Music and Dharma

Discuss your personal experience with the Dharma here. How has it enriched your life? What challenges does it present?

Re: Music and Dharma

Postby phaseolus » Sun May 19, 2013 12:32 am

Ayu wrote: I found your choir...


The day after my previous post, they finally released the music. Click here if you have access to a webcam and would like to join us, or if you just want to poke around. The "learning" page is kind of fun to play with ... They make you register if you want to contribute, but it's free and they don't abuse the mailing list. You might get an email once in a while if he has a new album to sell, that's all.

And strangely enough I have never performed with an actual choir. This is just something I did on a whim once, and had fun...


Namgyal wrote:A old Lama once told me that when you practice and perfect artistic skills externally, you are polishing and perfecting your own inner nature at the same time.
:namaste:


I was hoping I'd hear something like this, thanks! Frankly I would have been suspicious of any claim to the contrary. Our brains are wired for music, for art, with an aesthetic sense, so the whole creative thing seems so natural. It's a way we communicate, it's just a different level than words ... right?
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby TaTa » Sun May 19, 2013 3:31 am

I use to study music composition but my interest in dharma happend at the same time as my decrease of interest in music so i dont have much to say. At least you can use it to practice your awareness!! Ive heard that some scientific studies where done to hip hop freestylers that showed that while they where improvising their brains showed similar patterns to the ones of meditators.
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby wisdom » Mon May 20, 2013 10:52 pm

I love doing karaoke. For me karaoke is a practice in selflessness because the nervousness we feel on stage is the result of imputing subject-object duality, of thinking there is a self and other. So I get on stage and do my best to be aware, present, mindful, and without anxiety knowing that there is no duality, nobody to judge me, and nothing but manifestations of my own mind even while a room full of people watch me and judge everything I am doing in their own minds. Then when I do a good job, the next stage of this practice is accepting praise and congratulations without pride or elation, maintaining equanimity and good will without letting my ego get inflated, and if I do a bad job, the next stage is to not allow my poor singing or not knowing the lyrics well enough to cause me to get negative towards myself and think that I am somehow a bad person or a failure for doing poorly. In either case the whole thing becomes a practice in mindfulness, awareness, and selflessness.

Furthermore we can look at the context of the song, the meaning of the lyrics, and try to impart that meaning to other people. Perhaps its a positive and uplifting song, in which case our intention can be to spread joy and positive energy to other people. If its a sad song, perhaps we can have the intention to turn peoples minds towards the suffering of samsara with the wish that they renounce it. The possibilities are wide and vast in our daily activities to transmute common actions into dharmic activities. In my opinion at least. We just have to see how we can do it.
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Ayu » Tue May 21, 2013 8:10 am

wisdom wrote:I love doing karaoke. For me karaoke is a practice in selflessness because the nervousness we feel on stage is the result of imputing subject-object duality, of thinking there is a self and other. So I get on stage and do my best to be aware, present, mindful, and without anxiety knowing that there is no duality, nobody to judge me, and nothing but manifestations of my own mind even while a room full of people watch me and judge everything I am doing in their own minds. Then when I do a good job, the next stage of this practice is accepting praise and congratulations without pride or elation, maintaining equanimity and good will without letting my ego get inflated, and if I do a bad job, the next stage is to not allow my poor singing or not knowing the lyrics well enough to cause me to get negative towards myself and think that I am somehow a bad person or a failure for doing poorly. In either case the whole thing becomes a practice in mindfulness, awareness, and selflessness.

This is a very good discription about what happens mentally.
There is furthermore a mental-physical occurence:
The stagefright is stored in the body. Knees are shivering, stomac muscles get weak, the breath is somewhere where it should not be.... To overcome this one learnes to overcome fear by breathing or/and positiv thinking. Or even thinking nothing anymore, just focus one-pointed on the situation, on the next line of the song. Every thought of the past (like 'This was great right now' or 'Uh, I failed right now') will distract the singer.
This is big mental-physical work.
Once when i had to sing something with a very loud voice i had to put all of my one-pointed concentration on how to take every tone. Every second of the song was set in where to breath and how to take which vocal or consonant, or how to take this tone with the stomac or with the head... And the text, the text, the text... :smile:
After this song a friend came to me and asked "Hey, it was great fun, wasn't it?" I looked at her with astonishment - because it was so much work that i forgot completely about having fun. Image

Furthermore we can look at the context of the song, the meaning of the lyrics, and try to impart that meaning to other people. Perhaps its a positive and uplifting song, in which case our intention can be to spread joy and positive energy to other people. If its a sad song, perhaps we can have the intention to turn peoples minds towards the suffering of samsara with the wish that they renounce it. The possibilities are wide and vast in our daily activities to transmute common actions into dharmic activities. In my opinion at least. We just have to see how we can do it.

Yes, while singing "Operator, information, give me Jesus on the line" i was imaging Tara whom i did sing this to. :smile:
But now these funny songs which i have to learn right now, they are more about samsara: desire, lust, hate and enjoyment. These contexts are only funny, they emphasize on the unintentional humor of this life. It is very coloured and my brain is full of this right now.

phaseolus wrote:...if you have access to a webcam and would like to join us, ...

So, @ Phaseolus, there is no chance that i join another choir to learn more new songs right now. But thanks. :smile:
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Aemilius » Fri May 24, 2013 11:24 am

Unfortunately there isn't, in classical buddhism, much discussion about music, it's role in society and in religious ritual, and it's effect on listeners generally, -as far as I know. Somebody like Vasubandhu, -who has written about everything and explained everything-, must have written about music too, but it is among his works that have been lost to the posterity.

There is relevant discussion about music in spiritual life in Sufism. Some Sufi schools abandon music altogether, like Sravakayana Buddhism does, some don't, and they have interesting explanations of the function of music. Unfortunately we are in a war-like situation. There is an ideological & disinformation war going on all the time, in the shadows and in the open. A very good discussion about Sufism and the theme of music in the spiritual life was taken away, it just suddenly disappeared, soon after I had found it.
If this were an only incident of the kind, my suspicions of a hidden ideological war would not be justified, but it has happened numerous times, i.e. that a good article is destroyed or taken away, soon after I have found it. Often it has been replaced by a miniscule replica of the original, with a new and different message. Of the kind that I don't wish to talk about.
On the whole this means that I don't have much faith anymore in the possibilities of the Internet.
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Ayu » Fri May 24, 2013 12:45 pm

I also think, the internet is just an extention of our mind. I see also very strange things happening. :tongue:

Music seems to be like food: one can overeat, one can have wrong diet or eat something poisonous - but it CAN be something healthy that brings you to life.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Aemilius » Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:28 am

In sadhana practice you should be concentrated, ideally you should be in a state of dhyana, your object of concentration should be the visualisation that is described in the sadhana text. Thus music can be a hindrance to the state of concentration. It certainly is a hindrance if the music is of the nature of Kamadhatu, the realm of sense desires.
This is a basic traditional view on music as a hindrance to the state of dhyana.
But then sound, and by implication music, can be the object of your concentration. This means that it is possible to attain the state of concentration, even the states of dhyana, through sound and through music. It seems that this kind of development has taken place, that there have been artists who have attained the states of concentration, of dhyana, through music.
There is a state of competition and rivalry, traditions like buddhism do not acknowledge that there are, and there have been, musicians who have attained high levels of concentration, through their art.
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Ayu » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:04 pm

Yes. Right now i am still searching for the point, where the singing sharpens my concentration.
If we perform freely something like Jazz, i get closer to a well-being through music. Like the music is healing my body and my mind.
But if i have to learn and to grind into my brain these comedian a capella songs, it distracts me and it disturbs my sadhana. I can observe this.
But it is a time in my life i have to go through.
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby greentara » Thu Jun 20, 2013 12:57 am

If you sing or play music for the sheer joy of it...great! If you're waiting for flattery or applause ....well you're not in the moment.
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Zhen Li » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:30 am

A part of offering (after water, flowers, light and so forth) is music.

Music which exalts the Triple Gem can only bring merit. Not only does it attract people and devas to the Triple Gem, but it glorifies it.

The way I look at it, in chanting (not particularly mantra recitation or reading just for study), if you are chanting monotonously, then I can't see how the benefit can be equal to chanting with all your heart and soul, in the most beautiful way you can, to express how much you love the Triple Gem.

Outside of Asia, Buddhist music hasn't really been particularly impressive, or at all existent. I heard someone say once, the reason he prefers to chant in Chinese is because English just sounds weird. But then, how can the English chanting from other religious traditions sound so beautiful?

I think in a sense, we have fear of introducing new ways of chanting the Dharma. But I can only see benefit in it.
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Re: Music and Dharma

Postby Ayu » Thu Jun 20, 2013 7:44 am

Thank you.
Now i found out something new. Because of lac of space my piano stands aside of my altar.
Now that i learned the songs by hard, i can sing them fluently. When i sing them with full heart and full voice it seems that Tara and the whole meritfield of Buddhas and Boddhisattvas enjoys. Seems like the whole field is laughing and swinging with the music. :smile: That cannot be bad.
The person, who told me music was "Adharma", was just a jeallous guy with a bad music taste... :shrug:
Because, if our mothers, who have been kind to us
From beginningless time, are suffering,
What can we do with (just) our own happiness?
From 10th of 37 Bodhisattva Practices
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