In the series “The Great Pilgrimage From Here To Here” Osho speaks about music and silence several times. In discourse #18, I asked him specifically: “Would you please explain your statement from the other morning of how music can be next to silence?”
Osho starts out by saying softly, but very sternly and deliberate: “Milarepa, I don’t know what I said the other morning — I don’t carry unnecessarily luggage from the past. But I will explain it to you this morning, in spite of the fact that I don’t know whether I made the statement or not.”
It was a hit for me. At least, that is how I felt it. A wake-up call to open my eyes and get out of my sleepy mind. From there, Osho launches into a beautiful explanation of the relationship between music and silence that, for any musician or meditator, is a timeless resource and inspiration.
Three days later in discourse #21, Osho wrote his own question on my behalf and signed my name to it: “Beloved Osho, Am I a philosopher?” and starts out by saying: “Milarepa, philosophy is not the real thing, and to be a philosopher is just to go astray.” He then goes on for a full ninety minutes, the whole discourse, addressing this one question, essentially the difference between philosophy and philosia: a person who thinks about life and participates as an outsider looking in as opposed to a person who lives life totally, fully immersed and dissolved in it. He also speaks again about music and very beautifully. The entire discourse is too long to post, but I would like to share a part of it relevant to the photo of the band from my wild, wild country Ranch days:
“… Music consists of sound and silences. Philosophy is only so much prose, just words and words and words. The word is a secondary phenomenon. Sound is a primary phenomenon. You can listen to the music of a waterfall, you can listen to the music of wind passing through the pine trees… nothing is said, but much is understood. The wind passing through the pine trees has no words, but it has a sound. In the fall, when all the paths become full of falling leaves… have you walked in a forest? Just by your walking you create sound, because the paths are full of old leaves. Just a little breeze comes and those old leaves start dancing and moving. Existence is full of sounds, but it never speaks a single word. The birds are singing but they are only making sounds. They are not saying anything, but their songs are immensely beautiful. They touch the very core of your heart. Music is a higher system than philosophy, because music is something in between philosophy and philosia; in other words it is something between words and silence, perhaps just a midway overnight stay. If you fall back, you can become a philosopher. If you go ahead, you can become a mystic. Falling back means losing sounds and catching hold of words. Going forward means losing even sounds and just entering into silence because music consists of both the sound and silence. It is a rhythm, a dance, hand in hand between sound and silence. A musician can easily become a meditator, he is very close. There is nothing closer to meditation than music — wordless, meaningless, but tremendously significant. It says nothing but shows much, expresses nothing but brings to you a great splendor. From musician move towards the mystic. The day your music consists only of silence, you have arrived home. This will not make you sad. Music is not serious; it is playfulness, it is song, it is dance. It has an immense beauty. It can move peoples’ hearts. Entering into music, don’t remain stuck there. That’s where modern music has got stuck. It has become too much sound and it has forgotten the silences in between. You have to change the gestalt.”
I resonate with Osho when he says “music is not serious, but a playfulness” when I see this photo of our Ranch band from 1983-1984. We played in our Portland nightclub, Zorba The Buddha on weekends. We had fun, especially dressing up in the clothes Sheela and the girls bought for the commune that no one else could possibly wear. They would buy in bulk at big discount warehouses and there was always some crazy stuff thrown in we would sort through at Howdy Doody (as our clothing department at the Ranch was called) to wear onstage. We were a good band when we didn’t drink too much coffee during our set breaks which would play havoc with our grooving. I learned a lot in the year and a half music was my “work” at the Ranch. I burned through every ambition I had to be a musician in the world. I also learned to keep music fun and a joy. I will always be grateful to my band members in those years: Bodhisattva, Buddha, Deva, Gulabo, Govindas, Lalit, Premgit; and to the guys who ran sound for us and kept the house rocking between sets: Qadin, Premo, and Rajesh. Not to mention our coordinator, Garimo! One highlight for us was playing a Ranch concert during the Annual World Celebration in 1984. There were over four thousand people from all over the world rocking out with us in Buddha Hall that evening to our Buddy Holly and Rolling Stones medleys! I remember Shunyo coming up to me the next day saying they could hear the celebration all the way up to Lao Tzu House where Osho lived. She said Osho asked her, “What’s that sound?” And she said, “That’s Milarepa and the band playing.” And he said, “Are they any good?” And I seem to remember she said , “Yes, Osho. Very good.” At least I hope she did! lol
Osho finishes the discourse by saying, “With me, drink your future as deeply as possible. I am your future. When you are alone, watch quietly and silently your present. From your present, from your muddy mess, will arise a flower. Where you are today, I was exactly there yesterday, so I know what a great future you have. Where I am today, you are going to be there tomorrow — or at the most the day after tomorrow.”