Hymms To The Consciousness Soul
An Imagined Philosophy of the Moody Blues
-what I think their lyrics meant -

Fans of the Moody Blues will instinctively understand what is being written here, although there will no doubt be more than a few surprises.    For those who don't know their work, but have wandered into this essay on my website, I say welcome, and that I hope you will find, in the music and lyrics of the Moody Blues, the same nourishment of the soul that so many have found before.

Since this is being written for many who are not already fans, I hope those who already are will not mind if I first lay out some bits of musical history and a few necessary facts, before going on to the main theme.

Turn back your imaginary clocks now...to ages past but not buried, especially that strange and difficult time that some call the 1960's and the time of the war in Vietnam.  There had been the Summer of Love in San Francisco (1966), and the emergence of LSD as a major drug of choice, with its hallucinogenic ecstasies.  The War was heating up, JFK had been recently killed, and the Civil Rights movement was working its way around America.  A spiritual awakening was sneaking in - the Beatles were travelling to India to study with their guru, and songs of love and drugs filled the airways.

The mainstream culture found the hippies more than strange, if not out right scary.  Campus radicals, copying the Free Speech Movement from 1964 in Berkeley California were organizing all over.   Some kind of social upheaval was being born, that was not to confine itself to just America...

Meanwhile in England, according to the fan website and magazine Higher and Higher:

"The Moody Blues have been a driving force in popular music since their formation in 1964. Their hit songs and rich, thoughtfully crafted albums are known to millions of fans worldwide.  The Moodies are generally credited with developing and popularizing "orchestral rock," mostly on the strength of their 1967 album, Days of Future Passed, and through the use of the Mellotron, a keyboard instrument that allowed the group to replicate orchestral sounds live and in the studio.

The Moody Blues are Justin Hayward (guitar and vocals), John Lodge (bass and vocals), Ray Thomas (flute and vocals), and Graeme Edge (percussion and spoken word). The current incarnation of the band -- or "Mark IV" edition as it is known by fans -- has been together since 1978, when founding member Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals) left the group to focus on family life and his solo career.  (Thomas and Edge have been with the band from the beginning; Hayward and Lodge joined two years later, following the departure of original vocalist Denny Laine and bassist Clint Warwick.)  Keyboard master Patrick Moraz recorded and performed live with the band between 1978 and 1991. In 1992, the band performed with an orchestra in a live setting for the first time and embarked on a series of well-received tours with same over the next several years."

A list of their albums can be found in many places, and a good source of general information is at the FAQ created and maintained Linda Bangert at:  http://www.toadmail.com/~notten/FAQ-TOC.htm

Here is a list of some of their albums for those who may think they have heard some of this before, but can't quite recall:
Days of Future Passed; In Search of the Lost Cord; On the Threshold of a Dream; To Our Children's Children's Children; A Question of Balance; Every Good Boy Deserves Favor; Seventh Soujourn, Octave, Long Distance Voyager; The Present; Sur La Mer; Keys of the Kingdom; and Strange Times.

Nights in White Satin, from the album Days of Future Passed, is probably their most popular song, and the one most likely to appear in odd places on the radio and in movies.  After that would probably be Tuesday Afternoon, from the same album.

Here is a link to lyrics: http://members.tripod.com/sstWordSmith2/music/MoodyBlues/

Okay, so far we have a group that has been popular, has many fans, made many albums and is still recording and touring now after almost forty years.  Now let me tell some (but not it all) of my personal story and relationship to this wonderful musical art and craft, which has blessed so many people (and, hopefully in the future, many many more).

I was living in North Oakland (an area of Oakland California, that borders on Berkeley), with my ex, her boyfriend and my three kids.  It was maybe 1976.  I was staying in a room that was built to be a laundry room - faucets and drain for washer and dryer 220 outlet and heat exhaust port.  It had just enough space for my sleeping bag, and my magical chest, along with a few woven baskets for odds and ends.

I had been living in what I thought of as an interesting spiritual way for about 3 years, following the discipline of the 23 Psalm ("The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want...").   I wasn't  big on plans for the future, only worked when I had to,  studied various spiritual disciplines, and tried to understand in practice the Gospel teachings of Christ Jesus (see the essay "pragmatic moral psychology", which was being worked out in my inner life at this time).  Also, I was endeavoring to understand, in practice, the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha, which understanding is now available at "this and that".  On top of this I was just making my way into the Magic Path of Franz Bardon (see: Lazy Bear's Wizardly Emporium).

I was also just getting over thinking I had achieved enlightenment (serious hubris by the way), and was somewhat still a bit of an asshole.  A quite agreeable asshole to be sure (which is why my friends and family tolerated me), but still somewhat religiously self absorbed.

Some mutual friends of all of us moved in for a couple of days, Paul and Jamie.  They were moving to New England somewhere, and had moved out of their house, but still were yet to leave the area.  The first or second night they were there we had a nice little 5.5 earthquake, and Paul was found out in the street naked as a jay bird, but somewhat wrapped up in a blanket, quite excited by it all.

The next day or so, in the late afternoon, they left.  But just before that Jamie came up to me and handed me several record albums (real vinyl), all of them by the Moody Blues, about whom I knew nothing (except for hearing some of their stuff on the radio, like Nights in White Satin.  She said she thought I would really like this music, which turns out to be very much an underestimation.

The fact is that as I listened and listened (and smoked weed, which I did up until 1987),  and for a long time I thought they were talking to me directly.  Now we all know that is crazy, and couldn't be true, right?  But, it's how I felt.  Whatever they were up to they touched me in the deepest soul and spiritual places, and whatever darkness in which I found myself ever since, I could always put on some Moody Blues and find myself carried away in the musical arms of true soul-mates.

In a lot of ways they were and are very special spiritual teachers.  Yes, I studied esoteric Christianity, Anthroposophy, Buddhism, Magic, Shamanism, and on and on and on.  But nothing has touched me (except some real spiritual Beings, but that is a whole other story)  more deeply than did, and still do, the Moody Blues.

Since it couldn't be true that their songs were directed at me personally (right?), it has been a riddle to try to understand the effect they did have.  What was in me (and no doubt many others) that they did touch?  Why did that happen?  And to borrow from the Richard Dreyfuss character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind: "What is going on here!?!"

Well, I think I've figured it out, and you can read on and see if what I say makes any sense.

The following things are true for me, but the reader is invited (should they so wish) to only treat them as tales, and see where that takes us:

The World, the Cosmos, the human beings we all know - all is part of the Creation.  Everything was born in the Divine, and stands upon the Divine and breaths in and is nourished by the Divine.  In our Age there is a counter-religion called Science.  Even Science serves the Divine, although at this stage in its (Science's ) development, it seems quite antagonistic.

Beginning in the 1960's the whole World entered a ever increasing cycle of chaos, trials and troubles.  This too has its purpose in the Divine.   All is directed at the education of the human being, or better yet at the evolution of consciousness, or even better at the growth and development of the individual human spirit - itself a chip off the old block of the Divine.

One seer, Rudolf Steiner, gave a name to our Age - the Consciousness Soul Age, by which he meant a 2500 year period that commenced about 1400 to 1500.  During the Age of the Consciousness Soul, the community of individual human spirits was to have certain very difficult experiences designed to foster a particular development in the moral life of these individuals.  The individual was to become free of the old religious and spiritual traditions, which sought to cause him/her to conform to a certain code or set of rules as regards morality.   That is, social pressure was the main way, in the past, that human beings were helped to be moral.  This  modern Age was to free us from this.

The whole of the Consciousness Soul Age is the passing away of this tradition driven conforming social force, and the giving birth to a self sustaining free and independent moral sense/capacity in those individuals who manage to meet the trials and rites of passage of these Times.  No longer was the moral integrity of the human being to depend upon our agreement with a traditional view, but instead was to arise from our own inner activity and choices.

Elsewhere on my website, in many different ways, I have written about this change from various points of view, with references to all manner of supporting facts, texts and other authors.   This being the case there is no point to repeat that material here, except to reference the most elaborate examination of the problem in my book The Art of God: an actual theory of Everything.

Right now I would like to focus on the trial and rite of passage aspects of this Age.

Each of us experiences life via our own individual biography.  We are born, raised in some kind of family, educated in some way in schools, find our own way to work, companions and (or not) our own children.  Each biography is filled with the most marvelous personal experience, which truth to tell, is/has been created (with our cooperation) by the Divine processes just for us.  Our daily life is filled with rich and quite personally significant teaching, and trials (rites of passage).  We are not (as we grow old) who we thought we would be when we were young.  Life changes us, and those changes actually occur most deeply in our soul, and in our spirit - in the very depths of our being.

In the center of these trials are certain kinds of moral crises.  For one person it might be a fall into addiction or alcoholism.  For another the temptations to have affairs and to be unfaithful.   For a third, some kind of tendencies to violence might manifest.  In spite of the common elements, however, each trial (or more accurately - series of trials) is designed precisely just for us, for who we are in our essence.

It is the nature of these trials (in this the Consciousness Soul Age) to force us to make moral choices in a context in which our ability to call upon tradition is reduced to a minimun, if not outright impossible.  These moral crises then have the effect of demanding of us that we turn to ourselves for resolving these problems.  No longer are we to have the easy out of looking to God, or a priest, or a parent to tell us what is right to do.  Not only that, but it lives in us, in our spiritual essence, to in fact desire precisely this - we want to self determine what is right to do.  We don't want to be told what is right to do.

Our whole culture is filled then with the natural conflicts that arise from both a still clinging past reliance on tradition, and a newly born and just emerging essential desire to decide ourselves, regardless of what tradition has to say.  All our good movies, and all our good novels, and all our good television dramas (even comedies sometimes) reflect back to us, throught the artistry of the creators of culture, this understanding of individual moral trial.

Now it is not in the Mind of the Divine that we should not understand this.  But our understanding as well has to be self determined.  Don't we most want nobody to tell us what to think?  Just as we are filled with a great desire to self determine our own moral values and reasons in the face of the moral crises in our biography, we are also filled with a great desire to know the truth through our own forces of thinking.

The Age of the Consciousness Soul then is the age in which the individual human spirit, out of its own inner resources, connects itself inwardly to the True and the Good, and through them to the Eternal (the Divine).  When we ask ourselves what is right to do in the midst of some moral crisis, and when we answer ourselves with brutal self honesty (see 12 Step work if you need to understand what that is about), we then know what the True and the Good are as they apply to that specific situation within the context of our individual and specific biography.

This knowledge is not valid for another.  We can't (aren't incapable) of knowing what someone else should do in their moral crises in their individual biography.  But we have been created, by Grace, to be able in this Age to know the True and the Good for ourselves.

Lest anyone think this is easy, just place before yourself your most excruciating struggles, the most painful and ambigous ones.  This the individual biography brings to us as a gift, and from that trial then we learn.  It is also true that this organ of knowledge of the True and the Good develops through being exercised.   We can grow it in strength and confidence, by applying it to minor issues, which we know are moral questions, but whose moral element we usually ignore. 

Normally the biography lets us slide by these minor issues.  They are not as essential as the more dramatic ones.  Even so the fact remains that we can practice the art of knowing the Good and the True, by being willing to exercise the same brutal self questioning in the more ordinary daily moral issues. We have to learn not to bullshit ourselves, for inwardly we are complex and multi-dimensional.  So life also gifts us with small daily trials.

Now many people are doing this already.  We don't have to know that this is going on in order to make the correct inner gesture.  It is already part of our makeup to want to do this, and many of us struggle with these trials all the time.  It is the main artistic theme of modern biographies - individual free moral development.

As we all know these trials are not fun, but rather are very painful.  The life events that force us to moral crises we often would not choose, if we could avoid them.  Living then through these trials on an almost daily basis then can cause us to have all kinds of feelings.  We can doubt ourselves (a quite common reaction).  The very ambiguity of much of this can overwhelm us, leaving us feeling depressed, that is blue.  We live through the trials only to find ourselves frequently feeling the mood of blue.

Now the Divine gives by grace remarkable talents to various folks.  And those who have been following this discussion with some sympathy, now see where it has been going, for in the music and lyrics of the Moody Blues, we experience something which lifts us up from that mood into which our biography has been forced to place us.   We put on a record, or tape, or CD or video, and there they are, our companions in this Age of trials and rites of passage, singing their hearts out to us about love and life and believing in ourselves, or what I have called in the title to this essay: Hymns to the Consciousness Soul.

What I would like to do now is to travel through an introduction to their lyrics (you'll have to play the music yourself) showing how this can clearly be seen, in dimensions that might even surprise many.  I'll go chronologically, but there are some caveats I think the reader should keep in mind.

First off, we, when we experience the Moody Blues, will do so in our individual way.  Their art has a nature which allows it to be universal, which universality is what allows it to apply to each of us in individual ways and times.  Our soul hungers for sympathy because of the trails, and this is what the Moody Blues give us.  Frequently they use the term "you" in their lyrics (we'll see many examples), and the question needs to be asked - who is this "you" -  someone they have in mind, some particular person they have written the song about, or does it refer directly to their listeners, as individuals?

We also will frequently make different interpretations of the same lyrics - that is create a personal meaning.  I believe this personal meaning is quite relevant and appropriate.

In the spiritual research of the seer Rudolf Steiner, the human spirit is called the "I" or "ego" or sometimes, the "I-am".  This is the name of what we experience as our own core of being.  It is my view that this I-am or spirit is the "you" to which the Moody Blues frequently are inspired to refer.  Now, I just used the term "inspired" to mean, at the least, that I have in mind that Divine powers inspire much in our Arts, as they have for centuries, and with the Moody Blues, that work goes forward (although in a way consistent with the Consciousness Soul Age, for they - the Moody Blues - are not outside of this time of trials themselves).  It is, in fact, from their own experience that they can speak.  And a rich experience it is, as you will see from the coming contemplation and meditation on their lyrics.

This also means that the Moody Blues may have intended one meaning in their lyrics, but due to the nature of inspiration from above, the meaing may be deeper than even they thought.  It is their yearning to make their art spiritual that lets in the higher view.  I recall, in fact, reading years ago in People Magazine, one of the Blues saying that they thought that much of rock and roll decended into questionable moral depths and they just wanted to "pull the other way".

Then there is, of course,  the public performance I saw in Oakland around the time of the release of the album Octave (1978), with its remarkable song by Michael Pinder, One Step into the Light (about, it seems to me, the Return of Christ).  The Moodies performed this song as their one and only encore, after which, while the crowd was in hysterics (much screaming, clapping and jumping up and down, the flute player raised his two flutes in the form of a cross as the group left the stage and the crowd became even more estatic.  Any questions?

Let us begin than with some lines from the album Days of Future Passed (1967):

From  Dawn is a Feeling: "the smell of grass/ just makes you pass/ into a dream"  a reference to the weed smoking of many of their listeners?  Also  "you look around you/things they astound you/ so breath in  deep/ you're not asleep/ open  your  mind" a reference to our general spiritual awakening?

From Peak Hour: "minds are subject to what should be done/ problem solved, time cannot be won"  this is a beginning reference to the effect on us, noted in the body of the essay above, of tradition - we are subject to being influenced in our moral choices, and also I think to our influence on each other.  Also, one (there are others) reference to the fact that time is passing, and we can't sit still.

From Forever Afternoon (Tuesday Afternoon): "it doesn't matter to me/ chasing clouds away" a reference to their mission to lift our spirits amidst the trials of this age? "something calls to me/ the tress are drawing me near/ I've got to find out why/ those gentle voices I hear/ explain it all with a sigh" a reference to inspiration from above?

From The Sun Set: "I can see it all/ from this great height" a reference again to inspiration, perhaps even conscious out of body experience?

From Nights in White Satin: "...just what the truth is/ I can't say anymore...some try to tell me/ thoughts they cannot defend/ Just what you'll want to be/ you will be in the end"  a first version of the Blues' sense of our troubled future, coupled with a reference to how we become what we seek to become, another common theme.

Then there is Thinking is the Best Way to Travel ... here is a link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36lJMpzbOA4

If you like them, then enjoy ... if you don't, not everyone has to have the same taste ...

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