The Pop Music Path to Enlightenment (Part 1)

Via Clare Polencheck
on Apr 7, 2011
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Gaga’s Sahasrara Chakra is blooming!

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I pump the pop Top 40 station every morning on my way to a sweaty workout.  The  heavy bass line, steady stomping percussion, and vocal bravado come together to get my muscles twitching to sweat and move.

Many may scoff at these processed pop productions, but could there be lyrical Yogic wisdom amongst the auto-tuning and cyclical choruses?  Here are a few fan faves that might deserve a deeper look.

In her hit tune Born This Way, Lady Gaga sings,

I’m beautiful in my way,
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Sounds inspiring.  Is Gaga encouraging the discovery of the Self by suggesting the path of Bhakti Yoga?  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say, “Or Samadhi is attained by devotion with total dedication to God (Isvara).” (I-23) and “Isvara is the supreme Purusha (the Divine Self in all beings), unaffected by any afflictions, actions, fruits of actions or by any inner impressions of desires.” (I-24)

Gaga continues,

Don’t hide yourself in regret,
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Ooo, there ain’t no other way
Baby, I was born this way
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way

Again, if based on the previous theory, this chorus can be enlightening!  However, to a majority of novice yogis (read: me.), these lyrics might sound labeling and could risk pigeonholing one into negative patterns.  In the Bhagavad Gita, Sloka 7:27 says, “People are deluded by attraction and aversion, which spawn all the pairs of opposites.  These dualities subject all to maya (illusion) at birth.”

Kesava Kasmiri’s commentary explains the Sloka:

“When all beings take birth in their gross physical bodies they acquire an ego sense and fall prey to infatuation. In situations where the transitory body feels happiness from sense objects there is attraction and in situations where it feels unhappiness from sense objects there is aversion. Hence bewildered and befuddled constantly the embodied being thinks of themselves as the physical body and never attempts for self-realization to discover the atma or immortal soul within themselves.”

If one is stuck in ego attachment with no notion of Self, the statement, “I was born this way,” could actually serve to keep the walls of maya up.

“I was born this way, might as well accept it.  Why bother?  There’s no other way.  I mean, I was born this way. ”

And according to the laws of karma, we might be born pretty, um, cruddy.  In Sloka 16:20 Krisha tells Arjuna, “They are so deluded, Arjuna, that again and again they are reborn with ingrained demonic habits.  And failing to reach for me, they continue to sink even lower.”


But there is hope for all, if we can find the right track.  In a quick cameo…Katy Perry flies in half naked on a trapeze apparatus and reassures us with her hit song Firework,

Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
Cause there’s a spark in you…

Krishna shines the light of hope in Sloka 9:32, “No matter your birth, race, sex, or caste—even if you are scorned by others—if you take refuge in me, then certainly you will attain the Supreme Goal.”

Thanks for the reminder Katy.  No matter what maya we may be born into, when we come back to God, our spark will ignite and our inner truth will be shine through.

Where did you find lyrical illumination today?


About Clare Polencheck

Clare L. Polencheck is a yoga instructor who strives to live and write from a Christian-Yogic spiritual perspective, and is humbled to share tidbits of her lessons as a teacher of asana, a student of her students, and a pupil of Universe. Learning to go with God’s flow is her dharma code.


13 Responses to “The Pop Music Path to Enlightenment (Part 1)”

  1. Enjoyed this, Clare.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  2. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. […] Click to continue reading at Elephant Journal, and join the conversation. […]

  4. Kari says:

    since when is a dress half naked?

  5. Kelley says:

    Hey, thanks for bringing some awareness to this. I feel embarrassed talking about how I like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to my "ecologically-minded" friends who all seem to scoff. But they have some really powerful messages.

  6. YesuDas says:

    Nice, Clare! There's a Catholic priest in Maryland who does a radio show on Sunday nights where he plays the recent country music hits, and preaches on the lyrics; it sounds corny, but I really dig it. Maybe you should find a gig doing something similar with pop songs!

  7. yogi tobye says:

    Does it matter to the overall reason for the article Kari?

  8. Paul says:

    Well done Clare… really.

  9. Very interesting look at pop culture. My friends son was deeply disturbed by the alien looking attire in GaGa’s Born This Way video so I’m glad to get a chance to see it.

    Sometimes I use Taylor Swift’s song The Best Day with tweens to connect. But then I tease them that it’s a song about a girl and her yoga teacher. They always roll their eyes at me for that joke.

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