(NOTE: This article appeared first on the Singer’s Garden website. I’ve decided to consolidate singing-related topics here rather than put them on a separate site, as it simply makes sense given that AG has always been a music repository. If you have questions or comments, feel free to get in touch via the contact form — link above.)
I showered and shaved and went to the Ananda community studio to sing, arriving at 4:15 a.m. I was feeling awful – something I ate – my body was dragging and I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to sing.
I opened the Forscore app where I keep my music, deciding it would make sense to choose short, peppy songs.
As often happens when I offer my practice to God, my eyes lit on a song that wouldn’t have been my first choice: Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto.
Ah, well – those spontaneous choices had always seemed to work well. Despite my ailing body, I sang the melody and harmony parts several times with genuine pleasure. The vibrations, as with all of Swami’s songs, carried an undercurrent of inexhaustible joy. Cherry Blossoms is so sweet and innocent; my spirits were lifted, even if my body was not.
Here’s the remainder of my daily playlist, as I followed the natural inclinations of my heart.
Be Free Inside
Fischerweise (“The Fisherman’s Ditty” – a song by Franz Schubert with lyrics by his good friend Franz von Schlechta). This one needs some explanation. I first heard a snippet in the Robert Downey, Jr. film Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, where Sherlock visits the villain, Professor Moriarty, in his Cambridge University study and the song plays in the background. The two protagonists exchange barbed comments on the final words: “Gib auf nur deine Tücke – den Fisch betrügst du nicht!” (“Give up your clever trickery – you will not fool the fish!”)
The melody is delightful and the words are sweet. I speak German, and when I looked up the song my intrigue deepened. It’s a thoroughly cheerful, happy song – I had a feeling that it had been chosen for me by Swami Kriyananda, who was very much in favor of happiness and good cheer.
A Vedic astrologer had told me that I’d been under heavy Saturn influences for fifty years, from age thirteen to sixty-three. Swamiji always tried to raise my spirits and help me see the happy, lighthearted side of the spiritual path. He would even make absurd jokes – like when he said to me, “Rambhakta, do you think Roy Guggggggliotta eats lasagggggna?” Roy’s name would be pronounced “Gulliotta” in Italian, without the hard “g’s.”
When it came to deciding whether to include Fischerweise along with the Ananda songs in my practice sessions, I felt a little trepidation. I didn’t want to wander from the reason for my morning practices.
For months, Divine Mother had awakened me at 4, often when I’d as soon have slept in. Formerly, I had chanted in the mornings, but I had begun to feel a need for a change, and when I held up the idea of singing Ananda’s songs, the guidance that came surprised me – I felt that I should sing the songs that Swami Kriyananda had composed to Shakespeare’s lyrics. I loved the words, but had considered the songs just a light diversion – not part of the main, serious, spiritually weighty Ananda musical canon.
Yet I was surprised and delighted when the songs began to work their magic. I noticed that I was becoming a more cheerful, upbeat and happy person. While learning the songs I was forced to sing them slowly and softly, discovering that they held the same sweet nectar at their core as the “heavy lifters” of Swami’s musical works – the Oratorio, the upbeat spiritualized folk songs (Come Gather Round, etc.), and the serious singles: To Death I’m a Stranger, Life Flows On, Through All Trials, I Live Without Fear, etc.
At any rate, I felt that Fischerweise deserved a place in my “Sweetness” folder, both because it was chosen for me and because it had proved vibrationally that it could carry the load – that it is divinely, irrepressibly cheerful and happy and healing in its own way. So, still feeling physically less than bouncy, I sang it regardless and felt thoroughly cheered and mentally uplifted.
Free At Last. (A wonderful song from The Peace Treaty.)
Give Me A Light
Of His Dreams (A seldom sung, very sweet children’s song.)
All That Glisters
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
Oh, Mistress Mine
Spring Song. (The lyrics may be worldly – but it’s a hoot to sing!)
Under The Greenwood Tree (A song that I didn’t really like but kept feeling inwardly pushed to sing, eventually finding it tremendously cheering.)
When I Was A Boy
Where The Bee Sucks
The Secret of Laughter
Secret of Laughter took me right over the hill. I had intended to dedicate part of my singing practice to sending out good vibrations as a counterforce to the riots and looting currently taking place in American cities, and Secret of Laughter stepped up and volunteered to be the cannon from which the spiritual joy shells were fired. As I sang I was filled with a power of joy that spread out to bless the northern California air. I realized that, as Swami Kriyananda often said, Ananda’s greatest service to the world was not to convert others or beat them into submission with our views, but simply to quietly radiate God’s love and bliss.
I had announced my intention also to dedicate part of my meditation to spreading healing energy in the face of the riots, and when I sat and closed my eyes I felt God using me again as a channel for His blissful power which now revealed itself as the most potent answer to negativity in its many forms, and the most powerful way to heal those in the grip of riotous emotions.
My heart flowed also with blessings for America, whose heart is truly expressed not by its politicians or those who offer outrage without solutions, but by its kshatriya warriors – those who are dedicated to the warrior’s divine dharma of restraining self to be able to offer themselves as channels to effect true, lasting good and peace for all.
Update, April 3, 2021: I continue to sing Swamiji’s music for an hour a day. It has been a mixed experience — not in the sense of “good and bad,” but the lessons have been wildly varied and challenging. Through it all, the constant thread has been that Swami Kriyananda’s music holds a vibration at its core of inexpressible divine sweetness. One feels it very clearly in the vibration of the music when he sings it. To be able to align oneself with that vibration is to find oneself lifted onto higher planes of divine song that hold a power of healing and joy.