The spiritual significance of music
- Published: 16 March 2010
- Hits: 23355
Music is a powerful tool for cultivating community and a powerful drug that allows you to reach states of ecstasy without the come-down, writes Justin St. Vincent.
Music resonates within the human spirit. At the heart of humanity is a song of the soul. The spiritual significance of music can transcend communities, cultures, and creeds.
Music continues to inspire spiritual expression as sound reflects and affects faith and values. Beliefs and perceptions will transcend the very nature of music and lyrics.
Our spirituality is an essential part of who we are, and it forms the framework of our world. Community, culture, and creed all offer insights into the connection between music and spirituality.
Music cultivates community, as sound creates communication and unity. Cultivation is a constant process that develops, encourages, and nurtures. Sound creates a spiritual connection between music-maker and music-lover.
A song can give a unified voice that revolutionizes and revitalizes the spirit of a community. Music serves a social function with celebrations, clubs, dances, events, farewells, festivals, and parties.
It is a communication tool that connects by creating a conversation between musical expression and music appreciation. Communication plus unity equals community.
Music assists in creating culture, characterized by a community of people, representing their customs, ethnicity, history, philosophy, and traditions. The language and speech of spirituality is as varied as the sounds of the Earth.
Music presents cultures with a refreshed relevance in people’s lives, and provides a way for individuals to relate to other cultures. Exploring the musical calligraphy of cultures throughout the world is a wonderful way to explore the spiritual significance of music.
When we examine ethnomusicology under a spiritual spotlight, we can see how music sustains culture in the value that people place on certain songs and styles of music.
Ritual and tradition are also tightly tuned to musical expressions in culture. In this sense, music shapes culture. Culture cannot be owned by any individual; culture is collectively shared.
Culture is the meeting point for many core values, where people and nations are united by the human spirit. Music is one way we can record and reflect the history of humanity.
Culture is the flavour that spices our recordings and reflections. Cultures have received a spiritual inheritance by adopting music throughout the generations, and cherished their expressions of musical styles identified by their nationhood. Music can define and identify the sound identity of a culture.
Music points to the ways in which different faith communities respond to their creeds. Understanding creeds is crucial as religious beliefs will always affect the reality of people’s lives and thoughts concerning music.
The spiritual climate of the world is governed by individual beliefs. Faith is foundational to any creed held dearly in the hearts and minds of people. Faith frameworks have a spiritual territory observed in places of spiritual significance.
For example, places of worship, whether church, synagogue, or temple have spiritual significance to the faith framework they represent. The existence of music and spirituality enables our collective consciousness to become increasing more socially and spiritually attuned.
Experiencing ecstasy is possible because music is the perfect drug. It is always accessible, has many dealers, and can be freely available.
Accessibility and availability are both relevant because music is all around us, being delivered via CDs, computers, DJs, DVDs, iPods, radios, speakers, tapes, televisions, and vinyl records.
These dealers bring both blessings and curses, providing the poison and the remedy. Best of all, experiencing just the music can have no bad trips or come downs, however, music can have an addictive potency.
Such addictive elements can exist within a single song because music is the most pleasurable source for sensing sound. It can be a chemical catalyst that releases adrenaline and endorphins affecting both body and mind, or it can carry a mystical blessing, part magic and miracle.
Experiencing ecstasy through music can be described as being blessed by an abundance of bliss, bringing a state of spiritual joy.
Experiencing ecstasy delivers a delightful feeling of extraordinary happiness and excitement. An ecstatic moment of pure elation can create spiritual fulfillment as the sound of music serenades our soul. This euphoric feeling is a complete surrendering of the soul.
Music sings lullabies that surround us. The sound and sensation are one and have the ability to take us to new heights where the spirit soars. Music shares whispers while it ministers to our spirit in these powerful moments of peaceful solitude.
Something spiritual happens when you download a song into your spirit. Experiencing ecstasy tastes the sweet nectar of spiritual intoxication. Music is a method of worship. Worship is a state of spirit. Worship begins in the heart and creates a heart connection. Worship is a key to experiencing ecstasy. Ecstasy embraces bliss.
Music expresses audible emotion and paints a picture evoking an extensive range of human emotions. Music is a collective and emotive expression of the heart, body, soul, and mind. Your body knows the music that you love, your mind knows the knowledge that you love, and your spirit knows the values that you love.
Peace, love, and unity through body, mind, and soul is a powerful mix. Emotional expressions are distinct from spiritual experiences, being powerful energies delivered through anger, crying, laughter, and love. A spiritual experience is like a fountain of music sourced from the living water well of the soul. Emotional expressions pass through life, whereas spiritual experiences are profound to life.
The difference may be discovered in retrospect. Spiritual experiences are often insightful and reflective, greatly impacting perceptions, knowledge, and understanding. Emotions can be life-giving, and spirituality can be life-changing.
For example, spiritual songs can stir our soul to consider eternity and everlasting love. Spirituality can inspire lyrics which have the power to establish themselves as spiritual values in daily living. Lyrics are emotive poetry.
Music generously offers us an escape from reality providing a safe and secure haven; our very own sacred sanctuary of sound. The sound of a favourite song sings like the echo of a sweet lullaby to the soul allowing us to disconnect from ourselves, and discover the beauty of simply being alone with a song.
When it is only you and the music, you leave the world behind, and begin to feel freedom. A magnificent moment of bliss that is both timeless and weightless; when music lets us see the world the way we want it to be.
Only then can we truly taste the exquisite essence of song with spirit, experienced and expressed as one. The effect is a purely spiritual sound, delivering a supernatural delight.
Spirituality has a spiritual source. Sourcing spirituality is an individual and personal pursuit, it can’t be borrowed, downloaded, or stolen. It has personal ownership that is as individual as a finger print.
Spirituality does not always originate from a divine source. Spirituality may be sourced from personal education, environment, and experience. It can be inspiring, practical, and form the foundations for enjoying everyday life. When we listen to the secret language of the song, we only begin to understand that music is from a spiritual source.
Spirituality can be expressed simply: spirituality reflects our faith and values. It represents our response to reality. It is the rippling undercurrent beneath our actions, firmly built on the foundational cornerstone of belief.
What we believe, perceive, and respect in life will shine forth in our music and spirituality. For some, spirituality is a scary word reflecting religious thinking masquerading as truth. It does not have to be some esoteric message about magic and mysticism.
Some consider that spirituality clouds the mind, and contaminates the soul. It can also bring clarity and coherence to what, why, and when people do things in life. Spirituality can be a personal reflection and revelation of self, and is therefore, deeply valuable to each individual.
Spirituality is like a seed planted in the soul; when cherished by the heart, nourished by the mind, and savored by the spirit, it can and will give good fruit in due season. Spirituality is central to our life journey. Real spirituality seeks to promote religious tolerance and appreciation of the positive benefits of pluralism and religious diversity. Spirituality is pivotal to how we interact with the world around us when pursued with authenticity, integrity, and sincerity.
It can be born out of a desire to connect with a deeper meaning and purpose in life. Musician and listener share a spiritual connection in the space between silence and sound. The airwaves are an aural landscape full of texture and vibrancy.
Sometimes musicians provide signposts that point to a spiritual path through their lyrics. Sometimes the music and lyrics are ambiguously subtle in their approach. The songs we listen to shape the soundtrack of life.
Deep down in the depths of the human soul we are all searching for significance reflecting a desire to discover something greater than ourselves. Every person has asked the timeless question of the meaning, purpose, and significance of life. Music is used as an expression of the deep desire to discover more.
Sound is spiritual. Every action and word has a sound that resonates and vibrates through life that is positive, negative, or neutral.
The spirit can be viewed as a harmonic generator, capable of creating harmony through your actions and words, modulating a magnificent melody through life. Actions and words are musical because they result in a rippling effect on the water of intention.
Justin St. Vincent is the director and founder of Xtreme Music, where music meets spirituality. He was born in New Zealand, lived in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and North America, and is passionate about music from around the world.
His book The Spiritual Significance of Music (2009) is available from Xtreme Music, and features exclusive interviews with many of the world’s most visionary musicians and writers. A unique anthology that explores the dynamic relationship between music and spirituality, sharing incredible insights from their experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
Justin St. Vincent has interviewed over 1000 people, choosing 100 responses, to produce a cutting-edge and ground-breaking project for our music-minded generation. Justin lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and is also the managing editor and pioneer of the highly acclaimed Music and Spirituality website.