I have the deep blessing to work with the music at Ananda Village. Most of my work is presenting music written by Swami Kriyananda, which comprises over 400 vocal and instrumental pieces.
This summer we’ve had many performances: one at Ananda village, another at the Seattle Temple Dedication, and still more at the Revelations of Christ book launch in Los Angeles, featuring instrumentalists from around the world, and a 75 voice choir.
Why do we only perform the music of Swami Kriyananda? Those of us in the choir can testify to the power of his music, which is subtly different from other classical and sacred music. When we sing or play, our goal is to tap into the inspiration that gave birth to each piece, and try to channel that inspiration outward, while performing the notes as well as possible.
I was honored to speak as part of a panel at our Joyful Arts Festival a few weeks ago, where I tried to explain that thoughts and feelings are dynamic energies in themselves, and can be infused into music. Isn’t it true that we can feel, to some extent, what composers have felt?
We know that our ears can only pick up a small segment of the spectrum of sound waves. Isn’t it possible then, that we can feel vibrations of thought and feeling, even though we have no way, as of yet, to scientifically register them?
Swami has never written music from a personal perspective, but rather has expressed different states of consciousness in a very impersonal way, so that we ourselves, can make them our own more easily.
Imagine going in to a second-hand shop and trying on things that were specifically tailored to one person, and don’t quite fit the way you’d like. Swami’s music is like going to a fabric store to find unlimited bolts of inner strength, peace, courage, and devotion, and then having it tailored to fit our own personal needs.
Most people’s music speaks of their own personal experience of life – how can it not? For instance, one person may sing of their own experience of Divine Love, or of courage. We can be uplifted and encouraged by their song, but if we were to try and sing it, we rarely are able to feel what they felt in their personal experience.
Swami, on the other hand, has composed music with the essence of Divine Inspiration, not narrowed in personal expression, but presented in its true and fullest essence.
Many people have wondered why we present only Swami’s music at Ananda. The music at Ananda is not music for music’s sake, or a place to showcase his songwriting talent above anyone else’s. It is here simply as a direct conduit to higher states of consciousness. Swami in fact often calls this music “our music”, because he does not consider it his own. Certainly it does not reflect his limiting personality.
These days he isn’t able to spend much personal time with people, and has said, “If you want to get to know me, listen to my music”. In listening to this music, we begin to meet not the personality of Donald Walters, but the consciousness that this extraordinary human being has been able to reach.