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Stories and reflections on the Buddhist approach to life
My passion and work is performing and teaching music. I record music regularly and perform across Australia. I also teach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and run my own vocal workshops.
Though the music industry is very competitive and challenging, I feel grateful for the gift and opportunity to express my art and communicate with audiences and students whenever I can.
Overcoming my ego and insecurities as a performer, though, has been a constant challenge. Since childhood, my value and worth was caught up in my ability and identity as a musician. I often compared myself to others and struggled with feelings of fear. But through my Buddhist practice over the past five years, I am gradually awakening to a sense of self and worth that is based on my infinite and innate value as a human being and an appreciation for life itself.
In 2010, I was invited to take on the responsibility of being an assistant for the performing arts group and Blue Sky Choir of SGI-Australia. I was grateful for the invitation after seeing how my friends’ lives had blossomed through their involvement in SGI activities. Fulfilling these responsibilities has been a process of transformation and a source of immense growth for me.
As I struggle with severe depression and anxiety and a deep sense of fear and isolation, I quickly realized what a challenge it would be to support others.
related article The Human Revolution Orchestra: A Collaboration for Humanity by Sean Corby, cofounder, Human Revolution Orchestra, SGI-UK Cofounder Sean Corby on the development and work of the Human Revolution Orchestra. Through the effort I made to open up my life, I experienced major breakthroughs in my personal and professional life; at the same time, my struggle with suicidal and self-harm tendencies intensified, causing me to become hospitalized several times.
It has been the regular support of others and my engagement with the choir that has encouraged me to keep going and not give up on my life and others. I have developed a life condition where I isolate myself less and reach out to others more. My genuine desire to express, connect and communicate is becoming stronger and more sincere.
Nichiren writes, “The voice does the Buddha’s work.” And SGI President Ikeda has written that it is because our voice resonates with life that it can touch the lives of others. I am often deeply touched by the sincerity and humanity of the choir members who are so bravely committing to their lives and developing their voices. My experience with them has deepened my conviction in the value of a single individual and the power of one voice to communicate to many hearts.
My hope and intention is to inspire and encourage all I encounter through my music.
As a professional artist I have had to unlearn a lot of negative habits that have separated my expression from my true self. The choir members have reminded me through their willingness to be vulnerable that the essence of art is to communicate, not demonstrate. By focusing not on craft and perfection but on heart and humanity, I am learning to be more effective in communicating as a person, performer and music coach. I have learned to appreciate and experience these values on stage, in the classroom, but most importantly, in everyday life.
I am returning to that innocence I had as a child and teen of making music to express my feelings and experience without needing to impress people but with a deeper sense of responsibility and purpose. My hope and intention is to inspire and encourage all I encounter through my music.
President Ikeda writes: “Life is painful. It has thorns, like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself.” My desire to communicate my true self and reach others from my heart is the simple mission I have now learned to appreciate and move forward with.
[Courtesy, April 2011 SGI Quarterly]
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