Beethoven’s Inner Conflicts
Ludwig van Beethoven ( 1770-1827 ) was a musical genius. He was also an emotionally wounded, profoundly neurotic person. He was tortured by inner conflicts throughout his life. He suffered from inner divisions, split between his massive idealism about human nature and the misanthropic, angry, spiteful man he could be. He was tortured by his own behavior. He was suicidal off and on for significant periods of time throughout his life. And, even in his most stable periods, he could appear to be just on the brink of madness.
Bhagavad Gita Influence
In search for psychological and spiritual survival, Beethoven combed the world’s great literature. In the process, he discovered the Bhagavad Gita. He read it intensely. He made notes from it — and from other Hindu scriptures — and kept the sacred passages in plain view under glass on his desk.
Beethoven scribbled the following quote from the Bhagavad Gita into his personal diary:
Blessed is the man who, having subdued all his passions, performs with his active faculties all the functions of life, unconcerned about the event... Be not one whose motive for action is the hope of reward. Perform your duty, abandon all thought of consequence, and make the event equal, whether it terminates in good or evil; for such an equality is called yoga.
In his quest to make meaning of his suffering, Beethoven enacted in his life virtually all the key teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
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2 thoughts on “Beethoven & The Bhagavad Gita”
Beethoven was a complex person. He never gave up, instead he chose to battle his demons throughout his life. He identified his gift in life as being his music, and decided that whatever difficulties he faced in life, he would pursue his gift at all costs. This provided him a goal and purpose, despite facing severe challenges. He also maintained a regular daily routine, which included working several hours in the morning — a time he felt he was most productive — and then later in the day going for long walks.
Beethoven sought solice through reading, and taking notes from, spiritual literature such as the Bhagavad Gita. In addition, he decided to keep in contact with friends despite going deaf. He developed a series of notebooks wherein he corresponded back and forth in writing while in the company of friends and business associates.
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Beethoven’s path to greater understanding of the ego (viz a viz maintaining equanimity through understanding of duty without reward) is amazing. How did he handle his demons of good and evil?
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