the temple of jnaneshwar’s brother saint who’s name escapes me right now but there is a folk-vibe to this singing and arrangement that is calling out of the dirt road and trash-laden streets with kids and dogs and cattle and sustained heat suspended smoke or smog of what have you hanging in the air just hick enough to set the tempo the same for everyone — the man at the entrance to the temple asked us if we were from “America” which is what everyone in india then wanted to know, not the US or NYC or anything else but America.  this guy from the devotees leaving their shoes to go in for darhsan.  this guy’s energy is still with me today, a little wild, in the US or, in America, he might have been out of a scene from a washed up 1960’s acid hangout in the Haight but here he was in this absolutely sacred place in the middle of nowhere on the edge of town.  i loved this temple and really wanted to spend more time here.  it was very very very mellow and basic, not too ornate, lots of rugs and fabrics more than stone and such.  kind of like this raga.  a late morning raga that is apparently not often performed this is just moving me into such a nice rhythm like a ride in a steady truck on a dirt road, the turning wheel, the love of Christ, and a tiny bit of seduction —- moving into a really really beautiful purifying build that made me dance in the most free and easy way with movements i have never even considered before, filled with absolute grace.  

june 21, 2019.  raga wheel oh raga wheel raga wheel oh raga wheel raga wheel oh raga wheel i raga you i raga you. 

Raga Janupuri, khyal in jhaptal by Ashwini Bhide Deshpande from the albumWomen Through the Ages Series— this seriously hit me at the picture of her singing — the first note, the transmission of her, i am just collapsing into myself.  i was saying “no!” as if i could stop her beautiful rendition of this raga from entering into my cells and energy body and changing me forever.   sounds dramatic but it is taking me into a flow, a depth of grace   an undeinable movement of ecstatic spirit — thurston moore had a label called ecstatic peace — my friends awesome color had a release or two on it.  i think it dissolvved when he left kim but it is a wonderful sentiment nonetheless.  and, it’s true!  it’s the absolute truth to be sure — peace is ecstatic.  the flow of htis music was so seductively free of sexual energy but full of life-force and christ —in this expression there is nothing but christ.  there were no gaps in the performance or energy for anything but the highest form of consciousness to prevail.  similar to the singing of aretha on her live amazing grace record., there an undeniable presence of jesus and the distinctly female orientation to share her LOVE of and intimate connection with truth.  this singing was really just running the scale in an expert manner, leaving the transmission to the known — the best singers and players leave the notes to themselves and get out of the way.   a stand-in for christ light energy.   i had a piano teacher in college who made me both memorize the piece and take the music up with me and turn the pages as if.  she said it was to honor the composer and to keep myself out of it.  she was right!  it was difficult.  she also had me just play the piece above the keys on the wood of the ledge on the instrument and sometimes even play it backwards.  that was some real learning.  i had another teacher who taught me to sync my breath with my playing and told me that he was working with syncing his own heartbeat.  amazing!  

the female connection to spirit is simply free as she is wired to receive.  that is her gift  — of receptivity.  the union of love with the divine.   from the four basic series of ragas in the late-morning, i have found the most sweetness and ecstacy in the Janupuri.