As Humanists and scientific naturalists, we do not propose that enlightenment can free anyone from a cycle of rebirth. Nor does this refer to the eighteenth–century Enlightenment, a movement we highly value. But we do value relinquishing negative thoughts and emotions, and living spiritually, creatively and with dignity.
Technical and Analytical Readings
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Five of Stephan Micus’ albums express the theme of enlightenment. Micus takes his view of enlightenment from Zen Buddhism, as expressed in the quote below on his 2004 album, “Life”. His musicality and spirituality were quite fully formed when he released his first album in 1976.
- Stephan Micus, “Life” (2004): “Life takes its inspiration from a Zen Buddhist kōan. The function of a kōan, or riddle, is to test one’s resolve in the face of doubt, the latter born from overdependence on worldly logic (think ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’). The goal is not to ‘solve’ but to become the riddle. In this particular kōan, a monk and his master discuss the meaning of life, and through his usual array of diverse instruments and singing (here entirely in Japanese), Micus does just that. He becomes what he performs. Distinct to the riddle of life is its elliptical reasoning: it begins and ends with the same answer.” “. . . at the end we have 'The Master's Answer,' a single human voice.” This is why Human Worth is the bedrock for our religion.
- “Darkness and Light” (1990), “is as fleeting as its message, transparent as water and betraying its presence only through reflections.” This is one of many paradoxes, life as darkness and light.
- “Twilight Fields” (1989): a walk through life
- “Koan” (1981), on addressing life’s paradoxical riddles: “In this sound-world, instruments never compete. Nothing “solos,” per se, but coheres by means of an undying spirit, to which only the master musician may attend through a lifetime of rare creation.”
- “Implosions” (1976)
Why choose Natalie MacMaster to illustrate enlightenment? After all, this is a prime spiritual virtue, many would say the greatest virtue of all. Is there something special about this fiddler from Cape Breton? Surely, yes, as you may appreciate when you hear her play. Is she better than all the other musicians? Surely, no, and that is the point. Her music comes from within, yet it engages and moves us to be part of something beyond the self. She has made the most of who and what she is through her instrument, joyfully. That is enlightenment.
- Live in Cape Breton, 2007
- Various tracks
- Albums, compiled: “Blueprint”, “Cape Breton Girl”, In My Hands”, Yours Truly”, “One”, “My Roots Are Showing”, Fit As a Fiddle”, “A Compilation”, “Traditional Music from Cape Breton” and “Live”
- “Sketches” album
- “A Celtic Family Christmas” album
- “No Boundaries” album
John Luther Adams’ ehtereal compositions, including Pulitzer and Grammy Award winning “Become Ocean”:
- Become Ocean
- Become River
- Become Desert
- Wind in High Places
- The Light That Fills the World
- In the White Silence
- Ben-Haim, Clarinet Quintet, Op. 31a (1941, rev. 1965)
- Alice Coltrane, “Translinear Light” – enlightenment as joyful inner liberation
- Daniil Trifonov, “The Art of Life”, keyboard works by J.S. Bach, W.F. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, J.C. Bach and J.C.F. Bach
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Nawang Khechog, Creating an Enlightened Society
- Nawang Khechog, The Great Prince of Peace and Universal Compassion