Music is an important part of culture. In our modern age music has become an instrument of amusement or at the best relaxation. But in the ancient tradition music is a path of inner growth and a means for attaining harmony between our body, mind and soul. In most of the spiritual traditions, music is a path to the Sacred and the Divine. In this article two modern spiritual masters, who have given much importance to music in their teachings, speak about the role of music in our inner growth and how to listen to good music.
The Healing Power of Music
When you tell a person to concentrate on a certain object, the very fact of trying to concentrate makes his mind more disturbed. But music, which attracts the soul, keeps the mind concentrated. If one only knows how to appreciate it and give one’s mind to it, keeping all other things away, one naturally develops the power of concentration.
Besides, the beauty of music, there is the tenderness, which brings life to the heart. For a person of fine feelings, of kindly thought, life in the world is very trying. It is jarring, and it sometimes has a freezing effect. It makes the heart, so to speak, frozen. In that condition one experiences depression, and the whole of life becomes distasteful. The very life, which is meant to be heaven, becomes a place of suffering.
If one can focus one’s heart on music, it is just like warming something that was frozen. The heart returns to its natural condition, and the rhythm regulates the beating of the heart, which helps to restore health of body, mind, and soul, and bring them to their proper tuning. The joy of life depends upon the perfect tuning of mind and body.
- Hazrat Inayat Khan
Sufi Mystic and Musician
How to Listen to Music
Mother, when one hears music, how should one truly hear it?
For this – if one can be completely silent, you see, silent and attentive, simply as though one were an instrument which has to record it – one does not move, and is only something that is listening – if one can be absolutely silent, absolutely still and like that, then the thing enters. And it is only later, some time later that you can become aware of the effect, either of what it meant or the impression it had on you.
But the best way of listening is this. It is to be like a still mirror and very concentrated, very silent. In fact, we see people who truly love music… I have seen musicians listening to music, musicians, composers or players who truly love music, I have seen them listening to music… they sit completely still, you know, they are like that, they do not move at all. Everything, everything is like that. And if one can stop thinking, then it is very good, then one profits fully…. It is one of the methods of inner opening and one of the most powerful.
What should one try to do when one meditates with your music at the Playground?
This music aims at awakening certain profound feelings. To hear it one should make oneself as silent and passive as possible. And if, in the mental silence, a part of the being can take the attitude of the witness who observes without reacting or participating, then one can take account of the effect which the music produces on the feelings and emotions; and if it produces a state of deep calm and of semi-trance, then that is quite good.
Sweet Mother, how can one enter into the feelings of a piece of music played by someone else?
In the same way as one can share the emotions of another person by sympathy, spontaneously, by an affinity more or less deep, or else by an effort of concentration which ends in identification. It is this last process that one adopts when one listens to music with an intense and concentrated attention, to the point of checking all other noise in the head and obtaining a complete silence, into which fall, drop by drop, the notes of the music whose sound alone remains; and with the sound all the feelings, all the movements of emotion can be perceived, experienced, felt as if they were produced in ourselves.
The Mother,Sri Aurobindo Ashram