[FEATURE] The use of Ancient Traditions in Modern Culture


‘The more important sacrifices and other rites were carried out to musical accompaniment, as music was thought to have the power to move the spirits and to exercise a profound moral influence in human affairs. Good music, the Chinese held, insures peace and uprightness; bad music leads to lewdness and social decline’

Ancient music traditions have great power to enrich the soul.  In Taoism music is used to bring peace and harmony to one’s self. Another is Shamanism, this is also used for a similar purpose. In religious ceremonies Shamans of the Amazon Rainforest use plant medicines such as Ayahuasca to relieve one’s self of anxiety and life problems, but this can also be found to greatly enrich a musical inspiration from within.

A shaman is a healer who moves into an altered state of consciousness to access a hidden reality in the spirit world for purposes of bringing back healing, power, and information. Ayahuasca, which is translated into ‘The vine of the souls’ is used to access the realms of spiritual and supernatural places, which can also be used progressively through meditation.  Music in Shamanism always has a purpose, it is used as a source of power and a source of healing energy, a source of transformation, “Song is used as the means to power the shaman into his/her trance state for oracular reading and to attract the helpful spirits of the ceremony”, says Shamanic healer, Jeffery Rich.  In modern practice, the sound of the drum and the sound of the rattle are often used as a means of powering the Shamanic journey. “The Siberian Shamanic People talk about the drums being the “Shamans horse” that gets ridden into the spiritual worlds.”

“Oftentimes plants and songs work together; Plants often have a song that must be sung in order to activate the healing properties of the plant spirit. This is why it can take so long to learn plant spirit wisdom,” says Jeffery. Collecting the plants is a long business and requires sometimes a month of dieting, ceremony, and vigil for one plant. Throughout the process the patient goes through a huge ordeal.

Today in the west music therapy is a recognised healing aid, Shamans therefore, stand at the head of a long linage of those who have used music for its healing powers.

The profound difference between ancient traditions such as Taoism and Shamanism and modern culture is enormous. We live in a society surrounded by this ‘bad’ soulless music, which has no positive effect on people’s lives. Teenager’s icons and heroes promote violence, chemically altered drugs such as cocaine, cough syrup and the most common, alcohol.

Take rapper Lil Wayne he has an addiction to the popular Southern beverage Purple Drank, a combination of the prescription cough syrup Promethazine with Codeine and a clear beverage, such as Sprite or Gin. In an interview in 2009, Lil Wayne is asked about the inspiration behind his lyrics, he answered, “I don’t write my music, I just record when I get there.” Throughout the entire interview Wayne is sippin’ on his cup of purple drank, barely able to string a sentence together. It shows that this constant abuse is taking its toll on his mind.

We find this to be a common trait in modern culture, high profile pop stars and hip hop artists aren’t in the business for the peace and harmony music brings, instead they get high off these oppressive drugs and sing about money, cars and materialism.

Whereas in ancient traditions there are spiritual beings still living in  China, Peru and India  who take completely natural psychedelic medicines and practice mediation which allows them to delve into the realms of their consciousness to find enlightenment and inspiration to further their existence with constant progression.

Meditation is a state of being, when used for its highest potential it can have a profound influence on one’s life. Vipassana meditation, which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago and was taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills.

Zen Buddhists use gong meditation.  As you listen to the gong’s sound, it penetrates every cell and fibre of the body. The result of this is that your mind and body enter into a deep state of meditation where deep healing is possible. People who practice this meditation are said to be filled with love, joy and abundance.

Healing tuning forks Sound has long been known to be a potent source of healing therapy. In fact, it is of the highest order in terms of its effect on humans both on the physical and metaphysical levels. Sound frequency is now recognised as being an extremely efficient healing modality. It is used in a wide range of applications within the fields of conventional and complementary medicine. The use of tuning forks has long been identified as a fundamental tool for creating precision frequencies.

Today, people around the world are still using these meditation techniques with great effect but the current world we live in is so busy, young people are more drawn to watching television, surfing the internet rather than creating time to look within.

House DJ Gavin Herlihy appreciates the importance of sound through the music he creates and how this benefits his work and personal development.  “I can honestly say that the single greatest discovery of my life in the past few years has been the power of meditation” he continues, “From a personal as well as musical point of view it has really transformed how I approach things and I can’t believe it has taken me this long in life to discover this ancient practice.”

There is evidence that there is an important relationship between the mind and sound.  A recent report by Dr Joseph Dispenza says ‘In clinical studies, we have proven that two hours of nature sounds a day can significantly reduce stress hormones up to 800 % and activates 500/600 DNA segments known to be responsible for healing and repair in the body.‘  People living in cities are constantly surrounded by the noise of chatter and car horns, rarely given time to relax.

In modern society, people’s lives are so fast paced.  As a result of this people generally do not make time for self-healing and are more prone to look for external gratification.  This can be done through the influences of modern pop culture which influences a lifestyle of celebrity status, materialism and drugs creating unhealthy role models.  Sadly this deviates away from the authentic self. Unlike in Ancient traditional cultures, communities don’t have this sense of materialism. They use music to bring people together instead of a constant battle of one-up-man-ship.

Samuel Allmark

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