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on music, sound & silence


Nothing has changed the nature of man so much as the loss of silence. The invention of printing techniques, compulsory education - nothing has changed man so much as this lack of relationship with silence; this fact that silence is no longer taken for granted, as something as natural as the sky above or the air we breathe. Man who has lost silence has not merely lost human quality, but his whole structure has been changed thereby.

Max Picard in: Knowledge of Time


Music comes closest to meditation. Music is a way towards meditation and the most beautiful way. Meditation is the art of hearing the soundless sound, the art of hearing the music of silence - what Zen people call ‘the sound of one hand clapping’. And when you are utterly silent, not a single thought passes your mind, there is not even a ripple of any feeling in your heart, then you start for the first time hearing silence. And silence has a music of its own. It is not dead, it is very much alive, it is tremendously alive. In fact, nothing is more alive than silence.

Osho in: The Book of Books, Vol. XII


The body keeps in balance through complex rhythms and cycles - these biorhythms are our connecting link to the larger rhythms of Nature...

When the body is in balance, it sends out signals of comfort; when it is out of balance, it sends out signals of discomfort... We are awash in a tide of balance surging back and forth. Dozens of bodily functions are disturbed every second, meaning that any fixed definition of health becomes meaningless - one might as easily try to define a symphony by stoppping the orchestra on one chord. Food, water, and air flow through us in rhythmic patterns determined by dozens of variables, and residues of experience are built up like shifting sand dunes. Structure and motion, the fixed and the changing, both count.

Your doctor may tell you that you have a resting pulse of 80, blood pressure of 120/70, and body temperature of 98.6 degrees F., all of which are considered normal. Yet this assessment is purely for convenience. Such measurements are good only for the moment they are taken, for each dances around its balance point, creating the music of the living body.

Deepak Chopra in: Ageless Body, Timeless Mind


The musician is very close to mysticism, far closer than the philosopher. In fact, music comes closest as far as expressing the truth is concerned, because music is meaningful without any words; it is meaningful simply because it rings some bells in your heart. The great music is that which creates a synchronicity between you and itself, when your heart starts resonating in the same way, when you start pulsating in the same way.

Osho in: Philosophia Ultima


When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer - say, travelling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is in such occasions that my musical ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them. Those ideas that please me I retain in memory, and I am accustomed, as I have been told, to hum them to myself...

All this fires my soul, and, provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodised and defined, and the whole - though it be long - stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so I can survey it - like a fine picture or a beautiful statue - at a glance. Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them as it were all at once.

What a delight this is I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing lively dream. Still the actual hearing of the ‘tout ensemble’ is after all the best. What has been produced I do not easily forget, and this is perhaps the best gift I have my Divine Maker to thank for.

When I proceed to write down my ideas, I take out of the bag of my memory - if I may use that phrase - what has been previously collected into it in the way I have mentioned... But why my productions take from my hand that particular form and style that makes them ‘Mozartish’, and different from the works of other composers, is probably owing to the same cause which render my nose so large or so aquiline, or, in short, makes it MozartÕs and different from those of other people. For I really do not study or aim at any originality.

Mozart in: A Letter to Emperor Joseph II, 1780


The drum is the most primitive instrument. When you feel that drum beating, your body responds, sways, you start falling into the beat, moving with the beat, and suddenly you have become a primitive, a natural being: all civilisation drops. You are no longer here in the twentieth century and all the nonsense that goes around - you have moved back almost ten thousand years.

Osho in: Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol.II


Education has two branches - one of gymnastics, which is concerned with the body, and the other of music, which is designed for the improvement of the soul. And gymnastics has also two branches - dancing and wrestling.

And one sort of dancing imitates musical recitation, and aims at preserving dignity and freedom, the other aims at producing health, agility and beauty in the limbs and parts of the body - giving the proper flexion and extension to each of them, a harmonious motion being diffused everywhere, and forming a suitable accompaniment to the dance.

Plato in: Laws 7


For when I was sitting in the same chapel and was reciting psalms as well as I might before supper, I heard above me the noise of harpers, or rather of singers. And when with all my heart I attended to heavenly things in prayer, I perceived within me - I know not how - a melody and a most delightful harmony from heaven, which abode in my mind. For my thought was straightaway changed into a song, and even when praying and singing psalms I gave forth the selfsame sound.

Richard Rolle in The Fire of Love, 1345


If you make music then forget the technician, then forget yourself. Let music happen as if on its own accord, as if you are just an instrument of some unknown force that is flowing through you. If you are not making music, listen, but in listening forget the listener. Just become listening, just ears and ears and ears, as if your whole body has turned into ears: you have become two big ears and nothing else. Your eyes are listening, your hands are listening, your feet are listening; every fibre of your being is just listening. Then the same thing will happen. The point is to disappear in music; then something starts happening.

Osho in: Turn On, Tune In And Drop The Lot


A meditation student can turn first to the loud sounds normally within the range of hearing; the sound in the forest of lions, or in the monastery the sound of a gong, the sound of a drum, the sound of recitation by novices and young ‘bhikkus’ reciting with full vigour. Or he can turn to the sounds of their ordinary talks such as ‘what, venerable sir?’, ‘What, friend?’ etc. ; the sound of birds, the sound of the wind, the sound of footsteps, the fizzing sound of boiling water, the sound of palm leaves drying in the sun, the sound of ants, and so on.

Beginning in this way with quite gross sounds, he should successively turn to more and more subtle sounds. He should give attention to sounds in the eastern direction, in the upper direction, in the lower direction, in the eastern intermediate direction and in all directions...

Then he will hear sounds within the area of a finger-breadth, then two finger-breadths, the four finger-breadths, a ‘span’, the interior of the room, the veranda, the building, the surrounding walk, the park belonging to the community, the village, the district and so on. This is how he should extend it by delimited stages.

Theravada Buddhism in: Visuddhimagga


Modern man needs to treat music with a greater respect.
Music is vibration, and vibration is the energy of the Supreme. Like nuclear energy, which can be used to destroy an entire city, or to furnish all the energy requirements of that same city, music too is a neutral force - and its ultimate effects, for good or evil, may not be at all dissimilar in their potency to those of nuclear energy. Only man can decide how music is to be used; and thus, perhaps, decide also what his own fate is to be. As we treat the energy of the atom, with great care and caution, so too do we need to handle music. In the final analysis, we should strive to realize more fully, it seems, that when we deal with sound we are dealing not merely with the energies of science, nor only with the art of mortal minds, but with God.

From ‘The Secret Power of Music’, David Tame.


My soul counselled me
and charged me to listen for voices
that rise neither from the tongue nor the throat.
Before that day I heard but dully,
and nought save clamour and loud cries came to my ears;
But now I have learned to listen to silence,
To hear its choirs singing the song of ages,
Chanting the hymns of space,
and disclosing the secrets of eternity.

Kahlil Gibran


The eye takes a person into the world
the ear brings the world into a human being

Lorenz Oken


Music is formless
and is therefore the perfect expression of the formless

Innayat Khan


A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw, the less he spoke
The less he spoke, the more he heard
Why can't we be like that wise old bird

Yehudi Menuhin

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