Many sensitive people regard Heavy Metal Music as too hard, too dark, not enjoyable. I have been fascinated by Metallica from quite a young age, I quite liked some of their lyrics. In my view, they reflected the state of the world more accurately than many popular “Feel-Good-Songs”. One example is their album … And Justice for All and its title song.
Suffering from the World of Opposites
Realizing how the world of opposites works, and observing what becomes of high ideals in practice, is one thing. Why do many people suffer in that situation? Why is it hard to accept the world as it is? After all, the state of the world reflects our inner state of being, e. g. continually striving for more. Suffering from the state of the world and longing for a different state of being are two sides of the same coin.
Metallica’s To Live Is To Die is a song that expresses this longing very well. It was released in 1988 on the abovementioned album … And Justice for All. While the album was very successful and well received by critics, Metallica controversially lost out to Jethro Tull in the 1989 Grammy Awards for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental.
It is not too hard to memorize the lyrics here …
10 Minutes of Music and Very Few Lines of Text
The combination of 10 minutes of music and only a few lines of lyrics is somewhat unusual. I feel it places more weight on the words.
When a man lies he murders some part of the world
These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives
All this I cannot bear to witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?
Small Lies – Great Effect?
Little lies are very common in everyday life. One needs to be very sensitive to feel that even minor lies can destroy harmony on a subtle level, and create causes for future conflicts. Many spiritual traditions recommend to live life in such a way that no more karma is created. A central concept in Taoism is called Wu Wei, sometimes translated as inaction. Those who follow it may be very active in life – however, without creating karma, thanks to a high level of awareness, spontaneity and personal harmony.
This old wisdom is well in line with results of modern quantum theory. A key finding is the interconnectedness of all things, regardless of distance in physical space.
A quote from H. P. Blavatsky‘s The Voice of the Silence (Fragment I, 65):
Chafe not at Karma, nor at Nature’s changeless laws.
But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the evanescent and the perishable.
Cliff Burton’s Legacy
There is a tragic component to how the song came about: bass guitar player Cliff Burton was killed in 1986 in a tour bus accident. While the song was released after his death, it contains guitar riffs he had written, and the lyrics are taken from one of his poems. The first line, however, was originally written by German poet Paul Gerhard, while the second line comes from Lord Foul’s Bane, a fantasy novel by American writer Stephen R. Donaldson.