On Modern Music

Essays > Psychology

Bodhisagar examines and experiments with various types of modern music.

In Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Osho gives modern man the three M’s: Music Mathematics and Meditation. I have some of my own experiments with one of the M’s, i.e Music.

By music I mean the one for celebration and the commercialised songs which entertain us. I don’t know if the sounds of gongs and bell, used by Zen people for meditation, is considered music or that is what Osho meant by music. I think not, Osho meant the celebratory music.

There are different kinds of such music available for us today; following are my observations on my indulgence in music and its relation to spiritual search.

Colour and Sound

Bollywood and love songs

The first kind of rampant music that we get bombarded by and obviously get acquainted with when we first get to understand music are the romantic songs, the love songs, songs of lovers, songs where people long for the lost other, people crying because their significant other is not with them or don’t want them, or in praise of the other, and so on… I had spent ridiculous time listening to this genre, mostly to Enrique, Celine Dion, etc., and a huge plethora of Bollywood music.

This is not
helpful music,
this is
wasteful music.

I must say this is the most waste of time, it is the food for the mind. It does not bring you ‘here and now’ instead it makes you sad, makes you to start craving for the other, it takes you either in the future where you dream that you will be with the other or it takes you in the past where you remember the times you have spent with the other; in both cases you are the looser. Most of the time as I have observed, when you long for the other you have certain feelings and when you are actually with the other you end up having different feelings. Movie songs and album songs really keep you in the dark and make money for themselves. All these songs sung in praise of love, the so-called love which people have for the other, never gives the true representation of reality of your feelings for the other. So this is not helpful music, this is a wasteful music.

Rock, metal & co

This genre helps
to throw it all away,
a path to returning
to the silent self.

The second genre I experimented with is rock, metal, death metal, hard rock. Although this too has no spiritual quality in themselves, they are kind of third stage of dynamic meditation and they help you express your pain, frustration, sadness, apathy etc. Although you don’t feel peace, if you are participating in the songs (which most of times people do getting high) you throw away your inside. It helps to express those deeper wounds, which otherwise becomes impossible to express staying in same mind and with words. This genre somehow makes you feel lighter. I had spent ludicrous time listening to Metallica, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit (bastards, as Eminem calls them) Iron Median, GnR, System of a Down, Evanescence etc. I will put Rap like Eminem in this same legion. So in sadness this genre helps to throw it all away, not spiritual in itself but a path to returning to the silent self.

Movie soundtracks

The third genre is movie soundtracks; those of your favourite movies help you immediately alter the state of your mind. Also sometimes they take you to the times when you first saw the movie and some of them help contemplate, some of them help rekindle some deep emotions. It’s a good experiment to look at your mind when you are listening to these soundtracks. They don’t have any spiritual value but serve as a good source of entertainment and sometimes inspiration to get through day-to-day activities.

Trance, New Age, Indian Classical Music

In the Here
and Now!

The fourth genre is trance, electronic new age, etc., which bring you in here and now. This is the kind of music which when you are listening to it, helps you stop thinking at all. This can be vocal at times but best when it is non-vocal. Some of the soundtracks I will mention are, ‘Eyes of the Truth’ by Enigma, ‘Whispering Wind’ by Moby, ‘Little Boy’ by Christopher Goze. These songs brought me into the ‘here and now’ many times and occasionally have given me a powerful satori. You just have to be in the song, like just listening to them, and nothing else, be completely into them and being in the moment, and eternity is there, it is right there.

Bollywood has
completely obscured
the true Indian
musical spirit.

I will also put Indian classical in this genre but unfortunately I haven’t heard much of it, as Bollywood has completely obscured the true Indian musical spirit. However, I know the practise of this music is not meant for entertainment, or to render a spectacular event; on the contrary it is geared towards attaining self-realisation. E.g. the Dhrupad raga encompasses every aspect of life and nature, like spirituality, love and devotion. The principal and practise of dhrupad is well connected with the theory of Nada Yoga, i.e. attaining the Yoga (samadhi) through Nada (music).


The fifth genre is the celebratory one, the kind of music which makes you get on your toes and break a leg. This is something we usually listen to when we are happy, feeling ecstatic; just like the rock/metal is expression of sadness, this music type is expression of happiness. For example, the new age devotional and celebration genre of Deva and Premal and also many celebration songs are alive and well in the sannyas caravanserai. Their music gives me an innermost remembrance of Osho and also gives the required high in celebration. It is best to indulge in the celebratory music whenever you can, and even better when you do it without the influence of alcohol.

Dance like
nobody is

The celebratory music takes you to new heights; if you are aware during celebration then it works, and the more aware you are, the better it is. Just be aware of the inside and not the outside, don’t look at other people while dancing. You yourself dance like nobody is watching, no matter how awkward it seems. After the celebration when the energy is spent comes the silence, and it is an uplifting silence. It takes you to new and unknown heights of happiness.

Zorba meets the Buddha

Thus as I can conclude music is a great tool, used meditatively can help the Zorba meet the inner Buddha heading ‘now-here’ or the same music might get you stuck in the repetitive mind patterns and infinite doldrums heading ‘nowhere’.

Related discourses:
Music Comes Closest to Meditation
The 3 M’s: Mathematics, Music, Meditation

Bodhisagar TNBodhisagar was born in Pune, India, and is currently doing his PhD in Robotics at Bournemouth University, England. After experiencing a satori looking at the night sky, he set out on his quest to find truth. He went to England in order to find the truth within the human brain; he worked as a researcher in Brain-Computer interfacing and studied Cybernetics. With all stones turned and left unanswered by science he took sannyas in 2013 in Wales, England. xspiritualatheist.wordpress.com

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