Saturday, May 5, 2018

In The Beginning was the Word: Music, Lyrics and Revelation

            ‘Woe to the downpressors
        They will eat the bread of sorrow
        Woe to the downpressors
        They will eat the bread of sad tomorrow’
        ~ Guiltiness - Bob Marley

       ‘Rockets, moon shots
        Spend it on the have nots
        Money, we make it
        Fore we see it you take it'
        ~ Inner City Blues - Marvin Gaye

Words reveal ideas, truths and concepts through layered meaning and context, and this can be heard at its most powerful in musical lyrics. Certain musicians have sung powerful lyrics about life, love, and change and I contend that these people are reaching depths of emotion that, when manifested through words, engage with audiences in similar ways that some prophets in the past did.

I suggest that these musicians are following in the shamanic traditions of the past, with one foot in spirit world and one foot in the real. I believe that we are living in a new spiritual reality. Here the shamanic, devotional, and esoteric practices of the past have been transformed into contemporary artistic movements.


Revelation — the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence.

Revelation is traditionally given orally. A prophet (who is, I suggest, a highly enlightened shaman) discloses a new and important spiritual insight or foretells the future in front of the people. People would usually rejoice, weep, or have some kind of an emotional reaction and then create followings around this person sometimes using imagery of the prophet as means to worship.

Concept: Sameer Patel
Design: Nazira Hanna

At the core is a connection between an individual who is orally transmitting words and an audience. Sometimes these words are sung, for example, it is is said that Mohammed sang the words he received from Gabriel and the audience who first received this words were enraptured. Sometimes the words are poetic for example the Indian epic The Mahabharata which also contains the Bhagavad Gita was originally an orally transmitted poem. I contend that prophets had the ability to fully control their voices, convey layered meanings, which helped people transcend the relative nature of reality to understand higher truths. These prophets understood that use of melody, rhyme, rhythm, and meter added layers to words that accentuated the meaning and understanding and, in certain cases, helped people achieve transcendental changes. On a subtle level, I believe that prophets of the past, especially in the West, channeled energy downwards from the crown, and, they may not have been born with these gifts, but realized them from a full and transcendent spiritual awakening.

This type of channel from the higher more cosmic chakras gave the prophet the ability to talk about spiritual insight and prophetic visions. Some mystical awakenings were truly creative. For example, take the 12th century mystical poet Rumi, especially after he was awakened by the wandering mystic Shams. When the words were transmitted in the fullest way, the people hearing them experienced ecstatic responses including emotional releases, shaking, and for a few, even awakenings.

Now contrast this with a few modern day singers — rappers and musicians. These people have the ability to use their voice and engage audiences en masse creating powerful emotional responses. These artists and musicians have a deeper connection with something greater that allows them to express music, lyrics, and words which resonate emotionally and spiritually with audiences.
Using posters and merchandise, their fans build shrines in their houses to these artists;  they attend their concerts when the artist is in their city. They may claim the artist’s music changed them or helped them feel better emotionally.

As in the introduction, I believe that some of these musicians are unknowingly akin to modern day shamans with one foot in ‘spiritual realms’ channeling truths to reality. They experience complex emotions, perhaps by delving into dark recesses. They are inspired by dance, mind altering substances, and their connections to their people, culture, and their origins.

Rather than organized religions codifying this oral tradition, it is the modern corporate and economic system that now takes and disseminates these words to the masses. It is my belief that these musicians, without the proper awareness or guidance — in a contemporary secular system where the spiritual model has been replaced by a commercial one — may suffer a number of destructive  repercussions if they use their talent for purely personal ends.

Modern day artists need to understand the value their gifts and, if they choose to commoditize them, they need to be more attentive to their own energies and the people they choose to work with. Indeed, it is worth noting that in the past certain self-proclaimed prophets were not able to handle their gifts, one example exists in the apocryphal stories of Simon Magus, a man who had spiritual gifts and was happy to show them off, but not the strength of character to stay detached from his siddhis.

On the subtle, energetic level both the prophets of old and certain modern music artists have opened their throat chakras, sparking the ability to envelope words with power and meaning. Most of these musicians are not on the same level as the enlightened prophets of the past, however, these similarities exist for a reason: these musicians are spiritually connected people manifesting truths audiences want to hear. Unlike the prophets of the past, these modern artists drive their energy from the heart chakra.

The Heart-Based Model
The modern Kundalini movement is based on a new model that has the heart and creativity at its center, rather than a model with an
upwards or downwards energetic movement. Instead of rapturous stories about the love of God channeled from "above," these artists with their heart connections transmit stories about the love of others — humans, individually and collectively — and all the associated tumultuous emotions that this love brings out. Modern musicians and artists who are born with awakened throat and heart chakras are able to mesh their voices with emotional, layered, and meaningful words from their experiences that connects and resonates with others: some artists who've  experienced heart-based Kundalini awakenings express their spiritual essence through art and creativity.

I maintain that we have subconsciously moved our spiritual systems into everyday art forms and the industries that surround them. In the past, people worshiped gods and spirits; now teenagers worship rock stars by streaming the music, buying the merchandise, and attending concerts. What they are really doing is connecting with the spirit of the music and the words. As society secularizes love, we transform our prophets into profitable artists who sing about the love of a woman or a man rather than the love of god, but in essence we are still searching for that connection to the divine.

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