Today I got another email from my “Balancing Sant Mat faith and doubt” correspondent. I enjoyed learning more about how Buddhist meditation practice looks upon supposedly mystical phenomena like inner light and sound. This person’s description of how a group of Buddhist meditators reacted to dramatic outer sound also is interesting.
"Brian, excellent response from you on September 30 [in the form of a comment to the above-linked post].
Buddhists give such little emphasis to sound and light, in fact masters will not even mention it. Phenomenon. Never-the-less, a Buddhist practicing with eyes half open (in other words, not closed off from the world) with no attempt to reach higher inner planes, in a retreat type situation, in a hall full of silent people, is probably more likely than not to hear the sound phenomenon.
I wouldn't be surprised if someone got up and danced to the sound like Sarmad did. But this would be considered a gross mistake. The thing would be to experience, enjoy, but not act on or cling to the phenomenon. It is possible that a practitioner could hear the sound phenomenon without ever having heard people speak of it before.
In fact, in Buddhist practice anything unusual arising during practice can be discussed with the presiding monk once a day, usually in the evening, and there will be common sense advise given.
Never-the-less, unlike tinnitus the sound current would probably be so extra-ordinarily natural, probably seemingly coming from the very cells of the body, and also as you've mentioned would be considered as enjoyable but only arising phenomena, that the practitioner may not even mention it for a few days or ever—just a pleasant experience.
It is possible that some Buddhist teachers would suggest that listening to any internal sound may be used as a method in meditation. Listen, but don't grasp. I was certainly never aware of a master offering his protection on the inner path and this is something that I must look into. Nor have I heard of a Buddhist master charging mantras with a protective power, although I do not know enough about this.
To demonstrate the Buddhist observation of, but not acting on, external or internal phenomena, I remember a really humorous 15 minutes or so when there was a hall full of folk practicing sitting meditation. The rather flimsy hall which had about 320 degree views to the outside was on the edge of a tree plantation. It was beset by a massive electrical storm.
During the storm the top (about six feet worth) of one of the large trees broke off and landed with a crash just inches from the hall. No one made the slightest move. At this point I was ready to jump into my neighbors lap, but kept control. Then hail fell in enormous nuggets until the surrounding grounds were completely covered in white.
The thunderous sound was huge and everyone just sat there using the experience as part of their meditation—not being the effect—until the session came to an end. I felt like running outside, laughing and throwing hail around, but like everyone else, I restrained myself. To this day, I shake my head and laugh when I think about it.
I must say that there was a tremendous amount of magic in just handling the mundane! The monks with their immense training had very simple, light humor.
Never the less, I was trained not to be nostalgic and so take that in my stride. Beginner's mind. Why leave it though?
None of the monks, although wise, gave me the impression of being enlightened. I was looking for a system that I could practice on my own and had already decided on the principles Sant Mat offers as a structure. Charan Singh’s position and protection would be tested in time through meditation.
After that, I went out to earn a living and didn't give much thought to questioning, observation, etc. of Beas Sant Mat. It too was all an interesting, vaguely romantic movement at the time. Home satsangs, visiting the Dera or Bombay, Darshan, Seva—these were all new interesting things to do.
In fact I would still find these very pleasant things to do. Sant Mat has been a valuable discipline and provided a good in-house view of a Guru movement that I am grateful for. I could have made worse choices, but I have also not seized enough opportunities. But then, isn't this common to all of us?"