Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Ladder for the Soul

You may have noticed that I haven't written much this past week. Sorry about that. I had a very minor surgery, and it seemed that the rest of my body knew that something was going on. In other words, it took a bit more out of me than I expected. And I wasn't quite prepared for that, so, in short, no articles this week.

But I'm back on my feet, my head is relatively cleared, and I'm thinking about as goodly as I normally do. (No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you very much.)

Oh, and Marielle was out of town, which meant that I had to look after Shoghi while recuperating. He was wonderful, so helpful, and really took care of his Papa. That's me. I can't tell you how grateful I am to the little bug.

Then last night, just to cap things off, Marielle got back in town at 5, and we were asked to give a presentation on Music and Spirituality at 6. Tons of fun, that. We really had a good time. (I can't speak for the audience, but we enjoyed ourselves.)

Anyways, amidst all the talk about the importance of music, many pieces of quotes were shared, and some very interesting ideas were expressed (mostly by people other than myself).

I could mention that we talked about how intoning a verse, as in the phrase "Intone, O My servant, the verses of God" kindles your own soul, and how kindling ignites a fire where there is none, or increases it where there is one. I could also mention how 'Abdu'l-Baha says that music is "worthy of the highest praise", and that it is "necessary that the schools teach it". I could mention all sorts of things about how music "is spiritual food for soul and heart", and "is divine and effective", and so on and so forth. But I won't. (Besides, I already did.)

Instead I want to talk briefly about how Baha'u'llah says that music is "a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high."

When I searched the Writings of Baha'u'llah for other "ladders", I found that He said "Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent." "Obligatory prayer", He said elsewhere, "is a ladder of ascent for the believer." This last is like an echo of Muhammad's statement, where He said "Prayer is a ladder by which everyone may ascend to Heaven."

Knowledge, prayer and music: three ladders by which mankind can ascend.

It would be very easy to go into a lengthy comparison of these, but instead I'll just share a simple observation made by someone last night. He said that when you position a ladder for climbing, it is very important to place it against a structure that is solid. If you don't, then the ladder is unstable and can easily fall.

Baha'u'llah, when comparing music to a ladder goes on with a warning: "Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity... make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish."

'Abdu'l-Baha, in a Pilgrim's Note quoted in a compilation by the Universal House of Justice (see, I'm not the only one who finds value in these notes), further explains this when He says, "With whatever purpose you listen to music, that purpose will be increased."

It seems to me that if our purpose in listening is to distract ourselves, then we will be even further distracted from the cares and concerns of the world. If our purpose is to elevate ourselves, then we will be further elevated.

And so, in my own humble opinion, it seems to me that I need to be doubly aware of the type of music I subject myself to, as I am with any of the arts. I love them all, and try to be aware of the effect that they have upon me. After all, all of the arts should be "productive of good results" and be "conducive to the well-being and tranquility" of all people."

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It is so helpful! I found your blog while searching for ways to increase feelings of prayerfulness as i struggle to say the long obligatory prayer. What youve put together here is so useful. Going to start singing now and i'm sure that will help a lot. Keep up the grest, generous work and all the best with your recovery!