The Spiritual Relevance of Singing – ALAN WATTS

Now, when you have got absorbed in sound, where were you? This would be called a state of consciousness where we have a primitive form of samadhi. That is to say, we are happily absorbed in what we are doing and we have forgotten about ourselves. You can’t very well do that and worry or think anything serious. And you’ll notice that there’s a special way of doing it. Because, I mean, we can go crazy, and we can do kind of wild Indian chants, but in this UGH you are sort of straining too much as a rule, you see? If you keep it down to a soft thing like this and get a floating feeling of the voice, instantly you feel any sound is uncomfortable, avoid it. Slip down if you’re going too high, slip up if you’re going too low. If your voice tends to change, follow its change. So that you’re just swinging along with it.

This is the point why, from ancient times, people discovered humming and singing, and everybody used to sing while they worked. But you will notice that today very few people sing at all. You have to make a thing of it. People are afraid of their voices—their melodic voice as distinct from their spoken voice. I know an enormous number of people who never sing at all. Why is it that when the scriptures, the Upanishads, the Sūtras are read, they are invariably chanted? Because an extra dimension is added to the voice as soon as you bring a note into it. That’s the divine element, you see? The note-sound, the seen-sound—symbolically speaking… [+]

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