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Music can be used to uplift one's mood and alleviate depression, as depicted in this article:

In Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness American author William Styron's autobiographical account of his struggle with depression he describes how in desperation he planned to shoot himself, but at the last minute he heard the music of the German composer Johannes Brahms and this saved him.

His life began to mean something and he found solace in the melancholic and uplifting moods of Brahms's German Requiem.

In other religions like Christianity (like this song) or Hinduism (like this song), music (both lyrics and melody) is used to boost one's devotion to God, and could be uplifting too.

However, in Buddhism, this is against the seventh of the Eight Precepts:

I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.

The Gitassara Sutta (AN5.209) also states:

There are, bhikkhus, these five drawbacks of reciting the Dhamma with a sustained melodic intonation. Which five?

Oneself gets attached to that intonation, others get attached to that intonation, householders get angry: 'Those ascetics who are followers of the Sakyans' son sing in the same way that we do!', there is a break in concentration for those striving [to produce] musicality, and the upcoming generations imitate what they see.

These, bhikkhus, are the five drawbacks of reciting the Dhamma with a sustained melodic intonation.

Questions:

  1. Is it ok to use music to induce positive states of mind, especially to uplift one's mood and alleviate depression?
  2. If music can be used to uplift one's mood, then why is it considered unwholesome and against the seventh precept?
  3. How does music cause attachment or craving?
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Is it ok to use music to induce positive states of mind, especially to uplift one's mood and alleviate depression?

Yes, if you are a layman and if you are not observing the 8 precepts.

If music can be used to uplift one's mood, then why is it considered unwholesome and against the seventh precept?

'Uplifting' here means inducing pleasurable thoughts/feelings. Even Marjuana can do that. Some people eat sweets to uplift themselves. Uplifting doesn't mean wholesome. It's important to note that hearing music by chance does not break the precept. Listening intently breaks the precept.

How does music cause attachment or craving?

Music is sound that is pleasurable. Wanting to hear pleasurable sounds is a sign of craving.

  • I think that experiencing pleasurable things is not a problem so long as they do not become habits. If your choice remains free, you may do as you choose. Life is long and was not meant to be a funeral march. We all have to make many decisions on how best to sustain life, and remaining interested and caring is vital. – user2341 Nov 19 '17 at 0:20
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    Experiencing pleasurable sensations is not the issue. Liking them is the issue. – Sankha Kulathantille Nov 19 '17 at 10:22

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