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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

Category: The Arts

Art and Divine Energy
July 3, 2014

Diana Barrett


I am curious about great works of art, writing, music...

Are the artists channeling divine energy in this one aspect of their lives? (without knowing it?) I will say I am completely ignorant in regard to any of the works and the humans they came from. I don’t believe they were “spiritual” people, correct? So how do such enduring creations come to be? Thank you!

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle


Dear Diana,

If we allow that our starting point is that the entire creation is a manifestation of divine consciousness, we can easily deduce that artistic excellence surely must derive, at least in part, from superconscious attunement. Great art communicates, though obviously not on rational or intellectual levels. Just as a person can be potentially psychic without being spiritually mature or advanced, so too a soul can develop great powers of intuition and talent applied to the arts, science, or indeed any field of human endeavor. Even the powerful magnetism of an evil person, say, Hitler or Stalin, draws its power from a higher, divine source: strange as that may seem.

In the Bhagavad Gita (I don’t have the quote handy) Krishna extols all human excellence, including evil, as manifestations of the power that truly exists: God’s power!

The same can be applied to the beauties, mysteries, and magnificence of nature. Yet, human inventiveness, healing, and artistry specially reflect its higher origins because beauty, intelligence, and compassion are divine, sattwic attributes that are channeled through the higher consciousness of the human ego and soul.

We can, therefore, admire that great ones of art, science, and humanitarianism are to varying degrees channels of superconsciousness. Yet, we, as devotees, see in the avatars and saints a divine attunement that is our raft to soul freedom. All other aspects of intuition can lead us into endless bypaths and dead ends without the desire to love God and become free in God.

Blessings, Nayaswami Hriman

united states


Why is it that I get easily moved by some secular music, like soft rock and others, but when I listen to spiritual hymns, chants and kirtans I don't feel very moved by it? Does this mean that I am not really very spiritual?

David Eby

David Eby

Ananda Village


Dear Alan - what an excellent question, and a very important one! The fact that you are wondering if you are spiritual indicates that you have a high degree of spirituality - even to want to know God takes very very very good karma!

As far as spiritual hymns go, I must confess that, growing up in a Presbyterian Church, I never found the music to be as moving for me as it was for many others. As for chanting and kirtan, there is a lot out there, not all of it inspiring.

Do you chant yourself? If not, I'd highly suggest giving it a try. I wasn't moved by chanting or singing our Ananda music until I started singing it myself.

Music is a tricky thing, though, as it can easily play on our emotions.

I'll never forget the time I was watching Castaway (Tom Hanks movie) and found myself getting choked up by the the beautiful music, to find that I was crying over the loss of Wilson the volleyball! Wait a minute! Our emotions are so easily manipulated by the composer, the singer, the instrumentalists, and so on.

But just because music moves us doesn't necessarily mean that it moves us in the right direction of feeling more inwardly inspired.

I'll never forget during a workshop years ago when someone criticized a favorite song of mine as being "too emotional". I liked the way it made me feel. It resonated with where I was on the continuum that is the spiritual path.

I must confess that after meditating for 15 years, my musical tastes have shifted towards the more inwardly inspiring. It doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the music that you are referring to, but just that I'm looking at what the music does to my consciousness with a greater discrimination.

So here's what I'd recommend: get yourself into an uplifted state of consciousness either through yoga, meditation, or whatever spiritual practice might appeal to you. Then keeping your awareness centered within, listen to some music and monitor how it changes your energy. Does it lift your energy? Do you feel an inner upward flow, or does the music lead your energy outward or downward?

I love the quote from Swami Kriyananda:

If music brings your energy down, avoid it like poison!

Pretty strong stuff, but well worh heeding. In the end, it really comes down to what you are looking for. I'll conclude with another quote from Swami Kriyananda:

Music is not a matter of taste, it is a matter of consciousness.

If you are looking for inspiration through music, it is out there! Just don't be surprised when it comes upon you unawares.

I'd highly suggest perusing our albums Secrets of Love and Bliss Chants, or check out the Joy Singers and our Ananda Singers on youtube.

Happy Listening,



Did Yogananda ever say anything about music ?

was he against people listening to music ?

David Eby

David Eby

Ananda Village


Yes, Yogananda wrote quite a bit about the power of music! A great place to start is in Chapter 15 of the Autobiography of a Yogi. Don't let the title of the chapter throw you off: The Cauliflower Robbery!

Yogananda also explains in great detail in the original prelude to his Cosmic Chants:

Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe, and music is a divine art, to be used not for pleasure but as a path to God-realization. Vibrations resulting from devotional singing lead to the contact of the Cosmic Vibration or the Word. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." -John 1:1. God is the Word or the Cosmic Vibration.

I would highly recommend purchasing the Cosmic Chants and diving deeply!

Yogananda would counsel his disciples not to get caught up in the wordly vibrations of much of the popular music of his time, but when they went to see a production conducted by one of his students of "Die Fledermaus", a light opera by Strauss that had little to do with spiritual principles, he said "It was a good show!" He was not dogmatic, always interested in each one's individual development.

Consciousness is always a directional movement, and he would advise always to choose music that brings your consciousness upward toward union with God.

How to hit the right note
December 29, 2009



I am an aspiring singer. I put in a lot of hardwork for my music. In addition, during meditation, I use the prayer demand from the whispers of eternity which says " Every sound that I make let it have the vibration of Thy voice" to get the Lord's grace. Will it help? Also whenever I am not able to sing the right notes (and this happens often) I am completely devastated. It puts me off for an entire day. How can I detatch myself from the results and not expect too much ?Please help.


David Eby

David Eby

Ananda Village


Dear Jaya - perhaps my article on The Sacred Art of Singing would help! I've written about how to tap into Divine Inspiration as you sing.

Our egos love to get in the way and make us feel poorly after making mistakes - don't buy into it! Unlike skiing blunders, you haven't hurt yourself or others, and the best way to improve is to allow yourself to make mistakes, but keep your aim ever high!

In joyful service, David

Meditation and Music
December 15, 2009



Dear experts,

My life has never been the same after i came in touch with Yogananda's teachings. I am a beginner in meditation and use the basic meditation technique on your site. Of now I do around 30-40 minutes every evening. I am also an aspiring singer with a good voice and vocal range but am struggling to hit the right notes. My question is if I sit on the chair, that I use to meditate while practicing music will the vibrations help me in improving my music?

Thank you so much



Dear Jaya,

Try it and see!

I would imagine that it would indeed help, especially if you meditated for even just a few minutes before practicing.

The meditation will give you more centeredness, relaxation, and better concentration, which cannot help but improve your singing.

You can then start to rely more on the effects of meditation rather than your meditation chair, giving you the freedom to improve your singing (and your consciousness) wherever you find yourself throughout the day.

Good luck,

David Eby, Music Director, Ananda Village

Space, light, and harmony
January 29, 2009




I am an architect and have been wondering, if spaces have an aura (positive or negative vibes) about them.

If so, how is it possible to design spaces with certain postive aspects.

Nayaswami Maria


Priyal, you bring up a very good question. The yogic teachings state that everything is this universe is conscious, including the so-called inanimate objects. Thus, buildings and dwelling places have a certain “feeling” about them, generated, among other things, by their design.

It is certainly possible to create uplifting, harmonious surroundings to help bring God's beauty into this world. Swami Kriyananda wrote a wonderful book on this subject: Space, Light, and Harmony. Beautifully illustrated, it tells the story of Crystal Hermitage, his home at Ananda Village, which also serves as the spiritual center of the community.

The book talks about practical aspects of architectural choices and interior design. It also explores deeper principles behind creating a harmonious, invinting, nurturing home.

I highly recommend it!

In friendship,