Last night members of the New Zealand Sri Chinmoy Centre participated in a nation vigil for Christchurch organised by the New Zealand Interfaith Group. The event was held simultaneously in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin with various faith, spiritual and interfaith communities participating through video presentation, prayer, song, meditation and reflection. The members of our Christchurch Sri Chinmoy Centre sang two songs dedicated to New Zealand and Christchurch that were written by our meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy – and recited two of his prayers. Members of the Auckland Sri Chinmoy Centre recited a selection of Sri Chinmoy’s poems and sang one of his songs – all in the theme of ‘hope’. They also offered a short flute recital featuring two of Sri Chinmoy’s melodies.
Members of the Christchurch Sri Chinmoy Centre singing at the National Interfaith
vigil for Christchurch at St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Christchurch.
“Music; the greatest good that mortals know, and all of heaven we have below.” – Joseph Addison.
Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be blessed with the wonderful ability to get music out of just about any musical instrument they lay their hands on? I know a guy who could wring a tune from a damp sponge if he wanted to! Then there are those of us who, though devoted music lovers, struggle to express ourselves even on one instrument. The later is my category – or so I thought.
For those who are left in awe of the musically gifted creed (like our friend Premik, pictured right), we may be doing them and ourselves something of a disservice. First of all, we have not witnessed the many hours of practice that these ‘fortunate maestros’ have put into their music training. Some survive on raw talent but most have to work hard at it. Secondly it is a fatal mistake to compare oneself to others – probably the numero uno killer of inspiration – because we develop the ‘Oh, I could never ever be like that’ syndrome! We are all unique and carry within us the quintessential seeds of creativity. Thirdly, for those of us whose creativity-seeds are still in the early stages of germination, there is the thought that we may not yet have found our instrument – that divine implement that was made ‘just for me’, perfectly suits our personality and allows the creative outlet that we have always yearned for. There is truth in this – I know it for a fact because it took me some four and a half decades to find the instrument that I did not even know I was looking for!
So I write in the hope of encouraging kindred-souls who are still holding to the hope that they may yet get a chance to play the music that they hear and feel inside their hearts and minds. Here is my story…
“Music transcends the barriers of nations, nationalities and religions. It is through music that the universal feeling of oneness can be achieved in the twinkling of an eye.”
– Sri Chinmoy.
Have you ever wondered about the realm of spirituality and consciousness and intuition while playing or performing on a musical instrument and pondered on how to get in touch with these capacities more easily? It’s that lovely realm that we sometimes access when we go beyond technique and mind and become one with the music itself, as though we ourselves are an instrument and some beauty that is not our own is flowing through us. Athletes call it ‘being in the zone’ – a rapture of pure consciousness when the mind is free of all thought, constraint, self-consciousness and everything we do flows from some deeper part of our being. The ego ‘I’ that separates musician from music has gone and we have become the music itself.
The artist Paul Klee compared the artist-performer to a tree and wrote,
“From the root, the sap rises up into the artist, flows through him, flows to his eye. Overwhelmed and activated by the force of the current, he conveys his vision into his work. And yet, standing at his appointed place as the trunk of the tree, he does nothing other than gather and pass on what rises from the depths. He neither serves nor commands – he transmits. His position is humble. And the beauty at the crown is not his own; it has merely passed through him.”
How can we gain access to this intuitive and deeper part of our being? Meditation is the easiest way that I know. This is the process where we learn to cultivate an absolute stillness in our mind and body and by gradually mastering any one of a number of possible techniques such as concentrating our awareness on our breath, we can enter into a much deeper and more intuitive part of our being.
My own interest in meditation was greatly heightened when in the mid 1980′s I attended a free concert featuring the musician-composer and renowned spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy. It was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York city and I had heard much of Sri Chinmoy’s music from a pianist friend.
In 2006 the legendary Russian singer/songwriter Boris Purushottama Grebenshikov happened to be holidaying on the island of Langkawi at the same time that my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy was there with an international group of his meditation students. As I understand it, Boris had always wanted to meet Sri Chinmoy and took the chance to do so in Langkawi. I was also there and have fond memories of the occasions when Boris and his wife visited us. An ensemble was formed with Boris and some of Sri Chinmoy’s students and we were very fortunate to hear some beautiful performances in Langkawi.