Chapter 3: Birds Don’t Go to College
Tansen replied, “Is there really any need to ask? I sing for you, but my guru sings only for God. When I sing my eye is on the gift you will give me, for singing is my business. My guru doesn’t sing to get anything. In fact, it is the other way around; he sings only when he receives, when he is so filled with the emotion of God from the grace he received from above, when his throat is full, when waves of ecstasy arise in his heart. When he is flooded with his grace he sings, he flows, he bursts into song. Singing is like his shadow to him. But for me, I sing first, then receive. My eyes are always on the fruits of my effort, therefore I am lowly. You are absolutely right: how can I stand next to my guru? No matter how skillful I become, however practiced my hands or competent my voice, my soul will never be able to enter into my song. I am a specialist, not so my guru. His song is like the song of the birds. I am nothing before him.”
The singers you hear today are professionals. The listeners sit passively while they do their jobs, so far have we come from the song of God. Whoever is making love on the screen is a professional doing his job. He acts and viewers watch, nothing more, just glued to their chairs.
The realities of life can only be known actively; you must enter into these realities. Just to see a person swimming, how can you enjoy the pleasure? If seeing gives so much pleasure, how infinitely joyful must be the act of being and doing.
Sing, dance, but forget the world for it is the thought of the world that prevents you from singing and dancing. Dance, sing - and you stand in the footsteps of God. Nanak says it in such poetic words:
Where is that door? What mansion is it
Where You sit and overlook Your creation?
Infinite sounds are ringing, and infinite are the players;
Infinite the singers, and infinite the melodies they sing.
Water, fire and wind sing Your glory,
And the God of death sings at Your door;
Chitragupta, Shiva, Brahma, Devi - all sing your glory;
And Indra on his throne and all the deities,
And holy men in meditation, and realized beings in their samadhi.
Nanak asks? Where is his door? Where is his abode? And he provides the answer that infinite melodies play and infinite are the players. Nanak is saying: There is your door, hidden in the sound. You are looking after the world, and Omkar is your door.
If even a part of the song comes within your grasp, with the help of this thin thread you can reach to his door. When the music, the Omkar, begins to sound within you, when you lose yourself in the sounds, that very moment you find yourself before his door.
He says: So many ragas and their variations, so many melodies, so many sounds, you singers! They are all your door. From morning till evening, from evening till morning, infinite melodies play.
Begin to recognize these melodies in life. Man’s music is derived entirely from existence. All his musical instruments, all his melodies are derived from sounds of nature: the song of the birds, the sound of the waterfall, the sighing of the wind.
Try to recognize the melody in the world. Early in the morning when you wake up direct your attention to the sounds around you. Once you catch these melodies you will keep hearing them all day long, for they are continuous; only you are deaf.