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Dalai Lama to Release Album on 85th Birthday

FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles as he reads from a book during an event at the Kirti Monastery in Dharmsala, India, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles as he reads from a book during an event at the Kirti Monastery in Dharmsala, India, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
Dalai Lama to Release Album on 85th Birthday
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The Dalai Lama will mark his 85th birthday next month by releasing an album that combines music with Buddhist teachings.

The album, called “Inner World,” has been in development for the past five years. It will include 11 different pieces of music mixed with spiritual teachings and mantras spoken by the Dalai Lama.

The leader of Tibetan Buddhism will turn 85 on July 6, the day the album will be released.

The idea for the album came from a Buddhist musician from New Zealand, Junelle Kunin. She told The Associated Press that, years ago, she had searched for music that included teachings from the Dalai Lama. Kunin thought such music could help calm her and make it easier to deal with the pressures of life.

But she could find nothing.

So, Kunin decided to propose her idea directly to The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Her proposal was turned down.

Kunin said she makes trips to India and usually gets the chance to meet the Dalai Lama during her visits. On one trip, she decided to present her idea in a letter. She gave the letter to an assistant to the Tibetan spiritual leader. This time, she said, her idea was accepted.

Kunin got to sit down with the Dalai Lama in 2015. She recorded discussions with him based on a list of subjects she thought would be good for the project.

On the album, the religious leader speaks the mantras of seven Buddhas. He discusses things such as wisdom, courage, healing and children. One of the pieces, called “Compassion,” has already been released online. It is based on one of the most famous Buddhist prayers.

Kunin said the Dalai Lama was very excited to take part in the project. She said he expressed his feelings about the importance of music for the world. She said he told her, “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.”

When Kunin returned home, her husband, Abraham - a musician and producer - helped her create music and sounds to support the Dalai Lama’s messages and powerful words. Other musicians were also invited to perform and take part in the project.

Kunin said that although the project began five years ago, she thinks the album is being released at a purposeful time. She said she thinks it can help all kinds of people.

“It’s not a Buddhist project, it’s to help everyday people like myself, even though I am a Buddhist,” Kunin said. “The messages couldn’t be more poignant for our current social climate and needs as humanity.”

Money earned from the album will go to non-profit organizations that the Dalai Lama supports. One of the organizations is SEE Learning, an international education program developed by America’s Emory University and the Dalai Lama.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

spiritual adj. relating to deep feelings and beliefs, especially religious beliefs

mantra – n. a word or phrase that is repeated often

couragen. the ability to do something without being afraid

transcendv. to rise above or go beyond the limits of something

poignantadj. painfully affecting the feelings