Part II

Please try to develop your retentive faculty2

If you hear a song ten or twelve times, why do you need to look at the music in order to sing it? When I was learning songs, my harmonium teacher at the Ashram used to sing the song three times and in three times we learnt it. Then the following week, we would sing it for him. And those songs were at least ten or twelve lines long.

Please try to develop your retentive faculty. I know that many of you cannot read music. Perhaps eighty per cent cannot read music. Somebody sings and you follow. There are many who feel that you do not have to learn music in order to sing correctly. In that respect, our Indian system is so good. Maestro Ravi Shankar and other great musicians learn by heart. Then their music becomes spontaneous.

If you look at music, according to me, at least thirty per cent of your soulfulness you are losing. I strongly believe that when you look at the music and sing, you cannot keep your soulfulness because your eye is focussing on something else. There is no direct communication between your heart and God. There is a third party — a piece of paper. A piece of paper is an obstruction between your heart and God.

People who read music have to know that this piece of paper is nothing other than an obstruction between your heart and God’s Heart. You have put some wall there. But if you learn by heart, then it is between your heart and God’s Heart. There is no third person involved.

When you use music, you are using something else to help you. God says, “If you take help from someone, then what kind of direct connection or communication are you having with Me?” From the spiritual point of view, it is a real weakness. This is something that the Western world does not understand. According to our Indian theory, from the spiritual point of view, it is infinitely better to learn the songs by heart. And my songs happen to be very short. They are not like your Western classical music.

If you do not learn my songs by heart, you are putting a wall between your heart and God’s Heart. Over the years, you have learnt thousands of songs. If you are going to use music because you have not practised those songs for so many years, then it is very painful for me because I see that your attention is focussed on a piece of paper. Between your heart and your forehead or your eyes, there is a dislocation. If you do not look at the music, it is far, far better. Then you can keep your soulfulness at one hundred per cent.

SCA 1260. Sri Chinmoy made these remarks to the singers in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 21 December 2002.