Dalai Lama releasing album on his 85th birthday?

What if I told you that Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama was dropping an album on his birthday next month? My initial reaction was “Fake news,” but then I thought what if it’s true?

A quick Google search later, I learned that it was happening, and I was elated! The album is called Inner World and it’s the brainchild of musician-producer Junelle Kunin who is based in New Zealand. Kunin came up with this idea when she was unable to find music with His Holiness’s teachings engrained in them and then went on to co-executive produce the album with her husband Abraham Kunin. So how did this project become a reality?

While speaking to Mesfin Fekadu from the Associated Press, Kunin revealed that on her visits to India she regularly gets the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama. The first time she approached His Holiness’s office with her idea, she was politely turned down. It was not until 2015 when she pitched her idea again, but this time directly handing a letter of request to one of the Dalai Lama’s assistants that got her the “Yes”. Kunin further disclosed how enthusiastic His Holiness was. She 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.” 

Inner World consists of 11 tracks:

1. The Buddha
2. One Of My Favorite Prayers
3. Compassion
4. Courage
5. Ama La feat. Anoushka Shankar
6. Healing
7. Wisdom
8. Purification
9. Protection
10. Children
11. Humanity

The album features Grammy-nominated sitar player Anoushka Shankar on the track Ama La. Anoushka is the daughter of the legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar.

By now I am certain that everyone is eager and excited about this project and to our delight, the first single, Compassion, is already out and if you are an avid lo-fi/jazz enthusiast, you are going to fall in love with the composition. The ever soothing voice of His Holiness reciting mantras is surely going to move you into a space of tranquility.

Reciting the mantra of the Buddha of Compassion (known in Tibetan as Chenrezig and in Sanskrit as Avalokiteshvara) is said to open our hearts and bring us closer to others, to feel love and compassion through wisdom, generating a desire to help.

– from Inner World

The first single, “Compassion” from the Dalai Lama’s album Inner World

Inner World will be released with a booklet that explains the meaning and the benefits of the mantras recited by His Holiness written by the Ven. Robina Courtin, a Buddhist nun who founded the Liberation Prison Project and was featured in the award-winning Australian film Chasing Buddha. The release includes exclusive artwork created by classically trained Thangka painter Ella Brewer and award-wining visual artist Tiffany Singh, both from New Zealand, mixing traditional Tibetan and contemporary art. 

It is also worth noting that the net profit from this project will go to The Gaden Phodrang Foundation of the Dalai Lama (Switzerland) chosen programs: Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning), an international K-12 education program and a collaboration between Emory University and the Dalai Lama, and Mind & Life Institute.

It is befitting that such an album was in the works for the past five years, only to be released during a time of unrest and chaos. His Holiness said it best, “Music has the potential to transcend our differences. It can return us to our true nature of warm-heartedness.” Hopefully from here on things will take a turn for the better. 

The album will be released on July 6, the Dalai Lama’s 85th birthday.

by Tenzin Choewang | Instagram: @thesnowlionclub

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