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High-Tech Chants

February 06, 1987

I enjoyed Beth Ann Krier's report, "Meditation on Tape: Enlightenment Made Easy" (Jan. 30) from Faber, Va., about this "high-tech" approach to the ancient search for peace of mind. Especially delightful were Krier's keen perceptions of the Zen-like implications of Ally Sheedy's saying, "The tapes sort of meditate you"; of Brother Charles' reference to a good dose of enlightenment as a "hit," and her witty reference to the tapes with delta and theta phasing and subliminal messages as being of "industrial strength."

There may be something in Brother Charles' assertion that what's missing from our chanting in modern square rooms is the reverberations set up in the ancient caves where the whole thing started.

I'm reminded of a hike I took through some ancient cave dwellings of the Anasazi (Ancient Ones) in New Mexico. A kiva (round, drum-shaped, partially underground, built of stone, adobe and timbers) had been reconstructed by archeologists on the ancient foundations in the largest cave. When I'd climbed down the ladder into the kiva, the sound quality made me wonder if the Ancient Ones had chanted there as well as in the more public ritual dances.

Not knowing any Tewa chants, I hoped the ghosts of the Ancients wouldn't be offended (if any were still about) by any chanting in Sanskrit. Evidently no offense was taken, since the echoes, reverberations were great. Talk about a "hit." That one must have lasted a week. Only someone like Alfonso Ortiz, who took a degree in anthropology and then returned to study his own Pueblo peoples, could say for sure perhaps. But I think it's possible those Ancient Ones knew what they were building into their kivas. The high-tech of their era.

FRANK M. CHAPMAN

Sherman Oaks

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