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Volume II - The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word

Part II: Music

Chapter XIV

The word 'spiritual' does not apply to goodness, or to wonderworking, the power of producing miracles, or to great intellectual power. The whole of life in all its aspects is one single music. The real spiritual attainment is to tune one's self to the harmony of this perfect music.

What is it that keeps man back from spiritual attainment? It is the denseness of this material existence, and the fact that he is unconscious of his spiritual being. His limitations prevent the free flow and movement which is the nature and character of life. Take for instance this denseness. There is a rock, and you want to produce sound from it, but it does not give any resonance; it does not answer your desire to produce sound. String or wire on the contrary will give an answer to the tone you want. You strike them and they answer. There are objects, which give resonance; you wish to produce sound in them, and they respond; they make your music complete. And so it is with human nature. One person is heavy and dull; you tell him something but he cannot understand; you speak to him, but he will not hear. He will not respond to music, to beauty, or to art. What is it? It is denseness.

There is another person who is ready to appreciate and understand music and poetry, or beauty in any form, in character or in manner. Beauty is appreciated in every form by such a person; and it is this which is the awakening of the soul, which is the living condition of the heart. It is this which is the real spiritual attainment. Spiritual attainment is making the spirit alive, becoming conscious. When man is not conscious of soul and spirit, but only of his material being, he is dense; he is far removed from spirit.

What is spirit and what is matter? The difference between spirit and matter is like the difference between water and ice: frozen water is ice and melted ice is water. It is spirit in its denseness which we call matter; it is matter in its fineness which may be called spirit. Once a materialist said to me, 'I do not believe in any spirit or soul or hereafter. I believe in eternal matter.' I said to him, 'Your belief is not very different from mine, only that which you call eternal matter I call spirit; it is a difference in terms. There is nothing to dispute about because we both believe in eternity; and so long as we meet in eternity, what difference does it make, if the one calls it matter, and the other calls it spirit? It is one life from beginning to end.'

Beauty is born of harmony. What is harmony? Harmony is right proportion, in other words, right rhythm. And what is life? Life is the outcome of harmony. At the back of the whole creation is harmony, and the whole secret of creation is harmony. Intelligence longs to attain to the perfection of harmony. What man calls happiness, comfort, profit or gain, all he longs for and wishes to attain is harmony; in a smaller or greater degree he is longing for harmony. Even in attaining the most mundane things, he always wishes for harmony. But very often he does not adopt the right methods. Very often his methods are wrong. The object attained by both good and bad methods is the same, but the way one tries to attain it makes it right or wrong. It is not the object which is wrong, it is the method one adopts to attain it.

No one, whatever his station in life, wishes for disharmony, for all suffering, pain and trouble is lack of harmony.

To obtain spirituality is to realize that the whole universe is one symphony; in this every individual is one note, and his happiness lies in becoming perfectly attuned to the harmony of the universe. It is not following a certain religion which makes one spiritual, or having a certain belief, or being a fanatic in regard to one idea, or even by becoming too good to live in this world. There are many good people who do not even understand what spirituality means. They are very good, but they do not yet know what ultimate good is. Ultimate good is harmony itself. For instance all the different principals and beliefs of all the religions of the world, taught and proclaimed by priests and teachers but which man is not always able to follow and express, come naturally from the heart of someone who attunes himself to the rhythm of the universe. Every action, every word he speaks, every feeling he has, every sentiment he expresses, is harmonious; they are all virtues, they are all religion. It is not following a religion, it is living a religion, making one's life a religion, which is necessary.

Music is a miniature of the whole harmony of the universe, for the harmony of the universe is life itself, and man, being a miniature of the universe, shows harmonious and inharmonious chords in his pulsation, in the beat of his heart, in his vibration, rhythm and tone. His health or illness, his joy or discomfort, all show the music or lack of music in his life.

And what does music teach us? Music helps us to train ourselves in harmony, and it is this which is the magic or secret behind music. When you hear music that you enjoy, it tunes you and puts you in harmony with life. Therefore man needs music; he longs for music. Many say that they do not care for music, but these have not heard music. If they really heard music, it would touch their souls, and then certainly they could not help loving it. If not, it would only mean that they had not heard music sufficiently, and had not made their heart calm and quiet in order to listen to it, and to enjoy and appreciate it. Besides, music develops that faculty by which one learns to appreciate all that is good and beautiful in the form of art and science, and in the form of music and poetry one can then appreciate every aspect of beauty.

What deprives man of all the beauty around him is his heaviness of body or heaviness of heart. He is pulled down to earth, and by that everything becomes limited; but when he shakes off that heaviness and joy comes, he feels light. All good tendencies such as gentleness and tolerance, forgiveness, love and appreciation, all these beautiful qualities, come by being light; light in the mind, in the soul and in the body.

Where does music come from? Where does dance come from? It all comes from that natural and spiritual life which is within. When that spiritual life springs forth, it lightens all the burdens that man has. It makes his life smooth, as thought floating on the ocean of life. The faculty of appreciation makes one light. Life is just like the ocean. When there is no appreciation, no receptivity, man sinks like a piece of iron or stone to the bottom of the sea. He cannot float like a boat, which is hollow and which is receptive.

The difficulty in the spiritual path is always what comes from ourselves. Man does not like to be a pupil, he likes to be a teacher. If man only knew that the greatness and perfection of the great ones who have come from time to time to this world, was in their being pupils and not in teaching! The greater the teacher, the better the pupil he was. He learned from everyone, the great and the lowly, the wise and the foolish, the old and the young. He learned from their lives, and studied human nature in all its aspects.

Someone learning to tread the spiritual path must become like an empty cup, in order that the wine of music and harmony be poured into his heart. When a person comes to me and says, 'Here I am, can you help me spiritually?' and I answer, 'Yes', very often he says, 'I want to know first of all what you think about life and death, or the beginning and the end'. And then I wonder what his attitude will be if his previously conceived opinion does not agree with mine. He wants to learn, and yet he does not want to be empty. That means going to a stream of water with a covered cup; wanting the water, and yet the cup is covered, covered with preconceived ideas. But where have the preconceived ideas come from? No idea can be called one's own. All ideas have been learned from one source or another; yet in time, one comes to think that they are one's own. And for those ideas one will argue and dispute, although they do not satisfy him fully; but at the same time they are his battleground, and they will continue to keep his cup covered. Mystics therefore have adopted a different way. They have learned a different course, and that course is self-effacement, or in other words, unlearning what one has learned; and this is how one can become an empty cup.

In the East it is said that the first thing to be learned is how to become a pupil. One may think that in this way, one loses one's individuality; but what is individuality? Is it not what is collected? What are one's ideas and opinions? They are just collected knowledge, and this knowledge should be unlearned.

One would think that the character of the mind is such that what one learns is engraved upon it; how then can one unlearn it? Unlearning is completing this knowledge. To see a person and say, 'That person is wicked, I dislike him', that is learning. To see further and recognize something good in that person, to begin to like him or pity him, that is unlearning. When you see the goodness in someone you have called wicked, you have unlearned. You have unraveled that knot. First one learns by seeing with one eye; then one learns by seeing with two eyes, and that makes one's sight complete.

All that we have learned in this world is partial knowledge, but when this is uprooted by another point of view, then we have knowledge in its completed form. This is what is called mysticism. Why is it called mysticism? Because it cannot be put into words. Words will show us one side of it, but the other side is beyond words.

The whole manifestation is duality, the duality which makes us intelligent; and behind the duality is unity. If we do not rise beyond duality and move towards unity, we do not attain perfection, we do not attain spirituality.

This does not mean that our learning is of no use. It is of great use. It gives us the power of discrimination and of discerning differences. This makes the intelligence sharp and the sight keen, so that we understand the value of things and their use. It is all part of human evolution and all useful. So we must learn first, and unlearn afterwards. One does not look at the sky first when standing on the earth. First one must look at the earth and see what it offers to learn and to observe; but at the same time one should not think that one's life's purpose is fulfilled by looking only at the earth. The fulfillment of life's purpose is in looking at the sky.

What is wonderful about music is that it helps man to concentrate or meditate independently of thought; and therefore music seems to be the bridge over the gulf between form and the formless. If there is anything intelligent, effective and at the same time formless, it is music. Poetry suggests form, line and color suggest form, but music suggests no form. It creates also that resonance which vibrates through the whole being, lifting the thought above the denseness of matter; it almost turns matter into spirit; into its original condition; through the harmony of vibrations touching every atom of one's whole being.

Beauty of line and color can go so far and no further; the joy of fragrance can go a little further; but music touches our innermost being and in that way produces a new life, a life that gives exaltation to the whole being, raising it to that perfection in which lies the fulfillment of man's life.

checked 23-Oct-2005