Music is meditation
If it is sung soulfully by good singers
Or even if it is sung badly by singers
With soulful hearts. 1
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.
When I sing, I try to communicate with God and offer Him what I have and what I am. In each song I sing, I try to offer myself through the song with utmost concern. The meaning of the words I try to convey through my voice. There are many singers who have extraordinary voices and singing ability. I am no match for them. But I have heard many singers of that type who do not feel the living breath of the words when they sing. Their beautiful, melodious voices carry the tune, but the depth and real significance of the words, we do not get from their voices.
Some people do not have a beautiful singing voice at all, but God deeply appreciates their voice because they sing soulfully. Someone may be a very great singer but sing without any aspiration or devotion. God cares most for the ones who sing soulfully.
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.
When we sing, we have to become one with the inner singer. Outwardly we may be very expert in music, but if we do not have the capacity to become one with the inner singer, then our singing will not be soulful.
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 remain down on earth. Then there will be a yawning gulf between God's Feet and the singer's head.
When a seeker-singer sings soulfully, he immediately feels that he is immortal, or at least that he is going to stay on earth for many, many years. Again, when the same seeker-singer starts thinking teeming thoughts, the world of multifarious activities and problems enters into his mind and weakens it. At that time he sees that his death is fast approaching. So when he sings soulfully, he feels that he has become one with Immortality.
When you sing, 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 and bring the image right in front of your mind.
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 for this 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 the words; they will only see the soul inside the song. 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 do not see anything but the soul. 2
Question: Is it possible to feel our soul through meditation consisting of prolonged singing and chanting?
It is quite possible to see, feel and grow into the soul's light and reality through singing and chanting. It all depends on how you do it. While singing and chanting, if you look around to see whether others are appreciating your extraordinary voice, you will never be able to feel your soul. If you are watching to see how your voice is giving everybody tremendous joy in the form of a thrill, you have to know that this thrill is in the vital world of the audience. But if you are singing soulfully and devotedly, and if you feel at every moment that you are offering a flower of gratitude to the Supreme inside yourself, then you are bound to feel your soul. You have to feel that you have within yourself an endless supply of gratitude-flowers, and that at each second you are offering gratitude. If you can feel this, then you are bound to see the soul, feel the soul and grow into the soul's light and reality while singing and chanting. 3
Question: How can we keep the mind pure when we are not concentrating or meditating?
The best thing you can do is learn a few spiritual songs and sing them to yourself in silence while you are working or driving your car or doing anything that does not require mental concentration. While you are chanting in silence, your mind is being purified, because your soul is coming forward.
When you chant or sing, try to feel that the Supreme is listening. Otherwise, the chant will become a mere mechanical habit. Feel that there is a listener – not a human listener, but the Supreme Himself – listening inside your heart. When you feel that you have a divine listener, you will get more inspiration; you will be surcharged with boundless inspiration and endless inner joy. When you feel the presence of the Supreme inside your heart, you will be blessed with utmost joy and pride. He will do everything to transform, purify, illumine and liberate your mind. 4
Question: I cannot sing. I sing in a monotone, and I cannot learn an instrument. Can I still create music?
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 suggest that my students identify themselves with my songs, with my music and 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 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. 5
Question: When I sing, it sounds so horrible that it takes away my inspiration.
Singing is a form of meditation. If you cannot carry a tune, no harm. Then you will not sing in public. But certainly you can sing when you are alone.
The Supreme is not going to give you a bad 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. To me you have not given a voice, but still I am singing.” When you do not 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. When I am singing and my voice is not good, or when I am playing a piece and I strike a wrong note, inside the wrong note 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. 6
Question: Your songs are such an eternal flow. How can you tell when one begins and another ends?
In the inner world, my songs have neither beginning nor ending. Continuously I hear them. I have no idea where they come from, and I have no idea where they will end or whether they will end at all. But the songs that I compose with words do have a beginning and an ending. Anything that is done on the physical plane will have a beginning and an ending, whereas anything that is achieved or revealed on the inner plane has neither a beginning nor a culmination.
Anything that is on earth, anything that has been seen by the gross physical eyes, will always have a beginning and an ending. In any field of life there will be a beginning and a culmination if the thing touches the earth plane. Earth means limitation. But if it remains above the earth level, then it is beginningless and endless.