“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)
Friend1: Let’s talk about the different ways to realize God.
Friend2: Well, first define who is God.
Friend1: The Almighty. The Supreme Being. The one watching over us. The concept that explains the unexplainable. The origin.
Friend2: Don’t forget Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: Right, but let’s not get too technical here. The starting point is a person trying to connect with the spiritual. They want to realize the Divine.
Friend1: And so there isn’t just one path. Different people realize in different ways.
Friend2: Well, that is true based on understanding alone.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: You don’t have to get to the realization part, yet. Different people understand God in different ways. That’s why there are so many names. That’s why there are many descriptions. In one sense there are too many definitions, which is why to so many people the sound of the word God raises hostility.
Friend1: I get that the names are different, but how about the understandings?
Friend2: From the Vedas we get Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. The impersonal spiritual energy, which is one but seemingly divided. The plenary expansion residing in the heart with every individual; hence the param prefix added to the word that means “soul.” And the Supreme Person Himself, in His complete feature.
Friend1: Okay, but I don’t think people around the world understand God in those three features.
Friend2: Some attributes here, others there. To some He is the overpowering force. He gives the final judgment. To some He is benevolent, kind-hearted and ever-forgiving.
Friend1: I see. Those are different ways to understand some of the features that belong to the person who is beyond the scope of understanding; as it pertains to the human mind.
Friend2: That’s why there is the Sanskrit word Adhokshaja. Bhagavan’s features cannot be measured by blunt instruments.
Friend1: Let’s transition to realization.
Friend2: Okay, so there are different ways to realize Bhagavan, if you are going for the complete feature. Reading, seeing, smelling, tasting. The senses are there for a reason.
Friend1: Okay, what about through music? I’ve heard it said that music is an expression of consciousness.
Friend2: But consciousness of what?
Friend1: That’s the thing. The Divine is consciousness. Is it not? I’m trying to portray the viewpoint accurately.
Friend2: What are you trying to say?
Friend1: Can you be spiritual through music? Can songs be an expression of the Divine? Isn’t His the Supreme Consciousness?
Friend2: Well, here’s the thing. The very existence of life is an expression of consciousness. That is what it means to be living. This factor is what gives variation to the different species.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: In the trees, for example, consciousness isn’t very developed. A little more so in the animals, but the human beings have the full potential. That is why the human birth is considered auspicious.
Friend1: You’re saying that even the trees are an expression of consciousness.
Friend2: Yes. The very fact that they exist indicates that consciousness is there. That’s what it means to be spiritual. Matter is dull and lifeless. Spirit is the opposite.
Friend1: So there isn’t anything special to music? What about people who feel something different inside them when hearing a great song? What about being transported to a different dimension and the like, through the emotions elicited from hearing?
Friend2: From the Bhagavad-gita we learn that Shri Krishna is the ability in man. When we see exceptional ability in the composition and performance of music, we should know that God has a hand. He is the ability in the background, the foundation, so to speak. If He weren’t a factor, then every person would have equal ability in every area of exercise.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: As far as expressing consciousness, in most cases songs are describing human emotions related to dealing with a material existence. A person identifies with a particular song because they have similar struggles. If you take to bhakti life, then the same ability to express changes in nature.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: You begin to express the emotions felt in union with the Divine, yoga. The music expresses the spiritual consciousness. There is a dramatic difference. The influence is also not the same. Just from hearing such works of art a person can have their consciousness purified. That is the bhakti effect; devotion to God is connecting to Him and connecting all aspects of life to Him, including music.
Not just from music to see,
Consciousness even in tree.
Very definition of living,
Proof all corners giving.
When connected to God the same,
Different potency from holy name.
Nature changing just from sound,
Towards Divine stronger bound.