Sacred Recognition - Musicians' Quotes
- Rashied Ali
- Pharaoh Sanders
- Bob (Rakalam) Moses
- Paul Shaffer
- McCoy Tyner
- Bernie Senensky
- Marilyn Crispell
- Henry Kaiser
- Ratso B. Harris
"Tisziji is a very spiritual person. He is one of the most spiritual people I know. He’s really into it. He lives it. He’s for real. There’s nothing false about him. Everything that he does in his life enhances his music. When you listen to his music you hear that. Everything spills right into his music. To me it’s all about music. Everything in life is in the music. It’s universal. When I play music I like to hear what everyone else is playing. I listen for the instruments and what they’re saying. When I play music I go through all kinds of changes and I can look at myself and see things that I don’t see otherwise.
"When I played with Tisziji at the Bottom Line with Pharoah in 1994 it was great and I’m really glad that I had a chance to play with Tisziji. He has these lines like a saxophone and he plays guitar like a horn player. He sounds like everything but a guitar. When we played together at that time I felt that his conception on the guitar was my conception on drums and his conception on guitar was Pharoah’s conception on saxophone. When Tisziji tripped out and started playing that wild wild stuff it was great.
"When he asked me to play on his CD’s I said, ‘Yeah. Let’s do it.’ I was glad he asked me. All of the dates with Tisziji have been great. They all say what they’re supposed to say. ‘Spirit World’ is my favorite. It felt great playing with Pharoah. Pharoah is one of the few who can handle Tisziji’s music. He has that way about him. I also liked playing with Bernie (Senensky). He really understands Tisziji’s music, and Don (Pate), he’s got Tisziji’s music down. He’s played with Tisziji on just about all his gigs, so he understands what he is doing. The music on that recording was great because we all had this connection between us. If the music is happening then the connection is going to be right.
"It’s hard for me to define the spiritual stuff, but I get a feeling when it’s good. All of Tisziji’s music is good. But even when the music I play is not good, I always think about what’s good in it.
"This cat Tisziji is crazy. He has that real open-mindedness and the music can go anywhere at anytime. He is right into what is happening when it’s happening. He’s a great musician and a great person. He has one hell of a conception, an open and free conception. Tisziji’s open and free conception is what I’ve been working towards all my life. I found it with Coltrane and I’m still trying to define it. I feel like I’m finding out more with Tisziji, but I also feel that I won’t ever get to the end of it. It lives on and will live on after I’m dead and then someone else will carry it on.
"I like to be around people who are different from me and Tisziji and I are very different. But, I can learn from him. He can tell me a lot about what I don’t know, what I’m missing out on. He has a lot to say and I know I can learn things from him. I’d also like to sit with him for a while and talk about astrology. He knows his stuff. I’ve read some of his books and he knows a lot about things that I don’t know anything about but would like to hear about.
"I’d like to do a duo with Tisziji, just the two of us, one on one. I hope we can do that some time. I’m glad Tisziji and I have hooked up in this world musically and spiritually."
— Rashied Ali
Rashied Ali: “Tisziji Muñoz is a creative genius. He always demonstrates that when we play. It is a way of life with him. He is incredible and he gets better every time. He is of that different order of life, being humble, extraordinary and very spiritual. Like John (Coltrane), Tisziji is always in pursuit of the spiritual truth.”
“Tisziji Muñoz is a man of self-knowledge, and a very advanced musician. I remember in the early days, in 1974, when we were playing at the Village Vanguard in New York, I was in the back room looking for a decent reed when I heard this tenor sounding sax coming from the bandstand. I could not believe the sound and I said, ‘Who is this cat with the nerve to get up on the bandstand and just start blowing on my gig?’ So, I ran out. I was almost angry, and then I saw him. It was Tisziji playing guitar! But he sounded just like a horn player, and I kept saying to myself, ‘How is he doing this horn sound on a guitar.’ I just couldn’t believe it. When I saw it was Tisziji I calmed down.
"Tisziji is one of the spiritual players. He has that quality about him. He is the only one I know that plays like that. He is the only guitar player I really know that I can play with. To me, it’s like there are no other guitar players. He is the only one. I can’t play with anyone else like I play with Tisziji.
"Tisziji can come into my band at any time and we can just play. We don’t have to think about it. He just knows what to play. And we’re just gonna do it. We’re just gonna play the music and it will be what it will be. You never know what he’s going to do next. He thinks and plays on a higher level. Tisziji plays with that spiritual quality that is about being Free. That is in his music. He has a lot of conviction in his music. He has that unique Sound. If you want to know about Tisziji, you have to listen to his music.
"Tisziji plays a lot of different sounds on his guitar. Sometimes it’s like a horn, sometimes it’s like a sitar, sometimes it’s like singing. He creates multiple sounds. It’s like each note has a different sound. He sounds like a whole lot of things at once. He sounds like a full band all by himself.
"I don’t know anyone who really knows Tisziji that has anything bad to say about him. Oh, maybe the critics, we all have critics, but those who criticize him just don’t know him or understand him and they don’t deserve to hear his music.
"Tisziji Munoz is a genius who must play his own music and write his own books.
"I can always talk to Tisziji and play with him like there is no time between us. He is a very unique person. He has helped me through a lot in a lot of different ways. For instance, when we played in Schenectady, I came in with a lot of physical pain, but Tisziji took away my pain. He made me feel good. I always feel good when I’m around Tisziji.
"I am very thankful to have met someone with Tisziji’s qualities. He is a great player, a great person and a great man. He has the qualities that I like in a man. I like being around him. I feel comfortable with him. He is always very humble, very understated. He is not commercial. He doesn’t care about money. He just wants to be Free with his music. He has no ego and I love that in him. He has always been that way. He has this aura about him. Not everyone sees it, but I do. I always feel good around him. He is a unique spirit.”
- "TISZIJI MUÑOZ:
AND GUITAR GENIUS"
- ON TISZIJI'S
- ON TISZIJI'S
"I AM THE FIRE
- COMPARISON OF
AND TISZIJI MUÑOZ
- ON HIS
DEC. '04 VISIT
- ANAMI STAFF
- VISIT OF JUNE
"I’m one who has always had an affinity for sound. As a young boy I remember sitting for hours in a field listening to the wind blow through the tall grass sounding like a symphony to me. So it’s no surprise that my ongoing journey of unfoldment from the darkness of self to the Lightness of being began with a sound.
"That was in 1980 when I first heard the music of Spiritual Master, guitar genius Bhapuji Tisziji Muñoz. I would describe Tisziji’s sound as a majestic, transcendent laser beam of love which gracefully pierces the armor of self, thought and mind and bathes the heart in the direct light of Spirit.
"It would take nearly twenty years for my self-mind to acknowledge what my heart knew immediately, that I was in the presence of a great sound healer, an impeccable Master, one who has transcended the self, has cut all karmic gravity lines and is thereby absolutely free to be the silent, compassionate, aware, nothingness of Spirit Itself.
"In my life I’ve had the experience of hearing up close and being inspired by some of the alltime great musicians, such as John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Thelonious Monk, Elmo Hope, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Gil Evans, Jaco Pastorious and many others; but none of their great music has transformed me, shattered me and uplifted me in the way the music and life example of Tisziji Muñoz has.
"Born into a Puerto Rican family of Roman Catholic spiritualists, Tisziji was recognized early on by family psychics as a supernatural drum prodigy, drumming before he could walk or talk. As a young boy he would play his five congas furiously all day long, completely losing himself in the deepest of rhythm trances. One might say his first out of the body experiences were by way of the drum.
"As a drummer who has been blessed to play with Tisziji I can attest to his incredibly high degree of drum awareness and telepathic rhythmic interplay.
"There are those who would call Tisziji’s music freeform, out there, abstract or even insane; and no doubt some of his Latino brethren would prefer him to embrace and represent his “roots” by playing more traditional clavebased music.
"It is important to understand that Tisziji’s wideopen, ofthemoment, spiritual way of playing is not a rejection or negation of traditional musics but more a transcendence of, or higher harmonic of those musics. Indeed, Tisziji’s playing is no less free, heartfull and infinitely creative on timebased traditional song forms as he is playing from absolutezero cosmic rubato.
"Tisziji, as a true spiritual master, is free of any and all ethnic, artistic or stylistic attachments in his life and music. Yet he has been able to play effectively and find great sympathetic resonance with such jazz and Latin music giants as Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Rashied Ali, Hilton Ruiz, John Hicks, Art Davis, Idris Muhammed, Don Pate, Cecil McBee, John Lockwood, Dave Liebman, Danilo Pérez, Marilyn Crispell, Ravi Coltrane and plenty others.
"I bear witness to their acknowledgment of Tisziji as a most humble and powerful leader. One who by his steadfast and uncompromising example sets the tone by which musicians can access their truest, freest, deepest levels of heart blood, spirit nature.
"At no church, temple or “Holy” place have I felt an angelic presence so palpably as at a Tisziji musical performance.
"As Naakpo Dorje, the Black Diamond Buddha, Archangel of Godfire, Tisziji’s guitar playing is often superhumanly intense and fiery, yet never heavy. Full of light and lightness, free of gravity and as unsolid as deep space, his playing can take you places never imagined and to worlds beyond this world.
"His ability to play so ferociously for such long periods of time while remaining totally relaxed is only possible through his deep mastery of many yogic techniques.
"Prophecies Afterlife title track “Divine Radiance” from the recently released CD of the same title on Dreyfus (FDM 36706) featuring Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Rashied Ali, Cecil McBee, Don Pate and Paul Shaffer.
"Once described as “the sound of the broken heart healed,” Tisziji’s playing can also be exquisitely, heartwrenchingly lyrical, more in the way of a great singer or saxophonist then a guitarist. I’ve never heard anyone who plays a manual instrument sound so much like each note is created with the breath.
"Some excellent examples of the lyrical side of Tisziji are his sublime duets with the great pianist Marilyn Crispell on Auspicious Healing (Anami Music 0018), his versions of “Summer of ’42” and “Emily” from Death Is a Friend of Mine (Anami Music 009) and versions of “Fatherhood” from Hu-Man Spirit (Anami Music 021) and Divine Radiance (FDM 36706).
"It may be of interest to note that great musicians with close personal relationships to John Coltrane such as Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, Art Davis and Ravi Coltrane and others would not have been so open to play with Tisziji if he were merely a Coltrane imitator or assimilator. They do so because they understand that Tisziji’s music represents freedom from the past and a release of all karma which is an exhilarating, liberating, healing experience; and his playing is no less fearsome, bold, brave, heartfull and beautiful as John Coltrane’s.
"Tisziji is a living spiritual leader, far removed from the jazz world, whose music operates at the impersonal level beyond the mental aspect of musicianship, direct from the unconcious.
"His is the sound of “Isness” created on the spot, from scratch, based on the spiritual needs of the present, transmitted from a state of spontaneous perfection and profound simplicity.
"I would recommend to anyone listening to Tisziji’s music, rather than compare or relate it to other music, instead breathe deep, still the mind and feel free to let it take you where it takes you.
"For most musicians the improvisational process involves developing a personal vocabulary derived from various musical and educational influences, exposure to and the study of different styles, systems and methods of music making. The principle being that by continually accumulating more data, experiences and musical sources the player will ultimately have more to draw from.
"How different is Tisziji’s process? Under close examination it is apparent that his musical vocabulary is not derived from other music or musicians. By all accounts from those who have lived with him over the past 20 years, he does not listen to music. He doesn’t practice or study music at all. As a living embodiment of what he calls “The Great Equation: No Self, No Thought, No Mind, No Body = No Problemas,” Tisziji’s music springs forth from Silence itself and relies solely on selfless surrender to Spirit, masterfully riding the Sacred Sound Current whose eternal, infinite source predates the earth, mankind, music, art, science and all divisions and polarities.
"(1) What is relatively creative binds one to consciousness or identification with things and beings.
"What is absolutely creative liberates one from self, thought and mind of everything and everyone.
"The fire is absolutely creative and in it nothing exists.
"Few have the ability to consider the Reality of this fire at its level of the roar of Silence.
"Few have stopped enough to hear this for themselves.
"The few who have, have yet to return.
"For they are gone, gone, gone beyond beyond, and for no small reason.
"They have not escaped.
"They have transcended and are still here now to verify this roar of Silence for the few who need to know.
"For here is a knowing beyond knowing, a seeing beyond any seeing and a hearing beyond any hearing.
"(2) What kind of music might you play if you were to suddenly wake up and find you were without a single friend or relative, without reference to any self, thought or mind? What kind of music would or should a liberated or truly free being play? Having awakened beyond all attachments, what musical form would satisfy the Heart’s need to hear what can neither be heard nor identified with? Wake up! A lack of ego is a lack of gravitational reference. Only the greatest of fierce spirits can handle the fallcall of waking up.
"Those of you who haven’t heard Tisziji’s music or been around him might find it hard to imagine the sound and presence of such an extraordinarily soulful master musician with no ego, no desire, no vanity, no insecurity, no selfpromotion, no hustle, no attachment, no lust, no addictions, no fear, no anger, no dogma, no licks, no patterns and no self, thought or mind to get in the way of pure heartfull sacred sound transmission direct from Spirit.
"For me he is without a doubt the most powerful guitarist I’ve heard or played with but most importantly he is a Master of Life, Love and Liberty. One who is dearly responsible, selfless, humble, clairvoyant, compassionate and impeccable in deed and word. He has come to earth in human form only to serve and heal the few who have a need to transcend and understand the ways of Spirit.
"It is impossible to overestimate the profound effect on my life of Tisziji’s music, writings and counsel. Thanks to my longstanding association with this great guru, I’ve become far more free of all earthly, mechanical karmic gravities and concerns, enabling and ennobling me to enter the Heart domain where love, freedom and creativity reign. I am happier, freer, lighter and much less attached to all that had lured me, seduced me, kept me in bondage and out of the light. My drumming is certainly fuller, more pure, sacred, fearless, open, strong, gentle, growing, glowing, compassionately detached, lovingly impersonal and in service to Spirit and this is just the beginning.
"Tisziji is real. He is true. He is fulfilling his destiny to function as a Prophet, healer and servant to those spirits in need of guidance, transformation and upliftment.
"I believe that Tisziji, through his words and music, could very well be a harbinger of a new era of consciousness and spiritual awakening for those blessed souls who are creatively gifted, spiritually evolving and committed to shedding boundaries, divisions and selflimitations.
"(3) The Fire of the Silence of Spirit is the Heart and the Heart’s feeling of oneness, harmony, love and compassionate mercy.
"Therefore, it may be called God, or Buddha— the impersonal, transcendent awareness, master or absolute truth, or whatever concept serves the idea or principle of the absolute benign reality, who is grace, graciousness and gratitude.
"Spirit is the Heartsource of all blessings and the beautiful, magnificent, light of the sound of pure Spiritbeing, which it, the absolute being, is.
"It is the beloved sweetness of sweetnesses, the joy of joys and it is the true and unchanging, perfect heaven of the Heart, beyond all beings, all things and all changes of this and every world."
May the Blessings Be
Rakalam Bob Moses
(1) excerpt from The Great Equation by Tisziji Muñoz, pg. 31, 2001 The Illumination Society Publications
(2) excerpt from Wake Up by Tisziji Muñoz, pg. 23, 1997 T.I.S. Publications
(3) excerpt from The Prophet of God Fire by Tisziji Muñoz, Pg. 47, T.I.S. Publications
September 8, 2005
"To my ears, the trilogy of masterworks “Alpha Nebula”, “Omega Nebula”, and “Parasamgate Nebula” by spiritual master, guitar genius Tisziji Munoz is the most majestic, potent expression to date of what Tisziji calls “Heart-Fire Sound”.
"I was deeply moved the first time I heard Tisziji play and for close to thirty years I have remained involved with his music both as a listener and participant. I feel that the Nebula trilogy is his most apocalyptic, cataclysmic work. For those with the heart to hear, it is simultaneously frightening, shattering, uplifting and inspiring.
"In my lifetime, I have listened carefully to the music of many of the greats in the world of jazz, classical and various ethnic, folkloric forms of music and I state emphatically that Tisziji’s music is fundamentally unlike any other.
"His is a purer form of genius that has nothing to do with memory, intellect or eloquence within the boundaries of any pre-existing language or culture. His playing stems from a more primordial, trans-historic, raw, native, but transcendent, intelligence and every note is nourished by the life experience of true spiritual realization and selfless mastery. Playing music with Tisziji is like recreating the world each and every time.
"The most psychically charged, all seeing, all hearing holy “Heart Blood Sound” is created totally in the moment, on the spot, with no hesitation or wavering from its spiritual intent.
"Those who only appreciate music for music’s sake and are impressed by mastery within existing musical forms may be disappointed or even disturbed by Tisziji’s playing.
"Those, like myself, who have evolved to a need for a music that is more than known music will feel and know the true angelic presence in the formless perfection of Tisziji’s Heart-fire Sound, lived, breathed and played by a living spiritual master.
"This sacred sound transmission of the Nebula trilogy is awesomely intense, yet full of light and lightness, totally free of all karmic or musical gravities. It is highly musical, full of rich and original melodies, harmonies and rhythms without in any way being about music.
"To live and play this free requires the greatest discipline and to burn this fiercely requires a profound inner core of absolute peacefulness and silence.
"Listening to this music is like hurtling through unknown dimensions, and ecstatic radiantly turbulent ride, saturated with an infinite variety of colors, shapes, sounds and wind velocity.
"This trilogy of masterworks is the most powerful, life-changing music (if one can call it that) I have ever heard or dreamed of. I am deeply grateful and honored to have been able to contribute in a small way to Tisziji’s Soul-stirring, Heart-opening work."
"This offering called “I am the Fire of Silence” is the God’s eye view direct from Tisziji, the Free Master of Heart-Fire Sound.
Sacred dharma created on the spot and offered in the spirit of selfless service to awaken the potential of liberation and enlightenment in any and all beings who have a need to rise above the bondage, pain and suffering of the karmic body in the material world.
Here is a terrifying, take no prisoners, glimpse at the reality of the Master, where all self, thought and mind have been burned and melted in the Fire of Transcendental Being.
"This is the great mystery expressed by one who knows the unknowable and it causes us ordinary humans to stop and pause. In that moment of wonder, lives can be saved, hearts can open and healing can happen so that ultimately we may be reconnected to our Source as Spirit, as Light and recover what has been lost to us.
"This teaching, which could more accurately be called a melting process, can never be understood from the vantage point of the self-mind intellect, the place most humans are stuck in.
"When one is free of aggression, and the need to change anything or anyone, that being will indeed be closer to the Spirit of Silence.
The Master is the living Heart of Transcendence where nothing exists. From this changeless silent-fire, there is only freedom, compassion, awareness and impersonal love, infinite and eternal.
"Though Tisziji’s reality may be as remote to most of us as the most distant galaxy, having access and exposure to this fearless Spiritual Master provides a powerful upliftment and a healing transformative effect on those of us so blessed.
"If one can carry with them even a small measure of this serene, peaceful, inner silence, then one can live thru their trials, tribulations and karmic changes with far more humility, understanding, humor and grace, thereby being free to selflessly serve our fellow beings.
All praise be to Bhapuji for living and sharing with us this profound Holy Fire of Silence.
"With gratitude and love,
Rakalam (Bob Moses)"
It has been my greatest blessing to have been close to the life and music of the great Spiritual Master and guitar genius, Bhapuji Tisziji Muñoz, for over twenty-five years. It often seems an unexplainable, inexplicable mystery how such a being, who by all accounts does not listen to or practice music, does not involve himself in the world of music, art or commerce whatsoever, and because of a severe childhood injury barely ever touches his guitar, can make such powerful, sacred, healing music at the highest levels of musicality, creativity, spontaneity, freedom, spiritual fire and grace.
These words are an attempt to shed some light on the path and psychically charged yogic process of this great Master.
Some critics and listeners have compared Tisziji’s music to that of the late, great saxophone giant, John Coltrane. From a superficial or surface level of awareness, this is understandable. In the case of both these great men, the leap from silence into roaring sound current is akin to jumping into a sea of molten lava. No other musicians I’ve heard reach that level of intensity (which has nothing to do with volume or physical energy) from the very first note. There is also the fact that Tisziji has performed and recorded with several great musicians associated with the Coltrane legacy, such as Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, McCoy Tyner, Art Davis and others. Nevertheless, those who might assume that Tisziji was influenced by or is a follower of the Coltrane school would be mistaken.
John Coltrane was a musical master coming directly out of the jazz tradition, who apprenticed with many jazz greats, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and others. He was open to and interested in all kinds of music and looked outward to the world for ideas and inspiration. He was also an extremely humble, quiet gentleman, who was ever evolving as a spiritual being.
It is my hope that those musicians who feel a need to imitate John Coltrane would imitate his humility and spiritual nature rather than his musical vocabulary. To my ears, on a psychic level, Coltrane’s sound was the sound of searching and a super human striving to reach a higher plateau through music.
Tisziji’s life and music is another matter entirely. He doesn’t look outward to other musics, but inward and draws from his own spiritualist origins and innate yogic endowment. For me, Tisziji’s sound is the ‘sound of already found’ and there is no sense of striving. That quality in his music, which could be described as Spirit singing directly to you without a trace of self, thought, mind or body, has been there from the beginning and although each performance is vastly different due to Tisziji’s sensitivity to the psychic needs of the moment, the source of the music, that nameless, formless Holy Fire of Heart Wisdom has remained the same.
Many musicians religiously practice, study and play music in the hope that it will bring them to some mystical connection to the Divine. If one’s reality is that of a fully realized, awakened Spiritual Master, who gives and lives from the Enlightened Grace of Divine Silence, what music is there to study?
One thing I have learned over the years from my own life experiences and my relationship to Tisziji as guru and teacher is that music in itself does not save you. If it did, then extremely gifted musicians, such as Mozart, Charlie Parker, Jaco Pastorious and others would have been fulfilled, at peace and free from addictions, desires, and self-destructive behavior. Unfortunately, we know this was not the case.
Tisziji plays from a place of profound stillness, beyond changes, blood, karma, culture, growth, struggle, ideas, concepts, polarities, anxieties, neuroses and human conditioning, in general. He has given up all the material things that most humans feed on, including the need to express one’s self and be recognized for it. He lives a life of monastic severity, serenity and selfless service to others. With his spiritual writings on a wide range of topics, including music, philosophy, religion, family, relationships and yogic practice, he has produced a mind-boggling body of work that redefines existing intellectual and creative standards of genius. His patience and compassion are boundless and infinite.
On those rare, precious occasions that Tisziji chooses to come out and play music, those of us there to listen are blessed to be in the presence of a glorious, majestic, transcendent sound of pure, selfless, impersonal Soul, what Tisziji calls ‘Heart-Fire Sound’. It is truly a benediction from heaven.
Rakalam (Bob Moses)
January 4, 2005
My visit with Tisziji was very difficult for me because he confronted my karmic resistance to spiritual practice, the mechanical mechanisms that are inherited and strong. Everyone has different capacities for stillness and for me it is easier to do hard labor than to do 20 minutes of spiritual practice. I experience mental and physical pain and my thoughts break the stillness. It is easier when I am with Tisziji. His peacefulness is so strong and palpable and I feel much closer to that state when I am in his presence.
But, this last visit was very intense and one of the strongest encounters I’ve had. I felt like crying. He shamed me, yet he did so with motivational, inspirational encouragement. I believe that he was actually easy on me. He was very direct with me but he was also compassionate and patient. I got a good glimpse of how far I have to go. I have read his books and experienced his music, but I know that I have so much to learn. He really opened my eyes. I think Tisziji is toughest on those who appear to be the strongest, because they have more to overcome.
I have this low karma to deal with. Yet, in spite of myself, just being around him for two days seemed to rearrange my molecular structure. He is always working on me and I’m always being resistant, like a rock. This time he loosened that rock and broke it up into smaller pieces and I don’t feel the same. Now I’m like a bunch of pebbles instead of one solid rock. I realized that I’ve wasted a lot of time and I just wanted to cry. During and after my visit things became much clearer and I saw what needed to be shut down. I observed the benefits of practice, but I am far from feeling those benefits consistently. I confess that I have a long way to go.
Still, I’ve come a long way since five years ago. I experience this in my music especially. Last time I played with him (at Tonic?) I noticed that I felt honored that he didn’t give me a solo, like he usually does. This time, my ego didn’t need it. It wasn’t important. Playing with him was recognition enough. Tisziji always responds according to my needs.
I would like to be able to spend more time with Tisziji, for a couple of months, if that were possible. If one visit could open me up, I can’t imagine how much I would progress with more time. Tisziji helped me to see that no thought is real and that Silence is all that exists. The dream of life has so much reality in it. I am very grateful and honored to know him.
I remember the late, great guitarist Emily Remler as a warm, funny, highly intuitive person and an extraordinarily talented musician. She also suffered from low self-esteem, family issues, spiritual dissatisfaction and an addiction to Dilaudin, a strong depressant with an effect not unlike heroin, which led to her untimely death at a tragically young age.
Once, during our time together, I played her some of the music of spiritual master, guitar genius, Tisziji Muñoz, and it was truly a revelation for her. She was deeply moved and affected by his playing, remarking that he played like no one she had ever heard. (And she had studied all the guitar players.) Later, in 1981,when she got to meet him in person, she was amazed to realize that the man and his music were one and the same, without a trace of ambition, desire, ego, competition or hustle. She recognized him as a great musician and spiritual healer of the highest order and they shared a powerful Heart-level connection.
Although she passed away before the seeds of that connection could bear fruit, we most lovingly honor her memory as a bold spirit with a great need and appreciation for the truth and light manifested through the sound currents of the transcendent Archangel of God-fire, Bhapuji, Tisziji Muñoz.
July 18, 2000
Interview by Lydia (Sama-dhani) L.
Tisziji plays a lot less now than he did when I first met him. But in a certain way that makes it more intense for the listeners. When you wait that long for it to happen, it’s more powerful. In the early days of our association he used to play for 10 or 12 hours at a time. There would be shifts of musicians who would last for an hour or two. They would play and be done and he would still be rising. Tisziji would be fasting and not eating, and still he would just keep playing and rising higher while everyone else was fading. It was like he had mastered photosynthesis and was a master of sunlight and water. I never saw anyone play like that. And I remember how the music affected Reb. He was just an infant and was in some degree of pain and the music was his medicine. The more out the music was, the more Reb was in.
Tisziji was always extremely alert and relaxed and he maintained that non-stop. Tisziji is not really human because he’s more than human. There was never any doubt that he was more than human. It’s clear in everything he does.
I came to Tisziji as a musician, but I knew from the start that he had something very deep going on. He was a Spirit-Teacher , fully realized. I have felt this from the very beginning. He was burning, but intense and relaxed. There had to be something else.
He had a circle around him. I realized that Tisziji was perceptive enough to see what it was that people needed. But he never pushed anything on me. If I didn’t ask he didn’t interfere. But I knew he’d be there if I needed him. I knew Tisziji a long time, maybe fifteen years, before I asked him about his spiritual work. I asked him if I could come to him with problems and pain.
Every time I’m around him, it’s great. The first time I came to him for spiritual advice we talked for 2 days straight. He knew a lot of stuff about me that I had never mentioned, but he waited until I was ready and serious enough to do something with the information he shared. I’m aware of Tisziji’s presence in my life all the time. Things come up and I find myself thinking how he would respond to certain situations.
I feel him in my life at any given moment. I access him on a heart level everyday. If I’m hurting or confused I can call him and sometimes I call just to hear his voice. He always says exactly what I need to hear, even if it’s just a brief conversation.
One time I told him I felt a need to be around higher beings and he said, ‘You might have start hanging around the zoo.’ It was very true. He also said, ‘It’s not enough for you to ignore the bullshit, you have to be more than the bullshit.”
I treasure him. I have no one else who points me in the right direction. At one gig when I was feeling very close to him I publicly acknowledged him as my spiritual master. That’s what I was feeling in the moment. It felt good to say it out loud. It was important and right to say that. It was also important that Tisziji hear it from me. It’s so unusual to be with a fully realized Spirit master who plays music.
Once, on a plane I was sitting across from one of the Rinpoches and he looked at me and smiled and in that smile everything was said. But I would not be able to be with that kind of master. I’m not from that kind of world. With Tisziji, it’s different and special. He’s lived through all of life and maya and transcended it. That gives us a lot to talk about. He understands. We have that other world together. He talks in everyday talk, even sometimes raunchy. But that makes it easier to communicate with such a Guru and Spirit-Master.
I feel like I’m getting closer to him all the time. With Tisziji there’s no compromise and no ambiguity. His path has been clear to him from the beginning. I’m not as divorced from the world as he is. Tisziji chooses to be on the spiritual side of life. I feel I’m getting closer to choosing to be that way.
The writings for me are so intense. A couple of lines are enough for me. It’s like it is with music. You start out with a melody and then it triggers more. One paragraph of his writing sends me reeling off into infinity. I use the concepts in my life, especially the ideas about all that river of blood karma. I’ve been pulled by that stuff. But I like to be free and to take whatever I can use from whatever philosophy there is.
I feel more free of Earth-blood stuff than ever before. Tisziji could no doubt help me more if I took advantage of his offering. I’m ready. I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m reaching a higher level of detachment. Things he said years ago, ideas and seeds he planted long ago, are starting on their own to bear fruit. I’m very grateful to know Tisziji.
I’m more of an African spirit. You know, white man misses the point about nature, about finding your own thing. Ultimately we have to transcend all of it. There is good in all. But it’s good not to be ruled by the family. The mastery is about taking the high road in any given moment. We are all programmed, but we can be more than just robots.
When I play music with Tisziji, something happens from the very first note and I know nothing is going to be blocked. It’s very rare to be able to play like that. There’s so much healing in the music. It’s therapeutic. Those who can feel it know it right away. It’s like diving into the fire of purification from the first note. It’s instantaneous. You inhale and you’re in. The only other one who could play like that was John Coltrane. Tisziji creates that same kind of feeling. I call it a ‘blaptismal’. It’s a burning. I teach it in my own way. But, we learn to burn it. Its the ashes that interest me, when there’s nothing left.
My favorite recording that I did with Tisziji is Alpha-Nebula. It’s the one I’m most proud of. When I hear it, I can’t hear myself at all and that’s good. It’s part of the mess, the mess-enger, (Tisziji) and the supreme mess-iah. It’s the messiest of them all and I love it. It’s strong medicine and it continues to work on me. It never gets diluted. You never come close to hearing it all, no matter how many times you hear it.
For those of us who really hear we need that kind of density. Most music is too pure and you’ve heard it before. You can’t hear that scream, that laser, all the frequencies in one tone like what is in Tisziji’s music. You hear them all in his sound – the rhythm and the no-rhythm. It’s the God’s head for listening.
In Alpha-Nebula, especially, you find yourself asking, ‘What does New York sound like from a distance?’ What does the Earth sound like from a distance? What does the universe sound like from a distance?’ Alpha-Nebula is scary. It makes you feel like a human, very, very small. It makes you feel holy. I feel all kinds if planets and meteors speeding by. It takes you off the Earth.
My own philosophies are very harmonious with Tisziji. My home is up. I think I am from a much more infinite place that is very much a part of Tisziji’s music and writings. In musical terms, there’s a chordal center or scale that is usually the resolution. Most music puts the root in the bass. The extensions are mostly removed and are in the higher instruments. I like to put conventional music in reverse of that and put the root in the higher instruments.
Having been given the name, Ra-kalam (The inaudible sound of the invisible sun) by Tisziji sums it all up for me. That name represents my higher self. Whenever I see that Bob Moses is not taking me higher, then I realize that I’m Ra-Kalam and that is my true reality. Just thinking of it puts me in touch with high feelings.
On God-fire of Sound:
Rakalam: “More than any of the other writings The Buddha of Fire-Sound clarifies the difference between being in the world and being controlled by it and being free, especially in reference to music. Most people would consider McCoy Tyner or Miles Davis as being the more enlightened musician as opposed to the view that all of these people are in unenlightened bondage to a self-agenda. Tisziji writes about getting to music that has no self-promotional agenda at all and music that is free of the influence of and the attachment to changes. It’s liberating to realize that there’s another kind of music, another place to be.
“So much music of the world is about attachment and suffering. Tisziji says ‘Leave all that behind, it’s not free music.’ The Buddha of Fire-Sound is a very clear writing , but with a lot of paradoxes. Each sentence gives much to ponder. Each line resonates. And each paragraph is more intense than the one before it, addressing more and more critical issues. I recognize the syndromes and patterns that Tisziji writes about because I’ve been in the world of music. I see what he’s talking about. We musicians have been immune to criticism because we are musicians. Once you have this recognition of the fire of selfless music how do you interest others who don’t understand or who might be threatened by it? I see musicians, those devil-defilers of sound all around me. Sometimes they are my allies and I need to work with them.
How does Tisziji live with that fire and not burn everyone in his path? Many would not want to read this. They would want to stone him. Archangel stones religion and might create anger. This book, in one paragraph does the same regarding musicians. As you read it, you might think of exceptions, but the more you read the more you see how Tisziji nails everyone and everything.
“Once you come from that consciousness you can be very alone. Like Tisziji says throughout the book, ‘Who understands this?’ or ‘Who hears this?’ It’s all covered in this work. Tisziji writes about fear and the trap that it is, that fear of being alone and that the more enlightened you become the more alone you are.
“Seemingly there are some who might be more avant-garde, but in reality they do not live that way. That’s an important distinction. There is the living of it and the playing of it that are the same with Tisziji. Tisziji calls what it is what it is
“This is a great work and I am grateful to be one of the privileged few to read this, and I get it and the music doesn’t lie. The music is proof of that the word is true, there is no separation.
The effects of Tisziji’s teachings and on being a student:
“I’ve grown up with the jazz greats, but now I don’t hear any of these people or my own history. It’s now easy for me to let it go. What comes in to that emptiness is the joy and amazement in my own playing, but the ego is gone. It’s the opposite of ego. It’s like a force of nature, infinitely changing and there are new vistas, like going into space and seeing completely new colors and forms. The universe is infinite. The emptiness of self is now freeing things up so all of that can come in. I’m more excited about music and my life, It’s more about life and less about attachment to up and downs, gain and loss, tragedy and comedy. I have less anger. I’ve been slow and lazy and retarded about talking this gift, but it has had great effects.
“My association with Tisziji has had a real effect on my playing. More than ever I’m willing to leave behind musical forms. I’ve spent 20 years learning to impress others, to seduce others. Tisziji’s work has helped me to gladly not play from that, to not hold on to these compositions. Because of Tisziji, I don’t compare anymore. I don’t want to show the world what I can do. That’s one minute I’m not asking the universe to show me what my expertise is. It’s a humble form of mastery and it requires you to be open and empty.
“I’m a lot lighter, more grateful and happier. I feel a lot more movement in my life and in my music. As I go to fewer places, see less people in the world, have fewer gigs, have less people who are dependent on me, I’m alone, but the movement has given me a freedom. My playing is changing. I don’t recognize me anymore
“As a student I’ve been helped to be more positive and grateful for my isolation from other musicians and the social-business scene. I was always isolated, but in the past I was unhappy, frustrated, disappointed, misunderstood and afraid of it. These days I’m able to see the situation as fortunate to be excluded, grateful to be on the side of ‘in the world, but not of it’ as Tisziji says. More than ever, I’m happy, clear and strong about it and able to pass that on to others. These conceptions have been strengthened because of Tisziji as teacher and they are getting passed down to other strong spirits who are able to hear it. Those who do hear it have a certain responsibility to pass it on.
Tisziji’s teachings have clarified my understanding. This work is channeling light. At this point, I don’t consider myself a musician. I’ve had elements of this before I met Tisziji. He’s helped me to live from that point of view. I’m no more exalted when I’m playing than when I’m sitting here. The making of music is taking that light and changing it into sound. Those in the audience can feel the healing. My happiness is not dependent on how much I play.”
“At the Tonic, I felt like a participant in the music. There was less responsibility by being in the audience than as a player, but as an audience member it was the same for me. I get the light or blessing whether I’m playing or hearing it. I came down just to hear it, it didn’t matter. Tisziji doesn’t play a lot. This might be the last time he plays in a club. I see him as Buddha. I may not see the whole reality, but I recognize it. How often do you have a Buddha who plays the guitar? He spreads the light and it is natural for me to get it. He’s the perfect Buddha for me. For me, the word without the sound is like a dry pill taken without water.”
Tisziji: “Everyone is Buddha God, but they are not conscious of it. When you come into contact with it, with my spirit, you lose lifetimes in an hour. Without doubts you would not be here. I live as that which is of the matrix and not the matrix and beyond the matrix.”
“There is no freedom until there is no self, everything else is a mock-up or a myth of what true freedom is. The need for truth and nothing but the truth is the sword of freedom. That’s the long and the short of it and the truth is that we are not the self- that’s the Heart of it.”
Tisziji: “Music is not sound. If it’s too simple it can’t be known. If it’s simple then thought can own it and you can’t own it. There is no mind. I have made it a good vehicle that justifies everything. It’s dharmically perfect.”
“It was astonishing to hear how much Tisziji’s playing has advanced from the last time I played with him. I have played with all the great guitar players, from Eric Clapton to Van Halen to Santana to Jeff Beck, and nobody plays guitar the way Tisziji Munoz does. He is very spiritual, and as a guitar player he swings wild.”
"I first met Tisziji Muñoz in Toronto Canada, Summer 1969. At dawn, one morning, I was returning home from what was then referred to as an ‘all-nighter,’ when I walked by a man, seated on a stoop, playing acoustic guitar. As I walked, I listened, but having passed, I realized what I had heard, and could walk no further. I turned around, went back and stood transfixed by what this many was playing. It was music of a unique, other-worldly nature. It was intense, beautifully improvised, haunting melody, and although I didn’t understand it, I was galvanized.
"That same morning, as the sun rose, I introduced myself to Muñoz and the two of us went to a piano-practice room at the University of Toronto where I was a student. There we played together and he began to instruct me in how to accompany and play this type of music. Thus began a musical and spiritual friendship which continues to this day. I apprenticed with Muñoz from that morning until I left Toronto for New York in 1974. He taught me first a repertoire of jazz standards, expanding my knowledge of harmony, then gradually freed me to play the modal type of spatial music with which he dealt. He formed an electric band and led me and a small group of cats in an exploration of music as a means of spiritual communication with each other and, ultimately, with God. He inspired me to go into music as a full-time vocation.
"Since Tisziji has moved back to the United States, I understand that pursuing and teaching spiritual enlightenment has assumed more importance to him than the playing of music. I recently, however, received some recordings of the recent music he has made, and from the very first note, I felt the warm penetration of his spirit via his sound. This must be the sound of love."
Late Show / CBS Television
Paul Shaffer on Tisziji Muñoz: “He takes you out – and he leaves you there!”
"Tisziji is a talented visionary. He is a man with his own sound.”
"Tisziji Muñoz is, in my opinion, the epitome of what a true improviser should be: one who can express his thoughts, feelings and emotions through his instrument in a pure and direct stream of consciousness, unfettered by preconceived ideas, techniques or conventions.”
“I feel very grateful and honored to be included in Tisziji’s vision. He is a master musician devoted to the path of healing and spirituality in his music as well as the rest of his life.”
“Here is fantastic guitar playing from the intuitive genius Muñoz, which goes beyond invoking the music of John Coltrane. Tisziji’s music is essential listening for any guitarists or souls interested in how music can transcend physicality and the moment to open doors to new ideas and worlds.”
"Tisziji is one of my biggest guitar heroes. But it's NOT because he plays guitar. I think it's almost completely irrelevant that Tisziji makes his music with a traditional six-string axe. What IS relevant is the music that Tisziji brings back with his guitar. For Tisziji does not reach into a bag of licks and tricks to create music, as most guitarists do. On the contrary, he goes OUT THERE SOMEWHERE and channels energy that is converted into guitar sounds by his physical being (which is just visiting this planet). That's what is important to me: the message that Tisziji brings into this plane through his earthly music practice. An odd aspect of this approach to music-making is that Tisziji manages to do some truly inspiring and original guitar playing in this process. Of course he put in years of jazz and technical study many years ago - but today he just plays. And the music creates its own technique to express itself through him. He really PLAYS. Humorous, angry, joyous, sick, healing, calming, frightening, and playful, these many aspects of the human experience are all present in Tisziji's guitar playing."
“Tisziji Munoz is the state of the art of melodic guitar playing.”
Ratso B. Harris