“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.”
– Sri Chinmoy
Sri Chinmoy’s “Flute Music Meditation” was recorded in a small private studio in Zurich and originally released by his Swiss disciples with the name “Flute Music For Meditation.” When he saw the label, Sri Chinmoy suggested instead “Flute Music Meditation”. This simple amendment is supremely significant: the music is not simply for meditation; the music is meditation.
Music is imbued with consciousness. In spiritual music, the consciousness of both performer and listener are of utmost importance. Music composed and performed from a state of deep meditation will be saturated with a meditative consciousness the way fragrance pervades a rose garden in full bloom. The more open and aspiring the listener, the more of that consciousness can be received and assimilated.
Meditation is the truth and light of pure being: clear, simple, unadorned.
Harmony is doing; melody is being. Harmony is substance; melody is essence. Harmony is life; melody is soul. Hence simple, unadorned melody is the purest, most effective music as meditation.
Sri Chinmoy’s “Flute Music Meditation” comprises simple melodies played in a powerful, blissful meditative consciousness – an open, inviting portal into sure and pure meditation.
Listen to Sri Chinmoy’s “Flute Music Meditation”:
Exercise: to meditate to Sri Chinmoy’s “Flute Music Meditation”, close your eyes, slow your breathing and allow the music to engulf you from within. Let the tones wash away all thoughts, emotions, distractions and phenomena of the outside world. Surrender all will to the whim of the melody. Be the universal flute, resonating with the truth of peace, love, light and freedom. Become the music-source: beginningless, endless, playful, blissful.
“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits…”
– Martin Luther
“If music be the food of love, play on!”
– William Shakespeare
Orpheus, the Sirens, the Magic Flute, the Pied Piper: myth and folklore abound with tales of music mesmerising and leading us to other realms – some good, some not so. Music seemingly has the power of a drug or talisman: it charms our mind into quietude, rouses our will to action, calls forth our emotions, touches our heart and might even reveal our soul.
Yet just as pure water can save our lives while polluted water can kill us, not all music is suitable or conducive to meditation. Some music can take us directly to Heaven, while other music might dump us in hell.
Each realm of consciousness has its own music. Some types of music tend to draw our energy and consciousness downward, towards directionless excitement, aggression or even hatred, some music is bound to confuse and bewilder our minds, while other music may incline us towards regret or melancholy. These kinds of music will only disturb our meditation and poise and should be avoided as one would shun polluted water.
We can recognise the realm music comes from by its effect on us. Thus does music reveal its source: music of and from the mind engages us in our own minds; music of the vital excites our vitals; music of the heart ushers us into our heart and music of the soul thrillingly reveals our soul.
Where do you want to be? Be wise! Seek and befriend that music which will carry you to where you want to find yourself, and nowhere else.
“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life. Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.”
– Ludwig van Beethoven
Music is a true divine miracle, an angel, emissary and ambassador of the Beyond.
Music can be immediate and profound meditation. Music announces the inner worlds, opens a portal to the spiritual realm and paves a direct pathway to our Source.
To love music is to be awoken to our innate spirituality.
Music can be thought about, analysed and critiqued, but never understood with our minds. Music can only be felt and claimed by our hearts: therefore spiritual music can be of tremendous help to extricate us from our minds’ web of thoughts, distractions and attachments.
Spiritual music does not dally with doubt or deal with the unreal. It bypasses the tollgates of our minds’ scepticism and analysis, flying directly into our open hearts’ ever-widening freedom-sky.
Meditation is the process of entering, exploring and bringing to the fore our spiritual heart. The customary way to enter meditation is by consciously taming and quieting the mind – not an easy task at the best of times. Fortunately there are other ways to access our spiritual heart that do not demand this rare degree of self-mastery.
If you are having a difficult time finding your spiritual heart in meditation, listen awhile to your favourite spiritual music. Spiritual music, like a reliable sniffer dog, will immediately locate your heart.
Meditation is self-discovery. By revealing and bathing us in our own higher and deeper nature, spiritual music offers a thrilling meditation-mirror in which we see, feel and realise our better selves as pure music.
If we are meditating, we acknowledge the existence of a higher force or consciousness within us. If a higher being or potential were not within us, meditation would be a pointless pursuit. We meditate to discover this deeper self, to access and utilise this greater power, to become this fuller reality.
It doesn’t matter how we imagine, characterise or name this higher, deeper and wiser self: whether as soul, spirit, nature, angel, Guru or God. Each of us will have our own familiar and intimate way to connect and relate with our higher being. In prayer and meditation, we sometimes imagine or address our higher self as a third party with divine attributes: as Thou and Thine.
This higher being is the source of all that we yearn for: peace, love, wisdom, light and joy. By invoking this being within us, we invoke all these divine qualities as our own.
Meditation is an offering and surrendering of our lower to our higher consciousness. Both lower and higher are our self: the lower is our limited, finite and familiar self, in which we have been living, thinking and suffering; the higher self we glimpse in dreams and moments of inspiration, the self of expansion, clarity, universal love, freedom and happiness.
Our lower consciousness is limited and finite, ruled by definition, desire and possession, by me and mine.
Our higher consciousness is unlimited and infinite, characterised by aspiration and liberation.
To enter from our lower, restrictive and claustrophobic self into our higher, illumined self requires giving up our finite attachments and the very notion of “mine” to embrace and become the freedom and exhilaration of “Thine.” In offering the lower to the higher, the lower is effaced in the higher.
Sound cannot exist in a vacuum. It might be formulated, but cannot be heard. Atmosphere is needed to carry the vibrations or waves and in effect, give life to sound.
Imagine the full expressive range of a cello: rich, resonant, yearning, commanding, desolate, playful, soaring, sumptuous and satisfying. Now remove the body of the cello so only the strings, fingerboard and tailpiece remain, and imagine the same music being played – there is just a thin sound with no depth, warmth or soul.
Spiritual wisdom, whether written or spoken, is like sound: it requires atmosphere to come to life, to be heard, understood and take effect. It is like music on a cello string: weak and useless without the resonant body of the cello.
Our meditation practice provides the atmosphere which brings to life the words and waves of spiritual wisdom.
Our spiritual heart is the body of the cello, taking the mere sound of spiritual words and elevating them into life-transforming music. The words of spiritual wisdom by themselves are like the thin sound of a lone string: only in a resonant spiritual heart do they blossom, flourish and fly to reveal the clarity, depth, height, glory and significance of their truth, beauty and perfection.
Meditation awakens, deepens and enriches our spiritual heart’s receptivity to spiritual wisdom. Spiritual writings inspire us to meditate; meditation echoes and expands their truth.
Spiritual wisdom needs the spiritual heart as the string needs the body of the cello; the spiritual heart needs meditation as sound needs an atmosphere.
The fuller, busier, more stressed our minds grow, the more they become vacuums, incapable of receiving or relaying spiritual wisdom.
The deepest spiritual wisdom can be found only beyond words, in the silence of meditation, and that wisdom in a word:
Another way to nurture and maintain eagerness is to imagine this is our final day on earth. Whatever we were meant to experience, achieve and offer and have not yet done so, must be experienced, achieved and offered today, here and now.
There is no point in holding back, in keeping anything in reserve: we throw ourselves utterly with all our aspiration into our meditation, into the dedication of our every action. Every thought and feeling matters, so we won’t entertain anything negative: no doubt, fear, jealousy, insecurity or hesitation. Everything we say and do matters, so we will say and do everything from our hearts with sincerity, love, compassion, sympathy and integrity.
This approach is not based on fear of death, but the certainty of death. The moment of death is approaching: we can hide our heads in the sand or prepare for this moment at every moment with calm clarity; for the moment of death is our ultimate achievement, the true fruit of our life’s work, the distillation of all its successes and progress.
It is said that our consciousness at the moment we draw our final breath will determine what happens next – to which realm we proceed and the conditions of our onward journey. It is like a visa that will grant us access to this or that inner plane or spiritual realm. The purer, vaster and higher our consciousness at that moment, the purer, vaster and higher will be the realms that immediately welcome and embrace us.
Every moment might be our last, so let us constantly deepen, elevate and expand our consciousness through the purity and intensity of our meditation and the wholehearted commitment of our dedication.
For this very purpose is our mortality: to beckon our eager progress.
Eagerness is a universal currency of the inner realms: an executive force of love, commander of immediate action, impelling current of progress, dancing partner of newness and identical twin of delight.
Eagerness is always fresh and enlivening. Eagerness keeps us always positive, open and receptive. Eagerness is always creating, elevating, expanding and enlightening.
Eagerness amplifies and intensifies our aspiration; enriches, sweetens and heightens our meditation; vivifies, clarifies and glorifies our dedication. Bypassing time, overleaping process and eschewing formality, eagerness is for success and progress here and now. There is nothing that eagerness, in alliance with its spouse patience, cannot do for us. Whatever our goal, eagerness brings us face to face and into rapt embrace with our goal.
Therefore in all matters material and spiritual, let our first goal be eagerness.
A simple secret to nurture eagerness is to imagine that every day is the very first day of our spiritual life; that this morning we are awaking for the first time and meditating for the first time – every time. We have never known disappointment, sorrow or defeat; ahead of us extends only an ever-brightening dawn of hope, promise and progress. We do not invoke any memories of the past, even of yesterday, imagining only that now, this very moment, is the absolute beginning of our spiritual journey. We approach all our duties, spiritual and mundane, with the same wide-eyed newness and freshness.
We do not know anything or own anything: we do not expect, suspect, analyse, criticise or judge. We approach every moment as a newly-blossomed flower to the sky – with gratitude, delight and as a fresh page of unbounded possibility.
Whatever you are doing, hoping, dreaming or becoming, take each moment as your first, to be embraced with wonder, reverence – and eagerness.
We are told that gratitude is a miracle, essential for fastest spiritual progress. Surely we shall be most grateful for what we have and what we are when we have achieved perfection, so the fullest expression of gratitude will blossom once we are perfect.
We are also told that aspiration is a spiritual miracle, indispensable for fastest spiritual progress. Aspiration is an intensified longing for as-yet unachieved perfection.
So it would seem that one would be most grateful when one is already perfect and most aspiring when one is yet to reach perfection; for in imperfection there is not enough to be grateful for, and in perfection there is nothing left to aspire for. Gratitude implies a certain satisfaction with our condition, aspiration a definite dissatisfaction. Seen in this way, gratitude and aspiration are incompatible rivals, each requiring the exclusivity of our attention and spiritual focus: where there is one, there cannot properly and fully be the other.
This conclusion may hold sway in the reasoning mind, that gloomy dining room where opposites are served for breakfast, contradictions for lunch and differing divisions for dinner.
The moment we enter into meditation and dive into the infinitude of our hearts, such rivalry and contradiction disappears, for gratitude and aspiration are twin children of the infinite.
While it is good to be grateful for what we already have and are, the highest satisfaction – deserving of infinitely more gratitude – lies yet ahead. What will guide us to this satisfaction? – Aspiration! – so it is aspiration for which we should be most grateful. What will open our hearts faster and most powerfully to grow into this satisfaction? – Gratitude! – so for ever-deeper, ever-sweeter and ever-more sincere gratitude we must constantly aspire.
Thus the more aspiration with gratitude dances, the more each other enhances.
“The discontented man finds no easy chair.”
– Benjamin Franklin
For some reason, this quote is much better known in German: “Der unzufriedene Mensch findet keinen bequemen Stuhl.”
The source and only source of all peace, love, joy, wisdom, light, satisfaction and fulfilment is our soul. Our soul is more than ready and eager to offer all these qualities to us in infinite measure – as long as we show that we need them and value them. All happiness can be ours – for the asking.
Meditation is the asking. Meditation opens the doors within, establishes the lines of trade and communication between the inner worlds and the outer world, between our inner and outer lives, so that we can access, enjoy, express, reveal and spread the inner wealth of our soul.
When we shine a flashlight in a dark room, we see everything. Without the flashlight, we see only darkness. It is not the room’s fault that we cannot see it: it is ours for turning off the light. No end of complaining about the darkness will enable us to see the room: the culprit is the one holding the flashlight – ourselves.
It is the nature of all spiritual qualities to expand, spread and radiate. When we meditate and find peace, love, joy and satisfaction within, all of these qualities naturally expand, spread and radiate all around us, like fragrance from a flower. If we do not see and feel these qualities around us – if we find “no easy chair” – it is simply because they are not radiating from within us, because we have not sought them – we have not meditated – sincerely and eagerly enough. Discontentment is the absence of contentment, the natural consequence of not meditating.
Meditate for contentment: then find everywhere your “bequemen stuhl”, your easy chair.
Persistent thoughts, desires and emotions are huge impediments to our progress in meditation, and we would like to be rid of them – but how?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we would have our attachments release us so we can finally enjoy peace and freedom, we must first release our attachments so they too can fly free.
In practice, this means separating our identity from our thoughts, desires, prejudices, notions and beliefs, for we are not them – we are something and someone much vaster, deeper, beyond description. All thoughts, beliefs and ideals – no matter how sophisticated, comprehensive, persuasive and noble – only limit us and block us from seeing, feeling and becoming what lies beyond them. They are idols, toys, models of reality in which we wrap ourselves against the unknown. However that which protects us from the unknown, also insulates and isolates us from the Real, the very goal of our search.
Why are attachments so difficult to dislodge? We blame errant thoughts and desires as unwanted, unruly tenants who refuse to leave after their lease has expired, continuing wrecking things and disturbing everyone around. We are helpless victims of their tyranny.
Yet when we look carefully within we see that the cords binding us to our thoughts, desires and emotions are of our own making. It is we who have entrapped them, we who have attached ourselves and cling to them, not the other way around. We cherish them because they enable us to label ourselves: our attachments define us.
As long as we derive our identity and sense of self from the enslavement of false notions and beliefs, we are only enslaving ourselves. To gain freedom, we must first grant freedom to all our attachments – unconditionally, permanently and irrevocably.
Right in front of you is the most beautiful child, more beautiful, more perfect than you have ever seen in this world or could ever have imagined.
This child is an emissary from a far-away realm and will be here on earth for just 15 minutes, in transit to another even further-away realm.
During this brief stay on earth, you are chosen to be the child’s host. Neither of you knows the other’s language, so you communicate only through your eyes, smiles, gestures and silent signs.
With a single glance the child captures and captivates your heart and your entire being. With glowing eyes and a smile of pure charm, the child radiates supernal beauty, innocence, sweetness and delicacy. Just to see the child floods you with an exquisite, ineffable delight; you are lighter, brighter than ever, the world around you fluid with luminescent beauty. In the child’s presence you are your own best self.
You sense a refinement, sensitivity and sensibility far beyond your reach. It is clear to you that the notion of ugliness and the restrictions of negativity are unknown to this child. In all your being you are enveloped with an imperative to protect, to cherish and to treasure.
Exercise: Take your imaginary child outside. You have 15 minutes to convey all of the world’s good to someone who comprehends only love, happiness, brilliance, beauty, subtlety and perfection. Set a timer. In silence, look around and show your child everything that is beautiful, everything that is lovely, uplifting, inspiring, harmonious and divine in this precious world of ours. With a grateful heart you find beauty everywhere!
After 15 minutes, the child vanishes leaving the impression of an ethereal smile in your heart and all around a transfigured world of glistening beauty: your new home.
Our minds are preoccupied with dividing, ordering, controlling and possessing our environment, including our own lives. The concept of time is a mental phenomenon: we focus much on the past and the future, to the detriment of our enjoyment of the present.
Through meditation we learn detachment from our minds’ preoccupations, including our obsession with past and future: as we enter deeper into our hearts, we become more centred in the moment, in the Eternal Now.
The Eternal Now is also the Eternally New.
They say there is nothing new under the sun: everything has always existed and will always exist, though in ever-changing forms. Newness is relative to our lived experience: for a child, riding a bicycle for the first time is a “new” experience, though people have been riding bicycles for hundreds of years. When we discover something that has not previously been known by mankind, we say it is “new” – a new country, a new species of butterfly, a new deposit of gold, a new law of mathematics – though all of these things have always been there, awaiting our “discovery”.
Newness lies in uncovering Truth, whether on the physical, mental or spiritual plane. Meditation affords us the most direct access to planes of spiritual Truth beyond our minds’ perception, and hence access – from the point of view of our experience – to the ever-new.
Living only in our minds is like living in the same room with the same furniture. We may rearrange the furniture, but the room remains the same. We become stagnant, bored and boring.
Our spiritual heart is the source of ever-expanding experience, ever-deepening Truth – and constant newness. Only in constant newness can we remain always inspired, enthusiastic, energetic, happy and fulfilled.
“There is only
One perfect road
That road is ahead of you,
Always ahead of you.”
– Sri Chinmoy
In the outer world, at a certain point knowledge of a subject might be considered complete. Not so in the infinite spiritual realms, for here where all is ever growing and transcending, nothing can ever be complete.
In our spiritual journey, whatever we have experienced, learned and become is always nothing in comparison to what we have yet to experience, learn and become.
Not matter how far we have travelled, we are always at the starting point of the only journey that matters: that which lies and unfolds ahead of us. The past is valuable, for it has brought us to this starting point. Yet we cannot allow ourselves to be bound, limited or defined by the past, no matter how deplorable or how glorious that past is painted: it is now, the decisions we take and direction we face at this moment from wherever we are, which will determine and cast the arc of our future.
Imagine always you are a beginner, an eternal beginner. A beginner is open, humble and receptive. The moment we feel we know everything or we have done it or seen it all before, our hearts along with our minds contract and close. When our heart-door closes, our consciousness dims, our meditation tires and slowly expires of asphyxiation.
Pride and arrogance are the folly and stench of a closed mind and deadened heart. Rather than expanding, they diminish us and sabotage our potential. Whoever we think we are, can never be who we truly are, for thinking itself cannot grasp our inner being.
Our true being, true happiness and fulfilment lie always ahead, along the road reserved exclusively for the eternal beginner.