Everywhere, sound, vibration and frequency moves me as it has moved cultures for millennia. Sound provides a doorway in consciousness, an avenue for outward creation, and a pathway in to the deep reaches of our being:
â€¢ Recently as I walked down the National Mall in Washington, D.C., I heard an ancient rhythm from a ceremonial drum ricochet through the marble and limestone canyons formed by government buildings and the monuments of our nationâ€™s memories.
â€¢ Outside the vast sprawl of SÃ¥o Paulo, Brazil, I listened in a small, unassuming temple to three great bass congas bellow a charismatic beat that melded a room filled with eager devotees into an entranced frenzy.
â€¢ In my imagination from atop my hill in Kansas, I still hear the medicine drums calling tribes to council and the thundering cadence of bison hooves in mass moving across the valley below.
Long before I understood sound as a doorway, I noticed how drumming brought people together. Without words, without melody, drums sing a universal language, perhaps it is the language of Spirit. It doesn’t matter whether itâ€™s a drum solo in a rock band or the underscore of an indigenous chant around a fire, the sound touches something elemental within us and collectively. We pay attention.
Creation stories from around the world implicate sound as primordial, the vehicle by which the universe formed. The sound is â€œHuâ€ to the Sufi, â€œOmâ€ to the Hindu, â€œKungâ€ to the Taoist, and â€œthe Wordâ€ to Judeo-Christians. Native American and Andean traditions say the sound of the drum represents Earthâ€™s heartbeat. I know that when I listen to the drum, I hear all these sounds in its resonance. It connects me not only with the deep states of consciousness within. It connects me with creation itself and draws me into relationship with the heartbeat of our Earth.
This relationship with our planet is more primal than sharing life with a mate, yet it is easily overlooked. It came naturally with the innocence of childhood. Once we approached nature with wide eyes, fascinated by every firefly, tadpole and daisy. We couldn’t wait to talk to our pet, converse with a passing toad or find a unicorn in the clouds above our head. Our storybooks told of adventures shared by fairies, elves and frogs that turned into a prince. As children, we drank in our surroundings anxious to learn from â€“ and about â€“ the world we had come here to inhabit, not as observers but as participants. As children, the world was our lover; we cherished every offering it provided and traded our wonderment for the blessings of creation eager for the exchange.
In mass, as adult inhabitants, too many have forgotten this relationship. Perhaps it was with the rise of Western theologies or during the Industrial Revolution, but somewhere as a species we went to war with our planetary partner. We assumed that whatever we did had little or no effect on a big ball of dirt; it was our resource. We forgot she was once our lover, once the source of our wonderment and vitality. We forgot she had a heartbeat. Like any relationship, when one partner ignores the otherâ€™s heart long enough, things get shaky, stormy and hot.
Andean mystics describe our personal existence as occurring within a universe of living energy with which we constantly exchange. Adding to our childlike wonderment, it suggests we enter into a deliberate, respectful relationship with this energy at large. ayni (a Qâ€™ero word pronounced I-nee) is a state of reciprocity, a sacred interchange with everything â€“ yes everything. In Christian terms, it is doing unto others, as you would have them do unto you, but in the Qâ€™ero culture of Peru, it means helping the people in your community and caring with respect for your neighbors who may happen to be mountains, forests, plants, animals or minerals. The idea is that we are always giving and taking with everything around us. The energy exchange is constant and we must be consciously â€œgiving at least as good as we getâ€ to everything without measuring what weâ€™re getting back. Thatâ€™s a formula for success in any relationship.
If I have drummed up your interest, I would like to take these ideas a bit further, to where they have led me.
Our imbalanced relationship with creation, and our fellow beings, is noticeable to me â€“ and probably to you. We can deny the problem and rationalize that someone else will fix it or respond. But how? Perhaps like me, you sense a shift coming on this planet in your bones and that more is asked of us than to fearfully wait for deliverance.
My first response was writing a book. In it, a shamanic character says, â€œDo what you know, learn all you can and trust that the rest will be provided.â€ Heeding my characterâ€™s words, â€œNow is the time to do what Iâ€™ve been learning for.â€
Here are a few things Iâ€™ve learned, along with what I am going to do.
In the past decades, physicists have peered into the depths of the subatomic particle world only to discover that there aren’t really particles there. Instead, they found a world of vibrating energy that seemed affected by our observation, by our interaction with it. Physicists describe the interference patterns of energy at the subatomic level as â€œnodes of resonance.â€ You might call my next response to the relationship problem a â€œnode of resonanceâ€ in a larger world, a pattern formed by the interaction of my work with drumming and sound, Peter Russellâ€™s book, The Global Brain, and Lynne McTaggartâ€™s work in The Intention Experiment. Could these ideas work together? Can we use them to affect the living energy world in a positive way? If energy follows thought, why not try.
The Global Brain proposes a systems perspective of how life is developing on this planet. Throughout Earthâ€™s history, certain essential elements reached a critical population density, a new property emerged, and the whole became greater than the sum of its parts. Iâ€™ll leave it to that author to explain his full premise, but the key element here is that critical population was about 10 billion. We are now approaching that population as a species on this planet. The Intention Experiment studied how applied intention, the subtle energy of directed thought, positively affected the outcome of illness. It is not the only such study. Her work and that of others demonstrate that our thoughts â€“ our intention â€“ influence the world from the smallest level to our very being.
Can we enhance an intentionâ€™s effect by using the sound of the drum to deepen consciousness and reiterate the beat until we approach the critical threshold of 10 billion?
We live in an extraordinary time. On one hand, we see a rise of hope in the world that offers the promise of bonding us together and overcoming a hard time. In contrast, we see that divisions between nations, political parties and religious extremes seem unfazed. Some prophesy that we have come to the end of our days, while others say we are about to advance.
Here is an idea in response to this current paradox: 10 Billion Beats. Without doctrine or dogma, its simple agenda is to foster goodwill within the entire living family on the planet in which we live, move and have our being. I know it does not solve all the problems, but as a family relationship therapist with several years of experience, Iâ€™ve seen division before. Iâ€™ve learned that before a family can find solutions, they have to hear each otherâ€™s heartbeat.
10 Billion Beats is a Global Intention Experiment that will use drumming to send a wave of positive intention around the world. Starting in Central Kansas, it will follow the sun through the time zones at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 (Sept. 19 as it crosses the dateline). It is to continue the energy exchange giving at least as good as we have received. This project is for everyone like me who is crazy enough to think they can change the world and everyone else for whom they want to change it. That includes you. The idea is admittedly huge. This is a grassroots movement â€“ it is not a commercial event â€“ and it will only work if people like you get excited, if people like you participate, and if people like you tell others about it.
You and I may hear, and even play, different drums. That is as it should be, but for a short period on one day this fall, perhaps we can find a common beat. The Sufi Mystic Hazrat Inayat Kahn (1983) said: â€œAll things being derived from and formed of vibration have sound hidden within them, as fire is hidden in flint, and each atom of the universe confesses by its tone, â€˜My sole origin is sound.â€™â€
Everywhere, sound moves us. I invite you to catch the beat and be the wave. Confess your tone along with 10 Billion of them, join in, and letâ€™s drum up the new world!
To get involved with 10 Billion Beats, visit If this resonates with you, please visit www.10billionbeats.com.