A new post in the series - "All Music is Only the Sound of His Laughter"
Photo by Narayan Dravid
On a lazy morning last week I felt this deep urge to listen to some music of the legendary Ustad Amir Khan. After quickly going through a small list, I zeroed in on two pieces -- one Rāg Malkauns and one Rāg Bairagi.
I don't know why, at least I am not yet fully aware of the real reason why I felt this deep need to hear this music. But I kept listening to these two pieces one after the other, for almost the whole day from late morning till about 5pm in the evening. For some part of that day I got occupied with a few minor tasks -- eating lunch, answering a few phone calls and a couple of doorbells (and the music was playing in the background). But other than that I did nothing except immerse myself in the music.
However, there was only one specific instance during the day when I felt very, very quiet after listening to the music. Perhaps it was because only during that particular instance I was consciously allowing the music to become a part of me, part of my inner space. Perhaps it was because only during that particular instance I truly became conscious of the act of listening, listening that silences you.
Why am I reflecting on this experience today?
Because in going through some of my computer files today I came across a piece of writing from several years ago. A piece of writing in which I had tried to explore the essential difference between "self-reflection" and "becoming conscious." And somehow re-reading that piece today reminded me of the experience from last week. The experience of consciously listening to the divine music of Ustad Amir Khan. And the experience of reflecting on that experience today.
The two things came together, as if to help me re-learn a lesson that everything can be learned again.
So what was that piece of writing from a lazy morning several years ago? I paste it below.
I find myself pondering upon the essential difference between two word-phrases we often hear these days, what with the ever-growing popularity of a-religious spirituality – the ideas of “self-reflection” and the idea of “becoming conscious.”
Checking in the dictionary, I find the following meanings for “self-reflection” – self-examination; careful reflection on your own thoughts, beliefs, behavior, and circumstances (Encarta).
“Reflection” – careful thought, especially the process of reconsidering previous actions, events, or decisions.
And “to be conscious” means – awake and responsive to stimuli; aware of something and attaching importance to it; considered and deliberate, or done with critical awareness; concerned with or relating to a part of the mind that is capable of thinking, choosing, or perceiving; the part of the human mind that is aware of the feelings, thoughts, and surroundings.
It seems that when we reflect on our thoughts, beliefs, behavior, etc. we do so most of the time using the same very parts of our mind that generate these thoughts, feelings, perceptions. But to be conscious might involve self-reflection PLUS moving to a way of knowing ourselves – our thoughts, feelings, responses, movements and their causes etc. – that doesn’t necessarily rely on mind or at least not only on the ordinary mental data-driven ways of knowing.
Self-reflection may not necessarily help us move out of the realm of our thoughts, beliefs, mental opinions etc. because by such an exercise we may be exclusively focusing our attention only to such mental movements within us, and that too after the thought or feeling has arisen within us or after the circumstance or event has taken place.
But the idea of becoming conscious may involve becoming aware of and “awake” (this is a key difference perhaps) to the various movements within us and being in the know of where in us these movements may be generated, how they may be generated, and perhaps then what may be done to take control of and master these movements. The emphasis here is to be awake to the movement and its origins while it is happening.
Perhaps by practicing self-reflection one does begin to get some practice in becoming conscious, but that may not always be the case.
Today after reading this old piece of writing I went back to the music of Ustad Amir Khan. And after silently listening to Rāg Bairagi, I was inspired to write this.
What generally helps many of us become more conscious is when we are able to quiet down some of the incessant and extraneous noises that fill up our inner spaces. Because only in that quietude we may gradually become more aware of and awakened to the various pulls and pushes of the different parts of our being (our mental-emotinal-physical parts).
Music has the ability to help us quieten down, but only if we know how to listen to music.
"...the best way of listening is this. It is to be like a still mirror and very concentrated, very silent. In fact, we see people who truly love music... I have seen musicians listening to music, musicians, composers or players who truly love music, I have seen them listening to music... they sit completely still, you know, they are like that, they do not move at all. Everything, everything is like that. And if one can stop thinking, then it is very good, then one profits fully... it is one of the methods of inner opening and one of the most powerful." (The Mother)
And now for the interested reader, here is one of the pieces of music that I refer to in this post. Listen to it, quietly. Very, very quietly.
To read the previous post in the series, click here.
To read all the posts in the series, click here.
Linking this with Blog-a-rhythm Word Wednesday #7, word prompt: Essential