Philip Glass on Musical Buddhism

Musicians and artists of all kinds — in fact, all humans no matter the method by which they express themselves — each develop over time their own unique way to get into a creative energetic space. How to connect with ones heart, ones body, ones multidimensional energies, ones “muses” — this comes naturally for a child, and as we grow into adulthood we learn to adapt to adult responsibilities while also maintaining our sacred connection with our creative inner child, which knows no judgments or limitations.

In Dimitri Ehrlich’s book “Inside the Music”, he interviews the legendary composer Philip Glass: “I start the day with a program of Buddhist meditative practice, which can take a little bit of time, and along with it a very thorough exercise program. People always say, ‘Wouldn’t it be better to sit down and just start working?’ But at the end of that preparation, when I sit down to work, I feel extremely focused. My body is prepared to sit comfortably for a fairly extended time, and I’m not distracted. This kind of preparation makes it possible to work with a very high degree of concentration in a fairly effortless way. In order to work for ten or twelve hours at a stretch, you have to be relaxed about it. You can be concentrated, but the effort can’t prevent you from working.”

Where Glass sees a clearer relationship is between the tenets of Buddhism and his motivation as a musician. Buddhist doctrine stresses the value of decreasing others’ suffering, so to the degree that music offers people relief from their pain and stress, from a Buddhist point of view, the life of a musician is a noble pursuit. “What the Dalai Lama emphasizes is kindness, compassion, and overcoming negativity … And I can’t think of anything negative about music. People love music. It is very nourishing because it takes people out of their everyday mentality and brings them to another level. Making people happy becomes the motivation for the music.”



“Inside The Music”; Dimitri Ehrlich; Shambhala Publications; 1998

Photograph By Aleksandr Rain – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,