Thank you very much for such life-enriching discussion on music here on CNP. I am a passionate listener like you though I don’t know the ABC of it, but I get so much enchanted when I listen to classical music. I soon get transported to some unknown shore of some mysterious world. To me, music is my very being….! My flowering…..! My blissfulness….! My utter joy….! I sing it……! I dance it……..! I celebrate it……! Art creates in us space- we can call it silence just as music creates silence between two sounds. The very purpose of art is to create space in us- this space is the very ground of creativity for the artist. The more space or silence the artist can create in his/ her form of art, the more the art becomes sublime and objective taking us into the realm of sheer joy. This silence we can call the very fragrance of music or art. I found this thread of discussion the most poignant and fruitful for me.
I share herein wonderful insights on music by Osho and hope this thread become more enriched further and more objective making our journey more insightful.
Silence: The Fragrance of Music
Music is the only language that comes very close to silence, the only sound which is able to create the soundless. It has to be understood that music has no meaning. It is sheer joy, celebration. It is the only art that can somehow impart the inexpressible.
The ancientmost tradition of music is that it was born out of meditation. The people who meditated could not find any way to impart their experiences. They invented different instruments so that something can be said without creating a meaning in you but certainly a joy, a dance.
It must have been a tremendously valuable revelation for those who in the beginning discovered a language which is not a language. Sounds in themselves have no meaning. Meaning is man’s imposition on sounds. Sounds are natural. The wind blowing through the pine trees has a sound and a music of its own. Or a river, descending from the mountain through the rocks, has its own sound and its own music.
It is my assumption that meditators, listening to the inner silence, must have felt the tremendous difficulty of how to share it. It was in those beginning days that music was discovered. The discovery is simple: take away the meaning from the sounds and instead of meaning, give the sounds harmony, a rhythm which penetrates to the very heart. It says nothing, but it says the unsayable too.
The ordinary idea of music is that it consists of sounds, but that is only half the truth - and of lesser importance. As the music becomes deeper and deeper, it consists of silences between two sounds.
An ancient proverb in China is, “When the musician becomes perfect he throws away his instruments” because instruments can only create sound. The silence is created by the musician. But at the perfection, the same sounds that were creating small pieces of silence start becoming a disturbance. A strange idea, but perfectly meaningful, significant. It applies to every art. When the archer becomes perfect he throws away his bow and his arrows; just his eyes are enough to look at a flying bird and the bird will fall down. The bow and arrows were only a preparation.
The same applies to music, to painting, to all the arts which man has discovered. At the ultimate peak, you don’t need the steps, the ladder which has helped you to reach the peak. It becomes irrelevant.
The classical music was devoted to silence and to meditation. A beautiful story is told about a nabob of Lucknow. Lucknow remained for centuries the most cultured, sophisticated city in this country. Arts were respected, wisdom was highly prized.
The nabob, the king of Lucknow, was certainly a man of tremendous courage, insight. But these are the people who become misunderstood by the common man. Before I tell you the story about the musician, it will be good to know about the king who invited him to Lucknow, to his court. He was the last king of Lucknow, and when the British armies invaded Lucknow he was listening to music. He was informed that the British armies were coming closer and closer. He said, “Just welcome them. They are our guests.” Perhaps nowhere else in history has there been a king who accepted his enemies as guests. And he told his people, “Make every arrangement for their comfort, and tomorrow I will receive them in the court. If they want to remain here, they can remain. If they want the power, they can have it. There is no need for unnecessary violence. Things can be settled in a more cultured way. But as far as this moment is concerned, I will not disturb the musicians just because a few stupid people are attacking the city.”
This nabob was very much concerned that all the great musicians had played in his court except one. He inquired: “What are the reasons?”
His people said, “His conditions are absolutely insane. He says that while he is playing his music, nobody should move. If anybody starts moving or swaying with the music, his head has to be immediately removed from his body. He will come only if this condition is fulfilled.”
The nabob said, “You should have told me before! Invite him and tell him the condition is accepted. And declare to the whole beautiful city of Lucknow that those who want to hear the musician should know the condition; otherwise they should not come.”
But almost ten thousand people came to listen to the musician. And the nabob was not a man to go against his word: one thousand soldiers with naked swords were surrounding the listeners. The order was that they should note down whoever moved, because to remove his head in the middle would be a disturbance.
Only twelve heads moved. They were noted. In the middle of the night, the musician asked, “Has my condition been fulfilled?”
The king said, “Yes, these are the twelve people who moved and swayed and forgot the condition. Now it is up to you: what do you want? Should we behead them?”
To everyone’s surprise, the musician said, “These are the only people worthy to listen to me. Now let the whole crowd go. They were not listening to me, they were simply protecting themselves. Just an accidental movement could cause death, just a change of position could be dangerous. They were too concerned with their lives. Music is not for them; let them go. Now the real music I can play for you in the remaining night, and for these twelve people.” It took a strange turn! The nabob said, “But this is a strange way to find the right people.”
The musician said, “That is the only way to find the right people. These are the people for whom music means something more than life itself.”
And in fact they had simply forgotten all about the conditions. Music touched their hearts and they start swaying, a kind of dance entered into their beings. He played his music for those twelve people the remaining night. And he told the nabob that he did not need any reward. This was enough reward, to find the right people who could listen to music. “I would pray to you: reward these people, because these are the people to whom music is meditation.”
There are two possibilities, looking at this story: either meditators found music, or musicians found meditation. But they are so immensely and deeply connected with each other. My own experience is that because meditation is a far higher, far deeper experience, music must have been found by the meditators - as a language to bring something from their inner dance, inner silence, to the people they loved.
The ancient music in the East needs not only the training for the musician, it needs immense training for the listener. Everybody cannot understand the ancient classical music. You have to be capable of falling in tune with the harmony. In a certain way you have to disappear and let only the music remain.
It has been the experience of all great musicians, dancers, painters, sculptors, that while they are deepest in their creativity, they are no more. Their very creativity gives them the taste of disappearing into the universal. That becomes their first acquaintance with meditation. So both are possibilities: either music has led people to the point of meditation, or meditation has tried to find a means to express the inexpressible. But in any case, music is the highest creation that man is capable of.
Music is your creativity.
But we have lost contact with the authentic music. And slowly slowly, as humanity has become less and less interested in the inner world, its music has become lower and lower. The contemporary music is absolutely the lowest that has ever existed. It touches you, but it touches you at your lowest center of sexuality. The contemporary music is sexual, and the classical music was spiritual. I would like my people to create music on the path of meditation - or create music if you have found meditation, as a language to express the silence of it.
But one thing it indicates clearly – that the whole existence is full, throbbing with only one music, one dance, one godliness.
So if you can feel in my words the sound of silence, my purpose is fulfilled. Because my words are not being used in the same way they have been used by everybody. I am using words just as instruments of music. I am not a musician, but I can create the same situation with words and the silences in between. Those who cling to my words, miss me. Because they start interpreting. They start finding contradictions, they start an agreement or disagreement, but certainly a process of judgment starts in their being. That was not my purpose. My purpose was to start a silence, a music, a fragrance in you.
You have to change the gestalt. From words – which is the ordinary way humanity has used words forever, and nobody has insisted on changing the gestalt – listen to the silences. Read between the lines and you will find a tremendous explosion of silence, music, celebration. And flowers go on growing in your being.
Yes, whatever I am doing is closer to music than anything. It is not philosophy, it is not religion, it is not theology. What I am saying is not in my statements but just in those small spaces which remain utterly silent, empty.
But they are neither empty nor silent.
Once you have stumbled on those small pieces of silence and emptiness, you will be surprised that the silence is not silence; it is full of music, it is alive, it is a dance. And the emptiness is not emptiness; it is the only fullness that exists in the universe.
So there are two ways of listening: one is jumping from one word to another word and another is jumping from one silence to another silence. Those who are following the second way will be immensely rewarded by existence with great blissfulness, with tremendous ecstasy and with an immortality, an eternity. The treasures are incalculable. But if you are listening only to the words, you will end up at the most in a certain system of thought. This makes me sad, because I am not here to create systems of thought. Millions of people have done that and distracted people from their inwardness.
All thought systems exist in the mind, and all silences exist beyond the mind. My simple message to you is to transcend the mind, transcend the word.
Silence is the greatest spiritual experience.
And the universe consists only of silence. Silence can become expressive as sound if there is someone to listen to it, and the sound can become meaningful if someone is there to give meaning to it. But silence is absolutely and utterly pure, untouched by human hands.
Its purity is its godliness.
Its purity is what every meditator comes to know. Every meditator stands in the beginning of existence. It is not a question of time. Each moment can be transformed into the beginning of existence, if you can fall into silence. And silence does not divide people because it is not an ideology, it is an experience.
I want you not to belong to any belief, not to belong to any idea, but simply to relax into the universal silence. And you will taste the sweetness of music and you will come to know that existence is not a misery but a mystery – a mystery that can be lived, loved, but can never be made part of your knowledge. You can become part of it, but it cannot become part of you.
“Is this your secret?”
Yes, this is my secret.
From the Book: Om Mani Padme Hum: The Sound of Silence, the Diamond in the Lotus