"Music as a ladder for your souls..."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I really strongly believe that music can lift us up when we are down, reinvigorate us when we are tired, enlighten us when we are lost. There is something about certain types of music that really make me feel good. Sometimes the songs may be slow and contemplative, other times they may be upbeat and energetic, but regardless there are certain songs and or music that move me.

Check out the mantra sung below by a Buddhist nun from Nepal...

Isn't that beautiful? (Thank you Bryan for posting it to Facebook). It is that type of simple, beautiful music that just takes my soul away and lifts it up! I love it! I need to remember how powerful music is in lifting the soul when it is down. I thought with this weeks blog I could share some of my very favorite uplifting/beautiful/contemplative pieces of music or chants that make me feel closer to that Something which is higher than myself. And you all could share yours! Here they are in no particular order...

"Armed" - Devon Gundry
"One" - U2 feat. Mary J. Blige
"Let it Be" - Carol Woods and Timothy T. Mitchum
"Universal Prayer" - Dave Stringer (Thank you Aminda for that one)
"Stand by Me" - Playing for Change
"Here's Where I Stand" - Camp Soundtrack
"You Walk With Me" - The Full Monty Soundtrack
"Bring Him Home" - Les Miserables Soundtrack
"In The Deep" - Bird York
"Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Barbara Streisand
"Falling Slowly" - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
"Seasons of Love" - Rent Soundtrack
"Imagine" - David Archuleta
"What a Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong
"Night Hath Succeeded Day" - KC Porter
"Jewel in the Lotus" - Jack Lenz
"Breathe Me" - Sia
"Fix You" - Coldplay
"Over the Rainbow" - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

What are some of your favorites that really make you feel at peace and a little more at one with the universe? As always, share quotes also if you'd like.

"...in this new age the Manifest Light hath, in His holy Tablets, specifically proclaimed that music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart. The musician's art is among those arts worthy of the highest praise, and it moveth the hearts of all who grieve. Wherefore, O thou Shahnaz,[1] play and sing out the holy words of God with wondrous tones in the gatherings of the friends, that the listener may be freed from chains of care and sorrow, and his soul may leap for joy and humble itself in prayer to the realm of Glory." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 112)

"Let our city shrines and chaityas with a lofty music shake,
And ourpriests to bright Immortals grateful gifts and offerings make,
Bards, reciters of Puranas, minstrels versed in ancient song,
Women with their tuneful voices lays of sacred love prolong,
Let our queens and stately courtiers step in splendour and in state,
Chieftains with their marshalled forces range along the city gate,
And our white-robed holy Brahmans hymn and sacred mantras sing." (Hindu, Ramayana (R. Dutt, abridged tr))

"Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely." (King James Bible, Psalms 147:1)

"The treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord, is obtained by singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord of the Universe, and centering one's mind in meditation on Him." (Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 10 - Raag Dayv)

"We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high..." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 38)

What are you MOST afraid of?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What are you MOST afraid of? Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it appropriate to post one of my videos that I developed for www.SoulPancake.com last year. Go ahead and watch my video directly below. It is only three and a half minutes long:

I really enjoyed filming that video and I think I got a good variety of honest answers from people. If I were to answer the question honestly, the thing I am most afraid of is not being a good enough person. I don't want to move on from this world without having developed and grown as an individual as much as I possibly can in the time that I have. I am constantly worried that I may be squandering my opportunities to make a difference and/or grow as a human being and that terrifies me. I don't believe that I will have another chance to do better so I want to make sure I do my very best right now.

Here are some quotes from different world faiths on fear. As always please share your thoughts, quotes and stories - and for this post let me know what scares YOU the most.

"Those who fear what they should not fear
and do not fear what they should fear,
such people, following false doctrines, enter the wrong path." (Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (King James Bible, Psalms 23:4)

"Good is the Intellect which comprehends
The coming forth and going back of life,
What must be done, and what must not be done,
What should be feared, and what should not be feared,
What binds and what emancipates the soul" (Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"It is clear and evident that all men shall, after their physical death, estimate the worth of their deeds, and realize all that their hands have wrought. I swear by the Day Star that shineth above the horizon of Divine power! They that are the followers of the one true God shall, the moment they depart out of this life, experience such joy and gladness as would be impossible to describe, while they that live in error shall be seized with such fear and trembling, and shall be filled with such consternation, as nothing can exceed." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 171)

How did we become so mean?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bullying is in the news a lot lately and it is really getting to me. There have been a slew of teen suicides revolving around gossip, name-calling, backbiting or just plain mean-spiritedness. I am not going to recount any of the numerous stories here, if you listen to the news at all you've heard them. But it is truly beyond me how we have let our nation, our culture, our society, become this warped, ugly, nasty version of ourselves.

And I don't care who's fault it is either, it doesn't matter. Religion, schools, media, parents... doesn't matter. What matters is our dedication to changing away from what we've become. We can make this world what we want it to be. Do we want it to be a world where children as young as eleven feel so alone, hurt and humiliated that suicide is their best answer? I know I don't.

I also know that each and every one of us has to take some responsibility for our own behavior. We (as adults) are supposed to set the example, and I know there are plenty of times where we don't. Why? How did we become so mean? What joy does humiliating others bring us? What kind of happiness does backbiting about our neighbor fulfill? What satisfaction is created by gossiping about our co-workers? Seriously. Don't we know better? Where has our conscience gone? Has it taken some sort of endless break?

If we want to turn the tide on this bullying epidemic then I think it begins with each one of us as an individual. We can't be bystanders anymore. If we care about changing the world it all begins within us, and I think we need to go back to basics, i.e. "the Golden Rule". This is the very foundation of peace and the core of our humanity. We need to rekindle it in our hearts - love and compassion for every living soul - even the bullies - because I promise you they weren't born that way.

Here are some thoughtful quotes on this topic from various world scriptures. And as always, please leave your own quotes and/or thoughts.

"(A true seeker)... must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 264)

"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit." (King James Bible, Proverbs 15:4)

"O ye who believe! let not one class ridicule another who are perchance better than they; nor let women ridicule other women who are perchance better than they; and do not defame each other, nor call each other bad names-an ill name is iniquity after faith! O ye who believe! carefully avoid suspicion; verily, some suspicion is a sin. And do not play the spy, nor backbite each other; would one of you like to eat his dead brother's flesh?- why! ye would abhor it! then fear God; verily, God is relentant, compassionate." (The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 49 - The Inner Chambers)

"He avoids tale-bearing, and abstains from it. What he has heard here, he does not repeat there, so as to cause dissension there; and what he heard there, he does not repeat here, so as to cause dissension here. Thus he unites those that are divided; and those that are united, he encourages. Concord gladdens him, he delights and rejoices in concord, and it is concord that he spreads by his words.

He avoids harsh language, and abstains from it. He speaks such words as are gentle, soothing to the ear, loving, going to the heart, courteous and dear, and agreeable to many." ((The Eightfold Path), Buddha, the Word (The Eightfold Path))

Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 73)

"Let them purify their sight and behold all humankind as leaves and blossoms and fruits of the tree of being. Let them at all times concern themselves with doing a kindly thing for one of their fellows, offering to someone love, consideration, thoughtful help. Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends; regarding the alien as an intimate, the stranger as a companion, staying free of prejudice, drawing no lines." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 1)

Don't throw the Baby out with the Bathwater!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I've mentioned this concept before, but I think it is worth repeating. Nowadays I hear all the time from people that are disillusioned with religion and have therefore decided to forgo being a part of it all together. They are perfectly content just believing in God and doing their best to be a good person all on their own. They let their conscience be their guide.

I can completely understand why so many have given up on religion. As I said in July, "...many of the reasons behind it are understandable - materialism, outdated dogma, horrible scandals, "holy" bloodshed due to ancient prejudices and a lack of a modern vision for the world". So because of all this filthy, nasty "bathwater", many choose to completely throw religion out of their life. Problem is, there is some really important stuff floating around in there that they should have "fished out" first - the Holy Verses of God.

It's the main reason I created this blog. I wanted a variety of people to share their thoughts and opinions on important and philosophical subjects with a focus on the actual heavenly writings of all religions. By removing the fear-based preaching and the dogma and focusing on the beauty of the original scriptures, you can truly see the golden thread of truth that binds them all together.

Here's my thing. Based on the research I've done and the numerous Holy Scriptures I've read, either all of the religions are from God or none of them are. Nothing else makes sense to me. And based on the beauty and poetry I have found within them and they way I feel when I read them, I choose to believe that they originated with the one and only God who created us all.

He wanted us to know about Him and gave us commandments so that we did not have to figure it out on our own. He wanted us to have knowledge about Him so that there would be no question about the best way to live our lives while we are here. Seems to me that we should value and treasure the wisdom and guidance that He sent down for us.

Which leads me back to the original issue - throwing the "baby" out with the "bathwater". Sometimes the bathwater does need to be thrown out, its dirty, its filthy and it needs to be purified and renewed. Just don't throw the baby out with it. Please? The "baby" is precious and beautiful and somehow important, don't you think? Or else why would these precious words have been given to us in the first place?

"Even if the faithful can recite
only a few of the scriptures,
if they act accordingly,
having given up passion, hate, and folly,
being possessed of true knowledge and serenity of mind,
craving nothing in this world or the next,
they are living the holy life."
(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (King James Bible, 2 Peter, 1:2-8)

"...after the deeper meaning of the Udgîtha or Om has been described, the advantage of knowing that deeper meaning is put forward, and it is said that the sacrifice which a man performs with knowledge, with faith, and with the Upanishad, i.e. with an understanding of its deeper meaning, is more powerful." (Upanishads vol. 1, Introduction to the Upanishads, vol. 1)

"The supreme cause for creating the world and all that is therein is for man to know God." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 267)

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