The album featuring teachings and mantras by the Dalai Lama set to music will be released on July 6, his 85th birthday. The album which was under work for the past five years will be released now considering the crisis the world is going through.
The thought of making an album out of mantras and chants came from a New Zealand national Junelle Kunin. She was working in a bank in New Zealand and out of stress was searching for music paired with teachings from the Dalai Lama to calm herself down and allow herself to focus.
When she could not get what she was looking for she came with the idea of creating an album with the Lama’s teachings and mantras.
Then the musician and practicing Buddhist proposed her idea to The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to make an album fusing music with mantras and chants from the Tibetan spiritual leader. But she was politely turned down.
But on a trip to India, she got a chance to meet the Dalai Lama which she used to propose her idea again. She wrote a letter with the same and handed it to his assistants.
Five years later, Inner World is born. “I’d never heard him speak like this. He really was so excited … he actually proceeded to explain to me how important music is,” Kunin said. “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.”
The album will consist of 11 tracks which will be released in conjunction with a companion booklet.
Kunin also wrote down a list of topics and mantras she thought would be great for the album and recorded the conversations with the Dalai Lama for Inner World. The religious leader recites the mantras of seven Buddhas on the album, discussing topics like wisdom, courage, healing, and children. The track Compassion, one of the most famous Buddhist prayers, was released on Tuesday.
Kunin’s husband, Abraham, who is also a musician and producer, helped her create music and sounds to enhance the Dalai Lama’s messages and powerful words.
“The entire purpose of this project is to try to help people. It’s not a Buddhist project, it’s to help everyday people like myself, even though I am Buddhist,” she said. “The messages couldn’t be more poignant for our current social climate and needs as humanity.”
Grammy-nominated sitar player Anoushka Shankar makes a guest appearance on the album, playing on Ama La, a track honoring mothers. Shankar said being invited to perform on the album was “a huge honor.”
Dozens of other musicians were invited to help on the project, while Kunin’s husband had multiple roles, from playing guitar and percussion to drum and synth programming. Kunin co-produced the album and added vocals to three songs, including “Purification.”
Net proceeds from the sales of the album will benefit Mind & Life Institute as well as Social, Emotional, and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning), an international education program developed by Emory University and the Dalai Lama.