The Sonic Release Of Energy Cultivation
Story online since: 05.01.2008 / 23:13:40
My very first interview for ag-m.com and hopefully the first in a long series of interesting stories for you, our readers, to read.
There is no beating around the bush with Santiago Dobles, mastermind behind Florida-based prog genius Aghora whose albums I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. Learn about the way of the monk, how to cultivate your body energy flow and what he thinks of the fans that thought Aghora was supposed to be a Cynic clone.
A look on a list of free time activities of the regular metal guitar player doesn't always reveal things like yoga, qi gong, pencak silat and the many other things you do. To what extent do they help you in the creative process? And how did you come in touch with the music?
Well I have always, since little, believed in the way of a monk. So I always wanted to learn a good martial art, internal energy work (meditation, yoga/qi gong, tenaga dalam, healing) and then music of course. I do a little of everything daily, but I will have one that I do a lot throughout the day or for whatever time frame I am focusing on to get better. Energy work is the base of everything; for me without energy there is NOTHING, and you need it to learn, grow, heal improve - no matter what you do in life.
In which ways is music a very important element in the way of the monk?
All shaolin/buddhist or taoist monks train the Yang and the Yin. Music and playing an instrument falls under learning the Yin side of art.
Do you think that a fan in the crowd can access the same level of spiritual ecstasy and ascencion as the musicians on stage or the practicioner of any sort of meditation by just going completely crazy on the music. Is the enjoyment of music just as much a spiritual art as the making?
I think the listener will get aswell. Everyone will use Aghora and its music to uplift them somehow whether it be on their quests as a musician or to help to express better their personal art or path. Aghora is the catalyst to make others better no matter what they do. I think the music attracts a certain type of person. Usually it's someone involved in the arts or likes to think. It is music that stimulates on a deep mental and emotional primal level.
How and when did you discover your affinity for oriental philosophy and the physical/mental exercises connected to it?
Sixteen, after reading Siddhartha.
A post in your forum revealed to me that you are familiar with the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto who has conducted some interesting experiments on water. The water that received a blessing from a Zen Master i.e. consisted of nice and regular looking water crystals. The water submitted to rock and metal music however took a shape that wouldn't cause a positive reaction with most people. I was wondering what you thought about the overall effect metal music has on the body and soul of a regular person, taking into account that we consist to 70% of water.
Well it all depends on the INTENT or energy behind something. A real master can make a piece of shit something beautiful. It's all about integration, sublimation, and transmutation....ALCHEMY. When I play live I am pumping the room with reiki and chi as I perform. I do the same thing when I train or teach martial arts, or qi gong or guitar lesson.
Is the reiki and the chi you pump into your surrounding during your performance something that can be caught on a recording and redistributed in a completely different place on earth?
Chi = Bio energy
Reiki = is also energy but a focused energy for healing. It means universal life force.
Both are one in the same, but you can have many diferent types of energy. Yes it has been proven in China that CHI projected from a practitioners hands is a sub harmonic frequency roughly about 14 - 16 hz sometimes even MUCH lower. Energy is vibration or subtle movement of air molecules and light. So even though you would not "hear" it with human ears it is still being caught on tape or video. Energy can permeate time and space in a flash of a moment. I have done reiki on people all over the world from my bedroom and they have noticed and stated that their ailments and troubles seem to fade away.
So yes energy can be recorded, stored and used for a later date anywhere on earth. When I do reiki daily I send energy to the Earth's core, to friends and family, to various folks who are in need (on a global scale), people in power to help influence their choices so they will hopefully make choices for the greater good. The cleaner and more energized our fish tank is the longer we will all live.
When will your european fans be submitted to a reiki and chi induced performance?
As soon as our promoter and booking agent makes it happen. We are working on it.
Do you find it hard to focus your mind and ease the temper with the present political situation in your country? ;-)
HAHA My answer is... My reiki and chi permeates the walls and hallways of those that are in control on a daily basis. So hopefully it might one day make someone change for the better. I have a big list of people in power that I send healing daily. So they are reminded to do better for Mother Earth and humanity. Eventually Karma will catch up with the assholes in charge that fuck things up for the good folks who work hard every day.
Unless it is a secret to your recording you do not wish to reveal: are there actual techniques with which you can truly summon and transfer energy to the listener?
Yes of course. Your mind is a very powerful thing. It can permeate anything, it can be in to places at once (your brain and body can't, but YOUR MIND and IMAGINATION CAN!). What you believe and have foundation in will ultimately manifest in the real time or real world. The first most basic method of energizing something is as follows:
You focus on your crown chakra (note from writer: situated at your head) as you inhale with the belly, hold the breath slightly as you form and intent as to where you want that cosmic/divine universal energy to go. Then put your palm out and imagine the target (person, place or thing) you would like to send the energy to. Now it's like anything else: the more you do it the more you get better at it. This is the basic premis of reiki and other forms of Qi Gong Healing. Instead of using your own energy that will deplete your energy structure you draw from the universe and its abundance. As you get better you learn to cultivate more energy for your self and for healing others. Then you also learn to draw specific energies from the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, void), the earth, comsic powers (Planetary Logos, Deities, etc.) to work at a finer level. One experiment to do is the simple water one: Take two glasses of water from the tap or faucet. Taste them both. Then give only one of the glasses of water energy from your crown center as I showed before for 10 min straight asking the universe to bless, enhance, sweeten and turn the water in one of the glasses into an elixir (make sure you do long deep breathing). After the 10 minutes taste both waters, see and feel the difference. With more and more practice you will be amazed at what you can do and as you cultivate more the universe and higher forces that are begin to work more through you. When I play guitar I project energy from my fingers and guitar with each breath. I draw from the raw healing cosmic energies that inspire me and I pump them out through me.
There are more specific ways but just the technique above alone can really make things happen. The most important thing is to learn to develop your dantiens and to improve your energy cultivation.
Personally I think there is a growing stalemate in "mainstream" metal and was wondering if that is because the material sources of inspiration reach depletion. Do you believe that the general quality of creative output would improve if more musicians spent time on their body energy flow?
Absolutely. If we flow like the universe we find that we have abundance and never run out. However I notice that the people in power and decision makers want to make sure the individual does not have such power. Not even in their art etc.
Most bands and musicians are asleep, they are not aware of what or who is making their music.
Occasionaly a band will come around that taps into a real source of power and all of a sudden they create a movement. Take Tool for example. They know EXACTLY how to channel such power.
Energy is neutral it is the intent that makes it good or bad etc.
To what extent does the rest of the band share your lifestyle or exerce the exercises you do?
Giann (drums) is hardcore into his physical training. He trains his body hard by running and body weight excercises. I have taught him the basics of Reiki, and qi gong energy circulations. He has noticed a huge improvement of involving his energy work into his drumming and performance. It really changes things when you add mind intent and juice (chi) to whatever you are doing.
Diana (vocals) and Alan (bass) are always asking me to do reiki on them cause it really relieves physical pains, and disturbances of energy etc. They cultivate their instrument. That in itself is a spiritual art.
To my ears, "Aghora" sounded a little more progressive then the follow up. The songs on "Formless" have a stronger live edge. Would you agree with that statement? If yes, was it a natural process and what happened over those seven years that drove your sound in that direction.
Formless has more complexity to it. It's just more subtle and takes analyzing. There is a lot more poly rythms, poly meters, odd time etc. At first glance no one notices... That is the TANTRIC in me.
You recorded your debut with one of the most recognized rhythm section in the metal genre. Did you choose to replace Sean Reinert and Sean Malone because they were too busy with the Cynic reunion? How do Alan and Giann live with/up to the legacy since I presume that a notable amount of your fans must have been a little disappointed when they saw that Sean Malone wasn't and Sean Reinert just to some extent involved in the recording of "Formless"?
Both Seans are great musicians. Sean Reinert and I are very close friends. He has always been involved in the Aghora family since day one. Malone was just work for hire. Frankly I am over the bullshit that I dissapointed fans by not having Malone. Malone is a one dimensional bassist. He is great at that dimension and that is about it. I am tired of hearing "oh they don't sound like CYNIC"... EXACTLY we were never meant to! Giann can certainly hold his own and is for a 21 year old way ahead of the game. And Alan is a real monster on bass.
Alan, hands down, has more chops, soul and better performance skills than most pro bass players. So I personally was not dissappointed.
Aghora is not about the chops its just music. Can I square off with a metronome and play 32 notes at 100 bpm? Sure but is that the point?
Can Giann play 16th notes at 300bpm on his snare? Sure but is that the point?
People in "Prog" need to grow up and realize that the "technical" means nothing with out soul and seasoning. Play from your heart: that is what matters!
Do you plan on making the Aghorafans wait for another 7 years until your next output?
No maybe 3 at the most ;-)
You practice Pencak Silat if I am rightly informed. All I personally know about it is that it's probably the most direct and effective self defense there is and quite brutal as well. Not quite what someone would expect from someone seemingly spending every free minute of his day to balance his qi and chakras. Is the exercion of such seemingly contradictory activities something you try to reflect in your music, I mean themewise or what is the driving energy behind the alternations between soft and hard in your songs?
Yoga was a warrior art before it became a "peace and love" thing. Buddha was a warrior trained in the warrior caste.
You can't have balance without yin and yang. Martial arts keeps you grounded. Combat can teach you much faster about breath control, meditation, enlightenment than sitting at an ashram, blissed out, incapable of paying your bills and living a normal life in society.
Believe me I have done both paths. I prefer the path of a warrior. It's not to say the other path is not valid. It just takes longer. The warrior path to enlightenment HAS TO WORK OR YOU DIE! What was passed on throughout the ages is the stuff tht actually worked. What didn't work was thrown by the waste side. You will be surprised how fast your kundalini can open or your chakras can open when you train your energy AND martial arts!
In the ancient days the warriors where the priests aswell and the healers. That is what a Pendekar is in silat: a true PROTECTOR of his village and tribe.
You mentioned yin & yang. Does that mean you believe in the duality of things or them just being the constituting parts of singularity? I am asking because the Hindu don't believe in duality and the aghori are a sub branch of the Hindu which is where your band name is inspired from no?
The hindus do believe in duality... SHIVA/SHAKTI.
The ultimate reality is that there is no duality. But in the raw physical world or plane we exist in, in order to get to the singularity, you have to understand the duality otherwise you would seize to exist on this plane of reality.
Your body contains both yin and yang, shiva and shakti. You have to learn to take these two polarities and flow them together in order to have one magnetic force.
Have you had any experiences with drugs? Do you believe that in long term they can help the mind transcend the conscious and the unconscious and lead to enlightment or to a state similar to it or do you believe that only meditation and other techniques can lead to it?
I stay away from all of them. I believe all you need is in your body and the air you breath. I tried pot and mushrooms once and I didn't care for it. It reminded me slightly of what I could already do in meditation or with qi gong. So I was not impressed. It can certainly be a tool but eventually you do not need any tools.
Any book suggestions for our readers that got interested in the yoga, qi gong, pencak silat, reiki and so on?
For Silat check out Guru Cliff Stewart or Guru Stevan Plinck.
For Qi Gong/Kundalini: Dr. Glenn Morris's books "Path Notes" and "Shadow Strategies", umaatantra.com. Also look into "Mantak Chia", "Qi Gong Empowerment" by Shou Yu Liang.
For yoga "The Complete Yoga Book" by James Hewitt... This book was recommended to me by Steve Vai once backstage.
For reiki "The Complete Reiki Book" by Daniel Stein.
Santiago, thank you very much for your time and answers!
Thanks brother, best wishes to you for the holidays!