News at Tipitaka Network
Singing Dharma to the youth
by Chompoo Trakullertsathien, Bangkok Post, Thursday, December 3, 2009
At 46, Dinpa G-One - widely known as G-One - is pinning his hopes on the younger generation.
He strongly believes that the youth can help bring morality back to an increasingly decadent world, so he tries to befriend children and offer them some moral guidance.
"It's a cliche to say that children are the future of all nations. But it's true," said G-One.
"Any moral country must be made up with moral citizens," he added.
Regarded as a versatile yet down-to-earth artist, musician, and song composer, G-One debuted 40 new songs on stage at a recent performance. The audience included teenagers, but also novices, monks and nuns, a rare sight at music concerts.
"What I presented on the stage were a series of dharma songs," said G-One.
"The concert was held to offer a new form of spiritual entertainment and to communicate simple dharma messages to the public via moral music. I hope my lyrics can stimulate young listeners to adopt dharma and apply it to their daily lives," he added.
His latest concert was entitled "Kob Dek Srang Loke", which means making friends with children. It attracted an audience of about 2,000.
"I was very glad to see many youngsters at the concert. I do believe that there are still a certain group of teenagers who are interested in songs with a moral theme."
G-One has held four dharma-themed concerts so far. The other three were billed as the Opening Eyes Concert, Global Cooling Concert, and Come Back Morality Concert.
"All of my concerts share the same objectives - to bring dharma back to all hearts and encourage the public to build a stronger and morally healthy community," he explained.
Cooling the world with a cool song
G-One started composing dharma songs five years ago. Before then, his songs were not Buddhist-oriented but as his interest in Lord Buddha's dharma grew, it came to be a part of his music.
''Initially, my songs were related to environmental issues. Now I really want to focus on spiritual matters like life and death, how to wisely and mindfully deal with suffering, and how to live a peaceful life,'' he said.
But instead of delivering his moral messages to adult listeners, he targets youngsters, believing them to be the foundation of a strong nation.
''Children are the ones who have to continue our work of building a good world. But we have to ingrain them with moral lessons,'' he added. ''If we pamper them with material comforts, they will certainly build a material world.
So it depends on us what kind of world we want our children to live in: The material or the spiritual world.''
G-One believes songs that can make children feel peaceful, calm, clean, clear, and enlightened are scarce.
My spiritual mentor
G-One was inspired by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, who once was asked by former prime minister Pridi Banomyong to compose dharma songs for the nation.
He has spent several years reading the monk's poetry and preaching. The monk's teachings inspire G-One's songs.
G-One studies each topic of dharma exhaustively before composing.
''All songs must come from my clear understanding of each dharma.''
When art, music, and dharma meet
Asked if it is difficult to teach dharma to children, G-One said he allows children to stay in tune with his dharma music.
''I also teach children how to draw and paint, and while they are engaging in their activity, I also turn on my dharma songs for them to listen to. I believe they can accept the messages when their mind is in a peaceful state.
Many people have the impression that music belongs to the secular world while dharma is a part of the spiritual arena, and that the two are separate.
But that is a misconception since a new breed of music, widely known as ''moral music'', has shown how music and dharma can serve the same noble purpose.
Phra Panya Nanthamunee, an abbot of Wat Panyanantharam in Pathum Thani province, offers his perspective on the functions of dharma and music since Lord Buddha's time.
How did Buddha relate music to dharma?
Lord Buddha once said that a harp string that is too tight can be broken. Meanwhile, a string that is too loose can't play in tune. Only a moderately tightened string can provide a sweet melody. It is exactly like our life. We should follow a moderate path.
What is the major function of music and dharma?
Music serves as the tool to upgrade and purify someone's soul and spirit. So does dharma. Both dharma and music are regarded as science and art. Science is a body of knowledge while art is something good for humanity. Our ancestors used to lull their children to sleep with moral songs, so that they would grow up to be moral people. Shadow puppets and likay (Thai musical folk drama) also use music to disseminate moral messages to their audience.
Have you seen any changes in modern music?
Today's music is used only for commercial purposes. Most producers use music to tempt consumers' greed and stimulate their lust.
The content of modern songs is nonsensical and deals with anger and illusions. Instead of purifying one's mind, music has put listeners on a wrong and lower path.
How can moral music help save our immoral world?
The only solution is to start with children since they will be the ones who have to take up this challenge. Instead of bombarding their kids with luxury, parents should nourish their hearts with morality and dharma, and it can be done via moral practices and songs. If exposed frequently to moral lessons, children can grow up to be moral people.
Meesuk Jaengmeesuk, MC of the TV show Woman to Woman, jumped at the invitation to sing at a G-One concert, since to her it is a great chance to make a big merit.
''This was a good opportunity for me to pay homage to Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. At the end of the concert, I realised that I got more than I gave,'' she said.
According to Meesuk, all the dharma songs help purify her mind and get closer to the path of Lord Buddha.
''The song I sang on the stage was entitled Good Luck to Pay Worship to a Monk. This song makes me understand that when we raise our hands to pay respect to others, our ego can be reduced. It's always a good deed to show respect to other people,'' she said.
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Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.