Chiaroscuro: the Boddhisatva in the voice

“I am sitting at my piano teaching voice to a group of advanced students. They sound glorious; height and depth are present in the sound and each tone seems to be emanating from the space around them and not really coming from their mouths. This is the sweet spot: the human voice free of ego drive and full of generous invitation through balance.

'Bodhisattva' by Richard Herman

'Bodhisattva' by Richard Herman

My eyes move past the five women and focus on a painting hanging on the wall behind them. It is of the bodhisattva1 and I have had it since 1991. The painting is large – about 4 feet by 5 – and the colours are vibrant: vertical emerald green banners on either side and the bodhi sitting in the middle, many hues of red, fuchsia, maroon, rose, orange and teal. She is blurred slightly as if trying to come into focus on a TV screen from another galaxy. Her face shines a bleached-out pink and behind her neck there is a golden yellow disk – unifying head and body. Today, that disk makes more sense than ever as it illustrates the glow of sound surrounding these women.

It dawns on me that I have been calling in the bodhisattva for 20 years. That I knew nothing about her when I bought the painting from Richard Herman, that I had no understanding of the energy she was balancing on that canvas surface.
But today I am having a delightful “aha” as I feel the meaning of sattvic while hearing sattvic sound. Sattva is a Sanskrit word and its definition includes harmony, balance, joy, peace, serenity and intelligence…”

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