Principles of Practice
Based on "The Principles of Correct
Practice for Guitar"
by Jamie Andreas
16, 2001 Volume 60
The Divine Doorway
Steve, my student and employee for GuitarPrinciples called me on
Tuesday to make sure I was alright. He wanted to make sure I had
not gone in to New York City, and then told me not to fly anywhere.
Then he talked about this feeling he had that nothing that he normally
considered important seemed important right now. He couldn't seem
to get motivated to do any of his normal routines. Like most people
that day, he was simply stunned.
Yes, most people I talked to, after seeing those two gigantic structures
which defined the New York skyline come crashing down so helplessly,
had that same feeling, and I had it to. I was scheduled to go for
a medical examination that day, and it seemed like an effort, and
somehow inappropriate to be focusing on my own personal life or
needs on the same day that the lives of so many thousands of people
were destroyed, many thousands more were damaged beyond full repair,
and indeed, the world we all live in entered a new, and far more
dangerous era. As I sat in my comfortable practice room, surrounded
by my guitars, I knew the world had just changed, and in many ways
would never be comfortable again. Human society had crossed a line,
and there was no crossing back. We are in a new world.
Of course, much of the world is not comfortable, and never has been.
For those of us in the United States, we are now forced to live
with the same terror that much of the rest of the world has been
forced to live with for many years. Indeed, for many untold millions
of human souls, their world has always been filled with nothing
but terror, and many of those lives are cut short by disease, starvation,
and all the varieties of human cruelty, long before they even deserve
to be called a life. Truly, as horrific as this tragedy in my backyard
is, as far as the planet earth is concerned, it's just a normal
day, just another day's business, human-style. Different in it's
stark drama, but essentially the same thing being accomplished.
Massive numbers of people dying and suffering because so many human
beings cannot recognize the presence of God in this world, cannot
see and value the presence of God in themselves, and everything
and everyone around them.
We are so used to living FOR this world, and FOR ourselves, that
when something like this monumental tragedy occurs which FORCES
us out of our comfortable and self centered complacency, we feel
the very ground beneath our feet give way. We find it difficult
to remember who we are, and why we have been that person anyway.
No wonder everyone I talk to says the same thing "nothing seems
important right now". We are so used to granting importance
to the "things of this world" that when we are forced
to give our attention to the REAL realities of this world, such
as the slender thread that connects us to this life, and how easily
it can be cut, everyone suddenly becomes a philosopher! If those
two massively large and powerful structures could become dust in
a few seconds, then we have no choice but to abandon all illusions
of impenetrable security in this world. We must look further, far
beyond this world for true peace, and for true hope. Yes, death
makes everyone religious real fast.
Anyone who spends most of their time thinking about how to get rich
is finding it a little difficult right now to remember why that
has been the focus of their lives. Anyone who spends their time
worrying and getting upset over every little wrinkle in their life,
who is constantly sacrificing their happiness and enjoyment of the
true beauty of life that is delivered to us moment by moment, is
feeling a little foolish right now.
So many people on this planet tend to live as if they are separate
from everyone and everything around them, especially if they and
it are far away geographically. Well, there is no such thing as
far away any more. Inwardly, spiritually, there never has been.
But it is easy to ignore the spiritual side of life. However, when
we do so long enough, life itself feels compelled to bring it to
our attention, in ways we can't ignore.
I know that the people around me right now, those of us at "ground
zero" in the New York area feel this very keenly. It feels
as if life has grabbed us by the neck and forced our heads to the
ground, and there is no choice but to stare into the black pit of
hatred that has found a home in the minds and hearts of some of
our fellow humans. We are forced to stare at it, and we are forced
to take it seriously, we are forced to see with our own eyes the
horror it delights in producing, and we are forced to respond. And
it cuts us deeply to acknowledge that we should have known it was
always there. In fact, there is no time in human history where it
has been absent. It's just that, because of the inter-connectedness
of the world we now live in, it is now literally in everyone's backyard.
The Bible tells us that "all things work together for the good"
and that is true. It is even true of Evil, for even Evil must serve
the Divine Purpose. And Evil is serving God and His good purpose
right now, as millions of human beings around the world are responding
to this raw expression of Evil by reaching deep into their hearts,
and feeling an intensity of love for one another that will show
itself to be stronger in it's power than any amount of Evil can
ever be. The world has an opportunity right now to begin a new age
of awareness; a new age of continual recognition of the spiritual
reality that always underlies our earthly existence. It is only
when this is forgotten that Evil gains its strength.
We have been given so many ways to keep this constant remembrance.
We have the example of the great spiritual masters who have appeared
in this world. Jesus Christ, an incarnation of divine love, told
us "you are in the world, but not of the world". That
means this world is a bridge; we must travel it, but we should not
build our house upon it. When we do attempt to build our house upon
it, we will suffer for the folly, it's just a matter of how and
when. Jesus, as well as all the great and true spiritual masters,
is constantly exhorting us to "die to the self", to RECOGNIZE
the reality of our spiritual connection with everything and everyone.
When we do, we love our neighbor as ourselves, not because we are
"good" people, but because we recognize, we see clearly,
that we ARE our neighbor. When we have discovered the light of our
own heart, we see that same light in everyone.
This world is like a doorway to that divine light. We have the power
to open or close that door. Because of God's mercy, no matter how
many times we close the door, He will do what is necessary to give
us the opportunity to make a different choice. However, every time
we refuse to recognize that opportunity, every time we refuse to
make the sacrifice that opportunity will inevitably demand, God's
voice and his actions must become louder and stronger. Last Tuesday,
Sept. 11 they became too loud to ignore. If we take the opportunity,
in every one of a thousand different ways as we go about our daily
lives, then we will begin to create a heaven upon this Earth. But
that is not what we have right now.
We must keep the Doorway open. Tragedy can act to kick open the
door, even against our will, but even tragedy cannot keep it open.
Only wisdom and love will do that. Only constant remembrance and
recognition will do that. Then, the doorways are all around us;
true intimacy with another human being, communion with the beauty
of nature, and of course, that Divine Doorway which brings you and
I together, and is the focus of my life, the Divine Doorway we call
I can think of no greater expression of God's mercy for an endlessly
suffering humanity than His gift of music. Music has the power to
immediately lift us out of the snare of this world and it's ultimate
futility by bringing us into direct contact with the higher world,
the spiritual world. It is truly the Divine Doorway for the human
heart. When I was young, that Doorway was opened for me one day
by the power of Beethoven's 5th symphony, and his 9th symphony pulled
me through that door, and showed me what was beyond. It is not possible
to be in this world in the same way once you have been through the
There is a Light that shines through that Doorway when it is opened.
When we see this world in that Divine Light, we are able to find
the meaning of this otherwise insane place. And that Light is the
only true Reality. It wants to be here, but cannot be without our
permission, our co-operation. In fact, the only reason we are here
is to provide the opportunity for that Light to come through.
Our great spiritual teachers such as The Buddha and The Christ understood
quite well that the true nature of Evil is simply Darkness. When
Darkness manifests in human form, when Darkness fills the human
heart instead of Light, we call it Ignorance. 'When the shadow of
that Darkness/Ignorance falls on us personally, we call it Evil.
Darkness ONLY exists to call forth the Light, and Evil ONLY exists
to call forth the Good. We in America are immeasurably gladdened
in these succeeding days to see that happening, worldwide, in the
heartfelt response of millions of our brothers and sisters worldwide.
The reason we are here in this world together is for each of us,
in our own way, and working together, to open the Divine Doorway,
and allow it's Light to transform the Darkness of this world. It
is time now for each of us to make a deep assessment of whether
and how we do that in our lives, whether and how our lives are an
expression of that commitment.
It is my fervent hope that everyone finds the Divine Doorway in
their own way, and keeps it open in all our future days. To travel
through it, and to brings it's Light into this world is to find
the source of all Wisdom, Love, and Healing.
material copyright © 2003 by Jamie Andreas, GuitarPrinciples.com