Question: I am such a bad singer and know so little about music. I was wondering if I ever had any musical incarnation.1
Sri Chinmoy: Earthly music you have not studied. But there is something called Heavenly music, and that you have studied. You may not be able to appreciate the subtleties or ethereal qualities of earthly music; you may not be able to carry a tune. But your soul will be able to make your heart aware of very, very subtle and very, very delicate things in music, and your heart will be able to appreciate them.
Many great musicians in the West cannot appreciate subtle music when it is played. There are many, many excellent singers and excellent musicians, I tell you, who get nothing when they hear very subtle music. You can say it is because of insecurity or because of jealousy, or you can blame it on some wrong forces that have entered into them. But they lack the receptivity to appreciate the subtle feeling in the music. Then, by failing to appreciate, after a while they lose the faculty of appreciating. In your case, however, you are not identifying with the person or even with what he is playing, so you are able to receive more from the music than others can.
You do not know anything about music; you are not a musician or a singer. But when subtle music is played, your heart will appreciate it so much. At that time your appreciation is going not just to the person who is playing or singing, but directly to the Source — to the One who has given that particular individual the capacity to sing most soulfully or to play most soulfully or powerfully. So you are getting Blessings from God the Supreme Singer and God the Supreme Musician.
Outwardly nobody can understand music. Music is not something to understand. It is all a matter of feeling. There are many people, especially in the West, who have become good singers and good musicians mechanically — by training and training in a very disciplined, mechanical way. When these great musicians want to play or when they want to sing, they can do it very well. Their music may sound beautiful and soulful, but there is such a thing as counterfeit soulfulness. Their hands are moving and people are saying, “How soulful!” But it is because mechanically they have learned how to play soulfully. They have trained their mind or they have achieved a certain level of expertise that enables them to do it. But inside their music there is no soul, no feeling, nothing! They are playing so beautifully, but they are thinking of such rubbish, such mundane things — absolutely nothing spiritual. And in the inner world they are only quarrelling and fighting. Very often the listener, if he is in a soulful consciousness, is getting much more benefit from the music than the performer, for the performer is not embodying the soulfulness that he is expressing.
Sometimes we can reveal something without embodying it. For example, you may be telling the absolute truth, but your consciousness is not there. You have separated your consciousness from the truth itself. So while you are expressing the truth, you are not embodying the truth-consciousness. Only mechanically you are telling something that is correct. Because your expression is mechanical, you are not getting real blessings from the higher forces that are revealing the truth to you; you are not getting Blessings from God the Truth.
So, in your case and in the case of a few others who also are not singers or musicians, you are able to get something very high from music. When a singer or a musician does something very subtle, very soulful, silently you are appreciating it. You do not know which raga he is playing or whether he is playing Mozart, Bach, Chopin or Beethoven. You know nothing about the musical structure and you do not have to know. But your heart is going up because it is feeling something so soulful and powerful, whereas others who know all about music may be getting nothing because they have lost the ability to appreciate subtle music. And you are also getting more benefit than the performer, who may not be embodying the consciousness that he is revealing.
Again, there are some who know music very well and also have the ability to appreciate the very subtle, delicate aspects of music. They have the eagerness to dive deep within and continually learn. Some musicians, once they have learned something, do not want to learn anything more. They are afraid that if they learn more, people will think that they are borrowing or copying from somebody. So they are satisfied with what they already have. But someone who truly loves music and who is really great in music will never be satisfied with what he has. In the highest music world, our aspiration is constantly going up and our soulful and divine capacities are constantly increasing.
SCA 28. C. asked Sri Chinmoy this question on 9 February 1990, his birthday.↩