"I would only believe in a God that knows how to dance."
I wish to express an experience/s I had with music, which played a role in bringing me to spirituality. I was awed by music, and began thinking about it philosophically...
Where did it come from? How is it that certain orchestrations of sound waves produce pleasurable sensations, aural aesthetics? What is the sensation of sound? Who’s hearing it, obviously I am, but what am I? Aware, was all I knew.
Many nights I spent dancing in front of giant speakers, small headphones, or with a home stereo system.
One time on a car stereo streaming linear waves of sharp snares, drum loops and synthetic bass, I was as usual totally absorbed in it, meditating on its possible source. I wanted to be
the speakers and express myself so eloquently. I wanted to BE the music! I wanted to SEE what the music was singing about! Somehow, aural patterns are able to CAPTURE something, a tiny fraction of something MUCH greater than itself. Something I felt through it. I would ask “Who are you?!” Sometimes I would cry. But hearing the music wasn’t enough... like licking the outside of a jar of honey. Dancing to music became a sort of worship, an attempt to connect
with the source that gave linear sound-wave patterns their TASTE.
These thoughts were going through my mind when the driver of the car slightly leaned towards me and spoke these words, “It doesn’t do it justice.”
I almost couldn’t believe he’d said that. On one level he was likely referring to the quality of the cars sound system. But something within me heard differently, as if his higher self spoke through him at that moment to express how much deeper and beautiful than the music was the source it attempted to capture. (Such perception imbued me with humility. Regardless of an individual’s present state, their Higher Self is thoroughly connected to the Divine and can be spoken through at any time, in any way the Lord wishes, to give a wink, a nudge or a message.)
Everyone can appreciate music, and its timeless 'source
' exists for everyone. Spirituality is not something to attain
but to REMEMBER
. I believe all of us are on a path to that rememberance, but with varying degrees of directness.
The following by Suhotra Swami sparked my remembrance of this. He gives voice to thoughts I have difficulty articulating, and takes it yet higher...
The Supreme Person
It is possible, with a clarity that is breathtaking, for a human being to take a peek beyond the matrix of time-bound experience. I do not refer to an otherworldly vision that stuns life to a standstill. I mean an insight into something as simple as a sentence spoken by a friend. Such insight is readily at hand for those willing to perform the small miracle of perceiving how we perceive things. Philosophers call this apperception
The mind’s logical mechanism (anumāna
) puts events into an order of before
. We cannot logically assign now
to an event that occurred a moment before, or to one that will occur a moment from now. To know beyond time events passing in time is beyond logic. Yet the meaning we perceive in events is beyond the time of their duration
. This fact is so obvious that we usually miss it.
When we “catch” in consciousness a melody or a spoken sentence, we do not separate the notes or words we hear at this moment from those we heard a moment before and those we shall hear a moment later. Vīṇāyai tu grahanena vīṇāvādasya vā śabdo gṛhitaḥ
, it is said in the Upaniṣads: “the notes played on a vīṇā
(an Indian musical instrument, similar to a sitar) are caught all together.” The melody—a vibrant, graceful form that emerges from somewhere within us—reveals itself as beauty that is at once beyond
the momentary notes he plays. Another Upaniṣadic verse speaks of “that which is not revealed by speech, but that which reveals speech” (yad vācān abhyuditaṁ yena vāg abhudyate
). When a person speaks a sentence to us, he has “a point” he wants us to understand. But catching his point is not an effort of catching the meaning of each word as he fires it from his mouth—like having to catch a rapid volley of tennis balls, each with one word inscribed on it—and mentally tying these meanings together. We catch the point of his sentence all at once, not in the logic of time (horology). His point is lit up by knowledge that emerges from within. But why knowledge emerges to make sense if his muddled speech (often even before he finishes speaking) cannot be known from what he is saying. This knowledge at once includes all his words and yet is separate from them.
There are modern philosophers who consider the knowing of the beauty and meaning of experience
—exemplified here by our “catching” a melody or an idea from events streaming by—to be “the real world in which consciousness itself is proper being”, or “the absolute separate from everything”. They say we unfortunately throw “a network of time” over that real world, this network being the mechanistic logic that blinds us to the way melodies and meaning are revealed to us out of time
The light of absolute knowledge
The Mahājanas are Vedic authorities fully conversant with the absolute knowledge that stands separate from the fleeting impressions of matter. There are twelve Mahājanas; Brahmā is the Mahajana who assists the Supreme Person in His pastime of creating the universe. In Srimad-Bhagavatam
he says the Lord is the avikriyam satyam
, the unchanging truth, as opposed to the shifting "facts" of material existence. The unchanging truth is hidden within everyone's heart beyond mundane words and arguments, and cannot be defined by the mind. The Supreme Person is arthendriyabhasam
, the inner light that illuminates the objects of perception that appear and disappear in time.
Mahajana Rudra, who destroys the universe, explains that to understand anything, we require param jyoti
, "the supreme light." This timeless light emanates from eka adyah purusa
, "one original person" (Purusa) who, like the sun, stands behind a cloud of His own
making. This is the cloud of maya
, the ever-changing material energy, which covers the clear sky of our consciousness. The effulgent Purusa illuminates that cloud, making sense of the sensations we experience under the influence of maya
--sounds, feelings, forms, tastes and smells. Without His timeless light, there could be no experience of the swirling, temporal cloud of material energy. But that Purusa remains hidden to all except those whose hearts are amala
, spotless. He is kevala
, completely pure. Rudra informs us that this one original person is named Krsna.
Another Mahajana, Kapiladeva, says that Lord Krsna is Bhagavan, the unlimited source of six opulences: knowledge, beauty, power, fame, richness and renunciation. As the Purusa, Bhagavan Sri Krsna resides within our hearts. Simultaneously He is external to us in His form of time (kala-rupena yo bahih
Thus Krsna is our inner power to know; and He is Time, which drives the functions of the mind, emotions, senses and sense objects. As the power to know illuminates these time-driven agents, we recognize opulences like jnana
(knowledge) and sri
(beauty) as they dawn on us in passing words and musical tones. These opulences give shape, depth, direction, meaning, potency, and attraction to our experience. Without them, all would be void.
Consider now the opulence of bala
(power). Looking at a mountain, I see data--an enormous mass of rock--registered by the eyes. This is bahya-pratyaksa
, external perception. I am made aware of this data by the light of knowledge shining from the hidden core of the heart. That light likewise reveals an emotional mood--awe--that the mind associates with the physical form of the mountain. This is antara-pratyaksa
, the inner perception of a psychological state. These sensory, mental and emotional functions accompany--but do not explain
--the recognition of majestic power as I look at the mountain. Yes, the eyes register a mass of rock, and the mind responds to that data with awe and wonder--but between these two functions is a mystery. From whence does the recognition of power emerge?
The answer is that it emerges from consciousness itself
, just as beauty emerges from consciousness when we hear music, and knowledge emerges from consciousness when we hear a sentence. In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.19.23
, Srila Prabhupada explains that the individual soul shares to a lesser degree the six transcendental opulences of Bhagavan. But they are dimmed by a covering of the material energy, just as the sun is dimmed by a cover of cloud. As light is the medium that links our vision to the sun, so consciousness is the medium that links the soul and God. This is true whether the soul faces up to God or not. All that we know in life is the interface of individual consciousness with supreme consciousness. The time-bound matrix--the mechanism of mental, emotional, sensory and physical experience--is also a product of that interface, just as a cloud in the sky is a product of the sunlight interfacing with our vision. But it is an unwanted product, like static that disturbs our reception of a radio program. Catching a glimpse of the timeless opulence of knowledge and beauty through fleeting words and musical notes is like catching a glimpse of the sun through a passing cloud.
The cloudy covering is an effect of our ignorance of the presence of God before us
. As the sun is so much vaster in size than a cloud, so much greater is God than what is suggested of Him through our mind and senses. Our ignorance of His presence before us is the result of our insignificant perspective. Similarly, because we are so tiny, a small cloud covers our vision of the gigantic sun.
There is no consciousness without co-consciousness, that which the individual soul shares with the Lord in the Heart. When in ignorance of co-consciousness, we get carried away by time-driven mental functions, what we "know" looks as if it comes from the mind. When in ignorance we get carried away by time-driven sensory functions, what we "know" looks as if it comes from the senses. But knowledge does not come from the mind and senses, no more than light comes from the cloud covering the sun. To a person in pure consciousness--whose knowledge is not obstructed by the cloud of maya
--what he knows comes from God: His timeless knowledge, beauty, power, fame, richness and renunciation.s