What is Resonance?
Of all the laws to know the structure of the Universe, nothing could be considered so essential as the discovery that the structure of the universe is based on vibration.
This is a truth shared by both ancient spiritual systems as well as modern science.
While physical matter may appear to be solid, the atoms that make up matter are not just made of smaller solid particles, but rather of dense clouds of elementary particles made of vibrating energy fields. Energy can be understood in terms of vibration, a movement or oscillation from one point to another, and the speed of that oscillation is its frequency – the faster the oscillation, the higher the frequency. In addition, the amplitude of a vibration is the size or distance of that specific oscillation, representing the amount of energy it contains.
This understanding of vibration as being the essence of creation enables things to be defined according to their frequency or rate of vibration. The different colours of the visible light spectrum, for example, are simply different frequencies of electromagnetic energies – the colour we call red has a frequency of about 400 terahertz (trillion cycles per second), the slowest in the colour spectrum, while violet at the other end of the spectrum has a frequency of around 700 THz. Physical bodies, mechanical processes and all energies on the electromagnetic spectrum, that make up visible light, sound waves, radio waves, etc can be defined in terms of frequency.
We find a similar notion in ancient spiritual systems such as Tantra, which sees the entire creation as an unfolding of vibratory energies. These vibrations manifest at various levels of frequency and complexity, starting from a primordial, unique and infinitely fast vibration specific to the subtle world of the spirit, and extending down to the slowest vibrations which characterise all the phenomena and matter in the physical world. In the Kashmir Shaivism tradition, the primordial vibration is described with the Sanskrit word spanda. Spanda is the original, primordial, subtle vibration that is the creative impulse for the unfolding of the universe.
Between the two extremes of creation, the infinite, primordial vibration and physical matter, the entire creation is structured in a hierarchical way, according to frequency of vibration. As creation unfolds, vibrational energies interact with other vibrational energies, forming more and more complex systems of vibration – objects, processes, phenomena and beings, all of which can be defined by their specific frequency.
This unique vision provides us with a perfectly objective way to evaluate each and every element within creation, and to understand how each and every element is connected and related to each other. The nature of the interaction of different vibratory systems can be understood by the phenomenon of resonance. To put it simply, resonance defines the way systems of vibration interact with each other. When the predominant or natural frequency of two systems are equal to each other or are similar enough, the two systems enter into consonance or syntony and a transfer of energy takes place between them. In this phenomena, the amplitude of the vibration in the receiving system is increased.
In the physical world many examples of the resonance phenomena can be found, such as mechanical resonance, acoustic resonance, and electrical resonance. A classic example often used to help understand the phenomenon of resonance is the way a radio functions. In this example the two resonating systems interacting with each other are the broadcasting antenna of the radio station and the radio receiver. The electromagnetic waves from the broadcasting antenna are constantly being transmitted. When the radio is tuned to the frequency of vibration specific to the waves emitted by the radio station, the phenomenon of resonance will appear between the two systems. When this happens, the radio waves are converted to acoustic waves by the radio, and the radio station is then transmitted through the speakers. If we turn the tuning dial, other radio stations can be heard, because the internal structure of the device has been modified by the tuner, to correspond to the new radio station being listened to. In this case, the system emitting the vibration is called the exciter system, and the system receiving the vibration is called the resonating system – because it is the system that attunes through resonance. The phenomenon of syntony appears when the vibratory frequencies of the two systems – the exciter and the resonating system – are similar or identical. Now we can say that resonance has been established between the two systems.
Resonance and Yoga
When the resonance phenomenon is extrapolated to the field of metaphysics, it becomes known as the law of occult resonance. It is occult because certain aspects of this law are mysterious and remain hidden from the common understanding of the phenomenon. Notably, the Tantric vision extends this understanding of resonance to include the subtle dimensions of reality, so that literally everything can be understood of in terms of vibration, not only physical matter, but all subtle phenomena such as emotion or thought.
This law provides us with a unique way to understand how the practices and techniques of yoga work, and what kind of effects a specific technique will produce within the being of the practitioner. The widely known practice of asana-s, or bodily postures, for example, is not just a set of techniques for improving the strength and flexibility of the physical body. From the perspective of the law of occult resonance, the asana-s are methods for consciously tuning into specific resonances that exist in the universe, triggering a vibratory phenomenon that generates precise and known effects. These effects can be perceived in multiple ways, as an energetic phenomenon, an emotion, a feeling, an intuition, an understanding or even a specific state of consciousness.
When we begin to feel a state of love, for example, in that moment a process of resonance is triggered with the endless universal energies of love. The experience that triggered that state of love actually tunes us into the universal source of love and, through resonance, that energy is transferred into our being, amplifying that state within us. All our human experiences can be understood in the same way – even complex processes such as the experience of a sublime and beautiful state of consciousness, or the process of learning and acquiring knowledge and wisdom, can be understood as processes of resonance.
To understand this phenomenon further, the analogy of the functioning of a radio is again useful, as in its description of the way two vibrating systems interact with each other, a third component is included, which is of utmost importance, and that is the tuning mechanism. In the radio, the tuning mechanism is the dial that is adjusted to change the receiving frequency, while in the human being the tuning mechanism is the mind. Not only do we use our body in yoga practice, but even more importantly we use our mind, as it is the mind that controls the process of selecting and tuning into the chosen frequency. This has an important consequence – that all genuine practices of yoga must involve the mind – we need to be aware of exactly where and how we focus the mind so that we can tune into the desired frequency. This could in fact be the way in which we can make the distinction between normal life and spiritual practice. In normal life we are mostly unaware of the processes of resonance that we trigger through our thoughts, words and actions, and we are therefore at the mercy of our habits, reactions, education, and learned and conditioned behaviour, unaware as to the causes of the nature of our daily experiences. In spiritual practice, however, the aim is to be highly aware and to consciously chose the resonances that we want to experience and bring into our life; we are also much more aware of the consequences of certain words, thoughts and actions, which are known clearly to be simply a result of the law of occult resonance. This law also helps us to understand, quite literally, any form of spiritual practice or knowledge. When we interpret something from the perspective of the law of occult resonance, we can discover the deeper, esoteric meaning – a meaning that is significant for our own personal development and spiritual transformation. For example, considering the famous adage, ‘You are what you think’ from the perspective of this law, we can see how significant thoughts are in controlling our resonances – our thoughts shape our own personal reality by continuously creating processes of resonance, which then attract and amplify those energies into our being. This is true whether this is a conscious or unconscious process. With spiritual practice we can train ourselves to make this process more and more conscious, and in this way to have a stronger influence over the nature of our daily experiences and the overall direction of our life.
The Esoteric Significance of Resonance
Going even deeper into the esoteric nature of the law of occult resonance, we encounter another significant spiritual law, known as the law of correspondence.
The principle of energy or vibration and the law of occult resonance provides a deeper understanding of the essential structure of creation and the nature of all the ‘parts’ of creation. The law of correspondence completes this vision by recognising a special relationship between the ‘parts’ and the ‘whole’ of creation. This relationship sees the part as containing the whole through complete reflection, and the whole containing the part – the whole in the part and the part in the whole. As stated in the Hermetic text, the Emerald Tablet, “As above, so below; as below, so above, thus creating the miracle of the whole.”
Known also in modern science as the concept of the holographic universe, this principle embodies the truth that there is always a correspondence between the structure and phenomena of the various planes of existence, and of the underlying unity of creation.This law is of utmost importance in understanding the relationship between the individual, known as the microcosm in Tantra, and the universe, called the macrocosm. A correspondence exists between the individual being and the universe, such that by knowing ourselves we come to know the universe. As stated in the Tantric text, Vishvasara Tantra, “What is here is elsewhere. What is not here is nowhere”, emphasising again the perfect correspondence between the individual and the universal – whatever we find in the microcosm of our own being can also be found in the macrocosm of the universe. Thus, the exploration of the microcosm, or the individual being at all levels, will ultimately lead to the revelation of the essential nature of creation. Thus, we can see how these laws support the ultimate spiritual goal of yoga – true self-knowledge. By knowing ourselves deeply, we come closer to the ultimate revelation of the essence of our own being, and of creation itself.
Understanding the law of occult resonance and the law of correspondence completely transforms the way we approach life, and particularly a spiritual practice, as it provides us with a much more objective way to evaluate our actions. Normally, our perspective upon reality, and therefore the guiding force in how we navigate our way through life, is conditioned and limited by our previous experiences, by our specific education and by our cultural and social conditioning, so that we approach reality in a very subjective way. The law of occult resonance, however, is a genuinely universal law that allows us to evaluate any process, any action, any knowledge, and any perspective from a universal and impartial level, namely, the knowledge of its vibratory nature and thus its precise position and value within the hierarchical structure of reality.
We can also evaluate any form of spiritual practice such as yoga, breathing techniques, or forms of meditation from this objective reference point, by knowing the precise way in which we need to focus the mind and exactly what resonance effect we aim to generate. In our daily yoga practice, and the way we teach and practise in our ongoing courses within this spiritual school, we aim to use the process of resonance to bring the kind of energies into our being that result in beneficial, balancing, creative, regenerative, healing and elevating effects – energies that will support our spiritual evolution and contribute to our integration into the universal macrocosmic harmony