The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Many in the world take music as a source of amusement, a pastime; to many music is an art, and a musician an entertainer. Yet no one has lived in this world, has thought and felt, who has not considered music as the most sacred of all arts. For the fact is that, what the art of painting cannot clearly suggest, poetry explains in words, but that, which even a poet finds difficult to express in poetry, is expressed in music.
By this I do not only say that music is superior to painting and poetry: in fact music excels religion, for music raises the soul of man even higher than the so-called external form of religion. But it must not be understood that music can take the place of religion, for every soul is not necessarily tuned to that pitch where it can really benefit from music, nor is every music necessarily so high that it will exalt a person who hears it more than religion will do. However, for those who follow the path of the inner cult, music is most essential for their spiritual development. The reason is that the soul who is seeking for truth is in search of the formless God. Art, no doubt, is most elevating, but it contains form; poetry has words, names suggestive of forms; it is music only which has beauty, power, charm, and at the same time can raise the soul beyond form.
That is why in ancient times the greatest prophets were great musicians. For instance, in the lives of the Hindu prophets one finds Narada, the great prophet who was at the same time a great musician, and Shiva, a godlike prophet who was the inventor of the sacred vina. Krishna is always pictured with a flute.
There is a well-known legend of the life of Moses which tells how Moses heard a divine command on Mount Sinai in the words: 'Musake!'- Moses hear, or Moses ponder - and the revelation that thus came to him was of tone and rhythm. He called it by the same name: musake. Words such as 'music', or 'musik' have come from that word. David, whose song and whose voice have been known for ages, gave his message to the world in the form of music. Orpheus of the Greek legends, the knower of the mystery of tone and rhythm, had through this knowledge power over the hidden forces of nature. The Hindu Goddess of learning, of knowledge, whose name is Sarasvati, is always pictured with the vina. What does this suggest? It suggests that all learning has its essence in music.
Besides the natural charm that music has, it has a magical power, a power that can be experienced even now. It seems that the human race has lost a great deal of the ancient science of magic, but if there remains any magic it is music.
Music, besides power, is intoxication. When it intoxicates those who hear it, how much more must it intoxicate those who play or sing it themselves! And how much more must it intoxicate those who have touched the perfection of music, and those who have contemplated upon it for years and years! It gives them an even greater joy and exaltation than a king feels sitting on his throne.
According to the thinkers of the East there are four different intoxications: the intoxication of beauty, youth and strength; then the intoxication of wealth; the third intoxication is of power, of command, the power of ruling; and the fourth is the intoxication of learning, of knowledge. But all these four intoxications fade away just like stars before the sun in the presence of the intoxication of music. The reason is that it touches the deepest part of man's being. Music reaches farther than any other impression from the external world can reach. The beauty of music is that it is the source of creation and the means of absorbing it. In other words, by music the world was created, and it is again through music that the world is withdrawn into the source that has created it.
In support of this you may read in the Bible that first was the word, and the word was God. That word means sound, and from sound you can grasp the idea of music. There is an Eastern legend that has come from centuries ago that, when God made man out of clay and asked the soul to enter, the soul refused to enter into this prison-house. Then God commanded the angels to sing, and as the angels sang the soul entered, intoxicated by the song.
In the scientific and material world we also see an example of this kind. Before a machine - a mechanism - will run, it must first make a noise. First it becomes audible, and then it shows its life. We can see this in a ship, in an aeroplane, in an automobile. This idea belongs to the mysticism of sound.
Before an infant is capable of admiring a color or form, it enjoys sound. If there is any art that can charge youth with life and enthusiasm, with emotion and passion, it is music. If there is any art in which a person can fully express his feeling, his emotion, it is music which is best fitted for it. At the same time it is something that gives man that force and that power of activity that make soldiers march to the beats of the drum and the sound of the trumpet.
In the traditions of the past it was said that on the Last Day there will be the sound of the trumpet before the end of the world. This shows that music is connected with the beginning of creation, with its continuity, and with its end.
The mystics of all ages have loved music most. In almost all the circles of the inner cult, in whatever part of the world they are, music seems to be the center of their cult, or ceremony, or ritual. Those who attain to that perfect peace which is called nirvana, or in the language of the Hindus samadhi, do so more easily through music. Therefore the Sufis, especially those of the Chishti school of ancient times, have taken music as a source of their meditation. And by meditating thus they derive much more benefit from it than those who meditate without the help of music.
The effect that they experience is the unfoldment of the soul, the opening of the intuitive faculties. Their heart, so to speak, opens to all the beauty that is within and without, uplifting them and at the same time bringing them that perfection for which every soul yearns.