If there is one thing that is common in all of creation, from the tiniest atom to the galaxy, what is it? Vibration. Everything is in a perpetual state of vibration, every atom, every molecule, all of the stars and galaxies, in a perpetual state of motion and vibration. From the subtlest state, when you say “God created this Universe, this world; in the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the word was God and the word became manifest.” Even logically, if you analyze it, what is this word? The Christians don’t understand what it is, so they say Jesus was the word. There is no real correlation. That’s how they solve the whole thing: In the beginning was Jesus, Jesus was the word, and Jesus was with God and Jesus was God and Jesus became manifest. So everybody accepts this, they never question it.
The Word is Vibration
In the Vedas, it is expressed the same way. Brahman, the one without a second, manifest as this universe as vibration, and that is referred to as OM. The scientists say “Big Bang.” That aspect of Brahman, which you say is manifest as this Universe, is referred to as Nada Brahman. Nada means vibration, sound. When we say Sound, in this state of consciousness, what are you relating to? Something that you hear, or “see” by this limited instrument that you call “ear.” But how about when you don’t have ears to hear? Is there still vibration going on? This is the grossest state of vibration that you say is sound. That Para state, that highest state of vibration, is referred to as Nada Brahman, or OM, and even as I say, “OM” your mind is groping for some concept… is it A-U-M or Ooooooommmmmm or MMMMM? This is where the confusion comes in in this Vaikhari state.
Imagine this original vibration, as the scientists and astronomers say, “Big Bang,”, this tiny unit of energy, so small they can’t give it a value, smaller than the smallest atom. In it contained all of the energy of this universe. All of this universe was contained in it, but they don’t want to use the word God, rightfully so because when we say God everybody has some stupid concept of God. When this tiny unit exploded, it had to explode at a precise rate, or else there wouldn’t be expansion, it would implode. The scientists are saying one to the minus ten or whatever that means, it had to explode at a precise rate. Is that mystical enough? Then space started to be created. Can the mind conceive of a time when there was no space? Just this “hmmph.” Then space started to be created and it started expanding into this universe.
So however you look at it, it is so amazing for us. It just leaves you in awe and wonder of this vastness and mystery of creation. In the Vedas, they say that this universe was manifest as vibration, and that is referred to as Nada Brahman, and that which expresses it is OM. That becomes a little more manifest, who knows how many billions of years after, into the second level, it is called Para Pashyanti Level, that is what is referred to as the three Gunas. Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, which are three forces, the force of Equilibrium, Activity, and Inertia. Even that is in a transcendental level, the mind can not conceive what that is.
When that manifest a little more into the Madhyama State, the third level, then you have what you can relate to: the vibration of mind, mind energy, and what you are experiencing. When that manifests a little more into the Vaikhari state, the audible state or that which can be perceived by senses and so on, that is the level in which we are existing. From that on one side you have the mind, and on the other level you have the Tanmatric state, which is the five primordial elements, Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether, in its pure state. Then that pure, subtle vibration is then manifest.
In Samkhya philosophy they give you all of this, the theory of quintuplication, how this element mixing with the element, so much precent of this and that creates this and that. So when we say Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, what is this? You go and dig up some Earth from the garden, that is not what they are talking about. That solid state that you are experiencing in earth and rocks contains a larger percentage of earth element. Then you have a certain percentage of moisture, liquid, a certain amount of fire, you say heat, no matter if it is minus so and so degrees centigrade, there is still heat. There is space there also, Air, Ether. So when we say Water, it is just the liquid state, but it contains so much percentage of solid matter or else you wouldn’t see it, so much percentage of heat, Fire, Air, and so much. Space, in every molecule.
What we are experiencing, Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, that is the gross state. The same thing with sound vibration. What you are hearing, what I am speaking to you, I say something and you say that you can’t hear, that is the grossest level of vibration. That is called the Vaikhari State. Vibrations, or sound that you are hearing, some can be very annoying, we call it noise. We are all affected by sound, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant.
For you to hear something, one thing has to strike another. I am speaking to you, how do you think that happens? The air passes through the vocal cords, vibrating it, then it vibrates the molecules in the atmosphere, then that impacts your eardrum, then it vibrates three bones, called the tympanum in the inner ear. Imagine, the permutation and combination of that, the brain interprets it as a sound. And you can interpret the sound based on the intensity of it, the quality and texture of it, the volume of it. Can you imagine? Is that mystical enough? And you can say it’s a bird. You can even distinguish what kind of bird it is. How many billions of people have there been from ancient time to now, but you can distinguish that this is Yogi Hari singing. Even that is on a very low level of sound vibration.
When Sound Becomes Music
The Yogis understood the effect of sound, some very pleasing, some very annoying and disturbing to the mind. Even on this level, all of us are influenced by sound. When you arrange that sound vibration in certain way that it becomes pleasing to the ear, or to you, then you say it becomes music. So not all sound is music or influences you in a positive way. But then your ear is only capable of distinguishing certain frequencies of vibration, some people can’t even hear or distinguish one pitch from another. But if you train your ear, they say you can distinguish.
If you take a vibration, you can divide it into so many parts, what they call Shruti. This division of this vibration is called notes. Whatever frequency you have, you say this one is one note and a different frequency is another note. Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa. Seven notes, seven divisions. But you can even divide that also into half notes, one tiwal major and one minor and you get twelve. But even that, they say you can distinguish even micro-tones, divide that also, so they say 22. Some people say you can distinguish 64. But most people are struggling with just seven.
Effect of Music on the Mind
Depending on how you combine these notes, in a pleasing way, then you call it music. The Yogis in their state of meditation, doing their Sadhana, practicing, investigating, how you go up with the notes, coming down, they formulated Ragas. Ragas means “that which colors or influences the mind.” The mind can be influenced in different ways. It can cause you to be sad or depressed, it can make you peaceful, or it can make you excited. It can make you sexy, arouse passion in you. All kind of emotions can be expressed through the combination of notes and how you present it. If you listen to certain kinds of music, it can make you cry. Some can make you very joyful, happy. But immediately you feel the effect of it.
Experience of Subtle Vibrations
This vibration that you are experiencing, remember it is the very grossest state. Can it be refined so that you can experience subtler and subtler vibrations? Of course. In everything there is vibration. A person without sight, how are they navigating? By touching, but some of them, even by subtle vibrations they can distinguish that there is a solid something they are coming up towards. There is space here. They can even distinguish, like how you are seeing. They tune their sense of hearing, hearing just vibration. Subtler and subtler. So what if that vibration, if you can distinguish it, is more subtle and subtle? The Yogis, when their body and mind becomes so purified and tuned, like in Hatha Yoga we describe this process, you can experience subtle vibrations.
Within you, you have all kinds of sound going on, but you are not aware of it. Is the heart beating? Does it make a sound? Like a big machine, but you are not aware of it, unless you put your ear there to hear. Breathing is like a hurricane going in, every time you inhale and exhale, but you are not aware of it. You have a big machine there that you call the stomach, grinding and processing, are you hearing it? No. You have a big river, the intestines and colon, gurgling all of the time, water and liquid flowing, are you aware of it? That is because your mind is not in tune.
If you withdraw the mind, you can experience vibrations which are very subtle, which is cosmic vibration, we call it Music of the Spheres, Anahata sound, sound or vibration that can be experienced without one thing hitting another. They categorize it, the first thing you start to hear is like insects. It’s called chinne-chinne, the first vibration of the Anahata sound. Then as you continue to bring the mind inward from that, just like how you hear cars and traffic far away, then if you expand the mind like that then you can hear all of that. Then if you bring the mind in, Pratyahara, withdrawl of the senses, you don’t hear anything. The same way, if you hear chinne-chinne, and you withdraw, Pratyahara from that, then you become aware of a subtler vibration. So you could hear the roar of the ocean, like how you take a conch shell and put it by your ear. You can hear without being in the ocean. Then subtler vibrations you can hear, like lute, flute, harp, kettle drums, thunder. Different sounds will tell you how inner, more and more in tune to different vibrations you are.
The Yogis in their mystic state, in that transcendental state, experiencing these vibrations, then they tried to express it outside. That is how they created all kinds of instruments to try to replicate that Anahata Sound. Are they scientists? Can you fathom what kind of scientists they are? Even when I think about it, imagine in ancient time, the technology to make a string to string an instrument, what kind of technology, how did they do it? Now we think about the piano, and what kind of technology went into that, what kind of mind probed into and to use whatever was there, that kind of technology to replicate something like that. The Yogis make it so simple, take a piece of bamboo, make a few holes in it, make a flute. Can you imagine the mind? That’s a Rishi, a Yogi.
We just take it for granted, even in the field of technology today. Depending on what you are probing into, all you are probing into is just Nature, into the laws that operate this Universe. How many people have cell phones? Billions of people, and each one has their own frequency. How is it connecting? Isn’t that mystical? But it’s not something by chance that is happening, there are people who probe and probe and discover the laws of vibration and so on. Do they reach the end of it? After so many years, it starts to multiply exponentially because people have developed the ability of probing into the laws that are there. This is on the physical level, how about other more subtle laws?
Knowledge from the Source
The Yogis from ancient time realized that they can’t know everything in creation. Not even a blade of grass can you know everything about. So they hypothesized, just like how when you know the nature of gold, then everything that is made of gold is known, only names and forms change. If you want to know the nature of clay, all of the pots and different names and forms, if you know the nature of clay, everything that is made of clay is known. You don’t have to go and know everything, which is a pot, which is something different. It’s clay.
The Yogis reasoned that there must be one thing in this universe knowing which everything else is known, that is what they strived to find out. In order to do that, they turned their investigation inside instead of outside. They found as they continued to probe in, as the mind becomes quiet, they start to experience a whole new universe, universe meaning a whole new dimension or experience, until they are able to quiet the mind, no ripple, no thought until realizing, “I am That, I am that ocean of consciousness. I am one with everything.” They discovered that with sound vibration they can tune the mind, they can use sound to bring the mind to that state of focus and attentiveness, concentration, where they are able to still the mind.
When Sound Becomes Yoga
There is sound everywhere, audible sound, inaudible sound, Anahata sound, Ahata sound. Everybody is involved in it, experiencing it, and influenced by it. When this awareness of sound and vibration is used to help you to develop concentration, inward focus, to lift the mind from anxiety, restlessness, and depression, to a higher state of peace and bliss, it is Yoga. Anything that you do to help you to be more attentive, focused, concentrated, to improve the condition of you physically, mentally, emotionally, you can say is Yoga.
Sound vibration is everywhere. What sound will help you to experience some peace, quietness? You have sound that can make you depressed, why get involved in that kind of sound? Why not get involved in that sound, in that music which when you listen to it, it will lift you out of that negative state? Isn’t that wisdom? If can help to lift you. Is there anything that can relax you more than sound, music? You say no, pot can do it better, it probably could, but it will create another problem, sending you into a Tamasic state, it’s not Yoga. Whereas if you listen to music that is pleasing, Divine, what is the side effect? Happiness, joyfulness, bliss, expansiveness. That is Nada Yoga.
Like everything else, we start from ABC, the foundation. Then you can make it as complicated as you want to. The Yogis came up with so many exercises that you can get involved in and get in such a state of abstractness. Just like a painter, you paint, draw, learn about colors and how to mix them. You can’t just mix anything and get sky. If it’s all black, how can it be sky? I had that experience. My wife, she’s an artist, a painter, so I want to paint too. She has an easel, I have an easel. I see she is drawing a nice landscape, but I can’t get any relief, everything is the same and flat. I tried and tried and then left it alone. You have to study the basics.
When I went to high school and I started studying Algebra, I reached a point where I didn’t understand anything about algebra. So I had to go back from time to time to the basics. 1 + X = 2. What is X? Then as you go on, if the foundation is not there, then you can not go on. The same way with mathematics. You can not say that you are not doing mathematics, “1+1=2.” When they introduced mathematics to my son, Krishna, he came home and asked me, “Daddy, do you know mathematics?” “Yes.” “Really? We are studying mathematics!” But he was satisfied with 1+1=2. And that is necessary, there is no limit.
Your mind is capable of so much. It is capable of making you crazy, experiencing more depression or misery than you can imagine, or it can make you to experience such bliss and happiness. That mind can be your greatest friend or your greatest enemy. Music can help you to elevate your mind, to remove the defects from it, that which is corrupting it. I haven’t found anything that is more effective than music, than Nada Yoga.
I used to practice Hatha Yoga for eight years, by myself, and I read all of these books, I studied all of Vedanta philosophy, I was obsessed, and I thought I was such a great meditator, a great Yogi. Then I started studying music with my Guru, and I realized what a basic state my mind was in, so much fantasy and delusion. At the age of 30, I started. I had never even touched an instrument. I was just like a baby, but my attitude was different. I only had doubts for a few days with my Guru, after that it was gone. My relationship with him was quite different, with devotion and love, unshakable faith. I didn’t have any obstacles in my mind, only gratefulness, appreciation, love, gratitude. Everything he taught me was such a great treasure for me. In a Guru and Disciple relationship, the mind can be such a great obstacle, a barrier, if you don’t have that relationship. The same thing with every kind of relationship. Basic rules of conduct can make it sweet and beautiful or tainted.
Don’t Worry about Chakras
Forget about chakras and all of that. You have some sound, you hear it and it makes you crazy. Because every cell in your body is vibrating. You subject it to inharmonious vibration, you create agitation. When people talk about Chakras, is there energy in every cell in your body? Every cell is a microcosm. You are a microcosm of this whole universe. Everything in you is contained in the universe and everything in the universe is contained in your body. Change the vibration from inharmonious, make it as harmonious as possible.
So you have lower notes to higher notes, and we say in the body there are Chakras, which are energy centers, low vibration and so on. We have the seven notes corresponding to the seven Chakras. Between that you have infinite divisions. When you start to stress yourself, wondering which note for which part of the body, then you create so much corruption and agitation in the mind, instead of calmness and peace. The person who doesn’t know about Chakras and all of that, they are playing music and they experience it. You are eating food and you know what is protein, what is carbohydrate. Does that make it more beneficial to you than the ordinary peasant who eats this food? In fact, they have such an ingredient that you are corrupting, the ingredient is gratitude. What is their food? Some rice. How do they eat their rice? Happily. Thank you, God. You have all your proteins, gluten-free, vegan, does that make you any healthier than this person who has a healthy mind, a mind of gratitude and thankfulness?
This is where you start to confuse the mind. Somebody comes and says this is for this Chakra and that Chakra. It is so, but it is not really necessary. The ancient Rishis, they knew so much about sound vibration and colors and how it affects. So even color they use to condition people. A baby girl is born and you give her pink clothes. A boy gets blue. Pink subdues the person, so from childhood they start subduing the energy of the woman. Scientists have carried out experiments, they take these violent criminals and paint their room pink, but of course they never take it to other levels.
A Musician’s Consciousness Displayed in their Music
In the same way, sound vibration can create patterns in your mind, in your body. Depending on the level of consciousness of the person, that is the kind of music will flow from them. So if the person’s mind is purified, harmonized, beautiful music will flow. A person who is an acid-head, pot-head people, all of these rock stars, what comes out from them? Just music according to their state of consciousness. And that influences masses of people. That is why if you really go back and examine the kind of music at the time when people used to take heroine or pot, acid and so on, that why they say even the music is acid rock. People with those vibrations gravitate to those things. I am sure there is a correlation.
Not every music is uplifting music. You look at the musician and see how they live their life, what is their involvement? How about the classical musicians, the genius Tschaikowski, Mendelsohn, Mozart, what was the quality of their life? Of course, they are geniuses, Hitler was a genius. Mozart’s influences at that time, all people were involved in was just sensuality. Especially the Bourgeois class, the upper class, and all of his music expresses that. Or else they became insane and crazy too.
On the other hand, even at that same time in India, you have Yogis and Saints, Russic saints, involved in music to uplift them to a high state of peace. In the west, composers are striving for more and more instruments, a 100 piece symphony. In the east it is quiet different, they reduce it to one string, called Ektal. And even that they just drop. In the west, big cathedrals that take years and years to build, so many people involved died building this cathedral, why? House of God. Is that where God resides only? The Yogis have a simpler and simpler life they are living until even that is gone, they sit under a tree. Instead of wearing big robes and jewels, decked with a crown and all of this garb, more and more complicated, does that make you a more spiritual person? That is why in the East the Yogis just have a loincloth, and even that they get rid of. If you want to see the penis dangling, that is your problem. Sky clad, just rub some ash on the body. Which one are you attracted to? You have a choice. Depending on your choice of consciousness, that is what you gravitate towards, that is what interests you.
What did Jesus say? You can’t serve God and Mammon at the same time. That is the process of spiritual evolution, detaching and attaching. Detaching from the world, attaching to God. The whole of spiritual evolution is that process. Everything about life is teaching you that, but people are so conditioned that this world is the reality so all of their attention and effort is to hold on to this world, to attach to the world, becoming further and further away from the higher reality of who you really are.