In one of the Renaissance Universal (RU) discussions I participated in while in Istanbul in 1980, we were talking about music. People around the table were discussing whether Europeans could appreciate the traditional Turkish music. We were not sure because Turkish music employs “makams” similar to ragas of Indian music to establish the mood. In traditional Turkish and Indian music, the number of notes in the musical scale and the corresponding frequencies are different from the European musical scales and notes. The argument around the table was that the European ears would find these sound frequencies disturbing and the “makams” would not invoke the same moods in the European psyche. A majority of the people around the table thought Europeans could not appreciate the traditional Turkish music.
As a 20-year-old ‘know-it-all’ I was theorizing on the possibility of devising a new musical scale to have a universal appeal. Dada – the meditation teacher who was the moderator of the RU session – interjected and said “all music is universal.” Young men and women around the table were speechless for few minutes. We did not get it. We asked for clarification. Dada said “All music is universal because music touches the soul.”
The soul is universal. The Cosmic Soul is reflected in the infinite number of unit souls. Each soul is universal because it is a ‘reference’ to the One, it is a ‘name’ of the One.
The same criterion applies to philosophy. As long as it touches the soul, a particular philosophical system will be universal. Art, music, poetry or spiritual philosophy can touch the soul. If it inspires you to feel the Divine Love, and inspires you to move one step closer to the Divine Center then it is universal.
When philosophies, ideologies or religions become dogmatic by creating rigid mental structures and create divisions within humanity, they are no longer touching our hearts and souls and they are no longer universal. Dogma can never be universal. Dogma is a form of slavery.
The centrifugal force of creation is very strong. Once you stop loving, once you stop moving towards the center you will be moving away from the center. The ego will get thicker and more opaque covering the brilliance of the soul. This is suffering, this is hell and it can happen to the best of us. Even the saints and gurus fall from grace when they give in to the caprices of their egos.
The underlying theme of my writings is ‘returning home.’ Returning home has undertones that can be likened to phototropism in plants. They move towards the light because light is essential for their growth. Returning home implies a turn-around. Returning home means facing the Divine Center. Even as the centrifugal force of the creation is pushing us away, even as we move away from the sun towards darkness, we should still be facing the sun.
The only force powerful enough to resist and win against the centrifugal force of egoism is love. The only effective spiritual practice is spiritual surrender.