Listening to the Song of Life
Most of us have had the experience of hearing beautiful music that can make the heart take flight. We smile, sway, dance, or just close our eyes with a deep breath to take it all in. It is as if, in that moment of time, all is well, life is wonderful. The harmony from the composition engenders a feeling of harmony with all. If music can work in this way, so must the song of life, if we can only perceive it. The Theosophical classic, Light on the Path by Mabel Collins, says:
“Listen to the song of life. Store in your memory the melody you hear. Learn from it the lesson of harmony.” The song of life is a natural melody, an obscure fount in every human heart, underlying all of nature and springing from that One Source from which all came and to which all will return.
THE MELODY AND THE SONG
From the dawn of manifestation, when the Logos (Verbum) of Divine Thought breathed the Kosmos into being, all things were infused with the Divine Melody seeking its fullest expression in all creation. It is the fundamental tune of the universe. It is Pythagoras’s Music of the Spheres – the tone from a single plucked string eliciting many frequencies that resound in everything, even the movement of stars.
The Melody is already in us, but as beautiful as any melody may be, it becomes richer when expressed in a variety of ways. Each instrument in an orchestra playing accompanying chords or modifications to the main melody adds colour and texture to the fundamental tune. In the universal symphony that is life, every creature is an instrument playing a part to enhance the expression of the melody.
A wonderful contemporary demonstration of this can be seen if the reader could pause and take time to view a flash mob video of Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cKE8pyfcZc) or Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbJcQYVtZMo). There are several similar videos. A lone instrument starts by calling out the melody. Others gradually join in harmony, creating a playground for variations on the theme. A gradual development of the song occurs as more instruments join in, eventually turning a simple sweet melody into a powerful explosion of joy. The song of life is the harmony of all existence. We are constantly building on it.
How do we hear it? Light on the Path suggests that first we must find the melody in our hearts. If we can hear and remember it, we will more readily recognise it around us. What do we do when we really want to hear something? We become very still, we silence our thoughts and we attune our whole being, losing ourselves completely in the moment. In that period, the ‘me’ disappears as we become fully immersed in the object of attention.
THE LESSON OF HARMONY
How much happier are we when we are in a harmonious relationship with those around us? In contrast, doesn’t discord eat away at us, making us miserable, over time even resulting in various illnesses? Harmony equates to happiness. Life is a joy, but only when harmony reigns.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky wrote: “The universe and everything in it, moral, mental, physical, psychic, or Spiritual, is built on a perfect law of equilibrium and harmony.” It requires the establishment of balance between opposites. In nature there are always opposing forces, for example: centrifugal forces pull outwards, centripetal forces pull inwards.
Our differences pull us from each other in different directions. This diversity is essential for our survival and evolution, but when we are not able to get beyond the conflict, unhappiness ensues. Harmony does not mean just giving in to everyone in order to keep the peace. Neither does it mean demanding acquiescence from others to all our views. Relationships built on either of these approaches keep discord festering underneath, only to resurface with a vengeance later on. Finding the balance between opposing positions is possible only when we are able to work from a neutral standpoint for the benefit of all.
To produce a beautiful symphony, orchestra players cannot just choose to play their own tune or go at their own speed, rhythm or pitch or try to shine above the rest. Each player must attune their whole being with every other player as well as with the conductor, blending with the wholeness; hearing without separateness.
Could this be why it is said that the first sense developed by man was that of hearing? It is also the last to go when we finally pass from this world – as if to allow us to never lose the memory of that Divine Melody whose full expression is the very reason for being.
THE LAW OF LAWS
At this point in our development, we are still learning the lesson of harmony and so must deal with discord that we ourselves create, along with the consequent pain and suffering. HPB wrote: “It is man who plants and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects, which adjustment is not an act but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigour.” We thus cannot be completely free from suffering and turmoil until we have mastered the law of harmony.
Often we get caught up with issues that we feel are important and care deeply about. How do we decide how strongly to fight for them? How do we decide what is more important? When encountering much resistance, is it prudent to let go, perhaps for the moment, until a more opportune time, or at least until the emotions have subsided so we can look at it more dispassionately? We can ask: will the consequences of an action still affect me 10 days from now? 10 months? 10 years? How about a few lifetimes from now? Disturbed equilibrium, any pain and suffering we create will still follow us lifetimes from now. Harmony is easier to achieve when we can learn to see from the point of view of the other; when we can feel how they feel. The Voice of the Silence says: “Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of laws – eternal Harmony … the law of love eternal.”
The Secret Doctrine suggests that everything in the universe is also in us. We have to find the song in our hearts and find the heart of all beings in our hearts. In daily living our tendency is to focus only on what is going on at the surface. We miss the soul of things if we have not trained ourselves to pay attention to what is deep inside. Although the Divine Melody is truly a soundless sound, we could train ourselves to sense it by a daily practice of realising the Oneness of all.
The Doctrine of Vibration in Kashmir Shaivism teaches that to know one’s own nature, it is important to experience “the vibration or pulse of consciousness” which is in ALL and which is the “dynamic, recurrent and creative activity of the Absolute.” In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is said that correctly chanting the primeval sound Om allows one to simulate the vibration of all nature and resonate with it. Geoffrey Hodson called it the Royal Secret, “which reveals all, solves all, satisfies all” for it is the divine essence in all. This conscious realisation of ONENESS with all life is the one panacea to all problems of human relationships.
If we can practise attuning ourselves daily to the Great Symphony that we are part of, listening to the Song, playing in harmony, blending with the wholeness, then can we produce beautiful music together; then will the Divine Melody be “sounded in its fullness one perfect day.”
Mabel Collins. Light on the Path, Part 2, verses 5-7.
H.P. Blavatsky. The Key to Theosophy, p.189.
H.P. Blavatsky. The Voice of the Silence, verse 300.
H.P. Blavatsky. (1888) The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy.
Mark Dyczkowski. (1987). The Doctrine of Vibration: An Analysis of the Doctrines and Practices of Kashmir Shaivism. NY: State University of New York Press, p.21.
G. Hodson. (2008). Sharing the Light: The Collected Articles of Geoffrey Hodson. Philippines: The Theosophical Publishing House, Vol. 2, p.203.
N. Sri Ram. Thoughts for Aspirants. Adyar, Madras, India: The Theosophical Publishing House, 5th Enlarged Edition, p.121.
Elena Dovalsantos, PhD, MBA,
Has a doctorate in chemistry and a masters in management, spending most of her career as a research scientist. As a third generation theosophist, she is a deep student of the Ageless Wisdom. She was past president of the Theosophical Society's Beacon Group in San Diego, California, and currently conducts Secret Doctrine classes at Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California while also co-facilitating theosophical online webinars.