Birthday of Bob Marley | Naming the Days | Spirituality & Practice

Bob Marley was born a poor country boy in Jamaica on this day in 1945 and died of cancer in Miami in 1981. During his brief but eventful life, he created reggae music and became a zealous prophet of the Rastafarian religion with its message of unity for all peoples. More than 20 million of Marley’s albums have been sold, and one of them, Legend, continues to sell at a rate of 250,000 copies a year.

The life and legacy of this extraordinary singer/songwriter come across in Marley, a 2012 documentary film directed by Kevin Macdonald, and in the 2017 book So Much Things to Say, an impressive and insightful oral history of this master musician by Roger Steffens. Both the film and the book convey the spiritual riches of Marley’s reggae ballads about war, revolution, and poverty.

After being shot and wounded in 1976, a divisive act attributed to strife between two political parties in Jamaica, he gave a free concert to 80,000 people in Kingston with the intention of bringing the two leaders of the battling factions together. This is only one example out of many where Marley’s spiritual leadership was demonstrated.

To Name This Day:

Spiritual Practices

Contemplate these lyrics from Bob Marley songs for their spiritual clout and personal meaning to you.

“Emancipate yourselves
from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our mind.”
— “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley

Make a list of ideas, people, places, or things that you have in your lifetime enslaved yourself to. What spiritual practices have you discovered that have enabled you to free your mind?

“Why not help one another on
the way
Make it much easier
Say you just can’t live
that negative way
You know what I mean
Make way for the positive way.”
— “Positive Vibrations” by Bob Marley

What spiritual practices have proved themselves to be most
helpful in moving you away from “that negative way? What
do you think Marley means “the positive way”?

icon music Music

This version of Marley’s “One Love,” which was designated “Song of the Millennium by the BBC, illustrates the worldwide appeal of his message of unity. Enjoy.

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