You Are The Silence

Ali Akbar Khan, the great sarode maestro, said that the quickest way to find God was through music. To take one of his classes at the Ali Akbar College of Music, or attend one of his concerts, or listen to one of his many extraordinary recordings, you immediately got the sense, felt, understood, that he was speaking from experience.

The sounds he produced on the sarode were otherworldly, yet grounded in the full range of human emotion. He could make you feel great pathos, supreme joy, and everything in between. And if you were to look in his eyes, you were drawn into deep pools of stillness, silence, and peace.

As many a musician will tell you, the experience of oneness through sound – the union of body, mind, instrument, others you are playing with, the listening audience – is undeniable. The pulsating rhythm, weaving melody, intertwining harmony, the focus of self and others, all in balance with each other, synchronized, in the groove, reveals the true nature of reality – all is dissolved in oneness.

Try this experiment: Imagine that you are the silence of the universe and that all sounds emerge from your measureless and expansive being. That is, you are the creator of sound – all sounds come from you, are made of you.

Hum a soft note for a couple of seconds . . .

In a moment, do it again, but this time notice the silence before you start, then the birth of the sound as you begin to hum, its resonance and vibration as it increases in volume, and then, as the volume decreases, how it dissolves back into silence.

Try it now . . . first, notice the silence . . . low hum begins . . . builds . . . swells . . . then gradually decreases and . . . disappears like a cloud dissolving back into the sky.

This is IT. From you, I, we, unchanging awareness, comes all manifestation of the Universe – from the profound silence that contains nothing, yet from which everything arises, to the gentle hum of a mother’s lullaby that expresses pure love – in this vibration we are eternally embraced.

The Flute Does Not Know Music

“The flute does not know music: it does not know ‘G’ from ‘B flat;’ it does not know tempo or emphasis, and cannot make music come out of itself: it’s just a hollow bamboo stick with holes in it! It is the musician who has the knowledge and the skill and the intention and the dexterity, and whose breath blows through the instrument and whose fingers manipulate the openings so that beautiful music flows out. When the music is ended, no one congratulates the wooden stick on the music it made: it is the musician who is applauded and thanked for this beautiful gift of music.

It is precisely so with what we think of as our ‘selves.’ We are instruments, hollow sticks, through which the Breath, the Spirit, the Energy which is Presence, All That Is, Consciousness, flows. Just as it is not the flute making the note, but the Musician making the note through the instrument, so it is the breath which is Presence which animates this mind and body and comes out through this mouth to make it seem that this mouth is speaking words.

The basic misunderstanding, the basic ignorance, is this unwitting usurpation of the role of Musician by the instrument. This inversion of the truth is spontaneously realized when the Understanding occurs. It becomes obvious that there is no individual, that there is ‘nobody home,’ no entity here to be the doer or not. Because awakening is simply the Understanding that there is no one here to awaken.”

~ David Carse, Perfect Brilliant Stillness