A Secret Sky
Back in 2017, I started working on several tracks for my next album–a collection of Buddhist mantras from the Tibetan Buddhist and Sowa Rigpa traditions, set to Western melodies, with Eastern instrumentation, and dedicated to my precious teachers and to all those in need of healing. The working title of the project is “A SECRET SKY” and all you Rumi lovers out there might recognize that this title comes from the Rumi poem known as “This is Love” (see below). I’m working with the incomparable producer Ben Leinbach, whose sensitivity to sacred music and musical skills are both, in my humble opinion, divine. Ben has produced such mantra music luminaries as Jai Uttal, Deva Premal, Brenda McMorrow, Adam Bauer, Mukti and more; and it’s really an honor to be on his team, especially when I was on crutches and virtually voiceless during our initial recording sessions. Prior to that, we had played together live here and there at various kirtan festivals, and formed an immediate bond, and we both said we wanted to work together some day, but hearing someone sing on stage and hearing them–or rather, me–in a recording studio is a totally different ballgame, because I am MUCH more self-conscious around recording equipment.
Anyway, it’s interesting… I have noticed a direct correlation between the power of my voice and the health of my skeleton, and back in 2017, both were weak. So I had to step away from music production for a while and focus full-time on my physical health. Three years later, I am still walking (the doctors had warned me I might not be able to walk) and my savings account has been completely drained. All the money I had tucked aside for the recording project went into preserving my physical health. Obviously, it’s money well spent, and I also believe in the divine timing of all things. While it would have been nice to finish the project on schedule, with a projected 2018 release, I knew that, when the time was right for me and Ben to return to A SECRET SKY, the universe would start sending me messages.
Those messages came in the form of countless emails and notes from listeners around the world, asking me for a recording of my version of the Medicine Buddha mantra, which I have been singing live since 2017. As I write this post, in late March of 2020, the world is in the midst of the chaos of the Coronavirus, and people are seeking solace, comfort, and healing. I’d like to be able to do my part in helping to ease the suffering and fear of others. Perhaps my “part” is to finish the recording of Medicine Buddha and distribute it for free as a single to anyone who needs it. Who knows? I do know that my own Medicine Buddha practice over the past three years has opened me up to immense vibrations of healing. And I have full confidence in the power of the mantra and in the power of practice.
If any of you would like to help fund this project, we will gladly accept donations. I don’t think I am going to do a full-on crowdfunding campaign, unless I can find helpers for that. Things might change in that regard, as all things change, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, you can find the donate links here.
Here’s A List of Some of the Tracks That Will Appear on the Album
A Bodhisattva’s Aspiration (adapted from Shantideva’s prayer)
Amitabha Mantra (Om Ami Dewa Hri)
Chloe’s Mani (a cover of Imee Ooi’s melody of Om Mani Peme Hum, dedicated to my dog Chloe)
The Dharani of the Essence of Dependent Arising (Om Ye Dharma) for His Holiness Karmapa
Guru Rinpoche/Padmasambhava Mantra
Mantra for the Purification of the Five Elements – Dakinis
Mantra for the Purification of the Five Elements – Dakas
Mantra of the Eighth Tara (dedicated to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock)
Medicine Buddha Mantra
The Twenty-One Praises to Tara (Celtic melody)
White Tara Mantra
Most of these tracks are original melodies–meaning, the melodies came to me in dreams, during practice retreats. A few are based on traditional Tibetan melodies.
If there is one track in particular you would like to sponsor, let us know.
Here’s The Beautiful Rumi Poem
This is love:
to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.
Heart, I said, what a gift it has been to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself…
The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII