How is the Higher Thought game like a Tibetan prayer?
I recently attended a ceremony where a Tibetan monk dressed in deep red robes sang a song to bless the success of a humanitarian venture. I was struck by his voice: it was calm, pleasant, and relaxed as he sang in his native tongue. He wasn’t using a “singing” voice as I usually think of it. He wasn’t trying to produce a particular emotional effect. His vocalizations had no flourishes—no seeking the high note, holding a climax, or attempting to create an experience. His voice didn’t sound self-conscious at all.
Perhaps I simply didn’t hear any of that because he was singing an unknown song in an unknown language with musical conventions I did not understand.
But the more I listened, the more deeply I was struck by how relaxed he sounded. How in the moment, in the sound, in simply singing a prayer and being fully present in the moment with his voice. Utterly without affectation. Not trying to convince us, or himself, that he felt or that we should feel any particular emotion.
Who, I wondered, ever sings in our society without affectation of some sort? Without self-consciousness, without being aware of, or wondering, what others are thinking/feeling? Without at least a partially divided awareness of self and other?
There was no divide here. No pretension. No performance. Just singing. I didn’t even realize such a thing was possible—I’d never heard it before!
Then I realized that’s similar to how a good Higher Thought game feels for me. Only with other people!
Higher Thought is not a game of uncomfortable or threatening questions. No one is trying to maneuver anybody into disclosing a secret. You don’t feel like you’re at a job interview, trying to conjure past successes and triumphs out of a murky succession of days. Nor do you feel that you’re on a team-building retreat, coerced into confiding personal facts and feelings that, because of the setting, you can speak about “honestly” yet without ever really being authentic.
And women, I have to add that the questions are so deep, or so silly, that the tendency to mansplain arises relatively infrequently. The questions themselves go straight to the soul, and seem to short-circuit the need to impress.
So: sincerity, authenticity, safety, humor, spontaneity, fun, laughter. How often do our thoughts get to “sing” with each other like this? Not very damn often. Not nearly often enough.
As we say at Higher Thought, we need each other’s brilliance. We do! Now more than ever, as we begin to really work together on saving democracy, creating justice, and restoring the earth. We don’t need posturing, “efforting,” trying to impress, or “winning.” (Did I mention that the Higher Thought game is noncompetitive?) We’re all just human beings here, with all of the mystery, beauty, excitement, solemnity, and silliness that this implies… as we live our lives as clearly as we can amidst the Great Unknown that is this universe.