MUSIC & REBEL SPIRITUALITY
At a Yoga Of Bass session before a recent Pre Komp Playa Massive fundraiser in Chicago, Claire and I led a class on a comparison of the Yogic path (and any other authentic spiritual path) with the path of the musician and artist. It always strikes me how the path of creation parallels the spiritual path. In the spiritual path you take your life as the canvas or soundscape, and you practice and hone your mental and emotional skills in order to bring about an authentic creation that offers insight and beauty to the lives of others you come into contact with. When I found out that up until only a few hundred years ago all music used to be associated with some sort of sacred context, marking all the important signposts of our lives, it made sense to me that these parallels are there. In many ways we have replaced the church with the club when looking for an ecstatic or spiritual experience, be it because of our lack of faith in the conventional religious approach, or our need for something outside of the scorched earth secularization of consumer capitalism – where nothing is sacred but the pursuit of money and the material things it can buy.
Art and music for many are the last bastions of an experience beyond the ‘work 5 days a week then consume 2 days a week’ ethic that mainstream secular culture demands. In both an authentic spiritual practitioner and an authentic artist, there has to be a rebellious streak that says Fuck You to the mainstream. The artist or yogi has to be willing to say no to what the mainstream has to offer and seek deeper truths that transcend time and place but which are still relevant in the now. As @Ponlop Rinpoche tweeted the other day “Recall how often in human history the saint and the rebel have been the same person” – (Rollo May). Of course the rebel in both spirituality and music then gets institutionalized, normally after we crucify them, and an equally useless edifice is built up around the lowest common denominators of their teachings. Or in the case of hip hop they (mostly) go willingly like sheep to the slaughter led by the promise of money and fame and an inability to see past the short term personal gain. Rap is now an exercise in Republicanism, in the same way that conservative Christianity is. Jesus, Bob Marley, Gandhi, Chuck D, the Buddha, Henry Rollins, were/are all rebels. We need more of them in our musical and spiritual worlds right now. But mostly we need to maintain that rebel spirit in our own lives and connect and learn from the great practitioners who came before us.
If you’re into this kind of stuff hit me up at the email below as I am always up for a good yarn with those who want to explore these ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out our Yoga of Bass page for more info on this topic