I've had quite an interest in Tibet and its people since I was a small child. However,
it was not until my trip to Northern India that I met some Tibetan refugees during my stay
in Mussoorie, which is at about 10,000 ft. in the foothills of the Himalayas. The stories
that they told me about their families and loved ones dying, the destruction of their
homeland, and their escape over the icy Himalayas moved me deeply, as did their genuine
warmth and compassion, and those feelings stayed with me while I was writing these songs.
Considered the most sacred mountain in Tibet, Mount Kailas has been circumnavigated by Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, and adherents of Bon for thousands of years, these people often making pilgrimages of hundreds of miles across the rugged Himalayan peaks. To the Tibetan Buddhists, pilgrimages are something that is not done just for oneself; it is done on behalf of all beings, friends and even ones enemies. Unless it is done in this spirit, it is simply an ordinary journey. A pilgrimage is an opportunity to become truly open and embrace all experiences.
"Shiya" is Tibetan for "Death".
Bardo literally means "between two" or "between two states", and is the intermediary state between death and rebirth. According to the Bardo Thödol, what one sees on the Bardo plane, be it blissful or hellish, godlike or demonic, is completely derived from the hallucinatory karmic thoughts constituting ones personality; these visions are illusions based on experiences from the sangsara.
The Buddha of Infinite Light and Love Divine, Amitabha is the personification of one of the universal divine forces, and a reflection of ones own thought-form while in the Bardo. Sung in Cantonese, the words in this song translate approximately to "Come here. Do you want to be my friend?"
"Gyewalang" is Tibetan for "reborn".
The Dalai Lama was forced to flee his homeland in 1959 as a result of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which continues today. China has killed one-fifth of the population of Tibet approximately 1.2 million people in what has been called the worst single human catastrophe since the Nazis killed six million Jews. Tibetans have been imprisoned, tortured, and raped, and their land strip-mined, their forests clear-cut, and their sacred lakes filled with nuclear waste, contaminating water that feeds several major rivers in Asia.
Despite these and many other atrocities, the Dalai Lama has consistently sought a peaceful resolution, advocating non-violence at every step. He was recognized for these efforts in 1989, winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Nam la timba khora ri dine yeghi ri" is a quote from the 15th Century Tibetan poet and saint, Milarepa, and refers to the "negative" emotions that should be like the clouds disappearing back into space.
Chenrezi is the embodiment of mercy and compassion.
Esther Tessel for making the words come alive; Natalie and Pauline Fratino, Luigi of Florence, and Pema Chöden for their invaluable translations; Southern California Conservatory of Music; Richard Lanchester for the amazing stories about his years in Lhasa and playing his incredible singing bowls; Connie Deeter for enlightening me on the differences between cello and bass; Dave Segimoto and Bob at VST in Pasadena for keeping the machines going; The Still-Inspirational Michael Haumesser; The Burglar; Los Angeles Friends of Tibet; Chris Kosman for graphic design; Rae Dileo for mountains of invaluable help; and to Brian Eno, for inspiration. Special thanks to J.M. Zorko at Ad Astra Records.The music on "Sangsara" is very special to me, and I am proud to share it with you.
Francois (le busker) for those timeless days in the S London squat where we reveled in mostly Italian arias; cousin Howard; my British mother for passing her feistiness (strength) and haphazard emotions (sensitivity) down to me so that I may cry out to you; The Junkyard King (thanks for watching); the Tessel Tribe, Sharon, Larry and Reba, Joy, myself, Natalie, Daniel, Carol Moo for her Chinese coaching, Alan Watts for his "coaching", all of my great comrades for helping me through lifes "bardo" to name a few: Kate, Jason, Robin, Ray; the wondrous Ken Lee for providing this playground of beauty in which I could dance, laugh, sing and cry without restraint; The Patient Burglar, for her humor and support; and to Amitabha/Hashem for endless Compassion and for giving me what I need.
Esther Tessel voice
Richard Lanchester Tibetan Singing Bowls, Burmese bells
Connie Deeter bowed bass
Ken Lee keyboards, voice, Tibetan bells, atmosphere guitar, Javanese gamelan, electric bass, wind chimes, and assorted sounds and voices taped while traveling in Northern India.
For more information on Tibet:
The Office of Tibet 241 East 32nd Street New York NY 10016 USA
Artists for Tibet 3212 SE 23rd Street Portland OR 97202 USA
Los Angeles Friends of Tibet P.O. Box 641066 Los Angeles CA 90064 USA
Milarepa Fund 76 Uranus Terrace San Francisco CA 94114 USA