What is the role of music and sound in meditation and can we use sound to rise in the spiritual path?


The universe is nothing but a vibration. This is has been known by the enlightenment people of the world since time immemorial. This fact has now also been confirmed by science. As science explores the atom and goes inside it, it finds that what lies underneath is nothing but vibrations of different frequencies.

There is no solid matter. Only vibrations of different frequencies that combine to create the physical universe.

Our bodies too are made of nothing but vibrations.
Since everything is made of vibration or sound, it is obvious that we with concentration focus on particular sounds we will be able to hear them.

The Holy Bible says that in the beginning there was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

What is the word? It is nothing but God himself, taking physical form. It is nothing but the cosmic vibration that was sent by the creator to create everything.

Thus we come from the Lord through the means of vibrations or sound. The Lord creates through a series of five steps (from the causal to the physical) and each of those steps has vibrations of different frequencies. When we sit in meditation and we stop flowing outward through the senses and we stop getting distracted by our thoughts, we will start hearing the inner sounds.

This sound in Yoga is called Anahat Naada. Anahat Naada is that sound that has not been created by any physical means. This is the inner sound of creation and if we focus on it we are taken into the inner journey. This sound will dissolve into the next inner sound till we cross the five Brahmas and finally reach Satlok.

Meditation is a practice that tries to achieve this. This is in fact called Surat-Shabd Yoga. Surat means the soul and Shabd means the inner sound that the Surat (soul) focuses on.

Shabd (or Nada-Brahman) is a spiritual musical sound that can be heard during meditation and is believed to have a transformative power. This belief in the spiritual nature of both the inner spiritual sounds of meditation and physical outer sound of Mantra and chanting is a common one throughout India today. Both kinds of sounds have a special power for the spiritual traveler.
Part of the power of sound arises from its ability to create a form of continuous awareness which is a necessary component in the practice of almost all meditative traditions. Buddhist and Hindu practitioners struggle with concentration exercises to focus on some object such as the breath to create this continuous awareness in order to bring about shamatha or Samadhi. But the inner sounds of Shabd and the outer practices of kirtan, mantra provide a less rigorous, alternative method of creating this kind of continuous awareness as practitioners immerse themselves in continuous and unbroken waves of sound.
The emphasis on inner spiritual sounds or a “current of sound” is seen especially in the Sant Mat. The view that the universe contains waves or currents that can be perceived as sound which move between the two poles of existence is a common theme in the Shabd Yoga traditions. The first pole is in the higher spiritual planes of being where the templates for all life forms and the templates that define the basic order of the material world are said to exist. The second and opposite pole is manifestation, and the physical world as we normally perceive it.
These traditions claim that on one hand there is a flow of creative energy or spirit issuing from the first pole that is responsible for the material order and evolution we see around us. The consciousness present in life forms is said to depend on this outward expanding spiritual flow. In this world view, the universe is being constantly created or recreated, and refreshed or renewed by this outward flow.
On the other hand there is also said to be a returning flow which reverses creation, and draws or carries the traveler back from the second pole or material world to his or her origins in the spiritual realms. The salient point of this discussion lies in the fact that the spiritual traveler who can perceive these returning currents of sound can learn to catch the returning wave, and ride it back to higher planes of being. This is the reason for our interest in these sound currents. They serve both as the mechanism of travel, and a compass orienting the traveler pointing the way through the psychic planes and into the spiritual planes.
The ability to tune the soul to perceive the sounds of Shabd must come first, and the ability to catch them, and metaphorically ride them is a more advanced stage. The advanced stage involves transitioning from immersion in a single “lower” sound associated with a psychic state represented by, for instance, the sound of drums or thunder to the higher sounds of flutes, violins, or vinas which are associated with different heavenly or spiritual worlds.
Surat Shabd Meditation, the Yoga of the Sound Current. ‘Shabd’ is based on an ancient Sanskrit word for divine or cosmic Sound: heavenly music. For thousands of years, human beings around the world have been tuning into a Sound which comes from beyond the stars. For the practitioners of the Yoga of Sound, this heavenly music is also a means of transportation. By becoming one with the Holy Stream of Sound, souls during their meditation practice may find themselves ascending in spirit toward the place where the Sound emanates. This Sound connects all souls of the universe to the Timeless (akal) realm of the Great Spirit (Sach Khand).
Music on the other hand is IMITATING, MIMICKING higher spiritual sounds, bringing some aspect of the Music of Heaven to the physical world. Tibetan bells and bowls do this very effectively. The inventor of the Sitar, the most well-known instrument of Indian classical music, said that it was his attempt to “capture the music of the Spirit in terms of the physical world.” As beautiful as the sitar is, the Real Sound is far more glorious than any sound or outer music of this world.

Harmonic overtone chanting (the singing of two or more notes at the same time!) is a vocal technique used in Mongolia, Tuva, Laos, and other Asian countries. The human voice is transformed into a sonic rainbow of tones and overtones making the voice resemble the Music of the Spheres. In India, many have verbalized the Sound of the universe as “AAAAAUUUUUMMMMM,” the OM chant. In Tibet, Buddhist monks created an otherworldly form of chant — their attempt to reproduce audibly something of the inner sounds they heard during their meditations. The various Christian, Sethian (Jewish), Hermetic, and other Gnostic schools of Egypt also devised forms of chant that they perceived as verbally mimicking/expressing the Real Name of God that otherwise is hidden in the silence of the soul. They chanted various combinations of vowels and have included them in their prayers: “I praise You. I call your Name that is hidden within me: A O EE O EE OOOOOOOIIIIIOOOOOO OOOOOOUUUUUU UUUUUUUUU UUUUUUUO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”
The Gnostic Gospels are filled with many examples of chant and names of God that were used by Egyptian mystics and monks during meditation practice to explore the Kingdom of the Heavens within, the Wonders of Inner Space. These ancient texts provide many examples of souls ascending in spirit through various heavenly realms on their way back to “The Eighth,” the heavenly state or realm of Ultimate Reality where the Nameless God resides, beyond all the veils of Light, Sound, and illusion.
Whether it’s drumming, Russian Orthodox or Coptic chant, or Gregorian plain-chant, an Indian classical raga or bagpipes, for millennia humans have been echoing various aspects of this Song of Creation. “For in the beginning of the times so did we all share in the Holy Stream of Sound that gave birth to all creation.”
Across the many centuries and around the world, mystics, in the scriptures they left behind, recorded some of their experiences with inner Sound, the heavenly Music that comes from beyond the silence. Encountering the Sound Current might be as subtle as hearing a faint tone or hum in meditation or as blissful as becoming one with a cosmic symphony on a higher plane of existence — an experience beyond what earthly language is capable of truly conveying.
“Listening to the inner Sound brings the heart into a position of acute inner awareness. It is not that the inner Sound has some magical property. Rather, it is that bringing of the alert mind, bringing openness and receptivity to Sound, is symbolic of the presence of Ultimate Truth. The Sound is always there. We don’t have to create it. It is featureless. It is ever present. So it is a good symbol for Ultimate Reality itself.”
God said – Open your ears and I shall speak to you. Give Me yourself, so that I may also give you Myself.”
“God so wishes us to return to Him that He keeps calling to us again and again to approach Him. It is due to His sweet holy Voice that our soul is lost in ecstasy and surrenders totally to His will”.
In Sant mat it is said, “People have to use the sound for returning their own home.”  Aadi Shri Arun says- Shabd meditation, is the one in which one should focus on the Inner Light and Sound. There are five sounds to focus on in turn while meditating – Bell & conch, Taal-drumbeats, Sarangi, Flute and Veena.” These five sounds are the five levels of creation and if the seeker hears them then he knows that he has reached to that level of creation. On crossing all of them the seeker finds himself in Sach-Khand, the abode of the indestructible.