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The Mozart Effect

image of Mozart

In the last few years, a lot of attention has been drawn to scientific experiments designed to prove or disprove what is called "the Mozart effect". It began with an experiment in which two groups of people were given a test on spatial skills—one group had previously listened to 10 minutes of a Mozart concerto, the other sat in silence. The result was a significantly better performance by the group that had listened to the Mozart concerto. People were surprised at the result. They shouldn't have been. Certainly psychologists shouldn't have been surprised.

Already in Ouspensky's first group of lectures we learn that our centers are divided into three parts, and that one of those parts—the intellectual part—requires attention. We also learn that the intellectual parts of centers work together. That is, by being "in" the intellectual part of a center, one is also closely connected with the other intellectual parts of centers.

Now Mozart's music is very much oriented to the intellectual part of the emotional center. Hence it is no surprise when another researcher finds a tendency, for example, for some of Mozart's music to be constructed according to the "divine proportion", a feat of the intellectual part of the moving center. In fact, the experiment on spatial skills, producing the "Mozart effect", exercised the intellectual part of the moving center. So, naturally, this function was energized or activated after the subjects had paid attention to a Mozart masterpiece.

Of course, this immediately led to such nonsense as exposing children in the womb to Mozart. No doubt someone will soon claim, if they have not already, that listening to Mozart in your sleep improves your intelligence. But what is required here is, first, to attend to the music, and second, to appreciate, or actively relate, to it. Mozart's music, if actively appreciated, evokes the intellectual part of the emotional center, receiving the fine hydrogens that the function can use, and so aids in a general harmony of the human organism. I trust it is needless to say that such modern "music" as the guy who takes a buzz-saw to a piano will have no such effect. Incidentally, that is not a "judgment"—the effect of a piece of music, or any piece of art, can be evaluated by consciously attending to its psychological effect in the light of a knowledge of our functions. One piece of music energizes the emotional part of the moving center, another the emotional part of the emotional center, and so on. We have here no less than an objective criterion for evaluating art. The subjective "school", which says such things as "I know what I like", and "Only you can know what is good art for you", merely describes our mechanical response to art that is produced by the same center of gravity as our own. But it gets worse—if we are completely in false personality, we can delude ourselves into liking anything, and even our essence preference is smothered.

It would be interesting to do this experiment right. Take a random sample population and divide it into three groups. One, the control group, gets no special attention, just comes and takes the test. The second, the Mozart Effect group, gets the treatment described in the original significant experiment. The third group gets an environment consciously designed to evoke intellectual parts of centers.

The intent in the latter group would be to create an environment rich in finer "hydrogens", involving tasks that require the individual's attention to finer impressions in general. An appropriate piece of music playing. Quality art of high development East or West is presented and, if possible, appreciated. Ideally, each subject is individually addressed to evoke and maintain their intellectual parts of centers. For example, if they showed no particular interest in the music or graphic art (designed to evoke the intellectual part of the emotional center), one might try to discuss with them their thoughts about why we are here, the purpose of life, discouraging cute responses and encouraging real thought (to evoke the intellectual part of the intellectual center). Then they would go take the test on spatial tasks.

Another group of mystifying modern psychological experiments that comes to mind are the well-known experiments of Rupert Sheldrake, one of which I recall at the moment and would like to discuss. In this experiment—I don't have the material handy so forgive me if the paraphrase is not exact—Sheldrake had subjects surreptitiously observed in some random sequence, and suitable controls instituted. The idea was to determine if the subjects could guess when they were being observed. The results were significant, though not wildly so, but enough to give pause to a surprising number of the more open-minded psychologists and scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's apparently rigorous methodology. The results seem to contradict "common sense", that is a logic based on the known five senses, and lead to endless speculation about ESP and so on.

I have a simple answer, simple if you know fourth way language that is—the intellectual part of the instinctive center. A function we all have, operating as it should (if we are healthy, anyway), and one which we tend to be unaware of. That said, some people are more aware of it than others and, roughly speaking, such people are most often instinctively-centered, and naturally more adept at their essence proclivity.

Of course, this has nothing to do with "higher powers", which do indeed exist but have to do with the genuinely higher functions—higher emotional and higher intellectual. But these higher functions are only operative as a result of enormous effort and science (in the real sense), or sometimes accidentally or fortuitously triggered by extreme emotional situations, such as apparent or imminent death. (For more on higher perceptions, see The Seven Houses of Perception).

Again, the experiment could be made more convincing. I'd do it like this: Let other researchers provide 100 subjects and I'll provide 100. We will perform the same experiment as Sheldrake's and my subjects will prove more able to determine when they are being watched than the other researcher's subjects. Why? First, I'd choose instinctively centered subjects. Then I'd select my 100 based on their being the best at sensing the observation in previous trials I had run. Then, I'd take my more sensitive 100 and improve the sensitivity of their instinctive center by having them fast and abstain from sex prior to the experiment. And so on. While I believe my subjects would "win", this has nothing to do with higher understanding, but could only demonstrate a little more knowledge of ordinary psychological functions.

Well, this essay is becoming a catch-all, but I'll trust in your tolerance. Regarding the modern sciences and psychology, I find it interesting to watch the development of the science of the brain. I came across this recently:

High Brain Centres Teach Lower Brain To Adapt To Injury
"Lower brain centres need input from the cerebral cortex initially to adapt to damaged sensory pathways. Once the lower brain centres have been given enough time to adapt to the damage, however, the cerebral cortex is no longer needed to maintain this new re-organized state. In this sense [...] the cerebral cortex acts much like training wheels for lower brain centres such as the thalamus."

From the University Of Toronto

This appears to be a good example of one of the ways our moving center learns—in this case it has learned from the intellectual center, in a similar way to how we learn to walk or ride a bicycle. The moving center learns by imitation. For example, the intellectual center performs some activity repeatedly and then the moving center takes over (and performs the activity faster and better—at the speed of moving center in contrast to the speed of intellectual center).

I had a very young kitten once, and he was with me almost continuously for the first several weeks of his life, so I had become acquainted with his repertoire of behaviors. One day a friend came over, knocking at the door. I opened the door, my cat was right there as usual, and on opening the door we were confronted by my friend's large dog. My cat instantly went into that remarkable instinctive defensive response that we perhaps have all seen in cats—arched back, hairs standing on end, tail fluffed to look huge, sideways jumps, and so on. For the next several days, the kitten's playfulness showed a new skill—he would arch his back, raise his tail, and jump sideways at my feet and away again. His moving center had learned some new tricks from his instinctive center.

The study of the role and interaction of functions or centers is a very interesting and profitable one. Certainly we must study these functions in ourself, but we can also learn by observing them in others and even, to some extent, in animals. But the power of such observations is only realized when we begin to recognize the nature and strength of our own mechanicality. It is a way to self-knowledge.


Music can be studied psychologically in many ways, it is not just limited to studying the imtellectual part of the emotional center in the works of such masters as Mozart, Bach, and so on. Like all forms of art, it is divided into seven categories in the fourth way—music number one, music number two, music number three, up to seven. Music number one is oriented toward the physical functions, and is often characterized by its rhythm. Music number two is designed to evoke an emotional response, as for example in many classical operas. Music number three appeals to the intellect, and may include the experiments in different scales and tonalities of the twentieth century.

Individual musical genres have the same division, for example in popular music. There is a rock-and-roll number one, rock-and-roll number two, and a rock-and-roll number three. It is tempting to look for a popular music number four, but it is unlikely as it would be the result of school work and probably not popular! One can certainly find popular music oriented toward the magenetic center, but it will still be popular music one, two, or three.

As a final comment on this area, it may be a useful place for us to exercise our intellects to keep them from being formatory. If we take popular music for example, we should be able to see that in any particular division, say rock-and-roll number two, there are typically elements appealing to the physical side such as rhythm, and perhaps some intellectual element as well. It is likely that, in general, the most successful of such music combines these three elements best, thus appealing to the widest audience.

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