May 2018. I open an e-mail by our country coordinator, regarding our upcoming Heartfulness Meditation seminar. “Daniel, can you please give a 30-minute talk on how you use subtle suggestions in your thoughts when you give a piano performance?” My answer: “I would be happy to do it, yet I am not aware of utilizing any mental technique.” He is astonished “you even don’t connect your heart consciously with your inner source of light?” How to explain that this happens automatically when I sit down at the piano? A sudden idea comes: “I do see one common aspect: making a mental suggestion means to send out a purpose into space by thought power. When I touch the keys of the piano, I’m also putting a purpose into the sound. I want the sound to be charged with the inner light of my heart. Yet I’m not defining that purpose in words. It is a mere feeling, inspiring my touch. Let me give you an example. When you use your hands not to touch a keyboard but to gently touch a person you love, are you charging that touch with the deliberate thought that the light of your soul may flow into your fingertips and touch the other person not only physically but with the innermost essence of your heart?” With that ridiculous example, I was hoping to put him off and end the conversation. So I added sarcastically “if you want me to talk about the topic on that level, I’ll be happy to do it”. He surprised me by answering “yes, please do it, that’s wonderful”.
Let’s look at the beginning of my journey. Twenty-eight years back, I wouldn’t have been able to name it that consciously. I was just listening to piano music by Chopin which touched my heart and my sensuality in a noble, gentle way, unexplainably but authentically. My heart was aroused because it sensed a deep meaning in being touched that magically. I felt that there is something way beyond these profound moments, and those sounds of sensitive piano music were knocking at the inner doors to that “beyond” in my heart. The signpost at this door which pointed to something meaningful was nothing but the authenticity in this feeling of being touched.
Another profound experience was listening to Glenn Gould playing J.S. Bach. The sensation of a mystical charge in the sound of the piano under his fingers was electrifying. I sat down at the piano, but I couldn’t imitate it. I found my own sound poor, compared to him. I had not yet found the keys to this metaphysical sensation. This would change years later when I started my own meditation practice with Heartfulness.
At first, I wasn’t able to feel the subtle transmission of yogic energy applied by Heartfulness trainers during meditation. It was too fine, too forceless. A few months later, I visited a Heartfulness center in Lucerne, Switzerland, for a group meditation. I found the door locked and the place deserted. The local group had moved to another place and not updated their information online. I was just about to return when the yogic transmission started and hit me straight in my heart. This energy had found me without anyone knowing that I was there. I was so captivated. I knew I had to sit down and meditate. The only seat I found was a trash bin. So I sat down on a trash bin and had the most profound experience in meditation.
This subtle energy which captivated my heart was not at all unknown to me. In fact it felt VERY familiar to me. It was similar to my best moments at the piano when I was deeply connected to my inner self, playing directly from my feelings. It was also similar to the sexual unification with my girlfriend. Also in these moments, my heart had been delightfully swimming in light. It dawned on me that spirituality is noting abstract and “beyond”, outside of ourselves, out of this world. It is the innermost essence of ourselves and – in face – of every happy moment of my life which was truly fulfilling. The transmitted energy felt like a common denominator of all profound experiences, like the distillate of everything that makes us truly happy. The distillate itself has no color, no perfume, no attributes, no quality, yet it is the base of everything. Again, I found my heart touched with this sense of authenticity, and I knew I had found the means to pursue the way I had unconsciously been searching for in music.
While studying piano performance at UCLA, I discovered that the discipline of regularity is the highest form of self-love because it brings all our qualities and faculties to their best. When I practiced piano every day, my skills started to take off and soar, no longer fighting the friction of moving on the ground. When I meditated every day, my inner state acquired such a beauty and happiness I no longer wanted to give up, so I kept meditating.
After a few years of meditation practice, I sat down at the piano practicing Bach, and now, I found my inner channels of metaphysical inspiration to be opened. Suddenly I knew how to play as Glenn Gould did. Without imitating his style, I intuitively knew how to touch the piano and put this mystical excitement into the sound. Intuitively, I felt that 250 years back, when Bach composed this music, the idea of these sounds had originated from a sensation of metaphysical light in the heart, just as I had experienced it during meditation. I found out how to touch the piano in a way that evoked this feeling of light within the sound.
The same year, I read a message by the inventor of the Heartfulness method who had been called “Babuji”. In this message to a woman in South France, he recommended that we all read the book “The Heart’s code” by the spiritually enlightened heart surgeon Paul Pearsall from Hawaii. There I found the most beautiful theoretical framework to what I had discovered at the piano. Pearsall believes to have scientific proof that a metaphysical form of energy exists which science is yet unable to detect. He calls it “L-energy” (life energy). In the course of his explanations, it becomes clear that he is talking about the soul (which is actually not the same as prana or life energy). He believes to have scientific evidence that the heart must be the seat of this L-energy. The heart is permanently pumping this soul energy through the blood into every cell of the body. One of his conclusions is that every skin contact of two people is also an exchange of subtle L-energy.
This beautiful explanation of matter, being a carrier or a channel of subtle soul energy, made me redefine my piano playing. I thought “when I touch the keys of a piano, the same must be happening. The subtle soul energy in my finger tips touches the keys and charges the sound with the same sensation of light as I feel it in my heart. Would it not touch a sensitive listener as well?” I was so happy because the meaning of earthly life seemed to unfold in my eyes. Matter is nothing but a medium of expression to be charged with the energy of our most precious, subtle essence.
I intuitively know how to do it at the piano, yet I’m unable to explain how to do it. So, given the talk I had to deliver, I faced the problem to explain the unexplainable. So I first resorted to telling stories how my piano teachers had tried to convey the same unexplainable phenomenon. One of them had kept telling me “you have to feeeeeel the sound when you play it”. While saying that, his voice would tremble with a sense of sacred passion. He conveyed a sense of sacred intensity in touching the piano – in the finger tips as well as in the heart. His attitude was highly spiritual without him naming it. Then I quoted him explaining how he recognizes musical “talent” in a child. His answer “it is the way a child devotes itself to the sound it produces at the piano”. Is there anything more beautiful than a child’s heart, dedicating itself to what it wants to discover? Is there a more appropriate definition of “bhakti” (devotion)?
So I utilized my talk for doing what I enjoy doing most: Playing the teacher, talking about yoga philosophy, conveying some theoretical framework, but enlivening it with real-life examples and personal experience. I said “no mental suggestion can produce such a sound. Only the attitude of the heart can make the magic happen. I dare to call that attitude ‘bhakti’. To me, bhakti is a combination of passion – a silent but strong inner fire – combined with a sense of sacredness. Bhakti is the devotion of the heart towards what it finds most sacred. By ‘sacred’ I don’t mean the religious sense of trepidation and reverential distance to the worshipped object. I use the word ‘sacred’ in the sense of ‘precious’ – what is most precious to my heart. My heart can be intimately in touch with the sacred energy instead of admiring it from a distance. This intimacy takes place in the ‘secrecy of the heart’, as the inventor of the Heartfulness method puts it. This attitude of bhakti can manifest in everything we do. Our previous global trainer has clarified that bhakti is not a passive state. It manifests in our action. In fact it is what elevates the other two aspects of worldly life – knowledge (Gyan or Gnana Yoga) and action (Karma yoga) and makes them transcend the purely material level.