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Music and meditation

Music has and also is the key to unlock the Heart-Door of the Supreme.

Sri Chinmoy

Music is the inner or universal language of God. I do not speak French or German or Italian, but if music is played from any of those countries, immediately the heart of the music enters into my heart, or my heart enters into the music. At that time no outer communication is needed; 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. Next to meditation is music, soulful music, the music that stirs and elevates our aspiring consciousness. We cannot meditate twenty-four hours a day, but we can meditate, perhaps, for two hours a day. At other times we can play music or listen to music. When we play or hear soulful music, psychic music, immediately we are transported to a higher realm of consciousness. When we play music soulfully, we go high, higher, highest.

Each time we hear soulful music, 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 leading 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 inspires the player to play properly.

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. What it is, is Eternity's passage.

We can definitely use music to help us in our spiritual life. Music and the spiritual life are like twin brothers; we cannot separate them. How can we separate two fingers, two eyes? They live side by side. If one eye is not functioning well, then we feel that our vision is imperfect. Music and the spiritual life can easily 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.

Music and meditation - questions

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

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

The power of mantra

I purify my body by chanting God's name.
I purify my vital by serving God.
I purify my mind by emptying my mind for God.
I purify my heart by meditating on God's Compassion-Love.

Sri Chinmoy

A mantra is an incantation. It can be a syllable, a word, a few words or a sentence. When you repeat a mantra many times, it is called japa. A mantra represents a particular aspect of God, and each mantra has a special significance and inner power.

If you cannot enter into your deepest meditation because your mind is restless, this is an opportunity to utilise a mantra. You can repeat "Supreme" or Aum or "God" for a few minutes. Also, if you get an attack on the emotional vital plane and wrong thoughts or wrong vibrations are entering into you, you can repeat Aum or the name of the Supreme. In this case try to do it as fast as possible. When you are trying to cleanse your mind of impurities, you must chant as if you were running to catch a moving train. During regular japa, however, just say the mantra in a normal but soulful way. But do not prolong it too much; otherwise, you will not have time to chant the five hundred or six hundred times that may be necessary.

Japa should be done in the morning or during the day, not just before going to bed. If japa is done when the body is tired and wants to enter into the world of sleep, the mind will just become agitated and lose its one-pointed concentration. You will only be working the mind mechanically, and you will derive no benefit. If japa is not done sincerely and soulfully, it is useless. So it should be done only one hundred, two hundred or at most three hundred times before going to bed. If you meditate before going to bed, you will invoke peace, light and bliss, but if you do japa five hundred to twelve hundred times before going to bed, you will invoke power and energy, and you will not be able to sleep.

Often when you complete your japa, you will hear the mantra being repeated inside your heart. Your mouth is not saying it, but your inner being has started repeating the mantra spontaneously.

Mantras for purification

If you want to achieve overall purification of your nature, then japa can be most effective if you do it in a systematic way, step by step. On the first day repeat Aum or "Supreme" or whatever mantra your Master has given you five hundred times. The next day repeat it six hundred times; the day after that, seven hundred; and so on, until you reach twelve hundred at the end of one week. Then begin descending each day until you reach five hundred again. In this way you can climb up the tree and climb down the tree.

Please continue this exercise, week by week, for a month. Whether you want to change your name or not, the world will give you a new name: purity. While you are doing japa, if you make a mistake and lose track of the number, no harm. Just continue with some likely number. The purpose of counting is to separate your consciousness from other things. When you count, you will not be thinking of someone else or something else. While you are counting, you should try to enter into the world of silence which is deep inside the mantra. Then you will not have to count at all. Your consciousness will be focused on what you are repeating and you will begin to feel that you are meditating only on the inner significance of the mantra.

In most cases it is best to chant a mantra aloud. But after doing this for a few minutes, if you can feel that there is somebody inside-your inner being-who is repeating the mantra on your behalf, then you do not have to chant out loud. In the silence of your heart your inner being will do japa on your behalf.

The essence of Aum

Aum is a single, indivisible sound; it is the vibration of the Supreme. Aum is the seed-sound of the universe, for with this sound God set into motion the first vibration of His creation. The most powerful of all mantras is Aum; Aum is the mother of all mantras. At every second God is creating Himself anew inside Aum. Without birth is Aum, without death is Aum. Nothing else but Aum existed, exists and will forever exist.

Aum is a single Sanskrit character represented in English by three letters, but pronounced as one syllable. The syllable Aum is indivisible, but each portion of it represents a different aspect of the Supreme. The 'A' represents and embodies the consciousness of God the Creator, the 'U' embodies the consciousness of God the Preserver and the 'M' embodies the consciousness of God the Transformer. Taken together, Aum is the spontaneous cosmic rhythm with which God embraces the universe.

The sound of Aum is unique. Generally we hear a sound when two things are struck together. But Aum needs no such action. It is anahata, or unstruck; it is the soundless sound. A Yogi or spiritual Master can hear Aum self-generated in the inmost recesses of his heart.

There are many ways to chant Aum. When you chant it loudly, you feel the omnipotence of the Supreme. When you chant it softly, you feel the delight of the Supreme. When you chant it silently, you feel the peace of the Supreme.

The universal Aum put forth by the Supreme is an infinite ocean. The individual Aum chanted by man is a drop in that ocean, but it cannot be separated from the ocean, and it can claim the infinite ocean as its very own. When man chants Aum, he touches and calls forth the cosmic vibration of the supreme Sound. It is best to chant Aum out loud, so its sound can vibrate even in your physical ears and permeate your entire body. This will convince your outer mind and give you a greater sense of joy and achievement. When chanting out loud, the 'M' sound should last at least three times as long as the 'AU' sound.

No matter how grave a person's mistakes, if he chants Aum many times from the inmost depths of his heart, the omnipotent Compassion of the Supreme will forgive him. In the twinkling of an eye the power of Aum transforms darkness into light, ignorance into knowledge and death into Immortality.

Aum has infinite power; just by repeating Aum one can realise God. Everything that God has and everything that God is, within and without, Aum can offer, because Aum is at once the life, the body and the breath of God.

You said we can increase our purity by repeating Aum five hundred times a day. But for me to repeat Aum five hundred times a day is very difficult. Can you advise me what to do?

If it is difficult for you to do it at one stretch, then you can do it in segments. At ten different times you can repeat it only fifty times. Say that during the day you want to drink ten glasses of water. If you try to drink all ten glasses of water at once, you will not be able to do it. So you drink one glass now and after an interval of an hour or two another glass. Then easily you can drink ten glasses of water. Instead of chanting Aum five hundred times all at once, early in the morning you can repeat it Fifty times. Then, in an hour's time, do another fifty. Each hour if you repeat Aum fifty times, it won't take you more than a minute or two each time. Since you can easily offer two minutes in an hour to God, you can do your chanting in this way.