His Holiness the Dalai Lama will release a new album that mixes mantras and chants with newly composed music, Inner World, out July 6th to coincide with the Tibetan spiritual leader’s 85th birthday.
The Dalai Lama previewed the 11-track album with “Compassion,” which is based on one of the most famous Buddhist prayers. The songs boasts a decidedly New Age flow with plenty of ethereal instrumentals, but it’s anchored by a steady bass and drum groove that the Dalai Lama rides deftly as he chants the Sanskrit mantra, “Om mani padme hum.”
The Dalai Lama made Inner World with the help of Junelle and Abraham Kunin, two married musicians from New Zealand. Per The Associated Press, Junelle Kunin first suggested the idea to the Dalai Lama’s office years ago after a futile search online for something that paired his teachings with music to serve as a stress relief at work. While Kunin’s idea was initially turned down, she was able to pitch it again during a 2015 trip to India via a letter she handed to one of the Dalai Lama’s assistants. This time, His Holiness accepted.
Kunin prepared a list of topics and mantras for the Dalai Lama and recorded her conversations with him for the album. It features the Dalai Lama reciting the mantras of seven Buddhas and discussing topics like wisdom, courage, healing and children. Kunin and her husband, Abraham, then created the music to pair with the Dalai Lama’s words.
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Recalling her recording session with the Dalai Lama, Kunin said, “I’d never heard him speak like this. He really was so excited … he actually proceeded to explain to me how important music is. He leaned forward and his eyes were sparkling, and his fingers were rubbing together and he [talked] about how music can help people in a way that he can’t; it can transcend differences and return us to our true nature and our good heartedness.”
Inner World will also feature a guest appearance from acclaimed sitar player Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi Shankar), who appears on the album cut “Am La.” Net proceeds from Inner World benefit the Mind & Life Institute as well as Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning, an international education program the Dalai Lama developed with Emory University.
Inner World Track List
1. “The Buddha”
2. “One Of My Favourite Prayers”
5. “Ama La”