Gonsar Rinpoche

Wholesome Sound

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Wholesome Sound

Sounds and voices are among the strongest factors which influence our lives. We use our very voice as one of the most important instruments to exert influence on our environment, but do not quite understand just how much sounds and voices are directly linked with the subtlest modes of functioning of our mind and body.

Gonsar Rinpoche describes these determining processes based on Buddha Shakyamuni's perfect explanations which are also the key to understanding the most profound and subtle connections that constitute the world of our experiences.

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Gonsar Tulku Rinpoche:

Like in any spiritual tradition, in Buddhism too, sound and voice play a very important role in the practice. However, sound and voice are not only important in the religions, they are indispensable, inseparable from our life. This is not only true for human beings, but it is true for all other types of sentient beings as well. That means every being, which possesses consciousness or mind, depends very much on sound, and is always related to sound. Buddhism teaches that we are made up of six sense organs, six consciousnesses (which means the five sense consciousnesses and the mental consciousness) and the six objects of these consciousnesses, namely form, sound, smell, taste, tactile, and knowable objects. So the second object of our consciousness is sound. However, it is important for us to know what sound actually is.

In Buddhist philosophy everything is explained in a very logical way. A definition is given to each of these six types of consciousness as well as their objects. The definition of sound is:

That which is to be heard

or literally translated:

An audible object for a hearing consciousness

It is emphasised by Buddha in all of his teachings that everything, all phenomena that exist, exist interdependently. There is nothing, which exists independently! Form exists interdependently, and sound also exists interdependently. As for us, we frequently have a falsified view about the things around us. It may appear to us that an object like sound exists in an independent, intrinsic manner, which Buddha said, is an illusion.

In just the same way we have a false view about our own self. This "I", this self, though it exists in reality only interdependently, appears to us as having an intrinsic, independent nature. As if there was something concrete in us, which is the very owner, the possessor of everything, of every part of our body and mind etc. This too, is a false view.

When we think about sound, sound appears to us to be also something which exists independently, while this is not at all the case. The definition of sound is: that which is to be heard. This means that sound exists in dependence upon our hearing, in dependence upon our auditive consciousness. Sound is thus established in dependence upon auditive consciousness. So, if there is no hearing consciousness, if there is no sentient being with hearing consciousness, there is no sound. Therefore one cannot speak about any sound independently, because sound can't exist by itself. It exists in dependence upon the hearing consciousness together with the hearing organ. These things, along with the source of whatever the sound is, whether it be a musical instrument, or the voice of somebody etc., exist through interaction. It is through the interrelation between all these subjective and objective phenomena that there comes a relative, interdependent sound into being. If you take all those things apart, there is not any kind of sound whatsoever. And of course, if there is no independent sound at all, there is no question that "good" or "bad" sounds are even more subjective.


© 27.05.20 Rabten Choeling • EditorialData protection