Sunday, April 17, 2016

Music Musings Month Vol 2: Was There Music At All

Today we had a sharing by Tessa Tang as part of the month Music Musings - in which we learn more about music and how it is related to buddhism. This week's sharing focused on Theravadan Buddhism. 

I thought it was very interesting that Tessa opened up the session with an activity/experiment, which was to ask us to do a short meditation after receiving various stimulus, like listening to calming music and watching a funny video. It showed me how our 5 senses can affect our "sixth sense", which in Buddhism is believed to be our mind.

Next we talked about the eight precepts, focusing on the 7th one which is to abstain from listening or playing music, songs, wearing flowers, jewellery and other ornaments. This brought us to the question if monks were allowed to listen to music / watch performances, and if followers of Buddhism should respect this practice. Bhante shared with us that this depended on the nature of the performance - if it were for a good cause such as introducing Buddhism to newcomers, it would be welcomed by monks.

We also talked about chanting and how it tends not to be very melodic. However, it works in helping us understand the text, memorise the text and also for protection.

This session gave me insight into the role of music in Buddhism - whilst everyday-style music may serve little purpose, its uses in relaxation of the mind and in preserving Buddhist texts like suttas are invaluable.

Thank you Tessa for the insightful sharing! :)

Jia Hui

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