The healing power of Music
The idea of healing through music really belongs to the initial stage of developing through the art of music. The end of this is attaining through music, or as it is called in the Vedanta, Samadhi.
In the first place, if we saw what was at the back of all the medicines which are used for healing purposes, if we ask what it is in them that heals, we shall find that is it the different elements which constitute our physical being. The same elements are present in those medicines, and that which is lacking in us is taken from them, or the effect which should be produced in our body is produced by them. The vibration which is necessary for our health is created in the body by their power. The rhythm which is necessary for our cure is brought about by bringing the circulation of the blood into a certain rhythm and speed.
By this we learn that health is a condition of perfect rhythm and tone. And what is music? music is rhythm and tone. When the health is out of order, it means the music is out of order. Therefore, when the music is not right in us the help of harmony and rhythm is very necessary to bring us into a state of harmony and rhythm. This way of healing can be studied and understood by studying the music of one’s own life, by studying the rhythm of the pulse, the rhythm of the beating of the heart and of the head. Physicians who are sensitive to the rhythm determine the condition of the patient by examining the rhythm of the pulse, the beating of the heart, the rhythm of the circulation of the blood. And to find the real complaint a physician, with all his material knowledge, must depend upon his intuition and upon the use of his musical qualities.
In ancient times, and even now in the East, we find two principal schools of medicine. One which came from the ancient Greek school through Persia, the other which came from the Vedanta and is founded on mysticism. And what is mysticism? It is the law of vibration.
Good health is induced by understanding the nature of a complaint through the rhythm and tone that can be perceived in the human body, and by regulating the body through rhythms and tones according to one’s understanding of their proportions.
Besides this there is another way of looking at it. Every illness apparently has its special reason, but in reality all illnesses come from one reason, from one cause, from one condition. That is the absence of life, the lack of life. Life is health. Its absence is illness, which culminates in what we call death.
Life in its physical form, as perceived in the physical spheres, is called Prana in Sanskrit. This life is given by food or medicine, or the body is prepared by a certain food or medicine to be able to breathe in this life itself, in order that it may be in better health or may experience perfect health. But this Prana, which also means breath, the central breath, attracts from space all the different elements which are there, as the herbs and plants and flowers and fruits all attract from space the same element which they represent. All these elements are attracted by the breath. Therefore, the mystics, whether from Greece, Persia, or India, have always taken as their basis of spiritual evolution the culture of breath, the science of breath. Even now you will see in the East healers who magnetize water or food or the atmosphere. What is the secret of their magnetism? It is their breath. It is the influence of their breath upon water or food.
The religious people of India have a ceremony where something like a sacrament is given by a holy person to someone who is suffering, and that is very helpful. Their power of breath is so balanced, so purified and developed, that it attracts all elements all that one can get from an herb, a flower, or fruit and even more. Therefore, their breath can achieve a thousand times more than what medicine can do. There are healers in the East who whisper some spiritual words, but what is whispering? It is breath again: breath with words through it.
There was a physician in Delhi who mostly used this kind of healing power with his patients, and one day a skeptical friend came to consult with him. The physician whispered a few sacred words before the patient and said, ‘Now you may go.’ This skeptical man said he could not understand how such a method could have any effect on his health. The physician then did something unusual for him: he offended the man, by speaking very harshly to him. The man became very angry and said to him, ‘How can you, a physician, say such words to me?’ The physician said, ‘I hardly ever do such a thing, and I only did it to prove something to you. If my words can make you angry and ill, they can also cure you. If words can make one ill and upset, they also have the power to harmonize a patient and to put him into a good condition.’
What is music? According to the ancient Indian thinkers, there are three aspects of music: singing, playing and dancing. All three represent rhythm, and all three represent tone in some form or other. And what is the effect of music? The effect of music is to regulate the rhythm of another person, and to tune a person to the music that is being performed.
What secret is there in music which attracts all those who listen to it? It is the rhythm which is being created. It is the tone of that music which tunes a soul and raises it above depression and despair of everyday life in this world. And if one knew what rhythm was needed for a particular individual in his trouble and despair, what tone was needed, and to what pitch that person’s soul should be raised, one would then be able to heal him with music.
One might ask why it is, if music is rhythm, that so often musicians are temperamental and easily disturbed. But is it not beautiful to have a little temperament? Life is unmusical when there is no temperament. A person who does not get angry once in a while does not live. It is human to have all kinds of minor faults, the joy is in overcoming these faults. Music is not all sadness. There are higher octaves and lower octaves. Music is all, music takes in all. that is why music is even greater than heaven.
There was a time in India when music was much used for healing. It was used as healing for the mind, for the character and for the soul, because it is health of the soul that brings health to the physical body. But healing of the physical body does not always help the soul. That is why the material medical science, though it can do good for some time, does not entirely suffice the need of the patient. I do not mean by this that outward treatment is useless. There is nothing in this world which is useless, if we only knew how to make use of it. All things in this world are needed, all things have their benefit and use, if we only know how to use them properly. But if a cure is brought about outwardly, while inwardly the illness remains, sooner or later the illness which is buried in the body will come out and show itself.
Once I met a lady who said she had been to many physicians for the complaint of neuritis. She was temporarily cured but it always came back, and she asked me for something that would help her. I said to her, ‘Is there anyone in the world whom you dislike, whom you hate, or whose action is troubling your mind?’ She said, ‘Yes, there are many people whom I dislike, and especially there is one person whom I cannot forgive.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘that is the root of the disease. Outwardly it is a pain of the body. Inwardly it is rooted in the heart.
Often the cause of illness is within. Although, no doubt, many things are caused outwardly. No single rule will cover everything. Undoubtedly, as things have changed in the world and materialism has spread throughout the world, this has influenced things, not only in the West but in the East also. The use of music for spiritual attainment and healing of the soul, which was prevalent in ancient times, is not found to the same extent now. Music has been made a pastime, the means of forgetting instead of realizing God. And it is the use one makes of things which constitutes their fault or virtue.
Still, the remembrance of the ancient use of music remains among the poor in India. There are healers there, who have a particular instrument of healing on which they play. And there are people who go to them for healing. And by playing that instrument they arouse some special feeling which had become cold and that deep feeling which was buried begins to come out. It is really the old way of psychoanalysis. Music helps that patient to express in full the hidden influence which was there. In this way many people are helped without going to a physician. But it is no doubt a crude way of healing.
Once the Maharaja of Baroda, on hearing that healing could be accomplished through music, introduced concerts in certain hospitals, and the amusing result was that all those who were suffering began to cry out, ‘For God’s sake, keep quiet! Go away!’ that was not the music to soothe them. It only made them suffer more. It was like giving stone for bread.
In order to give healing through music one must study what is needed, what is wanted. In the first place one must study what the complaint is. What elements are lacking, what is its symbolical meaning, what mental attitude is behind the illness. Then after a close study, one can do a great deal of good to the patient with the help of music.
Even if music were not used as a prescription, particularly intended for a certain illness, the power of that illness, which has its abode in the heart of man, can still be reduced by lifting up his heart, by changing his thought. What brings illness is the thought of illness rather than the illness itself. The existence of illness in the body may be called a shadow of the true illness which is held by man in his mind. By the power of music the mind may become exalted so that it rises above the thought of illness. Then the illness is forgotten., and you will ask, ‘What kind of music can heal man? Is it singing or playing, or music for dancing?’ Singing is the most powerful, for singing is living Prana. The voice is life itself. No doubt it is also life which is working through an instrument by the touch. But in singing it is the direct life, the breath touching the heart of the listener. However, behind this voice there must be a heart charged like a battery with what is needed. And with what is it charged? With what we call love and sympathy, the greatest power there is.
A person who is material, who is struggling for himself from morning until evening, who is seeking his own benefit, who is in trouble, or bitter, who is in the midst of conflict, cannot heal. The healer must be free: free to sympathize, free to love his fellowman even more than himself.
What teaches this love? Where can one learn it? Where can one get it? The key to this love element is God. And when we look at life today with all its progress, what is lacking? It is God. God is the key to that unlimited store of love which is in the heart of man.
Once a very godly and good natured housemaid was not able to answer a knock at the door as quickly as it should have been answered and the lady visitor who was waiting at the door became very impatient and spoke crossly to her. When asked what had happened, the maid was not upset at all. She smiled and said, ‘Yes, this lady was very cross with me.’ And when she was asked if she knew what was the matter with the lady and what made her cross, the maid with perfect innocence replied, ‘The reason? There was no God!’ A beautiful answer. Where God is lacking there is no love. Wherever there is love, there is God. If we interpret rightly, what causes pain and suffering is the lack of life. What is life? It is love. And what is love? It is God. What every individual needs, what the world needs, is God. All we need to attain, all we need to gain, to bless our lives by music, by harmony, by love, by the science of right tuning, by a little life of good, is God. This is the central theme of all good.