Music, the Baha’i teachings assert, is “the food of the soul and the spirit.” In this episode, we explore that spiritual concept with Atieno Mboya, the African Baha’i attorney and legal scholar.
Atieno grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, has lived all over the world, and is an academic in the field of international and environmental law. As a Baha’i and a mother, she practices a rigorous professional discipline and raises her children conscientiously – and one of the things she loves, music, helps her do both. She first learned to sing the songs of the spirit as an elementary school student in a Catholic school, and has continued to express her joy with music in her journey as a Baha’i.
“One of the beauties of music,” Atieno says in this Moments of Meaning podcast, “is that it allows you to feel and express emotions and states that one cannot necessarily find words for. It gives me a sense of a feeling like I was being lifted up …”
In Atieno’s interview, she focuses on one of the quotations from the Baha’i teachings that best expresses this truth, from a talk Abdu’l-Baha gave in Washington, DC in April of 1912:
The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted.
The quote Atieno refers to is just one of many passages from the Baha’i teachings that praise and encourage music. Elsewhere in the Baha’i writings Abdu’l-Baha employed other metaphors to describe the spiritual impact music can have on us:
We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high …
A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy.
These Baha’i metaphors describe the effects of prayer on our souls, as well, so clearly a powerful link connects the two. Abdu’l-Baha also spoke about combining music and prayer, and said that when we do this “… the listener may be freed from chains of care and sorrow, and his soul may leap for joy and humble itself in prayer to the realm of Glory.”
Above all, the Baha’i writings make it clear that music, like prayer, provides a powerful tool we can each use in our own way on our spiritual journey and in our search for meaning.
Join us for Atieno Mboya’s moment of meaning as we sing the praises of the songs of the spirit.
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