MIND vs SOUL Dilemna

  • This article attempts to bring out the differences in approaches to learning. The author seeks to introduce different perspectives of thought with a strong connection to and examples of music/bansuri learning. It is written in a fun style. Author invites feedback.


In our modern world, we tend to approach majority of our process of learning in a mechanical way of the mind. Though what seems to have emerged as our constant companion of refuge are cell phone, data, internet, public domain. It is therefore, not surprising when we adopt the same method to learning music as well.

In this context, it is important to understand the difference between information and knowledge. The internet cannot replace the personal touch of one on one in any knowledge transfer which is the richest source of knowledge. 

The information diarhoea; that the virtual dream like world creates,  clouds our minds and brain. It actually clogs our ability to feel with our heart forms of our own creativity. This also distracts the mind and prevents us from focussing on one subject or object.

The way we live is like clockwork. Wake up on Mondays and go to our work; and then on the weekends we are again robots of the unwind process; ah I have to relax go to dinner with so and so, or so and so is coming what should I cook, drink and what should be our plan, laying the table , conversation etc. Our relaxation is also programmed like our sleep and work....

Let us imagine a world or life without work chains and / or chores. With this approach let us take  a journey to musical learning, and observe a few  interesting approaches:

"You want to learn an instrument, no need but knowing it will add on to your skills which you can then tell your brother/ sister friends hey... I play the guitar or saxophone!"

"Or maybe you are looking for a hobby"

"Or you like/love music"  

"Or simply want to get acceptance or climb up in others esteem as wow he can play xyz instrument:

"Or a common symptom of the informationa diarhoea ; explore , lets try and see.

In essence there is perhaps no objective, that has been thought or analysed perhaps.

So you look up the internet to find a school. For you the time ( you are a busy person) and the money is of consequence; hmmm.. let me learn the violin, or guitar perhaps, looks nice, You have already looked at you tube videos, of how to...What is the next step?

Buy a guitar. So you visit a music shop .. mmm,, or maybe ha ha! Or you order the learners guitar online after careful study and yes of course ratings/reviews.

Lets go the other way, you actually visit a music shop , and ask for a learners guitar. The salesperson is knowledgeable (and brings some of your informations into a structure). You buy the guitar in a case, oh, there is also a starter book, wow, yes "I can learn on my own."

You go back home, a few days of excitement just as the child who is obsessed with his new toy, and try out various internet videos. Soon you lose interest because there are so many learner videos "I never knew, man I am confused."

You go back to the music shop salesman who is quite helpful you thought, and he gets you further information!! You enroll in a class;  land up at 5.30 for a half hour class in the music school premise. You have books which have neatly written scores of music nicely graded from 1st; 2nd etc..

We want to learn an instrument, buy an instrument. We are taught how to tune, we look at you tube videos for guidance and lo behold we start producing some sound. Wow!

What a mechanical process.!!!!

But for music or any other creative expression learning subject we need to explore within ourselves  the passion in ourselves, the need to closing our minds (mechanical self) and wander a bit, giving time for the right hand side of the brain which looks at the creativity aspects.

If we for once discard the mechanical side of our brain and give vent to our hearts concern and voice how nice would it be..?
Explore the THE HEART, SOUL, NOT the MIND.

Left and Right Brain.  

Logic is most necessary for survival. No denying that function of the left hand side of the brain.  This is what prompts you to get up in the. Some days your heart might say I just do not want to get up. Your brain  says, keep quiet heart I got to earn my living ok? Get up, get dressed, and go to work.

Just like a task we do on Monday we get up, brush our teeth, shower and go for work. Yes the mechanical part of our brain is very important. It allows us to plan, coaxes us to go for work even if our heart says take the day off. The brain propels you to go , so that you can pay your bills and move along society And get on with your life.

The truth is both are necessary for our well being. Just knowing the balance when to use which one is the key to inner happiness.
EXPLORE your HEART/SOUL, DETACH from the MIND.. Let the Soul CONQUER the mind.

We must not give prominence to love, emotions, feelings, moods, agony, despair. Instead, we must let our hearts take over for a while and tell our mechanical brain to back off. Easier said than done to be honest.

So close your eyes and picture your favourite natural visuals, a tree standing quiet or, nature in terms of a small stream flowing or birds chirping their words in your ear; as you take a walk.

What do you see with your closed eyes? You see each time you try a different image new dimensions of the marvels feed your heart.

Close your eyes and try to see your insides, what colours do you see in yourself with the inner eye?

That is an extremely rewarding way to learning the potential of our right side of the brain, that is the core of creativity, spurs enjoyment and makes arts/music/creative learning a joy for life.  Let it flow, let your heart go irrational! Let the flow of ideas, imagination, colours, sounds surround your heart, and in that you will find the truth about music and your INNER SELF.

If you are a wind instrument musician, or a breath practioner, e.g yoga , pranayama, meditation etc. you will understand that every breath is unique and each person is unique in their interpretation of swars or sounds.

As infinite bliss of breath makes their way, with its slow movements, into each of our body cells it provides the much needed oxygen. Each breath gives us a fresh lease of life for 10 seconds till the next one reaches our lungs.

Each inhalation and subsequent exhalation of this breath in the Bansuri gives  the most precious gift of soft, mellow and beautiful sound swaras. Each swara is unique, depending upon time, your moods , and the state of your body . Of course breath is the ultimate truth , reality without which we  cannot survive even for a moment!

These swaras created on the bansuri, or the sound created by any wind instrument , evokes the beauty and splendour in us, recognising perpeutity of life and existance.

If there is no breath there is no life. So important is our breath. Please dont take this for granted and give it due importance as a sustainer of life! Simply put, in Indic terms it is called Prana.

All learnings and discoveries be it Tai chi, Judo, Yoga, Bagwa, Shiatsu, are based on breath. The bansuri is a wonderful example of this inhalation/exhalation process, and each exhale rewards us with a beautiful sound swara we have just created. This sound travels through our aural sense,, vibrations through the skin, bone structure and eventually connects with the aural system, greatly enriching the perception of the swara we just created. They are part of innumerable means to try and know our Inner Self.

The bansuri is unique, as it is fully organic, it is just a shoot of a plant, botanically called "bambuso vulgaris". There are no man made elements in it, no steel, metal, wires etc. This is what makes the sound of the bansuri so pristine, and reaches the spot where it gives enjoyment through the heart and soul, enriching the potential for inner explorations. 

The use of bansuri (and flutes) in meditative therapy/healing/ processes is prevalent , right from the ancient times, and till today. It occupies a unique position in our lives. What makes this sound so coveted? The answer is of course a simple one, its simplicity! It reminds us of how sophistication and technological prowess have taken us away from basic, simple solutions.

Our minds approach solutions, with complicated analysis, the answer lies in simple cognitive thinking. 

Yes granted the flute, just like any instrument, does need some mechanical assistance at least when you start learning; Think about it. As you play; of course it is important initially to do a bit of mechanical learning, how should I hold the flute, where should I blow and in which way, how can I move my fingers to play the diffferent sounds.

But once basics are understood it is time to slowly discard this logical part and allow our hearts to take over. Let us dream as we blow into the bansuri, all the moods one experiences daily for eg anxiety, sadness, happiness, solitude, excitment and meditative elements etc.

This discipline will of course differ from the path you have chosen, Western Music, Celtic, Carnatic, Zen music, or Buddhist chants etc.. to name a few streams of sound.

We go through these moods every day every minute; yet when we learn to play we dare not dream of these moods. Why? We have (remove the learn by method/mechanical approach) to get rid of this fear.

May be its just laziness or we just want to tow the line because we are risk averse, or we dont want to take chances and learn new ways, we have our own "comfort zone". This way there are no new explorations of our inner self?

The heart so full of love is irrational, so we are afraid to stray away from the brain's logical no risk path we know!

Yet it is most important to also realise that the heart or the softer side of you has an equally important role to play; taking you through the moods, happiness, anxiety, admiration of beauty, love, smiles, laughs, and / or notice that small little tree you pass every day on your right as you wait for the signal to go green.

Yes the heart is often or mostly irrational, defies the logical part of your brain, yet both are equally co-existent for us to live nicely in balance.

To learn music is to create sounds that make sense or nonsense; for those who play wind instruments all the more merrier as you are close to the inhalation and exhalation process of our bodies. It is time to shred; put aside one's mechanical self and indulge in our hearts way!

Imagine the most beautiful things you have seen in life, feel the passion, energy lying within you unleashed with the breath which is by itself the most powerful revealer of your body! You will be surprised what the heart and soul have in store for you!

Try it , you will be a different self. So keep aside the mechanical side and let the heart feel out ... Close your eyes and imagine the wonderful sights you have registered in our life for eg a sunset perhaps with the crimson colors of the sun on the skies yonder. Each time you try to visualise it ; there are differences; just like no one person is same as the other.

Within the images will be hidden all moods of anxiety, happiness, fear, love, rejections, excitment to name a few of them. Look at each of them with your closed eyes and in front of you lies the whole existance from birth to demise....But once on the path it is most necessary to bid good bye to the mechanical side of one's brain and let the heart and soul reign supreme. Dream of beauty, joy and happiness and music will encompass your life with everlasting peace to your inner self.

Let not the Brain overcome what your heart is trying to say. The brain may be logical, but your heart will always give you the truth! Whether it hurts and makes you happy!

Feedback invited - Does this sound feasible? Does this seem unrealistic, vague or funny? Write to me with your experiences and thoughts; and would love to strike a conversation. I am sure I will learn at least one thing new  from you! Have a wonderful time filled with joy!!!

Author is a BANSURI musician, teacher, speaker, maker of customised flutes of various worlds, and a published author. His writings heavily rely on his experiences of learning music, as he continous on that beautiful journey that has no end. His thoughts  emanate from the discipline and study of music spans over decades. He is deeply influenced by the Indian Music Traditional guru-shishya parampara; his guruji Late Pandit Malhar Rao Kulkarni bansuri musician, Swami Parmananda of Kangra Valley Ashram where he spent learning ancient Vidhis of India, principally Chanakya Neeti a priceless thought processing subject yet forgotten as Chanakya did not write any of his teachings down as a matter of his principle. The views and ideas expressed are  his own, the objective being to invoke the person to think differently, on simple issues that surround all of us in day to day life. Site is www.mybansuri.com

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