The InsiderOne Daily Report
Thursday, January 4, 2000
Letting The Noise Fade
InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: Every few years, I seem to find myself in a Buddhist monastery, far from the maddening crowd, meditating. I don't seek out this kind of experience I just fall into it. Like last week a friend suggested to my wife and me that we join her and some others for a trek up north, past Ukiah, to an Abhayagiri Buddhist monastery known as Fearless Mountain. Next thing I know, I'm with a group of about 25 others, in a meditation hall lit only by a few candles, letting the noise of day-to-day life fade, letting my mind clear. To get there, we drove for two hours, the last 20 minutes or so along a two-lane road winding up a mountain. As we walked up the path to the monastery, we saw hundreds of stars in the incredibly clear sky. The monks survive on the generosity of others; they are not allowed to raise their own food, operate a business or even cook their own meals. Somehow, they manage to live and continue their quest for enlightenment. The story goes that the monk who co-presides over Fearless Mountain arrived some years ago with nothing but a Swiss Army knife and a hammer. Today there are a number of buildings where monks live and lay people provide support. When I end up in one of these kinds of places, where people remove their shoes before entering a room, where people sit together with their eyes closed for an hour or more, it gives me much-needed perspective on my life. What seemed overwhelmingly important suddenly seems trivial, ridiculous even. After visiting the monastery, I had trouble understanding how, just eight months ago, the constant struggle to break music news on a daily basis (part of my job, back when I was editor in chief of SonicNet) could seem so important. Gazing at a statue of the Buddha as everyone in the room chanted, I could see the absurdity of the frantic dot-com world. Speaking after the meditation session, one of the monks told us that sometimes, at the end of the year, he asked people to write down their regret for the previous year, the best thing that happened during that time, and their aspiration for the New Year. Then they would build a bonfire and toss those pieces of paper into the fire. The monk spoke about what he called the middle road, that place between trying too hard and not trying at all, between nothing and obsession. The middle road is that place where things come into focus that you just don't see when you're at one of the extremes. What does any of this have to do with music? A lot. Sitting in the meditation hall as the candles burned, I felt the way some of the music on Radiohead's Kid A sounds. It's all connected.
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Michael Goldberg is the president of insiderone.net. He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.