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Bach: Journey from the Mind to the Heart

Bach said that ‘it is impossible to put truth into words’ and indeed his own writings were whittled down to a minimum.

On the one hand we have the desires of the mind – for answers, for structures, for certainties. All this tends to bring tension, anxiety, distress.

On the other hand, the deep desire of the heart is for purity, harmony, equanimity.

In the language of the desert fathers of the Church we need to move our focus from the mind to the heart. This is the real business of prayer, moving the seat of attention from the mind to the heart. All the great spiritual traditions have evolved ways of enabling this movement, but fundamentally all we have to do is to stop trying so hard and simply be present in the here and now.

‘Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’.

We need to walk, as Bach himself did, into the fields and look again. Life simply IS.

We perceive what the Germans call the istigkeit of everything once we let go of the endless flow of ideas. We discover what life really is not by thinking but by being. The journey from the mind to the heart is the journey from thinking to being. It is the journey that the Gospel invites us into, the journey into the realisation of our divine nature. It is the journey that the Buddha invites us to follow in his footsteps by experiencing the truth of impermanence for ourselves. It is the journey that F.M. Alexander invites us to, the journey which inhibits the habitual mental reaction response and learns to relate directly to what IS. It is the journey that the Enneagram invites us to, the awareness that the deep self is ultimately at one with the divine.

With Bach, his own journey from the mind to the heart took place through, and indeed alongside his unveiling of the movement from the surface to the deep structure of the natural world, in the particular form of the plants which he discovered and identified for the healing of the thirty-eight mental states which he described.

My interest in the Flower Remedies comes from my recognition of Bach’s visionary work in relating the deep structure of the natural world to our own need to move from the mind to the heart. I can relate Bach’s basic principles directly to my experience of life, in particular to my experience of the inner life of the Orthodox Church, my experience of the restless nature of mind as uncovered through various forms of meditation, my understanding of the structure of the human personality as revealed through the Enneagram, and my experience of the way that we block the life force by constantly trying too hard to make things happen. In other words, my deep experience of life leads me to the intuitive conclusion that Dr. Bach’s work is of the utmost significance in understanding the deep nature of our relationship with the natural world. As it is precisely this relationship which is so damaged in the contemporary world, the significance of Bach’s work cannot be overstated.

As a musician, I can express things through music at a different level than through words. My hope is that the musical reflections on the thirty-eight Flower Remedies will point people in the direction of the Remedies and the understanding of the cosmos that lies behind them. Music operates in a different dimension from words – we can be touched by a melody, a rhythm, a harmonic shift, a change of instrumental colour, without being able to explain what has happened. Music gives us access to some of the ‘hidden dimensions’ of reality in much the same way that Dr. Bach’s work reveals some of the ‘hidden dimensions’ of the world of plants.

For these hidden dimensions to manifest though music, the most important thing in listening is an open heart. An open heart is dependent on an open mind, a mind which is not fixated on the solidity of phenomena but which has developed a window of understanding onto the nature of non-duality. Of course, all this is relative – few of us humans have ever come near this on a day-to-day basis. However, all that we need is a single experience, however momentary and elusive. That experience of the infinite is what leads to the journey in whatever form it manifests. I know that music itself can be the facilitator of that experience – and so the most important thing can be put much more simply. It is to let go of trying to understand, and to allow the sounds to have the space habitually occupied by the thinking mind.