You can hear it. Just stop and listen for real.
Ram Dass Here and Now is a podcast of teachings that Ram Dass gave during the eighties and nineties. If you forego the long introductions by a sincere gentleman named Ragu Marcus (you have to skip the first ten minutes or so), it’s an amazing trip into Ram Dass’ wisdom.
There’s a poem that he reads at the end of his “Playing With Reality” episode. It’s by Kabir (a fifteenth century Indian mystic poet and saint), and it stopped me in my tracks. Here are the lines that smacked me in the heart:
“Have you heard the music that no fingers enter into? … Suppose you scrub your ethical skin until it shines but inside there is no music, then what?”
Up until about seven or eight years ago, I’ve been a musician. Singer songwriter, and composer lyricist for musical theatre. (Here’s a rough, kind of sweet example.) In the nineties, I made three CDs. In 2007, I graduated from Tisch School of the Arts with a Masters Degree in Musical Theatre Writing.
And then the well just dried up and it all went away. All at once.
I’d been doing yoga most of my life, and finally became a yoga teacher in 2012. So that’s what I concentrated on from then until last year. It’s remotely possible that during that time, I was ‘scrubbing my ethical skin’ until it shined…forgetting that inside there might be music I couldn’t hear, because I was ignoring it.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved teaching yoga, and I might return to it someday. But I think I superimposed an “either/or” template on the places that music and yoga held in my life. And I don’t need to do that.
So the words of this poem immediately triggered a song that I’m writing. I’ll share it when it’s ripe. But the bigger point I want to make here is that maybe we all place way too much importance on polishing our image, the one the world sees…which dulls our inner hearing, leaving us deaf to the “music that no fingers enter into.”
The music inside us. Which might not be ‘music’ at all. It might be carpentry, or coding or quilting. But whatever it is, we can’t hear it if we’re filling our ears with someone else’s voice.
Let’s take some time once a week to listen to whatever song our bones are humming as we walk down the street. Listen. Your soul might be shy. Sidle up to it quietly. Don’t make eye contact. Just breathe in and out next to it, while it hums. See if you can recognize the tune.
And if you do, maybe you hum along…which, to the outside world, might look like purchasing the tools you’d need to pursue whatever that “song” needs to be heard in the world. A table saw. A laptop. A special presser foot for the sewing machine. Paint brushes. A camera.
Your soul is singing. It’s the holiest sound in the world.
Listen. Sing along.
It’s what you’re here for.
It’s what we’re all here for.
May all beings hear their own inner music, and may it ride their breath into the world.