Music as a doorway to silence... whatever could that mean?
Getting the obvious out of the way: not “complete lack of sound”, since there’s music, which in my world at least is sound.
Most of the time we are subjected to sounds, some of which are musical and most of which are not. Sometimes we choose sounds to listen to, but most of the time sound is just pouring in upon us; and even when we choose sounds to listen to, other sounds are still pouring in upon us. Even when we are asleep, sounds pour in, and to some extent we are monitoring those sounds, that is: listening to them.
It’s a noisy life!
It’s also a busy life. Face it: how much time do you spend just being? Isn’t there always another thing to do? When you sit quietly, isn’t there often a voice quietly or not-so-quietly calling you back to action? Busy busy busy, do do do, go go go: where exactly is the stillness, the center, the quietness?
We’re all familiar with music that just adds to the noise, and no, I’m not planning to name any genres here! Sometimes I like really noisy boisterous active pounding on my body music. It can come in all sorts of genres, and when that’s what I want, that’s the only music that will satisfy.
Also, some “art music” of the last half-century or so is right up there with certain modern art in celebrating the ugliness (noise) of everyday life. I don’t personally understand that. We know life is often hard, incomprehensible, seemingly unjust. Do these artists really think we haven’t noticed?
What is more challenging is to make visible the beauty that thrives in the often hard, incomprehensible, seemingly unjust stuff of everyday life.
To make it possible to hear the stillness that lives inside the music. Or, more precisely, the stillness that the music (and, I believe, everything else in Creation) is made out of. To sing the song that reveals its source to anyone who cares to seek it. To create the music that is a doorway to silence: stillness within the storm.
To me, it is not music for meditation. It’s music that already lives where the meditation is supposed to take you, music that lives in the place where everything comes from. In one of the Narnia books, CS Lewis wrote of a place “between the worlds” — not a world, but the source of all the worlds, so fertile and alive and still. The silence I’m striving for is like that: utterly quiet, but so brimming with life as to be humming continuously.
When I have found that silence in my meditation, I have always heard song. Those are the songs I want to bring you.
It is possible that it cannot be done!
It is possible that it can!