I first interviewed Richie Quirino about his books and video on Filipino jazz in “A Jazz Musician and Jazz Journalist.” [<–Link]. Recently we spoke in the Hotel Kimberly coffee shop in Tagaytay about his latest book. The Amen Vibration, Volume II, was published under his spiritual name, Echad. It follows an unpublished manuscript of decades earlier. It presents a chorus of voices on the positive and negative effects of light and sound on humanity—science and religion with variations.
In the first chapter of the book, God says, “Let there be light.” Then boom, the Big Bang, vibration, the primordial word. Only one verse in the Bible, Revelation 3:14, says what “amen” means. According to John, “amen” is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the True Comforter which is omniscient and omnipresent. All the religions have a phonetically related sound: “aum” for the Hindus, “om” for the Buddhists and Taoists, “hum” for the Tibetans, “hu” for the Eckists. Amen, aum, om, ayam, all with the same sound vibrations. The Holy Spirit is a sound. The universe was created with light and sound.
Sound becomes light at the 55th octave. You can’t hear it anymore, but it converts itself into light. You can see it, and if that increases further you can’t see it anymore, but it becomes invisible rays, x-rays. It’s all about energy.
Our musical scale is pegged to 440 hertz. The tempered scale was invented by the Chinese. They passed it on to Marco Polo, and it became the basis for Western music. The Chinese consider the middle F of the Piano as the Kung Tone or the sound of nature and the universe. They cut bamboo at different lengths to create a cycle of fifths, a scale based on nature, on balance, on yin and yang. If you want to hear what the universe sounds like, go to Youtube and type in 432 hertz. [<– link]
For this post I’d like to focus on your personal experience. Could you talk about it, starting from the beginning?
Sure. In 1967 when I was eleven, my parents bought a beach house in Nasugbu. I enjoyed walking along the beach, observing how beautiful everything was. I’d put a shell to my ear and listen to the sound. I collected sea shells, traded them, classified them and read books on them. I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. But two years later I was exposed to the music of the Beatles and Motown. Woodstock came along, and so did all this and that. I opened up and started to ask a lot of deep questions.
It was the time of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” Jesus was my hero. I shared a room with my brother, who was a talented artist and who filled the room with depictions of heaven and the angels in water color and pen and ink. I asked him for a picture he’d done of Jesus. I put it at my feet, said, “Peace, man” and gave it the peace sign.
My hair was long, halfway down my chest. One day my father told me we were going to the polo club. When I saw we were headed toward the barbershop, I escaped. I went to a friend’s house and asked to borrow some money because I was running away from home. Then I took a bus, a jeep and finally a tricycle up the hill to Binangonan, a lake-shore town in Laguna Bay. Binangon means “to awaken,” but I didn’t make that connection until later.
I arrived at dusk. I told the people there I’d run away from home, and they accepted me. I stayed with them for twenty-seven nights. It was a simple life, cooking over a campfire, haulint water. Two of us would carry plastic containers on a wooden pole, hike uphill to a stream, fill the containers and climb down. At night it was cold. During the day it was hot in the sun.
I’d say I discovered nature and God in that place, with the leaves rustling and the bird singing, the flowers, the trees, the forest filled with medicinal plants. I had food and shelter. What more could you ask for? At night I counted falling stars—over twenty one night. You could see the city in the distance and feel its vibrations.
There wasn’t much to do. After a while I got bored and went home. My family was so happy to see me that they said I could keep my hair long. But a few days later I turned the color of catsup. The doctor looked up my symptoms, and he found I had scarlet fever. No hospital would take me. The staff had never seen anything like it, and they were afraid it would spread.
It was so painful. At home I was in put in an isolated room, and only my grandmother took care of me. She was a pure-minded, very religious person from the Spanish provinces who never said anything bad about anyone. She prayed all the time.
I often passed out because of the pain. But one day I woke up and knew I’d survived. I asked what had happened, and I was told I’d been sick for three weeks. Immediately I asked myself why Jesus had let me suffer so much. I was so disappointed I decided I’d set him aside.
A friend asked me if I wanted to do yoga, so I did. Then a few months later another friend suggested Transcendental Meditation, which had just arrived in Manila. So I attended the seminar, was initiated with flowers and candles and incense and was given a mantra, which I chanted. Then we meditated. Later I met someone who’d come to teach a humanist and scientific approach to meditation, having to do with how the mind perceived the world.
By 1976. I’d gone through so many different things—window shopping, actually. I heard about a lecture on the mystic 13, which I thought sounded hip. When I walked into the room there was a Bible on the table, and I decided to get out of there. But someone said, “No, no, no, Richie. This is about the apocrypha. It’s about the Dead Sea scrolls.”
“What, what, what?”
So I sat it out, and I was hooked. The guru’s right-hand man was there, and he gave me a practice: visualizations, chanting, meditation, breathing exercises. I was told that if I adhered to this practice I’d be welcomed into the inner circle, the Brotherhood of Christ Consciousness, which includes the consciousness to be one with Krishna, Buddha and Zoroaster.
I started going to the Theosophical Society in Quezon City [<– link], where I discovered a two-volume work by Helena Blavatsky, the society’s founder. on cosmo-genesis and anthropo-genesis. It provides an account of how the world began, from the initial cell to the ancient civilizations, as we see in archeological sites like the Stonehenge, the pyramids and the giant monoliths on Easter Island. These “root races” destroyed themselves by misusing light and sound. We were now also headed toward self-destruction, for example by not developing wind and solar power and by creating the nuclear bomb, a a horrific explosion of light followed by sound which sets off a chain reaction felt around the world. Or not developing sustainable solar, wind and hydrothermal energy.
Another of the society’s leading lights, Dr. Geofrey Hudson, wrote a two-part book which deals first with the effects of sound on matter, complete with photographs, and second with on a clairvoyant’s depictions of what she saw in the atmosphere.
Later, when I met the guru, Brod Boy, he told me that my chakras, or my cerebral spine centers, were in disarray and needed aligning. He’d do psychic surgery. I had to sit in a certain position while he touched my knees, my shoulders and my heart. Each time I felt and heard a jolt. Then he touched the back of my neck where the skull meets the spine, called the medulla oblongata. Inside it, he explained to me, were my cosmic “akhasic” record—smaller than a grain of sand. He accessed it and said, “There are too many lives for me to tell you about all of them, but I can tell you the best and the worst, your potential and your weaknesses.”
He told me I was in the Vatican at one time. As he talked I saw the grandmother who’d taken care of me. I saw her walking through the door in spirit form, smiling, radiant. She represented good. Then he told me about my past life in Mexico, and oh, my God, I saw all these contorted disfigured images.
My guru has a vow of poverty. He has never asked me for a single centavo because the kingdom of God is not of this world. I failed him many times, and he still loves me, still accepts me.
Once we went to Wesak Festival in the full moon of May, Buddha’s birthday, when he descends to earth and blesses the planet. Ten days beforehand, our ashram initiates, get together and do a retreat and a ten-day fast on a mountain. For the first seven days, it’s a half fast from six a.m. to six p.m. You can drink, but you can’t eat anything. Then for the last three days, it’s full fast, no drinking or eating anything.
In 1992 in Baguio, during the three-day full fast I went into the kitchen, spotted a banana and some crackers and ate them. I thought I could get away with it because nobody saw me, but I was fooling myself. On the final day there was a closing ritual, and Brod Boy said I’d be initiated into the third part of the Egyptian Arcane. He taught me the practice. I wondered whether I deserved a promotion.
Then he said, “Okay, you can now go to town now and get back to normal.” But before we left, he looked at me and said, “Hindi ako manggagamot, hindi ako manghuhula.I am not a physician. I am not a soothsayer.” In other words, don’t believe what I say, but figure it out for yourself. He knew I ate the banana and crackers. He knew. There was nothing you could hide from him.
On Session Road, the main thoroughfare in Baguio, I saw “Mr. Doughnut, 1955 Boston.” I was born in 1955 and went to college in Boston, but I didn’t see the connection until later. We went inside and ordered tea and coffee. The initiate beside me spilled boiling hot coffee on my arm. I yelled, and the cook laid some tomato slices on the burn as first aid. It should have been ice. I was traumatized.
So we went back to the ashram—I was still screaming—and Brod Boy told people to get some guava leaves, boil them and get some cotton. They got the leaves, but they said there was no cotton. Brod Boy just gestured with his hand, and cotton appeared. As it turned out, hot guava leaves do heal a burn.
The following day I went nuts. I left the ashram for Baguio General Hospital, where they put a gel on the burn to soothe the skin and accelerate the healing. Eventually, the skin became a leather map on my arm. Here, you can still see the scar. At any rate, I’d flunked.
Brod Boy said, “God is all good, and he told us to be good. But he also gave us free will. If we choose the right thing, we reap the reward. If not, we suffer the consequences. Being good is not easy. There’s too much temptation,”
The teacher tailors the practice for the initiate, for what you were doing in past lives and for what you need in this life to accelerate your consciousness so you can be one with God, which is the purpose of every human being. Since Adam and Eve, we’ve lost the purity of animals, of the pure man and the pure woman. The planet is spinning out of control, the vibrations of the planet are off because we have misused light and sound. Carbon emissions, yes, but also electro-magnetic frequencies and the electro-magnetic pulse from cell phones, computers, television, radar—anything that generates all kinds of waves, billions of waves are coming in and out of us right now.
What happened in New York in 9/11 was the wakeup call for the planet, the sign of approaching total chaos. Brod Boy called the ashram together—there were about fifteen of us. He said, “I’m leaving on a mission with three other universal masters from other countries.” They were to traverse the planet, recharging the planet together in order to delay the total chaos scenario and give humans more time to change.
I said, “Oh God, Brod Boy, what do we do when all hell breaks loose?
“Well, you can go with me to the forest. Everything’s there—shelter, food, clothing, water. It’s all there.” But I’m so used to life in the city. How could I bring my wife and children out there?
Brod Boy’s departure was a shock, He’d taught members of the group from 1960 to 2001. But in a sense his departure made us grow. Now he comes back once a year. We have an ashram on a beautiful spread in Quezon Province, where we meet once a month for collective meditation.
After 9/11, I fell into a depression from thinking of the future of my children. The children of this planet don’t deserve to be punished because of what we did and previous generations did. And this is what we’re giving them?
When Broad Boy returned and found me depressed, he said, “Shame on you. You should enjoy every moment of your life. Embrace life. Love everybody. Be the best you can be. Smile if you can. You don’t know when that time will be, so make the most of every second you have left.”Then I snapped out of it.
Brod Boy gave me a new practice three times. In 1975. I was given a Hebrew cabalistic practice and a mantra in Aramaic, then Egyptian Arcane in 2001, and in 2015 it was Shakti Path. So from Hebrew to Egyptian to Hindu. Because each practice is tailored to the individual, the people in our ashram we didn’t have the same practice.
It’s not easy having a good practice if you also have to earn a living and take care of your wife and children. The real ashrams are far from the madding crowd. Like here in Tagaytay, where it’s so peaceful. Actually, I found a community here on an organic farm. After I bought some produce, I directed the farm community in the expanding light meditation in the book. It’s a guided meditation for bringing the spirit into your body and expanding it so it becomes one with the universe. You realize that you’re not this body, you’re this light. People seemed to enjoy it. Now that I’m retired, I help whoever I can.
Nowadays I only play with my band once or twice a week. All my life I’ve been an entertainer. Being exposed to very loud sound isn’t good for me. So three years ago I sold all my instruments. I told my family, “Next year, in 2015 when I turn 60, I’m going to get into the spiritual life I’ve neglected for a long time.”
In 2014, I sold all my instruments, got rid of the large house and built a new, much smaller home—I used to be in the construction business. I want to live half the time outside the city, maybe in Tagaytay. My sons have finished college and are working. They’re in their own orbits.
You had some experience with healers, didn’t you?
There was a Pilates instructor, a former actress who’d become clairvoyant after a near-death experience which opened up her third eye. She became a healer. The Pilates studio is commercial, but the healing sessions were in a special room. There it was by donation. She did me a favor by treating me on Sundays although Sunday was her day off.
In Brazil she’d bought a huge machine with seven big quartz crystals, each one emitting a different color of light. You lie down on a bed, and she covers your eyes and points the crystal quartz at your chakras. She sets the timer and the control for the light intensity. She claims that a being from another planet is guiding her, that she’s just a channel of that energy and that it’s God who does the healing.
The sessions last thirty minutes for the first one, and they increase to forty-five, then an hour. While you’re lying there she puts a Tibetan singing bowl over one of your chakras. She chants, strikes the bowl and rubs it and it makes a sound. During my first session, I astral-projected. When I got back, it was over. I said I had to go to a concert.
“No, no, no, you can’t move. You’re not yet grounded.”
When I got outside, I didn’t know where I was. Every street—I totally lost my perception. I almost got into several accidents.
During the fifth or six session, she told me I had a blockage in my hip. “Yeah, I know, I have sciatica.” When I left I was completely healed. No more pain.
After the tenth session she told me to go to Dada, a childhood friend who’d officiated at my Hindu wedding. I hadn’t seen him in years. Later he told me she’d stopped working because she had cancer. I wish she’d told me.
I met the other healer back in 1985 when the daughter of the mayor of Manila came over to the house with this huge guy who’d been living with her family for three months. He was Ronald Marcos, the adopted son of the president, but he’d run away from Malacañang Palace because he felt he was being exploited. He was an idiot savant. He said he didn’t know where he’d come from, he’d been found in a garbage bag when he was five years old. He was called Bionic Boy because of his special powers. The Marcoses had been using him to find gold and other minerals.
They’d sent him to NASA in the United States to find out where his powers came from. He loved America. He wanted to stay, but Marcos wouldn’t let him. Back in Manila he wasn’t allowed to leave the palace.
So I said, “Sure, I’ll take him in.”
He lived with us for a little over two months and wanted to stay forever.
All he had with him was a suitcase which contained a typewriter, a photo album and a shopping bag of clothes. He was so proud of the photo album. He showed us that it was stuffed full of foreign currency which people had given him. He was writing a book of “all the firsts,” even those which would occur in the future. He’d type in a trance,
He went to the piano, and he played “Blue Danube” without touching the keys. At night he put a flashlight to his forehead—as if he were recharging himself—and made sounds in cascading up and down pitches. Once time I took him and my parents to a resort where you could ride on a caribou-drawn cart and be serenaded. He borrowed a guitar and started playing it and singing in Spanish.
One of his favorite tricks was to take a ballpoint pen and a piece of paper. He’d tell you to ask him a question. Then he’d suck the ink out of the pen, blows it on the paper, and there was the answer to your question.
I’d developed a prostate problem after a friend suggested that I have my prostate checked out. I went to a doctor who charged a lot of money for prostate massage done by beautiful nurses. As a result I had a blockage of prostatic fluid. He’d ruined my prostate.
Bionic Boy had me stand against the dining room wall while he stood a few yards away making his bionic sounds. For maybe four minutes I felt jolts. I was completely healed. When I went back to show the doctor, he said, “Can he heal me too?” He had the same problem. Bionic Boy said he would do it if the doctor would heal his athlete’s foot. He took off his shoes, and his feet really smelled. Sometimes the healers can’t heal themselves.
Bionic Boy wanted me to find him a wife, a woman without an asshole. I think he was kidding. Eventually I called the mayor and asked him to take him back.
The book is available in Astra Gallery, 2nd floor LRI Design Center, Nicanor Garcia st. (Formerly Reposo st.), Makati City from Monday to Saturday. Also only on Sunday from 10am to 2pm, Legazpi Village Organic Market, look for Mara Pardo de Tavera’s Food Kitchen. Tyvm & Gbu.
Johnny Alegre on Pinoy Jazz: Very entertaining read.
Another reader writes: Quite a post. Enjoyed the YouTube 432 hertz recommend – found some fun stuff as a result. Over and over and over we hear MEDITATE