Review of ‘Beyond’

Beyond words and imagination, beyond the margins between different faiths, there is a place where compassion and joy and enlightenment meet. On Beyond: Buddhist and Christian Prayers, three strong women gather in that place to unite the devotional hymns of two cultures into a single offering of peace and faith. One of them, Dechen Shak-Dagsay, is a native Tibetan mantra singer and the daughter of respected Tibetan Lama Dagsay Rinpoche; the second, Regula Curti, is a music therapist, yoga teacher and singer with a deep knowledge of Christian prayer traditions. The third is none other than Tina Turner, a living icon of empowerment and a Buddhist practitioner. Singing and chanting together over a relaxing bed of synthesized music, these three women help us open our hearts and minds to the spiritual messages they so beautifully convey.

Beyond demonstrates, on both philosophical and musical levels, how naturally the prayers of two of the world‚s major religions can blend. The lifesblood of “Sound of Mystic Law” is Turner‚s invocation of the Lotus sutra, the central prayer of Nichiren Buddhism. As she intones the ancient Sanskrit words “Nam myoho renge kyo,” Curti‚s Latin words ˆ taken from a standard Christian prayer ˆ dip in and out of Turner‚s hypnotic stream of syllables. Though the belief systems that gave rise to these two texts are as different as can be, the trance-inducing effects of their chant traditions binds them together.

Out of the caressing atmosphere of “Compassionate Love” comes the curling vocal lines of Shak-Dagsay‚s Buddhist mantra, dedicated to Tara, the female Buddha of compassion. Overlapping with her wonder-filled melodies are Curti‚s familiar words of the Roman Catholic “Ave Maria” prayer. Beautiful enough as they are by themselves, these prayers transcend their origins when they‚re paired and placed on such delicate pillows of accompaniment. By the time that the album-ending “Devotion” combines the Christian “amen” with a mantra thanking the guru that introduced Buddhist thought to Tibet in the 8th century, we‚ve reached a tranquil spot where faith and knowledge bases meet, music and spirit unite. It is a healing place to be, and Beyond: Buddhist and Christian Prayers takes us there.

June 2014 | DailyOm

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