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Music and right livelihood

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  • Steve Tanu
    started a topic Music and right livelihood

    Music and right livelihood

    Dear Venerables,

    I have a qualification in music education and I am about put that education into practice. For lay people right livelihood is not doing business in weapon, human being, meat, intoxicant and poison. Clearly music is not one of them.

    What comes to mind is, teaching music such as piano, violin, etc can increase attachment and pleasure for sound, in eight precepts Buddha advised us to refrain from them. The whole teaching is telling us to reduce sensual pleasure and attachment.

    I would love to hear your thought, can it really be considered right livelihood?

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by Steve Tanu; 20th-December-2019, 10:07 AM.

  • Tracy Lau
    replied
    Hi Steve,

    I don't have an answer to your question, but perhaps my experience might offer some alternative perspectives. I've been playing music longer than I can remember, starting with Suzuki violin, so it wasn't something I chose to do at first. As I've begun practising the path in recent years, I've realized by learning violin and other instruments, I had also developed many of the skills that I find so useful now in attempting to purifying my conduct and trying to meditate.

    It might help to qualify that though I play at a professional level, I hardly go to concerts, and I rarely listen to music unless it's repertoire I'm learning. I started realizing that for me, playing music isn't so much about the entertainment (though certainly that's there somewhere!). Instead, it's more about developing a skill to a very high level as well as working together with others when playing in an ensemble. The focus, observation, reflection, constant slight adjusting, hours of practice etc. that is used when learning an instrument and new repertoire has transferred over into how I practise the path. Learning to listen to others in the moment and adapt accordingly while playing in a quartet or a symphony orchestra have helped me when I've gone to formal retreats and stayed at monasteries, attempting to join into the peace and harmony at those places.

    I've certainly watched my interest in playing music lessen, though not through any explicit decision. The annoyance at pieces popping into my head when I sit is probably enough to stop me from signing up to play a full symphony season again! At any rate, if you do choose to be a music educator, I guess my point is that you may very well be teaching many useful skills to others that go beyond making music, and that's a wonderful thing too! Until you find the subtler joys!

    (Hello, venerables!)
    Cheers,
    Tracy

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  • Upekkha Bhikkhuni
    replied
    Dear Steve,


    Dear Steve,

    I start again by apologising for the delay - our internet is very erratic!

    With regard to your question regarding music:

    Before ordaining I too used to play the piano and violin, and like you, I thought…hmmm, if I want to progress in my practice, I’d better give up music.




    But in retrospect...and not having gotten enlightened in the meanwhile either…it might sound ideal in theory, but in reality, your heart may not be ready.




    I feel that unless music is replaced by another kind of joy - a spiritual one - your heart would be at a loss. We need happiness in our lives.




    Also, there are different types of music, and their effects are different. I studied South Indian classical music at one time - and much of it was played in temples - the songs specifically evoke a sense of peace and calmness. Even as Buddhists, our chanting is a type of music - it has rhythm and melody.




    But perhaps this is part of the natural progression of your practice. If you are keeping the eight precepts and you feel that the music you are teaching and listening to is noisy, and cumbersome, then, definitely… give it up for that subtler kind of joy!




    Hope this helps you…




    With metta,

    Ven Upekkha

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  • Upekkha Bhikkhuni
    replied
    Dear Steve,

    Very sorry for the delay in responding...our internet has been down or very sketchy since I got back...thus the delayed response.

    Please let me think about it, and I will reply in the next day or two.

    With metta,
    Ven Upekkha

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  • Steve Tanu
    replied
    Originally posted by Upekkha Bhikkhuni View Post
    Hello. Venerable Upekkha is on retreat from today for about 10 days, she will answer your question when she gets back.
    Has Venerable Upekkha already returned from 10 days before?

    Leave a comment:


  • Upekkha Bhikkhuni
    replied
    Hello. Venerable Upekkha is on retreat from today for about 10 days, she will answer your question when she gets back.

    Leave a comment:

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