Milarepa talks about the importance music has had in his life.
I have done a variety of different work in my life; I have not always been a musician. Music had been more a hobby for me, something I enjoyed in my leisure time, alone or with friends, simply having fun learning new songs as my musical tastes changed with the times.
I learned guitar because I was captivated by the new music unfolding in the 60’s. Like all my friends, I waited anxiously for the next Beatles or Rolling Stones album to appear in the stores. My younger brother was taking guitar lessons. My parents wanted me to learn violin. My brother was becoming cooler by the day while I was moving in a musical direction I could not connect with. I wanted to have long hair, wear bell-bottom jeans, dress like Jimi Hendrix, and have lots of pretty girls interested in me. In those days, it was all about a sense of freedom. The Hippie Movement was an intoxicating era in more ways than one.
One day, I happened to go upstairs in our apartment complex to pick up my brother after his lesson. In my hand was a new 45 vinyl-single of a popular song I was crazy for, one I had been listening to over and over again. I asked his teacher if he would show me how to play it and he said, “Oh, it is easy. It is just these three chords: D, G, A.” He strummed it, then handed me the guitar. I tried but quickly got frustrated. Why did it not sound like what I heard the cool guys play on the record? I eventually dropped violin and began teaching myself guitar. I never took lessons or studied it formally. Many years have passed since this time. I still play those same three chords occasionally that my brother’s teacher showed me. But they resonate now with a different quality. However, I can say that my journey into music started from such early age experiences.
I maintained a casual interest in music and guitar (also singing) during my teenage years. In university, I became quickly disillusioned with studies. I was bored and unsure of my life’s direction. The sense of freedom I experienced while listening to and playing music was calling me. Loud and clear, I heard it saying: “Open your wings and fly. See the world beyond your boundaries.”
Other life circumstances at that time were stimulating my interest in the Far East and meditation. At one point, I decided to leave university and follow my inner calling. It was a decision that would lead me to India and eventually the ashram of Osho. I often refer to this experience as a ‘divine accident’. It seemed that every step along my way was leading me deeper into unknown territory, deeper into things I could not explain to others — even myself — rationally. It was scary but at the same time extremely attractive.
The thing that impressed me most about Osho’s ashram was the atmosphere. It was pervaded with the same fragrance I recognized from my liberating experiences in music. It was exactly the kind of freedom I was thirsting for. Music was happening everywhere in the ashram. I remember one of my first evenings, walking through the main gate and hearing the most amazing music coming from the front garden. It was surrounded by a tall hedge. One couldn’t see in, so I followed the sounds around the corner to where I could peek through the entrance. There was a sight to behold, and one that made a lasting impression on me. Sitting on the ground was a beautiful young man with long golden hair and beard. He was playing an electrified mandolin while an older Indian woman danced around him in utter ecstasy. I couldn’t move. I was transfixed, completely mesmerized. It was pure freedom of expression in sound and motion, something so divine as if from another dimension. I had never heard, nor seen, creativity expressed so sublimely and with such grace. Ah, the music.
Osho was my introduction to meditation. I had never met a person like him before. His whole being radiated its own kind of music: a music of silence. It was a foreign melody to me, like nothing I had heard before. At the same time, it was strangely familiar, like remembering a long-forgotten dream.
I enrolled in a ten-day meditation camp and began a cleansing diet of fruit. I attended Osho’s daily discourses; and his darshans in the evening when he met privately with seekers. I also began participating in the many therapies happening in the ashram. Everything was transforming. My thirsty soul was being quenched. For the first time in my life, I felt content and happy just being myself. The feeling was so deeply-satisfying and nourishing, providing me the courage and inspiration to go deeper. A whole new world was opening up for me. I had a longing to make meditation my whole lifestyle. This was my motivation to take sannyas. I saw sannyas as a way of acknowledging and embracing the new dawn happening in me. Such were my first baby-steps on the path to self-transformation, steps that would ultimately transform not only me, but my music also.
After becoming initiated and receiving a new name from Osho, Anand Milarepa, I spent some years traveling in India. Eventually, I felt to settle down and started full-time work in the ashram. I would end up working more than ten years in the community. During this time, I continued music as a hobby. But something interesting had begun to happen. Parallel to my meditation, love was expanding. My heart was opening. I had heard Osho say love and meditation are two wings of the Soul. This was becoming my reality. And the more love and meditation happened in me, the more I also started feeling gratitude — a deep gratitude not only to Osho for introducing me to my inner world, but also gratitude to something bigger than myself: the vast existence I was becoming aware of within me and without. From this gratitude, a strong feeling arose in my heart to express it. And so music began to flow from me like water from a spring. This flow became more and more river-like, a powerful current carrying me towards something I could sense but could not see: something oceanic, luminous, and infinitely mysterious.
Along the way, another transforming thing happened: I discovered a golden key. I saw that the more I shared meditation and love with others, the more it grew in me. My outward expression returned to me a thousand-fold, forming a circle of loving energy moving in and out like breathing. This inspired fresh creativity; and also encouragement to keep sharing. Hence, music became a vehicle: a way to not only express my inner experiences, but to give something back. A beautiful way to say thank you to existence for the unfolding flower my life was becoming.
The song I heard existence sing through Osho those many years ago continues to inspire me today. It connects me with an inexhaustible source of creativity that goes on shining within like the sun. Those same three chords I once asked my brother’s teacher to show me — D, G, A — I still play them today, but like I say, with a difference. Now, they are less about manifesting adolescent desires and childish dreams and more about giving a voice to the priceless pearl I have discovered through love and meditation; and an awareness of who I am. Music is my doorway to inner silence. It is a song that never ends, a timeless journey that goes on and on. Truly, this is something to celebrate.
Italian translation first published in ReNudo Magazine
Milarepa is one of the musicians from the ‘World of Osho’. He sang for Osho the first time in one of the first celebrations at The Ranch and has since been a prolific songwriter and composer. During the World Tour Osho named him Director of the Institute of Music and Celebration. In Pune Two, he played for the White Robe Evening Meditations, Music Groups, and Sannyas Celebrations. With his band, One Sky, he currently tours the world facilitating meditation events, giving concerts, and joining music festivals. www.oneskymusic.com