We recently read a story about Pete Seeger, the well-known singer and social activist. Many of his songs became themes for social justice, environmental awareness, and non-violence. Here is the wonderful story:
In the 1970s, Pete Seeger was invited to sing in Barcelona, Spain. Francisco Franco’s fascist government, the last of the dictatorships that started World War II, was still in power, but declining. A pro-democracy movement was gaining strength, and to prove it, they invited America’s best-known freedom singer to Spain. More than a hundred thousand people were in the stadium, where rock bands had played all day. But the crowd had come for Seeger.
As Pete prepared to go on, government officials handed him a list of songs he was not allowed to sing. Pete studied it mournfully, saying it looked an awful lot like his set list. But they insisted: He must not sing any of these songs.
Pete took the government’s list of banned songs and strolled on stage. He held up the paper and said, “I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to sing these songs.” He grinned at the crowd and said, “So I’ll just play the chords; maybe you know the words. They didn’t say anything about you singing them.”
He strummed his banjo for one song after another, and they all sang: a hundred thousand defiant freedom singers breaking the law with Pete Seeger, filling the stadium with words their government did not want them to hear, words they all knew and had sung together, in secret circles, for years.
At Ananda we have learned how powerful music is as a way to change consciousness. That is why Swami Kriyananda composed more than 450 pieces, and why Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Chanting is half the battle.” One of his chants has these lyrics:
Oh life is sweet and death a dream, when Thy song flows through me.
Then joy is sweet, sorrow a dream, when Thy song flows through me.
Then health is sweet, sickness a dream, when Thy song flows through me.
Then praise is sweet and blame a dream, when Thy song flows through me.
Be very careful about the music you listen to, and even more careful about the songs you sing, because melodies and lyrics stay in the mind to work their spell for good or ill. Fill your day with uplifting music and you will be halfway to happiness. Chant during meditation and during daily activities. Sing Swami Kriyananda’s songs when you’re alone and when you’re with friends. (We’ve recently started doing sing-alongs at Ananda Village so that everyone, children and adults alike, can join voices together.)
Music is a fundamental force of creation. Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander, is one of the most powerful accounts of an after-death experience I’ve ever read. Dr. Alexander, a neurosurgeon, was brain-dead for more than a week. During that time he experienced a heavenly realm of incredible grace and beauty, a world that was sustained by the singing of angels much as our world is sustained by sunlight. By the way, did you know that even the sun sings? Listen to it here.
God, you see, sings the universe into existence. When we sing in harmony with Him, we become His instruments. Let us sing beauty into existence. Let us sing of love, and peace, and joy. Let us sing ourselves all the way to spiritual freedom.
In God’s song,
You may also be interested in Music Antidotes for a Happier You from Ananda. Learn more here.