The Power of Music
Nothing can be as beautiful as silence, but if something can help us recognize that silence, connect with that silence, have a conversation with that silence, engage with that silence, then whatever is helping becomes very valuable to us.
Between two notes, between two sounds, interspersed rhythmically, even mathematically; groups of twos, groups of threes – what are we trying to do? We are trying to connect with the same silence in as many different ways as possible. The silence that I’m talking about is peace; it’s not the absence of noise. It’s the silence that is filled with aliveness. There’s something there, invisible, in the universe.
As a meditator, as someone who has spent so much time in meditation, I can say that that invisibility, that something that we keep on searching for in everything we do, in all our activities, and in music; that is the only thing that exists, yet it is beyond our grasp. When you figure out a process, a way of connecting to it, a way of going deeper, a way of turning inward and experiencing that something that is within you, you will very clearly realize that music is the ornamentation for that something that you’ve been searching for.
Music is the jewelry of silence, it is the clothing of silence, it is the grandeur of silence, just like we like to embellish things that are beautiful, that are valuable, and we find joy out of it. It’s the same way. We don’t look at music this way, we simply enjoy it, but the underlying process is that music is drawing us closer and closer to that silent space within us.
When you are captivated by music for those few brief moments, you are escaping the constant noise, pain, and chaos of the mind. Silence, by itself, doesn’t seem to be that valuable. Okay, it’s just silence, so what? But what is silence in comparison to the unbearable torture of never-ending thoughts that you are not able to escape?
Thoughts are constantly bombarding you, and you want to find some respite, you want to find some escape. Compare that with silence, then you will see how wonderful silence is. Listening to music, according to me, is the second most simple thing that you can do as a human being. The first thing you can do is to sit quiet and try to connect with your own inner silence, without any music, without any noise, without any aid, just being in a meditative state. That is the simplest state of being. The least chaotic state of being is when you are not thinking about the future, when you’re not worried about the past, and when you are not scared.
We’re all the time in some sort of fear. Our minds are engaged in a conversation about how to deal with fear; fear is always there in the mind. The seat of the mind is fear; it is trying to escape something, it is trying to chase something. Either it is scared of the past or of the future, but it is always there in the agitated, disturbed state. What is the easiest way to draw yourself away from that scary environment and to simply be? You need a device that is not made of words, that is not made of ideas, because the mind is already filled with words and ideas. The mind is addicted to words. When you are listening to your mind what are you listening to you? You’re listening to words. You don’t even need sentences, you don’t even need stories, you just need disconnected words to keep you agitated and disturbed. Words like past, future.
Now, just imagine how real a word has become in our consciousness. In reality, past is totally imagined; it doesn’t exist. How can past exist – it’s gone. Whatever that has happened has happened, and it has gone. Similarly, the future; it has not even come. You don’t even know what’s in store, and yet the very use of the word past or future triggers a flood of emotions. Just asking someone, “What are you going to do about your future?” is enough to ruin their whole day. It’s just an idea, but such a simple idea. Words can shift you from the present moment and into an imaginary space like the future or the past.
You cannot listen to music in the future. You cannot listen to music in the past. When you are listening to music, you are in the present moment. The most important quality of music, why there’s such a deep addiction to music, is because it is reminding us of the present, which we are totally unaware of. We are oblivious to the magnificence and beauty of the present moment. We have become so addicted to the past and the future that we look at the present moment as almost an obstacle for the future: “I’m not too much interested in what’s happening now. I’m interested in where I’m going. I’m interested in what I will be doing, what I will become” – the pursuit of goals all the time.
Music just shatters all that in a single moment. It speaks directly to our soul, it speaks directly to the innermost core of our being. Not to the mind, not to the body, music speaks to the Self and says, This is who you are. You are a musical note. Life is about finding the tune that you can enjoy producing. The whole of life is a rhythmic movement. Music cannot happen without rhythm. In fact, the word rhythm is another word for music. If you take away rhythm from music it is just noise. What is rhythm? Rhythm is repetition; repetition of experiences in a consistent way, in a rhythmic way, in a cyclical way.
Now, look at life. Everything that we experience in life happens rhythmically. I’m not talking about the human construct of life, or our desires of life, but nature, seasons, the core phenomenon of life. The way the body regenerates itself, the way the mind goes back to certain experiences, the way we learn – everything is rhythmic. Even sickness is a rhythm; we are not healthy all the time, nor are we sick all the time. If you pay close attention, health and sickness come in cycles; it’s a rhythm. It flows with the seasons.
Music reminds our Being of the simplicity of life; it reminds us that life is not made up of ideas. Although you have substituted ideas for life and you live in the world of ideas, music reminds you that you are something else. More importantly, music reminds you that you are the space where music is possible. Music cannot happen to a machine. A computer cannot sit and listen to music. It cannot appreciate music. We can enjoy music because we are something different; we are not a rigid fixed physical entity. We are the space we occupy. We are the present moment. In the presence of music we are in the presence of ourselves. In fact, we are closest to ourselves.
Music does all this without using any words, without using any concepts, and without big philosophical discussions. In fact, music is having a conversation with you; it is teaching you. You’re learning the most when you’re listening to music, but in a completely different way: In an intuitive way. Music is not just enjoyment, it is not just entertainment; there’s a deep transformation that is happening when you’re listening to music. Music can heal. Music can shatter the limitations that you have set for yourself. Ultimately, if you learn how to listen to the greatest of music – the music of Silence, then you can liberate yourself fully. You can transcend even that little bit of bondage you have to that device, and to that musical instrument. You can transcend even that, where you yourself can become your music.