God the Supreme Musician (1976)

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Part I

God the Supreme Musician

God the Musician knows that music is spirituality, music is Immortality. Man the musician thinks that music is sensuality, music is mortality.

God the Musician knows that His Music is His transcendental Self-communion. Man the musician thinks that his music is his world's lifelong companion.

God the Musician is divinely and eternally mysterious. Man the musician is humanly and temporarily marvellous.

God's Music tells us that music is the realisation of the universal Soul. Man's music tells us that music is the aspiration of the individual soul.

God's Music runs from the height to the depth. Man's music runs from the breadth to the length. At its height, God's Music is His Vision. In its depth, God's Music is His Realm. In its breadth, man's music is his crying soul. In its length, man's music is his victory's goal.

God's Music is the constant expansion of His Soul's Delight. Man's music is the preparation of his life's hunger for perpetual joy.

God's Music kills God with its infinite luminosity. Man's music kills man with its undying curiosity.

Music in the unlit body is destruction. Music in the unlit vital is passion. Music in the unlit mind is confusion. Music in the unlit heart is frustration.

Music in the aspiring body is creation. Music in the aspiring vital is purification. Music in the aspiring mind is liberation. Music in the aspiring heart is revelation.

My God the Supreme Musician has two families. One is in the East, the other is in the West. God tells His Eastern children, or more precisely, His Indian children, that music is the soul's purity. God tells His Western children that music is life's beauty. God tells His Eastern children that music is the fulfilling rest at the bottom of the life-sea. God tells His Western children that music is the dance of the multitudinous waves of the life-sea.

God tells His Eastern children: "My children, those among you who can walk will walk, those who can march will march and those who can run will run towards their destined goal." God tells His Western children: "My children, I want you all to stay together. I want you all to run together towards your destined goal."

God tells His Eastern children: "My children, what you have is a one-pointed and unbroken chain of unity. That is good." He tells His Western children: "My children, what you have is unity in diversity. That is great."

God tells His Eastern children: "My children, what you have is your dream's poetry, what you have is your reality's literature." He tells His Western children: "My children, what you have is your dream's arithmetic, what you have is your reality's mathematics."

Here we are all seekers, seekers of the infinite Truth. Some of you are consumed with the desire to arouse and awaken your Kundalini so that you can acquire occult powers and perform miracles. But I wish to tell you that you do not have to practise any specific spiritual discipline in order to awaken your Kundalini. Beethoven is a striking example. He was a genuine seeker and his soulful music of the other world awakened his Kundalini. You also try with your own soul's music. I assure you that you, too, will succeed.

What Beethoven says on music is true not only from the intellectual and emotional point of view, but also from the spiritual point of view:

"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. Although the spirit be not master of that which it creates through music, yet it is blessed in this creation, which, like every creation of art, is mightier than the artist."

Music is the Vedic bird in us. This bird is called Suparna. This bird divine flies in the welkin of Infinity, through Eternity, with the message of Immortality.

Here on earth we do notice that birds have the capacity to sing in endless measure, whereas we human beings try to create or develop this capacity. Tagore defends us:

"To the birds you gave songs, the birds gave you songs in return. You gave me only a voice, yet asked for more, and I sing."

The poet-bird in Keats, divinely intoxicated, flies in front of me, before my ken.

"Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music: — Do I wake or sleep?"

The music-bird is within us to stay, to give us love. The music-bird is without us to fly, to give us joy.

Since music is a universal language, it has no need to express itself in any particular language of the world. Rabindranath Tagore says:

"Music is the purest form of art and, therefore, the most direct expression of beauty, with form and spirit which is one and simple, and least encumbered with anything extraneous. We seem to feel that the manifestation of the Infinite in the finite forms of creation is music itself, silent and visible."

Our body's food is either vegetable or meat, or both. But our soul's food is music. Undoubtedly it is so. Even our physical nature at times desperately needs music.

What Bovee says is undeniably true:

"Music is the fourth great material want of our nature — first food, then raiment, then shelter, then music."

In the spiritual world, next to meditation is music, the breath of music. Meditation is silence, energising and fulfilling. Silence is the eloquent expression of the inexpressible. Aldous Huxley says:

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."

They say, "Music is another woman who talks charmingly, but says nothing." I say, "Music is verily the woman who at once tells everything divinely and offers everything unreservedly."

They say, "Classical music is the music without words; modern music is the music without music." I say, "Classical music is the music that lasts after it has all been sung; modern music is the music that begins long before it has actually begun." In classical music we try to see God the eternal Beyond. In modern music we see God the eternal Now.

Music is our soul's home, God is the Supreme Musician. In Sri Krishna, I see God the Supreme Musician. Krishna's flute stirs the Universal Consciousness. He plays on His flute. We listen. We do something more. We barter our body's dust with His Soul's plenitude. To Sri Krishna I bow, we bow.

Vital music and spiritual music

God has created this universe; the universe has come out of God. God will always maintain the world with His inner Music. But His inner Music, His transcendental Music, is unfortunately not the same music that we hear today.

God is the Supreme Musician. The music that God originally created is the music of the soul. He played for the soul and the soul wanted to play for Him. This music from the soul wanted to express and fulfil itself through the heart. But here a problem arose. When the soul started to play its music in the heart, the lower vital and doubting mind did not allow the heart to listen. Then gradually the vital became more powerful than the pure heart.

The music of the vital destroys our subtle nerves. Like a hungry tiger, it wants to devour the heart's divine qualities. Here in this world, when we think of music, the vital immediately comes to the fore. The vital of the world has been to the fore for quite a few years. But lower vital music will not always reign supreme on earth. The world also has soul. Eventually, the music of the soul will replace the music of the vital. Today the vital is nourished and the soul is starving. But when there are more aspiring people than unaspiring people on earth, naturally the inner, soul-elevating music will replace the music of the impure, unlit and obscure vital.

Right now the world may not seem to appreciate spiritual music, but if we continue to create, one day people will appreciate music from a spiritual point of view. Inwardly the world wants to make progress. Outwardly the world wants something new. That which is eternal is outwardly new. On the vital plane and in the physical world, the eternal always seems new. But in the inner plane it is not; there is nothing new in the soul's world. If we see a thing twice in the physical world, we may think it is different each time. If we see our own wristwatch in the morning and again in the evening, if we are in a different consciousness each time, we will feel that it is a totally different watch. But in the inner world, it is not like that. We all know outer music; outer music is very often destructive. But inner music is bound to be soul-stirring and soul-elevating. For God-realisation, inner music is of paramount importance. Again, if outer music is devotional music, if it is something that uplifts the musician's consciousness and spreads pure, unalloyed joy, that music also plays a considerable role.

Inner music one can hear and one can create while one is meditating. Thousands and millions of times at the age of thirteen or fourteen, I used to hear the cosmic gods and goddesses playing music. We can hear inner music through aspiration. What is inner music? We have learned from the Vedas that this music is the mother tongue of humanity, the language of the soul. It is through music that the Divine in us gets the opportunity to manifest itself here on earth.

Spiritual aspirants who have musical capacity can eventually show the world at large that inner music can be played outwardly and appreciated by the world. When artistic capacity is joined with spiritual capacity, the musician can break through the walls that other musicians have created. At that time, outer success will not only be worldly success but also divine success. With guidance from a spiritual Master, a musician's spiritual capacity becomes most powerful. Then it is very easy for the musician to help thousands of people at a time, because they appreciate his music and also see what kind of life he leads. He doesn't have to speak or anything. Others will just look at his face and see the difference between the spiritual life and their own unaspiring life. In this world, inwardly and silently everyone can judge us. Even if we remain silent we can really help.

Music can do much for the Supreme. It is a way to reach humanity and bring spirituality to humanity. The shopkeeper gives something to the customer and the customer appreciates it. Then, when the customer begins to have faith in that particular shopkeeper, the shopkeeper says, "You have appreciated my mango, but now I have something else for you; I have a guava also. This will also satisfy you and nourish you." Because the customer has faith in the shopkeeper, he will taste the new fruit and be satisfied. The time has come for musical people to say, "We can give you something else. It is called spirituality. Try it." When a musician leads a spiritual life, it is very easy for him to help thousands of people at a time, because they appreciate his music and the kind of life he leads. Spiritual Masters can only approach humanity if people come to them with real aspiration, whereas musicians have the means to approach humanity with their art. A musician's biography is written wherever he performs; everybody hears what he is playing. But for spiritual people it is not like that. In the case of spiritual people, their whole biography is written inside, and not all will be able to see it.

When I sing, I am a runner, running and running like an expert runner.
When I compose music, I am a driver, driving and driving like an expert driver.
Running is my life-preparation. Driving is my life-examination.
My life-preparation and my life-examination eventually see the face of God the Supreme Musician.

Silence and music

Silence is the source of everything. It is the source of music and it is music itself. Silence is the deepest, most satisfying music of the Supreme. Silence is like a stream that goes to one place and becomes a river, or to another place and becomes a brook, or to the sea where it is totally expanded.

Consciousness will offer us the Music of the Supreme. What is the Music of the Supreme? It is the constant elevation of our consciousness. God-realisation itself is the supreme Music. The meaning of God-realisation is conscious oneness with the rest of the world and with God. Each seeker is one with God, but he is not conscious of it. We use the term 'God' at random. Even an atheist, who does not believe in God, will use the term 'God.'

Where is God? Someone will say He is in Heaven; someone else will say He is somewhere else. One moment He is here; the next moment He is not in our vicinity but is somewhere else. This is our conception of God. But this is wrong. We must feel, "God is where I am." The deeper within we go, the clearer it becomes that it is He who has tied us together and bound us with His inner Oneness. One supreme tune is being played, and this tune is the tune of universal oneness.

God is the Supreme Musician. It is He who is playing with us, on us and in us. We cannot separate God from His music. The universal Consciousness is constantly being played by the Supreme Himself, and is constantly growing into the Supreme Music. God the Creator is the Supreme Musician and God the creation is the supreme Music. The musician and His Music can never be separated. The Musician Supreme is playing his Music Supreme here in the universe. His creation is being fulfilled. The Music Supreme feels its fulfilment only when it consciously becomes one with the Supreme, the Creator Himself.

God's existence and universal music can never be separated. When God spreads His Arms, it is His Music. When He stretches His Legs, it is His Music. When He opens His Eyes, it is all His Music. In His Arms we see the music of Infinity's Benediction; in His Feet we see the music of Eternity's Compassion, and in His Eyes we see the music of Immortality's Illumination. These three — Benediction, Compassion and Illumination make God what He is: Perfection, perfect Perfection.

The difference between a song and a piece of music is this: the song is the rose, the piece of music is the garden. The song is usually of the heart and for the heart. The music is of the entire being and for the entire being.

The excruciating pangs and universal pathos of music is the beauty of the earth-heart.

The transcendental music of liberating Light and immortalising Delight is the beauty of the Heaven-Soul.

Part II: General questions and answers

Question: Why do we like music?

Sri Chinmoy: We like music because it teaches us how to love, whom to love and why to love. How do we love? We love by self-giving. Whom do we love? We love God. Why do we love? We love because the divine lover in us has no existence of his own without feeling his oneness-reality with his Beloved Supreme.

Let us not try to understand music with our mind. Let us not even try to feel it with our heart. Let us simply and spontaneously allow the music-bird to fly in our heart-sky. While flying, it will unconditionally reveal to us what it has and what it is. What it has is Immortality's message and what it is is Eternity's passage.

Question: What is the sound that music creates?

Sri Chinmoy: There are two types of music: earthly music and Heavenly music. There is also a third type, which is the Music of the Supreme. Earthly music stimulates the vital in us. Heavenly music illumines us and spreads the divinity within us. The Music of the Supreme fulfils the Reality within us.

Question: What is the relationship between music and silence?

Sri Chinmoy: Silence is the nest and music is the bird. The bird leaves the nest early in the morning and returns to the nest in the evening. Similarly, in the spiritual world, divine music comes from the inmost soul of Silence.

Ordinary music comes from the vital, from the gross physical consciousness, or from something subtle in our existence. This subtle reality need not be very high or very deep. It may only be an inch deeper than our gross physical.

But when we compare divine music and Silence, we must say that Silence is the all-encompassing nest. All peace, all joy and all confidence are inside that nest and from there the music-bird comes out and flies all over the world. While flying in the firmament, it offers delight to the lovers of music as well as to the Universal Consciousness. The Universal Consciousness is fed constantly by the immortal, divine and supreme Music of the Absolute.

Question: What does God's Music sound like?

Sri Chinmoy: God's Music is heard by each individual according to his own capacity of receptivity. God plays the same Music, but it will sound one way to one person and totally different to another. When a professor gives a talk, there will be many students in the same classroom. Each student will understand the professor's talk differently. Because of his inner capacity, the best student in the class will understand much more than the worst student in the class. God's Music is heard, valued, understood and felt in a specific way according to the listener's own capacity of receptivity.

Question: Is the Supreme just singing one eternal song?

Sri Chinmoy: The Supreme has been singing only one song, and that is the song of Perfection. Only that one song gives Him satisfaction, and that one Perfection-song He has been singing eternally. But inside that one song, we have to know that countless songs are being sung. It began with one song, but then it entered into myriad songs. A tree is one. But when we look at the hundreds of leaves and flowers and fruits, we see many. Inside the one we are seeing many. Similarly, there is only one song that the Supreme is singing, and that is the song of Perfection. But inside that song there are many songs, countless songs.

When the Supreme sings, He is not using His Mind; He is not using His Heart. He is using His Vision. According to our vision, when two and two become four, that is perfection. But in God's Vision, two and two may become seven, or anything. God's Vision is not bound by the mind. The mind says, "It is this way; it has to be this way. It is not that way." But the Supreme does not want to be bound.

The Supreme's Freedom is not like a mad elephant. He does not use His Freedom to lord it over the world, as we do. His Freedom is His spontaneous movement, from which He comes to get the highest Delight. In each movement He wants to derive the utmost Delight, which He once upon a time derived while creating His creation. He wants to enjoy Himself as the supreme Delight. He wants to enjoy Himself not as the owner of the ocean but as the ocean itself. Again, He wants to enjoy Himself as the tiniest drop in the ocean. He can take the form either of the tiniest drop or of the boundless ocean. Here, the ocean is the one embodying the many. If we look at the ocean, we can call it one. Again, if we individually count the drops, we see it as many. But we know that the drops have a source, and vision will say that the source is one.

Question: I've heard that there are different tones or notes for each Heaven. Could you please describe them?

Sri Chinmoy: Heaven means the higher worlds, in this case. There are seven higher worlds and seven lower worlds. Each world has a music of its own and a note of its own. The higher worlds have a music that awakens us, inspires us, illumines us, perfects us and fulfils us. The music of the higher worlds constantly comes to us as the harbinger of the highest Height, whereas the music of the lower worlds naturally comes to us as a messenger of destruction.

It is not only the higher and lower worlds that have a music of their own; each individual has his own music, each movement has its own music, each action has its own music. Each time we breathe in and breathe out, there is music. When we don't pay attention to the inner depth of the action, we don't hear the music. If we do pay adequate attention to each action, then inside the very depth of that action we are bound to hear music. Unless we hear music inside each action, the action is lifeless.

Question: When I play music, I feel a tingling around my third eye.

Sri Chinmoy: That indicates an awakening. But this does not mean that your third eye is about to open. No. When you play most soulfully, an inner vision-light will come to the fore. Vision is within you, yet it is dormant. But now it wants to function properly; it does not want to sleep anymore. So inner vision is starting to operate. The vision of the third eye is trying to come to the fore and that is why you are getting that sensation. So it is a very good experience.

When you sing, you may feel an awakening in the throat centre. Those who have good voices have, to some extent, opened their throat centre. This is also a very good experience.

Question: In what way does music affect our consciousness?

Sri Chinmoy: Our consciousness is like a book. When we play divine music, we are able to write down something significant in the book. If it is undivine music, we will write down something undivine. The moment we write something undivine, the quality of the book suffers. When we write divine things, we see and feel that the quality of the book is greatly improved.

If we listen to bad music, it is as though we have a piece of paper right in front of us and we have dropped ink on the paper and ruined it. But if we hear good music, we will immediately feel that we have written something divine and immortal on the paper.

Water symbolises consciousness. Consciousness, like water, is neutral. What we put inside water is of paramount importance. If it is something harmless, sweet and divine, then we will get joy. But if we put something undivine, poisonous and destructive in the water, then naturally when we drink it we shall die. What we mix with the water before drinking it is entirely up to us.

Question: Can we use music to help us in our spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: We can use music to help us in our spiritual life provided we know that music and the spiritual life are like twin brothers; we cannot separate them. How can we separate two fingers, two eyes? They sit side by side. If one eye is not functioning well, then we feel that our vision is imperfect. Similarly, we have to know that music and the spiritual life must go together; one complements the other. Music helps the spiritual seeker to go deep within to get the utmost satisfaction from life, from truth, from reality. The spiritual life, in turn, helps music to offer its capacity and its strength, which is the soul's light, to the world at large.

Question: What does 'soulful' mean in relation to music?

Sri Chinmoy: When we listen to soulful music, or when we ourselves play soulful music, immediately our inner existence climbs up high, higher, highest. It climbs up and enters into something beyond. This Beyond is constantly trying to help us, guide us, mould us and shape us into our true transcendental image, our true divinity. When we hear soulful music, or when we play a soulful piece of music, we feel a kind of inner thrill in our entire existence, from the soles of our feet to the crown of our head. A river is flowing through us, a river of consciousness, and this consciousness is all the time illumined.

Next to deep prayer or meditation, music is of paramount importance. Meditation is like a direct route, or short cut, to the goal. Music is a road that is absolutely clear: it may be a little longer, but it is quite clear of obstacles. If one can play soulful music or hear soulful music, the power of his own meditation increases. Music, soulful music, adds to our aspiration. Similarly, if a spiritual seeker wants to be a musician, even if he does not have a musical background, he will be able to be a good musician because prayer and meditation contain all capacities. You have never studied music but if you pray and meditate soulfully, then inside your prayer, inside your meditation, by the Grace of the Supreme, the power of music looms large. Then you can utilise this power in your own way.

Soulful music is the music that immediately elevates our consciousness to the Absolute, to the Highest. But ordinary music, vital music, brings our consciousness down. For a fleeting second or a few hours, we get a kind of pleasure; but then this pleasure takes us into a lower vital consciousness where we are tempted. From the temptation-world we enter into the frustration-world, and from the frustration-world we enter into the destruction-world. But soulful music takes us into the world of aspiration. From aspiration we enter into the world of realisation, where our inner existence is flooded with Light and Delight.

Soulful music is the music that wants to eventually transform our consciousness. It carries us into the Universal Consciousness and makes us feel that we are in tune with the highest, with the deepest, with the farthest.

It also makes us feel that God Himself is the Supreme Musician. When we play soulful music, we come to realise that we are not the musician; we are just an instrument. We are like a piano, violin or guitar, and it is God who is constantly playing on us. If we really play soulful music, we will see that we are just an instrument, that somebody else is singing and playing in and through us, and that somebody is our Inner Pilot, the Supreme.

Question: How do we know if music is spiritual and if the musician is aspiring?

Sri Chinmoy: Whether or not the musician is aspiring is not your business. That is only God's business. When you hear music, if it lifts your consciousness, then you will know that it is spiritual music. Again, somebody may pretend to be spiritual, but if his music brings your consciousness down, then he is not playing spiritual music. Sometimes the musician is aspiring and also he is playing spiritual music; at that time you are very fortunate, because you get both.

Question: What is the best way to become one with soulful music?

Sri Chinmoy: The best way to become one with soulful music is to have the firm inner conviction that while you are breathing in, the breath is immediately entering directly into your soul. And with the breath, you have to feel that the Universal Consciousness, divine Reality, divine Truth is also entering. Then, when you breathe out, try to feel that you are breathing out the ignorance that is covering your soul. Feel that the veils of ignorance are being lifted and discarded. If you can consciously imagine and feel this, it is the best way to become one with soulful music.

What do we mean by soulful music? If you say it is the music that embodies the soul, then I wish to say that you are mistaken. You have to feel that soulful music is the Light that wants to express itself in a divine way. Even as darkness wants to manifest its authority on earth, Light also wants to manifest its Reality and Divinity in a specific way. Light is the soul of everything. Light is the soul of music, Light is the soul of love, and Light is the soul of all art. When Light divinely manifests itself in the form of music, it is the music of the soul.

Question: What can we do to sing most soulfully?

Sri Chinmoy: You have to think of both the body of the song and the soul of the song. The body of the song is each word. You have to know the meaning of the song well. You may not know the meaning in the same way that I know it, but the actual meaning, the literal meaning, you know well. Suppose you are singing Ore Mor Kheya. You come to know the meaning: Ore is O; Mor is my; Kheya is boat. So when you sing, immediately you come to think of a boat in front of you, a tiny boat. Then the next word is neye; it means boatman. A boat has to have a boatman. So first you envision the boat and then the boatman; you bring the image right in front of your mind. This is the body aspect of the song.

But if you can meditate for five minutes or ten minutes before you sing, then you will get the soul aspect of the song from your meditation. Even if you have not meditated, sometimes it is possible, while bringing the image of each word to your mind, to also get the soul aspect. But you have to be a great seeker.

If you bring the soul aspect forward and also symbolically bring the body aspect forward, the song becomes really soulful. At that time, those who are listening are bound to feel the soul inside the music. They may not even hear your words, your language; they will only see the soul inside. They will see in your face the divine reality. Sometimes your soul has permeated your outer face, and your face is shining. At that time, they don't see anything but the soul.

One time when I was in India, four or five elderly men and women came to listen to my songs. They were all close to the family. I sang Ore Mor Kheya and the man fell asleep immediately. Two of the ladies were really moved to tears. The other two ladies didn't hear anything at all; they didn't hear any words. They were just looking at my face, appreciating my expression. My face at that time became my soul. They didn't even know what I sang; only they became one with the soul which was shining in my face. The first two knew the meaning of Ore Mor Kheya and all that. They identified with the body aspect and they got the meaning. But the other two did not identify with the physical, but with my aspiration aspect. That is why they said they did not hear anything. These are not cock and bull stories; they are authentic.

Question: Do our souls sing when we sing most soulfully?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes, it is either a portion of the soul or the soul proper that sings when we sing most soulfully. One may think it is the voice of the soul, but it is not. The music of the soul is different from the voice of the soul, the language of the soul. The soul can adopt any voice it wants to. The voice of the soul, the language of the soul is light — not electric light, but the light that constantly illumines our inner and outer being.

We can hear singing that comes directly from the soul or from a portion of the soul, even though no voice is being used. The soul can sing directly without any voice.

Very often when we sing most soulfully, even after the song is over we will hear a voice within ourselves as if somebody else were singing the same song. We may be talking to our friends or looking around, but we will be aware that somebody is singing, and that somebody is our soul. How can we be aware of the fact that the song is coming directly from the soul? We can know if it is coming from the soul just by observing our own consciousness. Sometimes we may catch a haunting tune, a very delicate, subtle tune, but it is immediately followed by earthly, undivine thoughts, as if it were being chased by a dog. If undivine thoughts, lower vital thoughts, immediately enter, then the song is not coming directly from the soul. If it is coming directly from the soul, then not an iota of undivine thought can enter during the whole song. We will have our highest and deepest consciousness right from the beginning to the end of the song.

Question: How is it possible to make music a soulful offering to the Supreme?

Sri Chinmoy: First of all, the music itself has to be soulful. Then only can we offer it. When we hear divine, soulful music, we immediately feel that it is a beautiful flower fresh from our heart garden, ready to be offered at the Feet of God. If we have the feeling that a piece of music is a real flower, a fresh flower, a fragrant flower, we can immediately offer it at the Feet of the Supreme.

Question: When I sing, it sounds so horrible that it takes away my inspiration.

Sri Chinmoy: Singing is a form of meditation, I tell you. If you cannot carry a tune, no harm. Then you will not sing in public. But certainly you can sing when you are alone. Once a day you should sing the Invocation. If you don't sing the Invocation once a day, please feel that something is missing in your life. For that day you are not feeding the Supreme; and if you don't feed the Supreme every day, it is an unpardonable crime. The Supreme is not going to give you a mark if you cannot carry a tune. As long as you sing soulfully, the Supreme will be extremely pleased. Tagore once wrote in a poem, "You gave the bird a voice, musical talent. To me you have not given a voice, but still I am singing." When you don't have something, and still you are offering it to God, God is very pleased with you. So try to sing in your own way. Even if the tune is wrong, if you sing soulfully, it is a real form of meditation.

Question: Is it also a form of singing to hear the song in your mind?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. But when you sing outwardly, it convinces the outer mind. If you sing outwardly, you feel that there is a witness. If you don't complete the song, you will be embarrassed. But if you sing in silence, then in the middle of a line you may stop and nobody will criticise you. But when you do it outwardly, at that time you will be exposed. At that time, you feel that the ear is the witness.

Question: I can't sing. I sing in a monotone, and I can't learn an instrument.

Sri Chinmoy: The word 'creation' is a complicated term, and 'appreciation' is also a complicated thing. But creation and appreciation can be made very simple. Creation, when it is oneness with God's Will, need not be on the physical plane or the vital plane or the mental plane. It can be on God's own plane, through oneness with God. Suppose somebody has composed a beautiful piece of music. If you can identify yourself with the inner cry of the music, then you become a co-sharer, a co-creator. I always tell my disciples to identify themselves with my songs, with my music, with my poetry. If they can do that, they have every right to feel that they have also composed these songs, that they also have written these poems, that they also have created these paintings. It is one hundred percent true. On the physical plane, I used paper and pen, but that is immaterial. On the inner plane, the real creation is oneness. When an individual realises God, he does not create anything; only he becomes one with God's operation. In the inner world, he and God are not different beings; they are one, like a tiny drop and the vast ocean. When the tiny drop has totally identified itself with the ocean, then it has every right to call itself the ocean. In the same way, sometimes your soul responds to my music. The soul thrills to the music; it just melts and becomes one.

So you don't have to carry a tune properly. If you can identify yourself with the music, at that time you become the source, the composer. Also, when you listen to spiritual music and identify yourself with the singers, if the music is being sung very soulfully, I wish to say that this is nothing short of your own prayer and meditation.

Sometimes there is a lack of oneness between an individual's own mind and heart. Just as human beings are jealous of one another, so also the mind becomes jealous of the heart, or the vital becomes jealous of the heart. A most beautiful song has come from the heart and not from the mind or vital, so the mind and the vital throw cold water on it. Those other members revolt. Sometimes composers create something so beautiful; it has directly come from the aspiring heart. But the mind and the vital do not identify themselves with the aspiring heart. When the heart is singing, the mind shows a kind of jealous face, a sulking face. Then, he who composed the song does not get utmost joy from his own creation.

Your soul is one with the divine Musician. Your soul knows how to sing, but your outer life does not know how to sing. Your voice is not trained. Sometimes your soul does not cry for musical capacity, but your mind, body, vital and heart — your earthly existence — want it. So your soul at that time surrenders, because it is a harmless desire. Your soul does not want to manifest itself through music, but when your soul sees that it is spiritual music that you want to play, then it has no objection. If the seeker wants to add something to his inner life, his spiritual life, at that time the soul does not have any objection.

Spiritual Masters have the capacity, if they want to, to make somebody a singer or a musician overnight. If I see that you have a tremendous inner cry to learn songs or the guitar, and if your soul really cares for it, then I can give you the capacity on the physical plane. Some of the disciples were not poets at all; far from it. Even their forefathers didn't write poetry. But they have written most beautiful poems. I never tell them that I was the one who made them into poets. Yet how many souls have come to me for help after struggling for hours to write one line properly! So, if the soul wants it, the capacity will definitely be granted.

But if you can identify yourself with other musician-disciples, if you can claim their music as your own, there is nothing wrong with that. The other individual may say, "I did it; you didn't do it." But when there is inner oneness, you have every right to claim it. If you want to identify with the creation of others, which is your own expanded reality, then you can do that.

Question: What is the relationship between music and meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Music is the inner or universal language of God. I do not know French or German or Italian, but if music is played, immediately the heart of the music enters into my heart, or my heart enters into the music. At that time, we don't need outer communication; the inner communion of the heart is enough. My heart is communing with the heart of the music and in our communion we become inseparably one.

Meditation and music cannot be separated. When we cry from the inmost recesses of our heart for Peace, Light and Bliss, that is the best type of meditation. We cannot meditate twenty-four hours a day, but we can meditate, say, for two hours a day. Then we can play music or we can listen to music for a couple of hours a day. Next to meditation is music. But it has to be soulful music, the music that stirs and elevates our aspiring consciousness. When we play soulful music, psychic music, then immediately we are transported to the highest realm of consciousness. When we play music soulfully, we go high, higher, highest.

Each time soulful music is played, we get inspiration and delight. In the twinkling of an eye, music can elevate our consciousness. But if we also pray and meditate, then we are undoubtedly more illumined and fulfilled than a music lover who is not consciously following a spiritual life. Each spiritual musician is consciously spreading God's Light on earth. God is the cosmic Player, the eternal Player, and we are His instruments. But there comes a time in the process of our evolution when we feel that we have become totally one with Him. At that time, we are no longer instruments; we ourselves are musicians, divine musicians. It is the Supreme who makes the proper instrument. Then, it is He who makes the player play properly, and it is He who makes the musician.

Question: Can spiritual music be played during meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, although it depends on the one who meditates. There are many seekers on earth who meditate extremely well, but who have not developed their musical sense. Their ears have not been trained, so we cannot expect them to change their nature overnight. They either lack the capacity of appreciation or they have some austere feeling about music. There are many seekers who have the silly notion that all music comes from the lower vital. They don't encourage their children to learn music because they feel that as soon as they enter into the music world, they will fall. There is some truth to this because we all know that vital music is most appreciated all over the world. Psychic music is not very widely appreciated, and very few people appreciate the soul's music. They feel it is like a stranger, that is entering into their consciousness. But it is actually their eternal tenant, their soul, that is deep within them waiting to come to the fore.

Naturally, undivine music will immediately lower the consciousness. But if divine music is played during deep meditation, it enhances the meditation. Soulful music will immediately help in elevating the consciousness. This is why we play music from time to time in our Centre. We do not encourage music all the time because there are many people who do not appreciate or admire music. We don't want to create problems for them, since it is a group meditation.

So, if you are fond of music, then please play soulful songs or chants during your meditations at home. Soft, soulful music will definitely help you.

Question: Can some kinds of music cause us to feel upset and change our spiritual condition?

Sri Chinmoy: Yes. There is some music that is really destructive to our inner being. This music comes from the gross physical or the lower vital. Undivine music tries to awaken our lower vital consciousness and throw us into a world of excitement. The spiritual person will immediately be affected by this music. But soulful and spiritual music really helps us; it feeds our inner life. Music has tremendous power. With fire we can burn ourselves, or we can cook and do many other good things. It is the same with music. Divine music immediately elevates our consciousness, whereas undivine music immediately lowers our consciousness, and it tries to destroy our sincere inner cry for a better spiritual life.

Question: Is it possible to be both a musician and a Yogi?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly, it is quite possible to be both a musician and a Yogi. In Mother India there have been many saints, sages and spiritual Masters who were blessed with divine music. Their musical talent did not interfere with their God-realisation, and even after achieving God-realisation, their musical talents did not leave them. A Yogi's qualities and a musician's qualities can go side by side, provided the Yogi has the capacity and inherent talent for music. Even if the Yogi spends a very short time in the musical world, he can be a very good musician, but it will take infinitely more time for a musician to become a Yogi.

Yoga means union, inseparable oneness with God. A Yogi is one who has established conscious union with God. He can easily become a musician because in his inseparable oneness with God, he can do anything he wants. But a Yogi has to wait for God's Will. If it is God's Will, he will become a musician; or if it is God's Will, he will become something else. Otherwise, he will just remain with his own lofty realisation and oneness; he will reveal and manifest the highest Peace, Light and Truth the way the Supreme wants him to.

A musician eventually has to become a Yogi, because no musician, no matter what he is playing right now, will remain unrealised. God will not allow any person on earth to remain unrealised forever. If a musician is not a seeker, he has to become a seeker. Then naturally, in the course of time, he will become a Yogi.

Question: Guru, I'm a musician and I'm also trying to follow the spiritual life. Sometimes, however, I find it very difficult to reconcile these two parts of myself, and I feel I shouldn't try to move too quickly in this area.

Sri Chinmoy: If you can play spiritual music, soulful music, then you will have no problem. But if you play vital music — jazz and rock and roll and all that — then you will not be satisfied. You are pleasing the outer world but you are not pleasing your Inner Pilot in His own way. If you are not an aspiring seeker, that is fine. But if you are a sincere seeker, which you are, then you will feel miserable.

You may say that it is necessary to evolve slowly, that you cannot change your music overnight. Then I will say, "All right, but also try to bring forward the other life." Each time you make a successful attempt, feel, "Oh, my days are numbered. My old life is coming to an end." Feel that you have got enough money, fame and so on.

Even if you have not got enough, just try to convince your mind. In this way your soul will come forward. If you can make yourself feel that the whole world appreciates and admires you, that the whole world has given you what you want, but still you are not satisfied, then you will ask yourself what you still have to do in your life. What you have to do is to please your Inner Pilot in His own way.

Right now you may think that the world will not appreciate your spiritual music. It may take time, but today or tomorrow you will create another world of music. If you go on creating, one day people will appreciate your creation.

Question: How can I bring spirituality into my music?

Sri Chinmoy: As a sincere seeker you must know that your music has to please the Supreme, who is our eternal Guru. You are quite young. You have to play music that brings inspiration to the heart and not excitement to the vital. You must not play music that will only arouse excitement in the vital. When you play any particular piece, you have to feel whether it is the right music for your own spiritual progress and inner growth. Play only music that inspires you, that comes from the very depth of your heart and illumines your consciousness.

You have to know that each seeker-musician has a golden opportunity to please the Supreme with his music. Whenever you play any music, you have to know whether or not that music is going to please the Supreme. If it pleases you and you feel it will please Him, then play it. If you feel it does not please Him, then never play it. Playing lower vital music to get appreciation from the public can never please the Supreme. If an ordinary person who has not launched into the spiritual path plays that kind of music, he is doing the right thing according to his own standard. But if a seeker plays that kind of music, he cannot make any progress.

A sincere seeker who has already accepted a path of his own should play only spiritual music, psychic music, music that elevates his consciousness and the consciousness of others. When you play this kind of music, you will see that in each note God Himself is blossoming like a lotus, petal by petal. When you play divine music, please feel that God is unveiling His own inner music and fulfilling Himself in and through you.

Question: What is sound to the musician?

Sri Chinmoy: To the musician, sound is his own child. It is like a flower to the garden; a garden without a flower is useless. Similarly, the musician is useless without his beautiful inner child. The musician and sound are like the Creator and the creation. They are inseparable and indispensable.

Question: Is it better to play music from memory rather than to read it off a sheet of music?

Sri Chinmoy: Here you are all interested in the spontaneous fountain of the heart. If you can play the music by heart, you can give life to it; you can add real life to it. But when you read the music, the eyes are seeing the paper and the mind is operating very nicely. At that time, the mental consciousness enters into the picture; the paper consciousness enters into the mind, and the spontaneous, soulful qualities are all gone. So let the fountain flow only from the heart. If you have another small fountain in the mind, in spite of having a big fountain in the heart, you are going to create a problem. Again, if you know all the notes but just play mechanically, that also is not good. You shall learn by heart, but you shall also give life to the music while playing. You are representing spirituality. Reading the music will take away from the spiritual quality, even though it is the usual method. I am trying to bring out spiritual music from all my children.

Question: Is learning a musical instrument important in our spiritual life?

Sri Chinmoy: Learning a musical instrument is important for those who have musical talent, but not for others. If you have musical talent, then it will help you. But if you don't have a musical ear, then an instrument is absolutely unnecessary. If you don't have the capacity, but want to study because your friends play, or to show off, then there is no necessity in it.

There is only one necessity and that is your daily soulful meditation. If you do that, you will be able to realise God. You may spend your time in music for years and years, but without meditation you will not be able to realise God. If you have a talent, it is advisable to use it. But if you don't have the talent, then don't waste your precious time, which you could be using for a higher, divine purpose. You should just continue with your meditation, which is your inner music.

Question: How can a person manifest the highest, most joyful music in his soul while playing a musical instrument?

Sri Chinmoy: While playing a musical instrument, you have to feel that music has and is the key to unlock the Heart-Door of the Supreme. It is only music that has a free access to the Heart-Door of the Supreme. If you can feel that, then the musician in you will be able to manifest the highest.

Question: What is the spiritual essence of Beethoven's sound-creation-manifestation?

Sri Chinmoy: The spiritual essence of Beethoven's sound-creation-manifestation is that the outer life can be harmonised, liberated and fulfilled by the soul's conscious guidance of the physical in us. Even if the outer life starts from the darkest ignorance, it has hope. It begins its journey with hope; but eventually its total transformation, illumination and perfection become certain.

When Beethoven's music starts, it gives the feeling of a mad elephant, first striking this side, then that side. We can imagine it striking one wall, then moving to the other side and striking another wall; but it is moving, moving — constant movement. Then after getting a few blows, after breaking heads here and there, the movement goes toward the goal. Whether we call it soulful movement, vital movement or something else, it eventually reaches the goal.

Question: Is dancing to soulful music a form of meditation?

Sri Chinmoy: If the music is soulful and the dancing is also soulful, then it can be a form of meditation. Anything that is soulful is a form of meditation, but we have to know that there are degrees of soulfulness. Talking to someone soulfully is a form of meditation. Dancing soulfully to soulful music is a form of meditation. Soulfully reading spiritual books is a form of meditation. Sitting alone in your room concentrating and elevating your consciousness to a very high, deep and sublime plane is also a form of meditation.

We have to know the difference between the highest meditation and ordinary meditation. Naturally, meditating most soulfully in front of a shrine is of infinitely greater importance than dancing soulfully to soulful music. Very often there are difficulties with dancing. The dancing may be soulful, but the audience may be absolutely undivine, impure and vulgar. No matter how pure one is, the undivine consciousness of the audience will lower one's consciousness. There are many dancers in India who have come from very religious, respectable families and when they first started dancing, they were pure and spiritual. But the eyes of the people in the audience were not pure. Naturally, the audience's consciousness was thrust upon the young dancers, and they lost their spiritual consciousness.

In a spiritual community, dancers may safely perform soulful dancing because everybody there prays and meditates and it is not open to the public. The community is only for seekers who are under spiritual guidance and who are expected to lead a higher life. If the dancers also pray and meditate, they are like members of the same spiritual family. Since the audience and the dancers have the same divine consciousness, there can be no problem.


God-Music purifies our body.
God-Music strengthens our soul.
God-Music expedites our life-liberation, God-realisation and love-manifestation.

Part III: Questions and answers about Sri Chinmoy's music

Question: Could you please tell us the spiritual significance of your chanting?

Sri Chinmoy: I have chanted a few Sanskrit verses which I set to music. These verses were composed by the Vedic and Upanishadic seers. The Vedic seers had opened their Third Eye, the Eye that sees the Real. With our earthly physical eyes we do not see the Real. The ultimate Real can be seen only with the Third Eye, the Eye of Vision.

If one consciously accepts the spiritual life, the inner life, then naturally one will aspire and meditate; one will always try to elevate one's consciousness to the highest. When we chant, our psychic being, which is the representative of the soul, is fed. A mother feeds her child whenever the child is hungry. Similarly, we have to feed the soul, the divine child within us, by chanting or meditating. When the soul is constantly fed, it comes to the fore and the soul-bird gets the opportunity to fly in the sky of Infinity and Eternity.

Question: What do you feel when you play music?

Sri Chinmoy: It is not a matter of seeing or feeling. I only enjoy myself. At times I don't see or feel anything; only I become the music itself. I become Delight, Delight itself.

Question: What should our attitude be when singing your songs?

Sri Chinmoy: When you sing, please try to sing soulfully as well as powerfully, not just powerfully. Do not put too much force into the song without also using the soul. Otherwise, you will only have the body but not the soul. When you use power, it is the body. When you sing soulfully, you come to know that the soul is manifesting itself through the body. So some of the body is needed, but not to the exclusion of the soul.

Question: Is it a good idea to listen to tapes of the disciples singing spiritual songs?

Sri Chinmoy: If you are going to listen to records or tapes, it is always better if you listen to my voice rather than to others' voices. Otherwise, you may listen to other persons' singing and immediately your jealousy will start. But if you hear my voice, it will give you inspiration and aspiration. I am not joking. Somebody does something very well, but just because it is he or she that has done it, you can't appreciate it. Since you can't appreciate it, your aspiration will not go high.

Question: Sometimes after a meditation at the Centre, when you ask us to sing the Invocation, my aspiration goes away and I get very tired.

Sri Chinmoy: This is very bad. I admire your confession, but I wish to say that the Invocation is most important. With your meditation, you have not reached the goal. You have not touched the tape. You feel that you have come very near the goal, but unless you touch the tape, you have not completed the race. If you don't touch the goal, then it is as good as not starting. You have left the starting block and covered 80 or 90 metres, but if you don't finish, then it is all useless.

Many times while singing the Supreme, people think of the most absurd things. Apart from vital and emotional thoughts, they think of what they are going to eat and all kinds of absurd things. Everybody does it. This is very bad. Please feel that the Invocation is something most significant and most important in your spiritual life, and take it seriously.

Question: Guru, how can your disciples serve and manifest your soulful music?

Sri Chinmoy: My disciples can serve and manifest my soulful music by becoming consciously and untiringly one with my music. Your oneness itself is nothing short of your dedication to and manifestation of my music.

Question: When you make a poem into a song, does the melody come as spontaneously as when you paint?

Sri Chinmoy: I don't call them poems; they are songs, only I don't compose the tune at that time. Then, when I set the tune, sometimes I get the tune before I actually place my fingers on the harmonium. It is absolutely fixed from the beginning to the end. Sometimes a tune comes spontaneously. At that time, my mind will be able to see the first half, but the mind does not know what the ending will be. Sometimes, after I have completed the song, I feel that one key has disappointed me. While I am singing the first line, it is very soulful. Then, when I complete the song and play it again, I can't believe that I composed it. It is offensive to my ears. I feel sorry, and I try to fix it. I try and try, but most of the time I fail.

When I am walking along the street or sitting in my room, I may get a beautiful tune, but when I sit with my notebook in front of my harmonium, at that time I don't get that tune. Sometimes it takes me time. When inspiration is not there I don't get the proper key. It is a real struggle. It is absolutely torture. The human mind is being tortured by the human greed in me. I have to finish. Where is aspiration? It is all desire. But it does not happen quite often. On very, very rare occasions this happens. Usually there is real inspiration; otherwise, I could not have done so many songs. Since I left for Australia, I have written 372 songs. Now, I am setting tunes to them. So about four hundred songs I have got this year already [April 1976]. That is why I am confident enough to say that this year I will be able to compose one thousand songs.

Question: Do your disciples who are musicians get some special benefit from your own music?

Sri Chinmoy: Certainly. From my music they get a force. I haven't done anything outwardly in the music world, but they are receiving something from my music; and what they receive they are manifesting in their own music. My music is for the very limited, the few disciples who will appreciate everything I do just because it is I who have done it. I don't play one piece of music correctly; all the notes are wrong. When actual musicians appreciate my music, it is because they truly love me. They do not only hear my music; they also feel my presence in it.

Question: When you sing in front of us, what are you accomplishing?

Sri Chinmoy: When I sing, I do two things. First of all, I try to bring down universal harmony and bliss into the aspirants, especially into the disciples who are in tune with the cosmic Joy. Next, I try to uplift the limited consciousness of each disciple into the limitless Consciousness.

The spiritual songs that I sing are prayers to the Supreme to ferry us across the ocean of darkness and ignorance to the ocean of Delight and Immortality. The Supreme is the Boatman and we pray to Him to ferry us to the Golden Shore. Singing immediately inspires us and awakens the slumbering soul in us. If we sing a divine song, a soulful song, it immediately brings purity into our system. Singing purifies our limited consciousness and brings to us universal Harmony. In our day-to-day life, we constantly break the universal Harmony, but when we sing, we build and create this universal Harmony in and around us.

If we can sing, we can have the purest consciousness and perfect harmony in our nature. Nothing delights our soul more than soulful singing. Please sing at home; at home you can sing loudly. Sing in the street or at any other place. Of course in the street you will sing inwardly; otherwise, people will laugh at you.

The Supreme blesses those who both inwardly and outwardly sing soulful songs. Some people do not have a beautiful singing voice at all, but their voice is deeply appreciated by the Supreme because they sing soulfully. The Supreme does not care for someone who is a very great singer but who sings without any aspiration or devotion. He cares only for the ones who sing soulfully.

I wish all who have consciously become my devoted disciples to sing "The Supreme" once any time during the day. It takes only three minutes, and these three minutes pass away in the twinkling of an eye. But it will help your inner life significantly.

Each soulful song leads us to the Highest because it is the purest flower that can be offered at the Feet of God. When we sing, our whole existence actually becomes a garland of flowers ready to be offered at the Feet of the Supreme. This is why I sing.

Question: As disciples, should we play only soulful music when we play an instrument?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on the disciple. If he is a first-class disciple and wants to play music, then naturally he will play soulful music only, for if he plays lower vital music, he will fall down from the top of the mango tree. With greatest difficulty he has climbed up the mango tree and now he is so happy that he is on the topmost branch. But if temptation comes and he falls down and breaks his leg, then it will take him quite a few years to climb up again. Because he was a first-class disciple, he was able to climb up the tree; but when temptation began, he fell down and became a seventh-class disciple. For a seventh-class disciple to climb up the tree again is almost impossible.

If you drink nectar ten times and then drink poison only once, you will die. You can drink nectar as many times as you want to, but if you drink poison even once, you won't be able to nullify its effect. You have to feel like this: you can take sugar seven times, but if you take salt only once, it will ruin the taste of sugar. You will immediately feel the effect of the salt.

It is always advisable to play only soulful music. Again, there are grades and degrees of soulfulness. You should try to play the most soulful music, but if you cannot, you should try to play the next most soulful music.

You have to know that if you play music from the vital plane, you are only fooling yourself. The music that is inspired from around or below the navel is the vital music. Music that comes from the heart is psychic music and the music that comes from the inmost recesses of the heart, from very deep within, comes from the soul. If we can feel that it is not our voice, not our fingers, but some reality deep inside our heart which is expressing itself, then we will know that it is the soul's music.

Part IV: Talks and conversations with disciples

Remark at Carnegie Hall

Sri Chinmoy made the following remarks to his disciples a few days prior to their April 13, 1976 performance of his music at Carnegie Hall.

When you wear a sari, immediately your divine qualities increase like anything. And the boys must wear dhotis. This kind of dress brings forward real spirituality. It will really add to your consciousness. We are trying to show our family at its best and our background is spirituality. These pieces of music are all my Indian tunes, Indian flow. If you wear saris and dhotis, it will definitely, definitely add to the music. But if you wear a tie and Western clothes while playing Indian music, it will look very odd. While playing Indian music in the haunting Indian way, if you wear Western clothes, it will really detract from the soulful qualities. So kindly try to have as much of the Indian way as possible. I am not converting you people; far from it. But if you see anything good in me, if you see any good quality in some aspect of my life, it is not wrong to accept it.

Previously, the girls used to get a mark of twenty or thirty from me for serenity, purity and inner beauty. Now, when they wear saris, those girls are getting seventy-five or eighty; some get even ninety or one hundred. These material garments are just Indian saris, but they are divine. Sometimes, when you wear a particular costume or dress, certain spiritual qualities come forward. Each garment has a vibration of its own. Each colour represents some quality of your soul. From within, the divine qualities have to come forward. Again, if there is any special way we can encourage the divine qualities by using outer means, we shall do it. We have to be very clever. Anything that adds to our aspiration we shall do. We do it just because it is adding to our spirituality, to our reality, and not because it is an Indian custom or an African custom. I know that wearing saris adds to the girls' spiritual dignity, spiritual height, serenity, purity.

[_For the conclusion of his Carnegie Hall concert, Sri Chinmoy asked his disciple musicians to each play a different one of his musical compositions — simultaneously. These pieces were all slow, and all were composed in the same key. In these extemporaneous remarks about a week prior to the concert, Sri Chinmoy briefly discusses this._]

Here we see divine soldiers with dynamic spirit. You are enjoying full freedom, but still there is unity and uniformity. Nobody is misusing this freedom. Inside the freedom there is unity. The freedom is full, but you are maintaining a kind of unity and uniformity along with the freedom.

What we are hearing is not actually harmony; it is Indian subtlety. Each instrument, each note, has its soft, sweet, delicate touch. All the slow movements of the various groups are going together and creating one slow, haunting movement. Here, if a fast movement comes, even if it is my music, I will not appreciate it; it will ruin the quality.

Western harmony I don't like in some cases. I will not be so prejudiced to say I don't like it at all; far from it. But in a few cases, I feel and I see that it really ruins the music. Somebody wants to go really soulfully towards the goal and somebody else starts adding a few things which are irrelevant. The first one is desperately trying to reach the goal, but he sees a few irrelevant things standing in his way. In our case, also, the music will be ruined if we have harmony and fast movement. We cannot imitate Western harmony. But in our finale, it is not actually harmony; all the groups are playing basically the same type of haunting melody. That is why I am encouraging it. This is something new and I am always after the new. I have no idea whether others will say that our ensemble destroys the beauty of the tunes. I feel that it brings to the fore their dauntless, heroic quality. At the same time, a real bond of oneness I am seeing and feeling. I am very happy and proud of our wonderful family. We have really good musicians.

Spiritual singing

After singing a number of spiritual songs on 18 September 1970, Sri Chinmoy made the following extemporaneous remarks.

In each song I have sung, I have tried to identify myself with the song with utmost concern. The words I have tried to convey through my voice. There are many, many, many, many, many singers who have extraordinary voices and singing ability. I am no match for them. I have heard many singers of that type, but they don't feel the living breath of the words when they sing. Their beautiful, melodious voice carries the tune, but the depth and real significance of the words, we don't get from their voice. In my case, musical talent, voice, everything is unbearable; but when it is a matter of expressing the thoughts, of showing the inner significance of the ideas, I wish to say that in almost all of the songs I have been successful. There are three or four songs I ought to have sung better out of this group of fifty. But as far as the inner concern, inner depth, inner identification with the ideas and the thoughts, I have really done justice to these songs. Perhaps on some rare occasions I have made mistakes, but the sincere seekers of the Truth will forgive my so-called mistakes, even if they are grave mistakes. If they identified with me, if they identified with my aspiring soul rather than my singing voice, then they would have gotten considerable benefit.

So my request to you people, when you sing, is to sing soulfully. Even if you don't know a particular Bengali word, no harm. Still, you have to sing soulfully. You will say, "I don't know this word." But even when you sing an English song, very often you don't sing the words with any real feeling. When you sing, try to embody the significance of each word. If you can do this, then you will become the song itself. Otherwise, you will be a singer and your song will be something other than yourself. But the song and the singer must be inseparable. When a singer sings spiritual songs, if he lives the song that he sings, then God will be a living Reality at every second. Otherwise, God will remain in the infinite blue sky and the singer will have to remain down on earth. Then there will be a yawning gulf between God's Feet and the singer's head.

In the spiritual life, we are trying to raise our head to the point where God's Feet will come and touch it. Our head and God's Feet must be together. Our head means what? Our head means our song. And God's Feet means God the Singer. So when the Supreme Singer sees that a song is aspiring to the Highest, then He feels His fulfilment in His creation. And what is the creation? The creation is the unfoldment of the Singer Supreme.

Singing the Invocation

Sri Chinmoy gave the following extemporaneous talk on 22 March 1975 during a bus trip to Boston with a group of disciples.

I wish all of you to sing the Invocation every day. Feel that it is part of your meditation. More than that, feel that it is the most soulful meditation. When you sing, please try to imagine the words right in front of you with your mental vision. Sing most soulfully. I tell you with utmost sincerity, if you can sing the Invocation most soulfully, it will be as good as meditating for four hours most powerfully.

And also, when you sing my Bengali songs, please feel that you are praying and meditating. Out of a hundred songs, perhaps one or two are not spiritual; the rest of the songs are all spiritual. So when you sing soulfully, you have to know that you are praying and meditating most intensely. Indian mantras have tremendous power, and my songs, if you sing them soulfully, will have the same effect. It is not only mantras but also soulful songs that can elevate your consciousness and be like the best meditation.

Soulful singing is of paramount importance on our path. I have written hundreds of songs. Out of those, each disciple should select ten songs and sing at least two or three of them daily. If you can identify yourself with the music, with the message and the life and the realisation of these songs, then, I tell you, you will do the best form of meditation. Those who do not have the capacity to sing should listen to my records. These are my most sincere requests to all, all of you.

When you sing any song, try to identify yourself with my height. When you sing the most favourite song, 'Ore Mor Kheya,' which stood first among the disciples, please try immediately to identify yourself with each line: "O my Boat, O my Boatman…" It is difficult to identify yourself with the Supreme; you don't know whether He is tall or short. But easily you can identify yourself with me. Just see one step ahead of you a boat, a very beautiful boat. The boatman is also there, with the message of delight. The boatman is always bringing you nearer to the shore. Try to visualise and identify yourself with that reality.

When you meditate, most of the time you become victim to silly thoughts — undivine, unaspiring thoughts. But when there is music, automatically there is a soothing vibration, and you feel inside you a fulfilling joy. So to all of you I am saying, please give more importance to music. You have twenty-four hours a day at your disposal. If you can sing soulfully or listen to my music soulfully, then that will be your best form of meditation.

A talk to musician disciples

Many of you in the Centre are musicians. I am begging all of you to stop playing vital music. If you play soulful music, the music of the soul, it will elevate the consciousness of humanity; it will illumine and immortalise and fulfil humanity. You are most talented musicians. This kind of music all of you can produce. When you play exciting, stimulating music, the music of the lower vital, not only does it do terrible harm to humanity, but it also does unimaginable harm to your own spiritual life, to your own reality-existence. This vital music will never, never, never elevate or illumine humanity. No, it will only create more problems for humanity. When you play this kind of music, the lower forces of the vital all come and dance, and then the reality in you and in others is destroyed.

This kind of music can be heard any place, in any restaurant or club. I am begging all the disciples to give something new to the world. Don't be a carbon copy of others. Do not give the world this kind of music which everybody knows, which everybody has heard. It will never add to your real sincere aspiration. Give something new; give the world music that comes directly from your soul, music that will help humanity raise its consciousness. Not the things that have been known for many, many years, but the things that people have never seen or felt or heard: this is what our disciples must do.

I always say that the past is dust. This vital music has aggravated, you can say, instigated or stimulated the consciousness of humanity. It has played its role, especially in the Western hemisphere. But this kind of music is not the soul's music; it can never, never, never be the music of the soul. The soul's music is something totally different. And the world will appreciate, admire, adore that music. But the world has not yet been blessed with this music.

To all my music-lovers, I am making my soulful request. What I am saying is a real blessing to you, to your aspiration, to your soul. Music is of God and for God, not of the vital world and for the vital world. Real music, divine music, takes you back to God, the Supreme Musician. Divine music is of the heart and for the heart, and never for the vital. If it is for the vital world, then those who play will have to live in that world. But you want to live all the time in the soul's world. So your music has to be totally, totally, totally different. You have to give the world the reality that you live. Even if the world does not right now appreciate it, still you have to remain faithful to your reality. If you are not playing the music that you live, the music that you are, then, I tell you, you will feel sorry. It is like living a double life. Your outer life must add to your inner life. Anything you do in the outer life has to be a proper expression of your inner life. If there is a yawning gulf between your inner life and your outer life, then you can never be happy. Here you are crying to realise God, and you will realise God sooner than at once on the strength of your inner cry. If you are crying to see God's Light in your consciousness, then you have to give the world what you really are. This music that you have been playing is not yours; it is something borrowed from the music world. If you bring to the fore music from the soul, the music of the dearest Beloved Supreme, then only will your contribution to mankind be significant.

Once, for two hours, somebody spoke to Vivekananda about a special subject. It was all quotations from this man and that man. Then Vivekananda said, "I am so happy to hear this, but now tell me something of your own." You have not come here to imitate others' achievements. Others may appreciate vital music and perhaps you also appreciated it at one time in your evolution. Ten years ago, let us say, you appreciated this music. That was good. But now, after ten years, the time has come for you to appreciate something infinitely higher, something more meaningful and fruitful.

In the outer world, you say, you have to play undivine music. But you know whether you are actually compelled or whether you really like it. You are in no way compelled. Just to attract the attention of the world, you will let your spiritual life suffer. What I am saying applies to all music-lovers. Really follow the spiritual life. Try to bring the soul's music to the fore. If you don't remain at your own level, then it will be a kind of hypocrisy. All my musicians have to forgive me today. Again, some of you have to play music which cannot be totally spiritual because of your job. Some of you have to play to meet with your earthly expenses, for your livelihood. Necessity knows no law. But I don't want anybody else to play this kind of music except the professional musicians. Eventually, I wish all those who have to have a musical profession to create something new. X also has to try something new. This is my simple, sincere request to him and to our great Y. also. Y's star is now on the ascendant. Now is the time for him to raise up the musical standard with a new light, not the light of the past. Z's music I have heard many times when he was playing with his orchestra. Sometimes it is really divine. I don't have to worry about him at all.

You are really talented musicians. Dear ones, from each of you I would like to have the soul's music. Each one will create a new world of music. I want each of you to become a pioneer musician of the music world. The past is dust, absolutely dust. From now on, please give something new from your soul. If you can remain in the soul, the music of the soul is bound to come to the fore. The soul has abundant light, boundless light, infinite light. Just bring it to the fore and the Supreme will be extremely proud of you; for you will bring Him to the world in a new light, and your music will be a new, triumphant achievement and glory.

Fragments from a conversation with Devadip

On 27 December 1975, at a spiritual retreat in Puerto Rico, Sri Chinmoy discussed music with his devoted disciples, Devadip Carlos Santana and Tom Coster, a member of Devadip's band. Earlier in the day, the band had given a concert in San Juan. Following are portions of Sri Chinmoy's remarks:

Music is an indispensable thing. We don't have to know what it looks like or what it does. Its very existence keeps us alive. Music means Self-expansion and oneness. The Self expands through music. The Self that expands is not the individual self but the unlimited Self. Music is the expansion of unlimited Reality. When the Unlimited expands, that is music.

Music is God's Dream. God is dreaming at every moment through music. His Dream is called the cosmic Reality, the universal Reality. If we don't dream, reality cannot come into existence. Reality is always there inside dream. So you can say that this moment reality is the body and dream is the heart, and the next moment reality is the heart and dream is the body.

Sometimes when you play, on the strength of your heart's oneness with the audience, do you observe one thing? There are two hearts: one heart is your small heart, which is playing, and the other heart is the big heart, which is listening. Again, the big heart is playing and the small heart is listening. It is like this. The audience is the larger heart and you are the smaller heart that is expanding and becoming one with the larger heart. When you are playing, at that time do you feel this? And then, do you feel that you are the larger heart and that the audience is the smaller heart? If you do have this experience, then you will feel that you were one and now you have just become many, and that you were many and now you have just become one. This is what happens when the smaller heart and the larger heart meet together. The smaller heart is the seed and the larger heart is the tree. The seed grows into the tree and the tree gives birth to new seeds. If you can see it this way, then at every moment your musicwill give the greatest satisfaction; for this moment you are the seed, the next moment you are the fruit. You are the fruit, you are the seed; you are the dream, you are the reality. This is what the heart feels.

This is the experience I had when you were playing today. When I identified with the musician, the smaller heart, sometimes I was seeing you as the seed and sometimes as the fruit. It is absolutely true. The seed and the fruit, the smaller and the bigger — you have to take them as one. Or, when it is small, take it as one, and when it is large, take it as many. On the strength of our oneness we see the seed and the fruit as the one and many.

The musician and the audience are like lotus petals. All around they are blossoming, blossoming, blossoming. Sometimes you see the lotus petal after it is fully blossomed and it is inside another petal. You have played your role, you have blossomed; and inside the blossom is a new creation, another lotus petal that has blossomed. At that time, your whole existence is perfection. There is no end to our perfection. But when we come to realise that perfection is not only inside us but also inside our creation, at that time we feel that a whole new world of perfection is dawning.

Each time we play music, in the beginning the music is the creation and afterwards it becomes the creator. At first it is the creation, but once it is well-established it becomes the creator. Why? Because new light, new life, enters into the creation itself and energy, reality, divinity start functioning inside the creation. At that time, the creation becomes the creator. It is like children. In the beginning, they are lifeless; we don't expect anything from them. We just give and give. But when they grow up, they start giving joy and satisfaction to the parents. They add to the parents and become creators. God created; He made you. Then you get satisfaction by becoming more than the creation, by becoming a creator yourself and offering something to the world.

Then, when you play music, please feel that it is not you who is playing. Somebody else is playing and somebody else is enjoying. But that somebody else is part of you. One part of you is playing, one part is enjoying and still another part has become the music itself. So the moment you start playing, make yourself into three parts. Feel that one existence of yours is playing, another portion is observing and a third part of you is the music itself. You are the creator, you are the creation and you are the reality that exists in the creator and the creation. These things need not come as mental thoughts or images; far from it. At a glance they can come.

Sometimes, when you were playing I was clearly seeing a boat. When you were playing very fast, it was like inclement weather. The boat was not going to capsize, but it was rocking. You were playing very, very fast on the outer plane, and on the inner plane the boat was sailing very fast. It was not my mental hallucination. It was absolutely true. I had no idea what kind of music you were playing. The mind did not know, but the inner message or inner experience that I was getting was absolutely real. Again, when the music went very high, sometimes I saw a very high mountain. Once I was seeing you on top of a high mountain. At that time the music was not very loud, but I was seeing a mountain. You were all there on the mountain. Like that, at least twenty different images I saw at different times while you were playing. I may have been writing notes to Bansidhar or talking to Dhruva, but in my vision I was seeing this because of my identification with you. While the music was playing, I was watching.

The way to get such experiences is through meditation. When you meditate soulfully, early in the morning, you enter into a higher world, the world of divine reality, perfection and satisfaction. Then you bring this world down into your music. You do it this way. While you are breathing in and breathing out, try to feel that you are offering your life-breath to the instrument keys that you will use. Your life-breath is something very precious, and you are offering your life's most precious thing to your instrument.

When the Supreme created you, He gave you a portion of His Reality, His Divinity. That was the supreme sacrifice. He gave something of Himself and created you. And now, you are creating something for the world. You are giving to your instrument something of yourself — something really precious and luminous, something which is part and parcel of your own reality. You are the instrument of the Supreme. He is using you and you are using something else, your own instrument. It takes only a few seconds. You don't have to go to all the strings. Just cast a glance at one or two keys and feel your life-breath inside. Please, at that time, offer your gratitude to the Supreme. It was He who gave you life itself and a portion of your life you are giving to your instrument. The Creator created you by offering you a portion of His Reality. Now He is asking you to create something in the same way.

There is something called the cosmic sound. We call it Anahata Nada, the soundless sound. This is the word that we use, but that word is an infinite understatement. The cosmic sound is infinitely more powerful than the loudest sound that we can produce; yet it is inaudible to the ordinary ears. If we hear the soundless sound inside our heart, it is infinitely more powerful than the loudest sound we can produce. You will use the word dynamic. But I wish to say that in softness there can be the greatest dynamism. Sometimes I talk to the disciples in a fatherly way, with utmost concern and affection. I am talking in a very soft, delicate voice, but at that time I am holding my absolutely most dynamic power. I am smiling at the disciples and offering them all kinds of affection, so they think, "Guru is all affection, like a tiny feather that will be blown away by the wind." But in my softness there is divine volcanic power. Again, when I am shouting, barking, scolding, insulting, at that time there is absolutely no strength there. I am shouting, but I know that when it is a matter of solid strength, strength that can build or break, then there is nothing so powerless as my shouting.

As a musician, when you want to offer something to the audience, if you all the time use outer means, you will not be able to give satisfaction. You say that here in Puerto Rico they always eat beans and rice, and that is all that they like. But I wish to say that the world is always looking for the new, the new. God Himself is looking for the new. I have written thousands of poems with no rhyme or metre. But why should poetry all the time have metre and rhyme? People will say, "It is very easy without rhyme or metre." But I do not see eye to eye with them. With God's Grace, in my poetry I entered into another world, a world of oneness. So something new, something divine has to come out of it. Let us call it a new river flowing from the source. This new river is flowing and we have to become one with the flow. Something new is coming out which offers progress to mankind, and if we become one with it, then we can really offer something to humanity.

If one is a great runner and people have seen him win all the time, then people will expect him always to increase his speed. But there comes a time, no matter how fast one runs, when people will not be satisfied with him because the thing that he has created or offered as a runner is not enough either for him or for the audience. But if the same runner enters into the long jump or javelin, then he is all the time creating newness. If a musician all the time performs loud music, then he is acting like a runner, the best runner. The audience has got from him inspiration, joy and aspiration as a runner. But now the audience expects something new from him in the same field of sports. If he can become a good shotput thrower or discus thrower, then immediately he creates a new road for the audience to travel.

Each time you play, you create a road for the music-lover to walk along. One particular road he may like today, but tomorrow he may not like it. You will say, "What is wrong?" Nothing is wrong. But human beings always want to change. They are not satisfied with one thing; they will be satisfied only with four things or six things. So, when your music changes form every now and then, it is a great boon for mankind.

I am telling you some tricks of mine. As you know, I never play any piece without making mistakes, but sometimes when I strike a wrong note, inside the wrong note I do something. I use my concentrative power to give my voice or music a sweetness, and that power enters into the audience. I am hearing the unsatisfactory notes, but the audience is hearing the sweetness, the subtle, delicate qualities. Sometimes their minds may know that I hit the wrong note, but inside that note they get tremendous joy: something new, something sweet. I have done this many times with my disciples. I also do it when my voice is not good. In your case, when you know you are playing correctly, but you are not getting the same sweetness or height, at that time do you become sad or depressed? Or do you put your concentrative power inside the so-called lesser music to immediately produce new life? You are not trying to fool the audience; far from it! Only you want to give new life to the lesser music and maintain the same height, the same creation. Here you are creating something else, giving something new to the audience, so that they are delighted.

The best thing would be for you to write a book. People may not accept it overnight. But in ten years or twenty years they will see that what you are saying is all reality, all truth. You don't have to prove what you are saying; your proof is your music. If you stick to your own principles, you don't have to prove anything. The very fact that you are continuing to play is your proof.