Is singing bad for the mental development?


But you didn’t actually stop listening to music, if I may hazard a perhaps-hasty guess.

What you stopped listening to were certain kinds of music, actually is my guess.

Pāli chanting it still music. The bell one hits when meditating (if one does that sort of thing) is a musical tone.

The Muslims, of some schools, for instance, are not allowed to listen to “music”. But the Koran is chanted (i.e. sung) every day, and many of them themselves chant the Koran. Furthermore the beauty of Koran recitation is famed throughout the world. So much for a religion that has no music in it!


In some schools, I am thinking about Zen particularly, music and the cultivation of music is seen as a matter of discipline, rather than sensuous enjoyment. You can see this in the austere and passionless, but extremely technically demanding, Shakuhachi repertoire from Japan, which was cultivated in some Zen schools.


Unskilfully: get caught up in it, let the mind be ‘taken over by it’, let it give rise to unwholesome emotions and delusions

Skilfully: listen to it with equanimity (not much fun, but some enjoyment present sukha vedana that even a arahanth will have), be mindful of the individual sounds or notes arising and passing away -to have anicca sanna, to perceive impermanence.

with metta


If such mindful and equanimous enjoyment is replaced by revulsion, then apparently it can lead to Nibbana. :slight_smile:

Thag 4.1

And the Buddha didn’t mince words either.

AN 3.107

What did the Buddha mean by 'music'?

Thank you Sujith.
I can’t recall reading this.
You hit the nail on the head!

What did the Buddha mean by 'music'?

On a more ‘mundane’ note, I found listening to music useful in a few ways-

  1. when tired and driving around, I find energetic music energises me, keeps me awake.
  2. meditation music, calms me when agitated.
  3. Nursery rhymes in song help me keep my son distracted when it comes to feeding.

In any case, we shouldn’t get attached (song going round and round…) or averse (stop listening to music, or else…) to music- just let it be. I might add, lay people are ‘allowed’, if you like, to enjoy sensual pleasure- that is well within their remit. We discuss the highest standard on the forum, though as trainees still on the path, our conduct will not always match this- and that is OK.

with metta


I stopped several years ago listening to music that I used to put on for enjoyment purpose or to distract myself.
Meanwhile I cannot stop listening to music produced by others such as my wife singing students. I now find it a great opportunity to notice where I am in regard to my attitude to music; such as commenting about such and such voice quality, style of music, and sometimes emotions coming up (anything that sound a bit bluesy).
The aim is not to avoid music all together (impossible) but develop equanimity about it.


I uses to sing in a choir and later in a barber-shop quartet ( close harmony singing). I found both inspiring and a useful exercise in concentration. I used to enjoy monks and nuns chanting at a Buddhist monastery, and these days enjoy organ recitals. So there! :laughing:


Enlightened, now?!