Monks can create art, but not Music?

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Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby PsychedelicSunSet » Thu Nov 07, 2013 11:47 pm

To my knowledge (which may be entirely wrong) Monks are allowed to draw, and write poetry, but however cannot create music (due to the 7th precept.) Why is it that other art is allowed, but not music?



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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:35 am

An interesting question.

I don't have an "official" answer for such a question, although I can certainly attest to the personal affect of music on my own mind. I would say that music gets "stuck" in mind more easily (and stubbornly) than any visual art or literature does. If I could remember what I have read from the Nikayas today, for instance, as well as I can remember the lyrics to a song I haven't heard in 10 years, I imagine I would make much more speedy progress on the path.

May you find an answer that satisfies your curiosity, friend. :anjali:
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby SarathW » Fri Nov 08, 2013 1:24 am

It was compulsory for us to learn Dhammapada when I was in the middle school.
We use to chant them and by heart it.
I think Pirith chanting, Theri Gatha also a form of singing.

So the songs can be used for wholesome or unwholesome purposes.

I think the 7th precept is about unwholesome music.
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Hickersonia » Fri Nov 08, 2013 1:50 am

SarathW wrote:I think the 7th precept is about unwholesome music.

Not being a scholar myself, mind you, I have considered this possibility also. I believe this is sort of how it is interpreted by those with Thich Naht Hanh's Plum Village communities, but I am not certain.

I can't really think of anything I'd call "music" which I have found to be entirely wholesome and free of the propensity to enhance attachment, but that might be more about me and less about the precept.

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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Dhammanando » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:01 am

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:Why is it that other art is allowed, but not music?


Unless one counts the Buddha’s allowance for bhikkhus to paint the walls of their huts with floral or geometrical patterns, there is no actually no positive allowance to engage in any of the creative arts. There is merely the absence of a prohibition.

Except of course for music and dancing, for whereas painting watercolours and writing poems can be done in silence and without bothering one’s co-residents, music is noise-making and noise is a thorn.


    “Good, good, bhikkhus! Those great disciples spoke rightly when they said that I have called noise a thorn to the jhānas. There are, bhikkhus, these ten thorns. What ten? Delight in company is a thorn to one who delights in solitude. Pursuit of an attractive object is a thorn to one intent on meditation on the mark of the unattractive. An unsuitable show is a thorn to one guarding the doors of the sense faculties. Keeping company with women is a thorn to the celibate life. Noise is a thorn to the first jhāna. Thought and examination are a thorn to the second jhāna. Rapture is a thorn to the third jhāna. In-and-out breathing is a thorn to the fourth jhāna. Perception and feeling are a thorn to the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling. Lust is a thorn, hatred is a thorn, and delusion is a thorn. Dwell thornless, bhikkhus! Dwell without thorns! The arahants are thornless. The arahants are without thorns. The arahants are thornless and without thorns.”
    (Kaṇṭaka Sutta )


    “Bhikkhus, in the Vinaya of the noble ones, singing is wailing, dancing is madness, and laughing excessively, displaying one’s teeth, is infantile. Therefore, bhikkhus, demolish the bridge that leads to singing, demolish the bridge that leads to dancing, and when rejoicing in the Dhamma you may simply show a smile.”
    (Ruṇṇa Sutta)


    “Bhikkhus, there is a country in the south named Dhovana [‘Washing’], where there is food, drink, victuals, comestibles, refreshments, tonics, dancing, singing, and music. There is this ‘Washing,’ bhikkhus; that I do not deny. Yet this ‘Washing’ is low, common, for worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to nibbāna.”
    (Dhovana Sutta)


    Then the wanderer Sandaka saw the venerable Ānanda coming in the distance. Seeing him, he quieted his own assembly thus: “Sirs, be quiet; sirs, make no noise. Here comes the samaṇa Ānanda, a disciple of the samaṇa Gotama, one of the samaṇa Gotama’s disciples staying in Kosambī. These venerable ones like quiet; they are disciplined in quiet; they commend quiet. Perhaps if he finds our assembly a quiet one, he will think to join us.” Then the wanderers became silent.
    (Sandaka Sutta)


    Then one of those deities sang, one danced, and one snapped her fingers. Just as, when a musical quintet is well trained and its rhythm well coordinated, and it is composed of skilled musicians, its music is exquisite, tantalizing, lovely, captivating, and intoxicating, just so those deities’ performance was exquisite, tantalizing, lovely, captivating, and intoxicating. Thereupon the Venerable Anuruddha drew in his sense faculties. Then those deities, [thinking:] “Master Anuruddha is not enjoying [this],” disappeared right on the spot.
    (Anuruddha Sutta)


    “As long as they live the arahants abstain from dancing, singing, instrumental music, and unsuitable shows, and from adorning and beautifying themselves by wearing garlands and applying scents and unguents.”
    (Uposatha Sutta)
    ...and this thought arose in the mind of the Blessed One:
    “Who lives without reverence lives miserably.”
    Uruvela Sutta, A.ii.20

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    — William Penn Some Fruits of Solitude,
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Dempster22 » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:40 am

Really appreciate this post. It’s hard to sort the good from the bad sometimes, but I think you’ve nailed it!
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby kmath » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:54 am

Yeah what a great question!
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby James the Giant » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:46 am

I know an Ajahn who is writing a Science Fiction book... buddhist themes and all.
I'm hoping it also has vast sentient starships, planet-killing weapons, and FTL.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Hickersonia » Sat Nov 23, 2013 3:46 am

James the Giant wrote:I know an Ajahn who is writing a Science Fiction book... buddhist themes and all.
I'm hoping it also has vast sentient starships, planet-killing weapons, and FTL.

Ooooh... sounds like something I'd get in to!
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby melancholy » Fri Nov 29, 2013 11:11 am

Dhammanando wrote:
“Bhikkhus, in the Vinaya of the noble ones, singing is wailing, dancing is madness, and laughing excessively, displaying one’s teeth, is infantile. Therefore, bhikkhus, demolish the bridge that leads to singing, demolish the bridge that leads to dancing, and when rejoicing in the Dhamma you may simply show a smile.”
(Ruṇṇa Sutta)


"laughing excessively, displaying one’s teeth, is infantile."

tell that to ajahn brahm. not being sarcastic, but you know ;)

btw, when explaining about drawing vinaya commentary says, "should not draw even an earth worm."
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby GusVanSpent » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:01 pm

I could be wrong but I find a lot of input to this thread to unfair, though I am biased because I've studied music and have put my eggs into that basket as far as a career goes. But as far as I knew, a large part of Buddhism is not taking yourself so seriously as to become austere, crusading against a sense of humour, music and smiling seems off to me, though I could be wrong. I know the Dalai Lama doesn't follow the Dhamma, but he seems fairly enlightened regardless at the very least, and he is almost always laughing about something, maybe the childlike sense of wonder shouldn't have a negative connotation, it seems to have done him well over the span of his life.
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:05 am

GusVanSpent wrote:I could be wrong but I find a lot of input to this thread to unfair, though I am biased because I've studied music and have put my eggs into that basket as far as a career goes. But as far as I knew, a large part of Buddhism is not taking yourself so seriously as to become austere, crusading against a sense of humour, music and smiling seems off to me, though I could be wrong. I know the Dalai Lama doesn't follow the Dhamma, but he seems fairly enlightened regardless at the very least, and he is almost always laughing about something, maybe the childlike sense of wonder shouldn't have a negative connotation, it seems to have done him well over the span of his life.


Keep in mind we're only talking about monks here.
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:28 pm

kmath wrote:
GusVanSpent wrote:I could be wrong but I find a lot of input to this thread to unfair, though I am biased because I've studied music and have put my eggs into that basket as far as a career goes. But as far as I knew, a large part of Buddhism is not taking yourself so seriously as to become austere, crusading against a sense of humour, music and smiling seems off to me, though I could be wrong. I know the Dalai Lama doesn't follow the Dhamma, but he seems fairly enlightened regardless at the very least, and he is almost always laughing about something, maybe the childlike sense of wonder shouldn't have a negative connotation, it seems to have done him well over the span of his life.


Keep in mind we're only talking about monks here.


Music's lovely but you don't need it to smile. :smile:

But don't sweat it Gus. The Buddha taught the Path to all people. He wouldn't have taught to householders it if it didn't lead somewhere good. If you're a layman and you've sincerely taken refuge then you're going in the right direction. Practice the 5 precepts and it'll be even better.
Peace,
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby binocular » Fri Dec 13, 2013 6:53 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:To my knowledge (which may be entirely wrong) Monks are allowed to draw, and write poetry, but however cannot create music (due to the 7th precept.) Why is it that other art is allowed, but not music?

I would think that some forms of expression are not actually art, even though at first glance they may seem so.

I'm reminded of the sutta about the actor (SN 42.2):

While Talaputa the actor thought that an "actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality" (which will later enable him to have a favorable rebirth), the Buddha replied:
/.../
"Any beings who are not devoid of passion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of passion, focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of aversion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of aversion, focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Any beings who are not devoid of delusion to begin with, who are bound by the bond of delusion, focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion presented by an actor on stage in the midst of a festival. Thus the actor — himself intoxicated & heedless, having made others intoxicated & heedless — with the breakup of the body, after death, is reborn in what is called the hell of laughter. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When an actor on the stage, in the midst of a festival, makes people laugh & gives them delight with his imitation of reality, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of the laughing devas,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."
/.../


It seems to me that that which we _usually_ call "art" does precisely that:
it makes people who are already bound by passion focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion,
it makes people who are already bound by aversion focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion,
it makes people who are already bound by delusion focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion.

"Religious art" may be done with artistic precision, but its intent certainly isn't to inspire passion, aversion and delusion, and ideally, it isn't created by people in a state of intoxication and heedlessness.
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:18 pm

binocular wrote:It seems to me that that which we usually call "art" does precisely that:
it makes people who are already bound by passion focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion,
it makes people who are already bound by aversion focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion,
it makes people who are already bound by delusion focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion.


Does it?
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby binocular » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:45 am

Of course. Or is such not your experience?
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby Mkoll » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:10 pm

binocular,

It's definitely my experience since becoming a disciple of the Buddha.

But when I was not a disciple, I would have probably been very skeptical of that teaching.

It just goes to show how "against the stream" the Dhamma goes. If we define the idea of spirituality in its most bare form as antithetical to worldliness, the Dhamma is the spirituality par excellence.

"Just then these verses, unspoken in the past, unheard before, occurred to me:

'Enough now with teaching what only with difficulty I reached. This Dhamma is not easily realized by those overcome with aversion & passion. What is abstruse, subtle, deep, hard to see, going against the flow — those delighting in passion, cloaked in the mass of darkness, won't see.'

"As I reflected thus, my mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.
-MN 26
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby kmath » Sat Dec 14, 2013 7:33 pm

binocular wrote:Of course. Or is such not your experience?


I wouldn't say so. I mean, you can't just lump all "art" in one category like that.
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby binocular » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:16 am

kmath wrote:I wouldn't say so. I mean, you can't just lump all "art" in one category like that.

This is what I said earlier:

binocular wrote:It seems to me that that which we _usually_ call "art" does precisely that:
it makes people who are already bound by passion focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion,
it makes people who are already bound by aversion focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion,
it makes people who are already bound by delusion focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion.

"Religious art" may be done with artistic precision, but its intent certainly isn't to inspire passion, aversion and delusion, and ideally, it isn't created by people in a state of intoxication and heedlessness.


What exactly do you take issue with?
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Re: Monks can create art, but not Music?

Postby kmath » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:10 pm

binocular wrote:What exactly do you take issue with?


This part:

binocular wrote:It seems to me that that which we _usually_ call "art" does precisely that:
it makes people who are already bound by passion focus with even more passion on things inspiring passion,
it makes people who are already bound by aversion focus with even more aversion on things inspiring aversion,
it makes people who are already bound by delusion focus with even more delusion on things inspiring delusion.


Music, for example, can be extremely uplifting and inspiring of wholesome states, like metta. :heart:
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