The law of rhythm is a great law which is hidden behind
nature. It is in accordance with this law that every form
is made and that every condition manifests to view. The
creation, therefore, is not merely a phenomenon of vibrations
without any restrictions. If there were no rhythm, if it
were not for the law of rhythm, we would not have distinct
forms and intelligible conditions. There is no movement,
which has no sound and there is no sound, which has no rhythm.
In order to show rhythm we need not take a conductor's baton
and beat 'one-two'. We only need to wave our hand. Divide
one and it is two, double one and it is two. This shows
that in one there is two, it proves that duality comes from
Then if we look at it from another point of view, we
shall see that duality is in fact nothing but unity, in
other words, that two is one. The most interesting point
in this is that as soon as we see two, each of the two at
once takes a different and particular position in our view.
This is clear with man and woman, but also our right hand
and our left hand each shows a particular power and a particular
function. The right foot and the left foot each has a particular
place in life. The right foot is distinctly different from
our left foot, and also the sight of the two eyes is not
the same. One eye is always better and stronger then the
other. If there were no difference the eyes would not be
the proper instruments for seeing. If there were no difference
between the power and strength of a man's left side and
his right side, he could not live.
It is the difference which causes duality, and it is
this duality which maintains the existence of things. The
finer aspect of this phenomenon can be seen in musical rhythm.
When we say 'one-two, one-two', then we understand
what it is that makes us emphasize the one, and what it
is that makes the two like an echo, a reflection, something
that responds to one. And suppose we do not say, 'one-two',
that we only say, 'one-one-one-one', all with the same emphasis,
this will not satisfy us. We will not feel any rhythm until
the one becomes accented and the two, or what ever we say
next, follows it. Then it becomes perfect. We see the same
happening with the action of walking, which is accomplished
by both legs. If we practice walking on one leg we will
find something missing in the rhythm.
This shows that rhythm is a hidden law of nature: the
rising and the setting of the sun, the waxing and waning
of the moon, the regular change of the tides of the sea
and the seasons as they come and go, all show rhythm. It
is rhythm that makes the birds fly. It is rhythm that makes
the creatures of the earth walk. If we delve deeper into
the science of rhythm we shall find that it is rhythm which
causes a certain thing to be made in a certain way. If it
is made triangular or square or round or five pointed or
whatever geometrical form has been given to it, the reason
behind its form is the rhythm of the power that has made
it. It is that rhythm which is the cause of its formation.
Harmonious forms are manifestations of the right rhythm,
and inharmonious forms are manifestations of a disorder
in the rhythm. Colors such as blue and green and red and
yellow appear distinct and different for the very reason
that a particular color vibrates according to a certain
rhythm. It is this rhythm which gives to the color the appearance
which makes us distinguish them.
There is the law of rhythm behind good weather and bad
weather, and it is good and bad weather which, acting on
the living beings, creates a similar result in their lives.
Good weather gives a desirable rhythm to living beings and
bad weather brings about undesirable results in their health.
It would therefore not be an exaggeration to say with the
ancient Yogis that birth and death, as well as the limited
time which separates birth from death, are the fulfillment
of a certain appointed rhythm. If we go a little further
in exploring this idea, then we shall see as the ancient
Yogis have seen, that by controlling this rhythm one can
prolong one's life, and that by neglecting this rhythm one
can also shorten it.
Why is it that music which emphasizes rhythm gives everyone
the desire to dance? Even horses begin to move to the rhythm
the band is playing before the Cavalry. Even the most down
hearted and discouraged soldiers feel encouraged when they
hear the emphatic rhythm of a march played by the military
band. The infant is soothed when the mother is patting it
on its back. The mother without knowing it instinctively
gives a rhythm to its body. By waving our hand we give our
departing friend a rhythm against the regret or despair
with which he leaves, in order to keep him rhythmic on all
planes of life.
What repulses or attracts us in a person is very often
his rhythm. One man is rhythmic and his influence is soothing.
Another is out of rhythm and he upsets everybody. Have we
not all heard the maid say sometime or another, 'Whenever
I see the cook I get upset.'?
Why should rhythm have such an influence on us? Because
we ourselves are rhythm. The beating of our heart, our pulse
throbbing in wrist or head, our circulation, the working
of the whole mechanism of our body is rhythmic. When this
rhythm is obstructed, then disorder and illness come. All
discomfort, despair, and disappointment follow the breaking
of the rhythm.
When we look at this question symbolically we find that
our gain and our loss, our success and our failure, have
much to do with the rhythm with which we pursue our motive
in life. It will always prove to be true that when a person
takes no heed of rhythm, whether he does right or wrong,
good or evil, in both cases a wrong rhythm will make it
fail. For rhythm is not a law to which nature is subjected,
but rhythm is something that maintains things as they are
and gives to things and beings the power to continue to
live and to progress.
To know rhythm we must develop the sense of rhythm. How
readily one notices it when one has a little pain! This
shows that a person intuitively knows the effect of rhythm.
For instance sometimes congestion causes illness, but what
is congestion and what can it do? It is something which
stops the rhythm. The rhythm with which the blood is circulating
is stopped by congestion that is why illness came. By being
regular one maintains rhythm in everything one does. An
irregular person will always find himself lost because he
cannot accomplish anything for want of rhythm.
Rhythm is a great mystery, and a sense of which one should
develop more then anything else in life. But if one were
to explain what the right rhythm of work and rest is, the
whole Western way of life would be in question. When we
look at it from the point of view of rhythm and balance,
there is far too much activity in the life of the West.
It would make any person abnormal. The bad effects of this
are continually felt, but since the people are so much absorbed
in life, they are not yet able to realize to what an extent
they suffer from these bad effects. However, before long
there will come a time when thoughtful people will begin
to realize that this problem has been neglected too long.
And what has caused it? This life of competition, the whole
misery is caused by competition. People do things not for
their own pleasure or for the pleasure of God, but in order
to compete with one another.
The law of rhythm can be considered as governing four
actions: right or wrong rhythm in feelings, right or wrong
rhythm in thinking, right or wrong rhythm in speaking, and
right or wrong rhythm in acting. Not only hate but even
love that is not maintained by rhythm will fail. Not only
an evil thought but even a good thought will prove to be
disastrous without regard for rhythm. Not only false but
even true speech which has no rhythm will prove to be fatal.
Not only wrong action but even right action devoid of rhythm
will prove to be out of place.
With the wrong person, even if we do right it sometimes
turns into wrong, for instance when we say to someone who
is in a rage or has just been quarreling, 'You have done
wrong.' By saying this we have not given him a good thought,
but have only added fuel so that he may fight with us too.
One often sees that when two people are fighting and a third
approaches them with the best intentions, they will both
turn on him and that will make three people fighting at
the same time.
Every plane of man's being is dependent upon the other
planes. For instance if the body has lost its rhythm, something
goes wrong with the mind; if the mind has lost its rhythm,
the body goes wrong; if the heart has lost its rhythm, the
mind is puzzled; if the rhythm of the soul is lost then
all is wrong. To say that the virtue of a sinner is sin
and the sin of the virtuous is virtue is an extreme statement,
but it would not be an exaggeration.
The rhythm of the soul is influenced by mind and by action.
The soul has not got its own rhythm. As in a higher sense
the soul is pure from all things which can be distinguished
and divided. One may ask, how then can it happen that the
rhythm of the soul is lost? But if we see our friend in
great grief we also will feel grief. It is not because we
have a grief ourselves. We feel it only because our friend
is in grief and this reflects on us. The soul is not subjected
to a right rhythm or a wrong rhythm, but a right rhythm
or a wrong rhythm can be reflected in the soul. For instance
when a person says of something that it is ugly, what is
ugly is outside of him. Then why does he feel discomfort
or ugliness? Because it reflects upon him. For the moment
while he is looking at the ugly thing, that ugly thing is
in his eyes and in his mind. Just as when we are standing
in front of a mirror our image is not engraved upon the
mirror but is only reflected there; and it will remain there
as long as we are standing before it. Thus the soul may
experience misery or wretchedness, a wrong rhythm or a right
rhythm, but when these are removed the soul is again free
from them. In order to maintain a perfect condition in life
one must be the master of rhythm.