Music and the Arts
Music is not a matter of taste — it is a matter of consciousness.
Music and the arts play a vital role in life at Ananda. Whether it be in chanting before meditation, musical performances at classes, services, and concerts, recordings playing in the background, creating and displaying beautiful artwork on our walls, or in dance and dramatic performances, our artistic goal at Ananda is the upliftment of consciousness.
In the past 100 years, the arts in our culture have undergone extreme changes, as established rules and boundaries have been challenged by novel approaches. We have been faced with the question, “What is art?” And when experiencing some of what has been created in the name of art, perhaps some of us have asked ourselves “This is art?”
In his book Art as a Hidden Message, Swami Kriyananda takes on these issues, and further clarifies the higher purpose of the arts: to uplift, inspire, and expand our consciousness.
In his book The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, he explains:
One cannot listen to music [or experience the arts] sensitively without soon becoming aware that it conveys more than sounds [or visual stimuli], that it is a vehicle for moods, for states of consciousness…
As strings on a piano vibrate sympathetically to notes that are struck on another nearby instrument, so also all things affect one another — mostly on levels far outside the range of human hearing —by the subtle law of vibratory exchange.
Because vibrations react on many levels — like piano strings, many of which may respond sympathetically even though only one note is struck on another instrument — normally inaudible vibrations, even of thought and of feeling, can be captured sympathetically through music.
Music and the arts have a direct impact on our consciousness, and as spiritual seekers, we seek to surround ourselves with art that helps us on our way, not that which keeps us tied to matter consciousness and delusion. In mainstream culture, the arts can be used for diverse purposes — to excite, shock, express confusion, or draw attention to the artist’s ego.
The arts at Ananda are not meant to stir up one’s emotions, but rather to take one into states of calm feeling, where intuition and other soul qualities such as bliss, love, power, calmness, peace, and wisdom can blossom and grow. Furthermore, we use the arts to create inner and outer harmony, clarity of mind, openness of heart, and attunement to Divine Inspiration.