By Lynn Seiser 

The Flutes and Drums of Sameness 


Ever notice that almost every culture has two instruments in common? There is always a flute and a drum. Many times you will hear a different melody and feel a different beat, but there is always a sameness in the sound. Even in the difference, what can be overlooked but not denied is a sameness. 

I tend to sit cross-legged everyday in meditation. Someone once told me prayer was when I talked and meditation was when I listened. It is my practice to listen. I figure if I am going to connect to a higher power, or spirit, it certainly has a lot more to teach me than I have to teach it. So, I just sit and just listen. It has been my practice since I was a teenager. I will not tell you how long ago that was, but I can tell you there were not many meditators back then, especially in the Detroit area. The sixties changed some of that, but not as much as we had hoped. I came to California after getting out of the service to find a place where I could experience more sameness instead of the constant confrontation of difference. Guess you could say I really did not fit into the Detroit industrial scene. Not that I fit better here, I still tend to have some very deep Detroit roots. No matter where we go or how much we change, there will always be a sameness. 

As I just sit quietly, I like to listen to flute music. The bamboo flutes of Japan have always stirred something in me. In music, there is a concept about sympathetic vibrations. If you pluck a string on a guitar in one corner, the same string on a guitar in another corner will begin to vibrate. The blues guitar is another instrument that brings out the sympathetic vibrations in me, but that is a different column. The Japanese bamboo flute is so alone. There is often only a faint melody to follow as if it wants us to follow our own inner lead. One day I heard a similar flute. It was the flute music of some Native Americans. Yes, I am aware there was a difference, but I am more aware of sameness. 

Part of growing up in Detroit was rock-and-roll. I started on drums because I could not read music. I am always grateful for the sense of rhythm it gave me. It also developed a sympathetic vibration deep in my spirit. I love the beating of the Koto drums from Japan. I also love the Native American drumming. There is something primitive to drums. Perhaps drums are the earth and flutes are the heavens. Many of the rhythms of these drums are different. Yet, if you listen, or more importantly feel, you will easily become aware of a sameness. 

The dictionary defines indigenous as existing or growing naturally in a region or country. It further defines the word people as all the persons of a racial or ethnic group, nation, or race. People also mean one’s family or relatives, the populace, or human beings. The region and the grouping become the basis of a sameness. 

Reading the news and watching the media, one can wonder if we are existing or growing naturally in this country. We tend to argue and debate about anything and everything. A stand for one thing implies a stand against another. This is often the mistaken perception. It is important that all of us feel proud of our heritage. Our heritage or roots makes us proud in our separateness, and gives us a sense of belonging and a sense of history beyond our years. This does not take away from others being proud of theirs. The pride of difference also contains a sense of sameness. We all want to belong to something greater than our own simple ego identity. We all know the suffering and limits of our ego identity. In that, suffering is also the seed of compassion and a sameness. 

Do we exist? Yes. Are we growing? Well, some are and some are not. Some choose to learn while others choose to stay ignorant. Is the growing and existing natural? Again, that seems a matter of personal choice. Many believe there is a natural tendency towards growth and evolution. Yet, awareness tells us that we also connect to the past and more primitive times. One could actually state that growth is both positive and negative depending on how well it helps us connect to the sameness of us all. That all includes everything that came before us, that which exists with us now, and all that will come after us. That awareness includes the planet itself that has been the home of our parents and our children’s children. The planet as a common host represents a same-ness. 

Usually, when we speak of indigenous the meaning pertains to those individuals who originated in this specific region or country. In that regard, this article should be specifically and exclusively about Native Americans. Yet, I am a Native American, but not by blood heritage. I have known no other land as home. I was born here. My parents were born here. My children were born here. My family has worked in and fought for the freedoms of this country. We contribute as active participants to the larger good. In an even larger sense, we all come from the same place and will return there. That is the natural cycle of existence. We all walk the same path whether we are aware of it or not. The content changes, but the direction and the goal present a sameness. 

As I sit cross-legged and just listen, I hear the flutes and drums of sameness. If you just sit quietly, you too can hear the sameness. 

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the sameness of the journey. 

Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., is an internationally respected psychotherapist in Seal Beach, CA with more than twenty years of direct clinical experience in recovery counseling for offenders and victims of violence, trauma and abuse. He is known for his work in “holistic” recovery from addictions with an emphasis on “healthy relationships”. Lynn is a consultant, speaker and writer and may be contacted at (562) 799-1371. You may check out his website at 

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