September 18, 2022
Welcome back to my Precepts series—inspired by meaningful thoughts, insights, and discoveries I have during each week, and intentionally designed to help make your life just a little bit better. Enjoy!
You can find the Precepts series in its entirety here.
Precept 52: Music
It's no secret that the human body and brain's response to music is both profound and complex. Music can be used to drive armies to battle, shift tribal dancers into a passionate fury, spark athletes and fitness enthusiasts to crush a difficult workout, soothe a troubled and stressed mind, lull a baby to sleep, carry tiny packets of information in both lyrics and sound waves, and much more. The extent to which invisible sound frequencies interact with so many elements of our cells and organs is something that modern scientific research has only begun to tap into. Perhaps this fact that we humans are – like it or not – music and sound-tuned creatures is why in nearly every religion, music plays a key role in worship, prayer, devotion, celebration, and more, and also why key religious texts such as the Bible describe music in the heavens, music sung by angels, music appreciated by God, and music as a very likely significant part of our eternal existence in glory forevermore after our physical bodies have died.
Yet, if God can use music for good, Satan can certainly use music for evil. Because music is an information carrier to our brains, and can quite easily implant or influence language, moods, memories, and decisions with its lyrics, beats, and tones, when we are playing with music, we are playing with fire. You've no doubt experienced the difference in the way you feel when you experience reverent orchestral holiness versus screeching death metal. Never underestimate the power of music to shift a human to either peace or violence, productivity or laziness, and good or evil.
In the fascinating book entitled The Father & His Family (definitely a recommended read), author E.W. Kenyon describes Satan's propensity to use “passion music” and “passion dance” (yes, that is quite conceringly the same “ecstatic dance” you see lauded in plant medicine and new age circles with increasing popularity) to stir people to sin. Please note as you read below that I think the author was speaking in the context of his time, which did indeed have troubling racist tendencies. However: I would say that we can apply his “outdated” vernacular to our modern day version of a Las Vegas Night Club, strip club, etc. See what I mean?
“It is a significant fact that music today holds a large
place in all the brothels, dance-houses, theaters, and operas
and that music is one of the attractive features of sin today.
Satan has not ceased to be a musician; neither has he
ceased to lead great choruses and oratorios.
…He evidently loves the esthetic and beautiful; his fall
did not take that from him. Whenever he has an opportunity he uses these to
destroy and wreck the spirits; of men….
…He has given to us the ballroom with its fascinating
body-gripping passion music, imported to us from the South
Sea Islands, from Cuba, and the Negroes of the South, music
that throbs and pulsates with a passion that stirs all that is
worst in fallen man….
…It is no wonder that 90 percent of the girls today in the
houses of ill-fame in this country went there through the public
…There is nothing that so un-mans a man and a woman
and throws them open to the God of Lust as this subtle
passion music of today. Satan has reached his highest point of fascination in
this subtle, dangerous type of music.
…He could only reach a few through the so-called
classical music, but passion music is based on one of nature's
perverted fundamental laws…”
So now let me ask you: how is the style of music you listen to frequently affecting your own mind, body, and spirit? Do you consider the lyrics? Do you consider what the music does or does not motivate you to do? Do you analyze what you would be doing in the same environment or room if the music were different? Just like any other form of entertainment, music is not neutral, and I will say it again: when you are playing with music, you are playing with fire. Fire can be used to cook, heat, nourish, and help, or can be used to burn, purge, destroy, and harm. Take your music choices seriously.
Precept 53: Rigidity
I have written previously about control, particularly control in excess, often associated with “OCD-like tendencies.” Control in deficiency creates chaos, disorder, and a general inability to get much done; control in excess lends itself to stress, self-harm, and unnecessary micromanaging; but control in moderation lends itself to higher amounts of productivity and temperance.
I often think of control the way I think of “rigidity.” A tree that is too rigid and stiff will snap like a dry twig when subjected to heavy wind. A tree that is not rigid enough will bend and droop under the weight of its own branches. But a tree with perfect rigidity will both adapt and gracefully respond to subtle variations in wind patterns, without snapping and without sagging.
The same can be said for humans. Let's take your calendar, schedule, and daily routine, for example. If you are hyper-rigid to a schedule, and if you possess a distinct goal or purpose for which that rigidity serves you, then great. For example, perhaps you have signed up for a triathlon and set yourself a strict schedule of a set number of swims, bike rides, and runs each week. What gets measured gets managed, and with a reasonable rigidity to your triathlon training schedule, you are far more likely to cross the finish line with a smile on your face.
But now, let's say the triathlon is over. However, you, as a creature of habit, continue to maintain your hypnotic trance of swimming, cycling, and running each week – now not because you are signed up for a race, but rather because you have engrained a psychological pattern and near addiction to those particular activities. Suddenly, without a specific purpose and goal, you have become a slave to your rigidity! This is all-too-common.
So now step back and analyze the way that you are living each day and the activities you are prioritizing each day – be it exercise, some kind of work, a particular form of entertainment, etc. Next, ask yourself if your prioritization of these activities is just left over from previous goals, is an unnecessary habit, is no longer serving you and your greater purpose, and perhaps instead reflects a selfish, deep, driven desire to be in control. If so, then you have become a slave to your rigidity. You are simply checking that box because it makes you feel good, with no other good reason to do it. Of course, to do this, you must know your ikigai, your plan de vida and your purpose. Here's where to start.
Precept 54: Recreation
And now, something brief.
Recreation = Re-creation
That's it for this week! If you have questions, comments, or feedback below, please leave your thoughts. I read them all!