A rare opportunity to hear a sacred Buddhist ceremony that has been practiced since the 15th century. The Monks accent their other worldly, multiphonic chanting of their prayers with cymbals, horns, drums, and bells to create a beautiful, transcendent sound unlike any other.
Also includes a musical offering from Philip Glass, Mickey hart, and Kitaro, recorded live at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City on 3 December 1988. Produced by Mickey Hart.
The album jacket cover contains 12 pages of the history and a hint of the esoteric teachings of the Gyuto Monks tradition, including a picture of a classic Mandala.
This album is a must buy for a spirited Kitaro fan.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this recording will be donated to the Gyuto Sacred Trust.
01. Yamantaka (Terminator of Death) 27:44
02. Mahakala (Angelic Bodhisattva of great compassion) 26.58
03. For Gaia (Mother Earth) 9.17
(Philip Glass, Mickey Hart, Kitaro)
2500 years ago in India, the Buddha realized enlightenment and founded the Buddhist teaching of freedom, love, and wisdom. Buddhism slowly spread all over Asia, coming to Tibet in the 7th century A.D. It took a thousand years for its gentle ethics, sophisticated meditations, and profound scientific traditions to "tame" the wild energies of the Tibetan warriors. By the 15th century, Tibetan Buddhism had become the conservatory of the complete array of ancient knowledge, long lost to invasions and holocausts in outer Asia. Huge monastic universities were founded in Lhasa, and students came from all over Asia to cultivate enlightenment.
To preserve the most advanced and esoteric teachings, the Gyuto Tantric University was founded in 1474 by Jey Kunga Dondrub, a leading disciple of His Holiness the first Dalai Lama. The training in the monastery was based on the contemplations and rituals of the Guhyasamaja Tantra. The original crew of thirty-two monks lived and breathed the universe of this Tantra and its mandala of bliss-void-indivisible. From their practice of its unexcelled yogas, arts and sciences emerged that are unique in the world. In particular, a type of multiphonic chanting was developed, in which each monk sings a chord containing two or three tones simultaneously. This remarkable, transcendentally beautiful sound is thought to arise only from the throat of a person who has realized selfless wisdom. This music emanates from samadhi ("a trancelike state of pure consciousness, undisturbed by the polarities of life, experience, and thought") and is capable of communicating that samadhi to the hearer.
The Gyuto Tantric University flourished from that time, invited by the citizens of Lhasa to occupy the Ramoche National Cathedral. Prior to 1959, their numbers increased to over 900. they spent their days and nights in study, contemplation, and practice of ritual arts, including painting, sculpture in metals, clay, and even yak butter, sewing, dancing, singing, and healing. They were often invited in small groups all over Tibet, to perform their ceremonies to bless the land and people. In 1949 the Chinese Communists invaded Tibet and began the systematic suppression of the Buddhist religion, the center of its culture. Many monks were jailed or killed. After the Lhasa massacre in 1959, only 90 of the Gyuto monks were able to follow His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama into exile in India. They have since reestablished their University at Tenzin Gang in Arunachal Pradesh, and have initiated over 200 monks of the younger generation.
In 1987, tensions between Tibetans and Chinese increased dramatically, and a new flood of refugees emerged into India and Nepal. Many young men wanted to use their freedom to become Gyuto monks. To accommodate this demand, they decided to construct a large monastery at a famous holy place in Kathmandu, Nepal, in which 300 new monks could be trained in their sacred arts and sciences. To raise funds for that monastery, they have come to the West to perform their ceremonies for the Western public, to share the unique splendor of Tibetan culture, and to bless the entire planet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama commented on the nature of these performances:
"Some people may ask 'Why are they performing publicly what should be esoteric rites?' Perhaps these people feel that secret teachings should not be turned into a theatrical spectacle. But they needn't be concerned. the secret interior path and its processes are things which the ordinary eye cannot perceive. What is seen outside is totally different. Based on their inner achievement, the Yoguis can unfold energies which can serve the benefit of the entire country, such as in ceremonies which consecrate images and icons, exorcise negative forces, prevent natural disasters and epidemics, and uplift the spirit of times. Thus, from a certain point of view, these ceremonies have a great benefit for the whole society, though there is a valid point in reserving certain ceremonies from public performance. Those performed here are chosen as resembling those traditionally done by popular request all over Tibet."
It is important to remember, when listening to this recording, that these chants are not designed as entertainment, but as prayer--venerable vehicles of enlightenment for all sentient beings. Further, because of the limitations of the medium, those selections presented are only small parts of rituals which may take two days or more to perform in full.
The Gyuto monks came to America in 1988 to chant for freedom, for freedom of their homeland, for freedom of all oppressed people, for freedom for all the sad oppressors as well, and for freedom for all living beings throughout the universe. Their chants at Skywalker reach out to embrace the planet, softening the hearts of all the children of Mother Gaia. Their chants at New York’s sacred center, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine celebrate the imminence of peace on earth.
On the full moon of December 3, 1988, 5,000 people joined the monks at the Cathedral. The monks wanted to reinforce their prayers to bless the planet and bring forth peace on earth in a special way. They requested their friend Mickey Hart and Tibet House Director Philip Glass to join them in performance for world peace. The musicians were reluctant, concerned lest they infringe in the monk's special musical realm. The Abbot then explained that, during the Mahakala Offering ritual, there was a moment in the chant when the monks visualized millions of "music deities" streaming forth from the mandala, blessing the world's people and pleasing the world's deities by performing every conceivable type of music known to men and gods. The Abbot invited the musicians to perform during that visualization, as representing the heavenly musicians. The Japanese keyboard artist Kitaro was invited to join the ensemble, and a special composition was created. This musical offering was made in the spirit of solidarity with the Gyuto monks.
Recorded at Skywalker Ranch, November 15, 1988. During this contemplative recitation, the monks identify themselves with the divine Buddha form Yamantaka ("Terminator of Death"). In focused visualization, they enter his sacred Mandala palace, where they become channels for Yamantaka's stream of life-giving blessings to all beings. Although Yamantaka manifests a terrific, triumphal appearance, this Buddha form is actually the gentle Bodhisattva Manjushri, archangel of selfless wisdom. This chant is believed to have the power to exorcise the human afflictions of anger, avarice, lust, and envy and transform them into creative wisdom.
Recorded at Skywalker Ranch, November 15, 1988. Mahakala is the most important terrific protector of Tibetan Buddhism. He is black and six-armed. Though fierce in his trampling upon the evil spirits of delusion and greed, he is actually considered to be the agent of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the angelic Bodhisattva of great compassion. Mahakala is frightening in appearance because his responsibility is to protect all beings from evil. In the Mahakala ceremony, the monks invite Mahakala to manifest himself before them, they make offerings to him, and they praise him, evoking his virtuous qualities, and they commission him to safeguard Mother Gaia and all beings.
2 For Gaia: (Philip Glass, Mickey Hart, Kitaro)
Recorded live in performance before the monks and the visualized mandala at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, December 3, 1988. The artists took their favorite instruments and gave themselves to the spirit of the moment, to the spirit of the monks, to the uplifting space of the hopes of the world. They let their music flow forth to open channels of sound between all beings in distress and the powers of love and goodness. May it join the monks in transporting beings to freedom and joy!