The law of rhythm is a great law which is hidden behind nature. It is in
accordance with this law that every form is made and that every condition
manifests to view. The creation, therefore, is not merely a phenomenon of
vibrations without any restrictions. If there were no rhythm, if it were not for
the law of rhythm, we would not have distinct forms and intelligible conditions.
There is no movement which has no sound, and there is no sound which has no
rhythm. In order to show rhythm we need not take a conductor's baton and beat
'one-two'; we only need to wave our hand. Divide one and it is two; double one
and it is two. This shows that in one there is two; it proves that duality comes
Then, if we look at it from another point of view, we shall see that duality is
in fact nothing but unity, in other words that two is one; and the most
interesting point in this is that as soon as we see two, each of the two at once
takes a different and particular position in our view. This is clear with man
and woman, but also our right hand and our left hand each shows a particular
power and a particular function, and the right foot and the left foot each has
its peculiar place in life. The right foot is distinctly different from the left
foot, and also the sight of the two eyes is not the same. One eye is always
better and stronger than the other, or at least different from the other, and if
there were no difference the eyes would not be a proper instrument for seeing.
If there were no difference between the power and strength of man's left side
and his right side, he could not live.
It is this difference which causes duality, and it is this duality which
maintains the existence of things. The finer aspect of this phenomenon can be
seen in musical rhythm. When we say, 'one-two, one--two', then we understand
what it is that makes us emphasize the one, and what it is that makes the two
like an echo, a reflection, something that responds to the one. And suppose we
do not say, 'one--two', that we only say, 'one--one--one-one--one', all with the
same emphasis, this will not satisfy us. We will not feel any rhythm until the
one becomes accented and the two, or whatever we say next, follows it; then it
becomes perfect. We see the same happening with the action of walking, which is
accomplished by both legs: if we practice walking on one leg we will find
something missing in the rhythm.
This shows that rhythm is a hidden law of nature. The rising and the setting of
the sun, the waxing and the waning of the moon, the regular change of the tides
in the sea, and the seasons as they come and go, all show rhythm. It is rhythm
that makes the birds fly, it is rhythm that makes the creatures of the earth
walk. And if we delve deeper into the science of rhythm we shall find that it is
rhythm which causes a certain thing to be made in a certain way. If it is made
triangular or square or round or five-pointed or whatever geometrical form has
been given to it, the reason behind its form is the rhythm of the power that has
made it;it is that rhythm which is the cause of its formation.
Harmonious forms are manifestations of a right rhythm, and inharmonious forms
are manifestations of a disorder in the rhythm. Colors such as blue and green
and red and yellow appear distinct and different for the very reason that a
particular color vibrates according to a certain rhythm, and it is this rhythm
which gives to the colors the appearance which makes us distinguish them.
There is the law of rhythm behind good weather and bad weather; and it is the
influence of the good or bad weather which, acting on the living beings, creates
a similar result in their lives. Good weather gives a desirable rhythm to living
beings, and bad weather brings about an undesirable result in their health. It
would therefore not be an exaggeration to say with the ancient Yogis that birth
and death, as well as the limited time which separates birth from death, are the
fulfillment of a certain appointed rhythm. And if we go a little further in
exploring this idea, then we shall see, as the ancient Yogis have seen, that by
controlling this rhythm one can prolong one's life, and that by neglecting this
rhythm one can also shorten it.
Why is it that music which emphasizes rhythm gives everyone the desire to dance?
Even horses begin to move to the rhythm of the band playing before the cavalry.
Even the most downhearted and discouraged soldiers feel encouraged when they
hear the emphatic rhythm of a march played by the military band. An infant is
soothed when the mother is patting it on its back; the mother without knowing it
instinctively gives a rhythm to its body. By waving our hand we give our
departing friend a rhythm against the regret or despair with which he leaves, in
order to keep him rhythmic on all planes of life.
What repulses or attracts us in a person is very often his rhythm. One man is
rhythmic, and his influence is soothing; another is out of rhythm, and he upsets
everybody. Have we not all heard a maid say some time or other, 'Whenever I see
the cook I get upset'?
Why should rhythm have such an influence upon us? Because we ourselves are
rhythm. The beating of our heart, our pulse throbbing in wrist or head, our
circulation, the working of the whole mechanism of our body is rhythmic. And
when this rhythm is obstructed, then disorder and illness come; all discomfort,
despair, and disappointment follow the breaking of the rhythm.
When we look at this question symbolically we find that our gain and our loss,
our success and our failure, have much to do with the rhythm with which we
pursue our motive in life. It will always prove to be true that when a person
takes no heed of rhythm, whether he does right or wrong, good or evil, in both
cases a wrong rhythm will make him fail; for rhythm is not only a law to which
nature is subjected, but rhythm is something that maintains things as they are
and gives to things and beings the power to continue to live and to progress.
To know rhythm one must develop the sense of rhythm. How readily one notices it
when one has a little pain! This shows that a person intuitively knows the
effect of rhythm. For instance sometimes a congestion causes illness; but what
is congestion and what can it do? It is something which stops the rhythm. The
rhythm with which the blood was circulating is stopped by congestion; that is
why illness came. By being regular one maintains rhythm in everything one does,
and an irregular person will always find himself lost, because he cannot
accomplish anything for want of rhythm.
Rhythm is a great mystery, and a sense which one should develop more than
anything else in life. But if one were to explain what the right rhythm of work
and rest is, the whole Western way of life would be in question, for when we
look at it from the point of view of rhythm and balance, there is far too much
activity in the life of the West. It would make any person abnormal. The bad
effects of this are continually felt, but since the people are so much absorbed
in life, they are not yet able to realize to what an extent they suffer from
these bad effects. However, before long there will come a time when thoughtful
people will begin to realize that this problem has been neglected too long. And
what has caused it? This life of competition; the whole misery is caused by
competition. People do things not for their own pleasure or for the pleasure of
God, but in order to compete with one another.
The law of rhythm can be considered as governing four actions: right or wrong
rhythm in feeling, right or wrong rhythm in thinking, right or wrong rhythm in
speaking, and right or wrong rhythm in acting. Not only hate but even love that
is not maintained by rhythm will fail; not only an evil thought but even a good
thought will prove to be disastrous without regard for rhythm. Not only false
but even true speech which has no rhythm will prove to be fatal; not only a wrong
action but even a right action devoid of rhythm will prove to be out of place.
With the wrong person, even if we do right it sometimes turns into wrong, for
instance when we say to someone who is in a rage and who has just been
quarrelling, 'You have done wrong'. By saying this we have not given him a good
thought, but have only added fuel so that he may fight with us too. One often
sees that when two people are fighting and a third person approaches them with
the best intentions, they will both turn on him, and that will make three
persons fighting at the same time.
Every plane of man's being is dependent upon the other planes. For instance if
the body has lost its rhythm, something goes wrong with the mind; if the mind
has lost its rhythm, the body goes wrong ;if the heart has lost its rhythm, the
mind is puzzled; if the rhythm of the soul is lost, then all is wrong. To say
that the virtue of a sinner is sin and the sin of the virtuous is virtue is an
extreme statement, but it would not be an exaggeration.
The rhythm of the soul is influenced by the mind and by action. The soul has not
got its own rhythm. As in a higher sense the soul is pure from all things which
can be distinguished and divided, one may ask, how then can it happen that the
rhythm of the soul is lost? But if we see our friend in great grief we also will
feel grief. It is not because we have a grief ourselves; we feel it only because
our friend is in grief and this reflects on us. The soul is not subjected to a
right rhythm or a wrong rhythm, but a right rhythm or a wrong rhythm can be
reflected in the soul. For instance when a person says of something that it is
ugly, what is ugly is outside him. Then why does he feel discomfort or ugliness?
Because it reflects upon him. For the moment, while he is looking at the ugly
thing, that ugly thing is in his eyes and in his mind, just as when we are
standing in front of a mirror our image is not engraved upon the mirror but is
only reflected there; and it will remain there as long as we are standing before
it. Thus the soul may experience misery or wretchedness, a wrong rhythm or a
right rhythm, but when these are removed the soul is again free from them. In
order to maintain a perfect condition in life one must be the master of rhythm.