[Buddha-l] buddhist music

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Sun May 1 12:53:41 MDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-04-30 at 21:43 -0700, Michael Wilson wrote:

> - Don't kid yourself, Dr. Hayes, you are the heaviest
> cyber sangha head honcho

Gosh, I've been following a strict diet and doing all kinds of aerobics
exercises and lifting weights in an effort to be less guru, but I
suppose you are justified in pointing out that I am gravitationally

> if a buddha were living in a time when
> music was leading to too much indulgence in sensual
> pleasures - leading to various unwholesome sufferings
> - he would either have prescribed a music that was the
> antithesis or have ruled that kind of music not be
> allowed for the practitioners.  Unless they found ways
> to score music that was condusive to meditation, and I
> am sure Phillip Glass has been sniffing down that
> alley for some time.

Yes, Philip Glass and John Cage were both dedicated to making music as
unlistenable as possible. And I have to say they were both very good at
what they did. It's impossible for me to imagine anyone voluntarily
listening to either one of them more than once.

Actually, I take that back. I have listened to the title song of
Qoyaanisqatsi many times and meditated on the meaning of the title:
"Life out of balance." Yesterday ma femme et moi went to the Gathering
of Nations, the largest powwow in North America, and were delighted to
see tens of thousands of native people in ceremonial dress. As always,
my favourite drummers and singers were the Northern Cree from Western
Canada. We met a Dakota man named Ehanamani, who has won several
international book awards for a book entitled "Mitakuye Oyasin: We Are
All Related." I am really enjoying the book, because the author is a
professor who first learned about his Dakota tradition from amateur
German anthropologists while he was in the USA army stationed in
Germany. He got interested in the traditions of his peoples as an adult
and then had to fight off all kinds of skepticism about what the Dakota
elders taught him. His point of entry into the tradition was Carl Jung.
It's a lot of fun. 

Like Jung, this Dakota academic became fascinated with the Hopi culture
and with the Hopi prophecies of the time of Qoyaanisqatsi, when
everything will fall apart due to human avarice and ignorance. Part of
Ehanamani's solution is to practice something that he calls mindfulness
meditation. (It turns out that among the many things that Ehanamani has
found inspiring is Buddhism.)

Lightly yours,
Richard the Heavy
Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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