December 26, 2013

Arnold Keyserling On Trance Consciousness And Dancing, Documentary on Origins of Trance Music, Ecstasy As A Treatment For PTSD, And Sufi Whirling Dervishes

I. Arnold Keyserling On Trance Consciousness And Dancing.

Count Arnold Alexander Keyserling (February 9, 1922 – September 7, 2005) was a German philosopher and theologian. He is the son of Hermann Graf Keyserling and great-grandson of Otto von Bismarck.
Quote from the video below:
"One thing is common to all transformation rites, the so-called rites of passage. These assume that man has two levels of consciousness. The normal, everyday consciousness, and that of joy or ecstasy. Whilst, for Western psychiatry, trance is an extra-ordinary experience, religion views the blissful trance state as the real consciousness. Dance is the shortest way to ecstasy because it involves the whole body. Certain simple movements - called dikr in Arabic, also produce trance-like states. Normally, our body has no one pervading rhythm, but when music unifies the various circuits of the body the inner light is switched on.

Man has much more energy than he thinks. When a man has had his head spun by someone standing behind him, the emotions of the abdomen and the heart emerge uncontrolled by the head. The head is the source of the ego-strategies that stand in the way of man's authentic being. Trance brings out the primal emotions. They may appear as fear, obscenity, bliss, or liberation." - Arnold Keyserling.

II. Documentary on Origins of Trance Music.

Video Title: "MFS Berliner Trance Documentary (1993)" Source: YouTube channel The Soundtrack of Zapresic. Date Published: January 17, 2011. Description:
This lost classic, shot on 16mm in a wintry Berlin in 1993, explores the origins of the now monumentally massive German Trance and Dance music scene.

With interviews with luminaries such as Dr Motte, Paul van Dyk, Laurent Garnier, Paul Browse, Mijk van Dijk and MFS label supremo Mr Mark Reeder this now legendary exploration into the underworld of what was the most significant force in driving dance music forward in the 20th century.

It contains rare early footage of the 1991 and 1993 Love Parade, and of the now bulldozed Mutoid Waste Company land, E-Werk and Tresor - Berlin's legendary (and now closed) clubs that started it all in the former East Berlin. Directed by Ben Hardyment.
Quotes from the Documentary:
"It was just atmosphere. It wasn't any particular sound, or particular sequence really. It was the way the sequences and sounds fit together, which gave a kind of hypnotic, trance-like, when I say trance, I mean, we had difficulty at beginning about how do we call this kind of music. It's very repetitive, some of the sequences, some of it is fast, some of it is not so fast, but it all has one connecting element which is like a modern day trance music. . . Dancing is a form of sexual expression. I find that techno is very static, and you only move certain parts of your body. With trance music, because there is lots more elements in there, lots more rhythms, a lot more little bits there where you move various other parts of your body, you come into this trance-like state. And you see people in the dance floors waving their arms and showing their eyes and dancing, because the rhythms reaching every each individual cell of the body. . . A rhythmic, kind of like tribal, trance music from whether it's from Jamaica, Asia, or Australia, all has this kind of like these rhythms which make you move various parts of your body. You have a kind of movement in there. And that's what it invoked for me." [7:40 - 9:20].

"Life is very stressy and very tiring. You can go to a club at the weekend and you don't just release energy, you gain something from it. And it also relaxes you, you don't become pent-up. People go home feeling elated. It's a kind of communal thing as well. It lifts everybody up. And it's a feeling of euphoria. I mean, rather than called trance music, trance music should have been called euphoria music." [23:33 - 24:05].

III. Ecstasy As A Treatment For PTSD.

An excerpt from, "Electronic Dance Music’s Love Affair With Ecstasy: A History" by P. Nash Jenkins, The Atlantic, September 20, 2013
“If you look at electronic dance music culture, it seems to be more diverse, more accepting of the 'other', more welcoming of gay people—a counter-ethos of ‘we’re in it together,’” Dr. Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), told me. “There’s a spiritual aspect to it. For many, the drug serves that function. There’s something fundamentally wholesome about these communal dance parties.”
An excerpt from, "MDMA could be effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder – study: Illegal drug commonly known as ecstasy reduces PTSD symptoms, doesn't harm memory and concentration, or induce drug abuse, researchers find" by Suzi Gage, The Guardian, December 27, 2012:
Before it was made illegal, MDMA was sometimes used by psychotherapists to aid therapy sessions. People who use MDMA describe it as inducing euphoria and decreasing fear, but also report remaining clear headed and alert, unlike after using other drugs and alcohol. Psychotherapeutic techniques can involve asking patients to revisit their traumatic event in a safe environment, in order to try and eliminate the excessive reaction to the memories. In PTSD, the fear response to these memories can sometimes be so great that patients are unable to revisit them, even in the safety of a therapy session. If MDMA does reduce feelings of fear, but does not affect clear headedness, it could be a very useful tool for psychotherapists to help put patients at ease before they have to remember their trauma.
IV. Sufi Whirling Dervishes.

Sufi whirling (or Sufi spinning) is a form of Sama or physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a customary dance performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens) aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one's nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun.

The custom of sama among Sufi orders has a history of controversy within the Islamic faith. In one argument, the use of the term sama is considered to suggest physically "listening" in a spiritual context. A differing opinion argues that sama is in fact "hearing", as "to hear" can pertain to any sound in addition to any "subtle" sounds of the spiritual realm. Those in support of sama further claim that the term is actually synonymous with "understanding" and therefore recognition and application of the Revelation as well as the act of "attaining higher knowledge."The spread of sama among Sufi orders began some time around the mid 3rd/9th century C.E. in Baghdad, eventually finding acceptance and favor in Persian, Turkish and Indian Islam. The custom of sama evolved in practice over time as it complimented Sufi dhkir, whirling and among some orders dancing and a meal. Rules of propriety and conditions were adopted upon the widespread concern surrounding the necessity of sama with the dhikr; in order to distinguish between entertainment and valuable spiritual practice, the sama was distinguished as heard from the ego, heart or spirit. Despite the application of rules, some sheikhs continued to limit or disapprove the practice of sama. While controversy continuously questioned the place of sama in Sufi orders, the music itself was not affected. More recently, the custom of sama is most commonly performed within a dhikr ceremony. Those in support of sama continue to argue that "according to that which it is not sama and dance which induce ecstasy, but ecstasy which arouses dance, or furthermore, that sama is only a revealing instrument and that it only supplies that which is brought to it by the hearer."
Sama is a Sufi ceremony performed as dhikr. Sama means "listening", while dhikr means "remembrance". These rituals often includes singing, playing instruments, dancing, recitation of poetry and prayers, wearing symbolic attire, and other rituals. It is a particularly popular form of worship in the Chisti order of the Indian subcontinent.

Sama is a means of meditating on God through focusing on melodies and dancing. It brings out a person's love of God, purifies the soul, and is a way of finding God. This practice is said to reveal what is already in one's heart, rather than creating emotions. All of a person's doubt disappears, and the heart and soul can communicate directly with God. The immediate goal of sama' is to reach wajd, which is a trance-like state of ecstasy. Physically, this state may include various and unexpected movements, agitation, and all types of dancing. Another state that people hope to reach through sama' is khamra, which means "spiritual drunkenness". Ultimately, people hope to achieve the unveiling of mysteries and gain spiritual knowledge through wajd. Sometimes, the experience of wajd becomes so strong that fainting or even, in extreme circumstances, death, occurs.
From, "Sufi Whirling Dervishes" PBS, December 13, 2013:
Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, emphasizes universal love, peace, acceptance of various spiritual paths and a mystical union with the divine. It is associated with the dancing of whirling dervishes, who originated in the 13th century as followers of the poet and Muslim mystic, Rumi. Their dance is a traditional form of Sufi worship, a continuous twirling with one hand pointed upward reaching for the divine and the other hand pointed toward the ground. Manjula Kumar, a program manager at the Smithsonian Institution, explains how the dancing of these whirling dervishes from Turkey serves as “a spiritual offering.” They were part of a Smithsonian symposium on the concept of Sufism and searching for the divine through the arts. Produced, edited, and interview by Lauren Talley.
An excerpt from the PBS video below:
"There are stories about the origins of the whirling dervishes and one of the stories is Rumi was walking towards, just walking down and he heard the call for prayer and he was so overwhelmed, he was almost in an ecstasy to hear the call for prayer that he started moving around and he called it a divine ecstasy. And since then his followers started making this whirling.

It's creating an atmosphere to pray and it's an offering I think it's just a physical way of expressing this love for the divine and that's how they kind of twirl and in the whirling it becomes a meditation.

It's an ecstatic state, but over the years it's become an art form. They do not call it a performance. I would not call it a performance. It is a spiritual offering." - Manjula Kumar.
Watch on YouTube: Video Title: Sema Ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes. Date Published: November 26, 2006. Source: mevleviyya.

Video Title: Sufi Whirling Dervishes. Source: chiphead65. Date Published: June 11, 2011. Description:
A Sema (Sufi Whirling Dervishes ceremony) in Bursa, Turkey. June 6, 2011. The whole ceremony was 20 min long. I edited it down to 8. The whirling part starts at 2:25.