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MP3 Jeffrey Goodman - Music from the Shelter of Clear Light: A Musical Journey through ancient Tibet
On a remote Himalayan peak, in a shelter, under a small pile of carefully placed stones, was found a tattered ancient manuscript, whose title translated from the Tibetan is "Music from the Shelter of Clear Light."
Music from the Shelter of Clear Light
a musical journey through ancient Tibet
Ancient legends tell the stories of countless pilgrims in their quest for enlightenment in the remote Himalayas of Tibet.
One such story recounts the quest for enlightenment of a mendicant musician, known as Dorjé Gyaltsen, who in the late 14th century wandered through Tibet. Legend has it that while meditating he discovered a secret door hidden behind a magical waterfall, and entered forever into a sacred realm.
Several years ago an explorer happened upon a shelter hidden high up on a remote Himalayan peak. In the shelter, under a small pile of carefully placed stones, was found a tattered ancient manuscript, whose title translated from the Tibetan is “Music from the Shelter of Clear Light.”
The manuscript chronicles the story of Dorjé in his own words and music. What follows is a transcription of nine of his musical compositions. Fragments from his journal are also included.
I. Mandala: “Meditating before this waterfall, I hear the ringing of a sacred bell, then the sounds of the dongchen [Tibetan mountain] horns. I enter the center of a magical mandala made entirely of sounds, which circle around each other and then lead to a group of monks in the midst of chanting the Bodhicitta Prayer.”
II. Vajrasattva: “Today, after a short journey, I resume meditating and chant the purifying Vajrasattva mantra as I sit by a quiet stream “
III. Hungry Ghosts: “It is midnight. I walk in the along the edge of a haunted glacier. Eerie lights follow me and I hear faint sounds from under the earth. Above and in the distance I witness a gathering of Hungry Ghosts, who begin singing.”
IV. Seven-Line Prayer #1: “For several weeks I have walked alone through the sacred mountains, where I come upon a group of monks chanting the 7-line prayer. I hear the bracelets of the celestial dakinis jingling on their arms as they dance in the air above the monks.
V. Vajra Guru: “I meditate on the founder and protector of our Tibetan faith, Padmasambava, and I chant his mantra.”
VI. Padmasambava: “Padmasambava is stirred by my chanting. He travels from his abode in Zangdog Palri, arriving here on an radiant white rainbow, escorted by his entourage of lamas, dakinis and goddesses, who are all dancing and playing flutes, bells, cymbals and chimes. After a time, he rises up into the sky and leaves on a luminous ray of the sun, disappearing into the clouds.”
VII. Manjusri: “As winter begins, each day I am now chanting the Manjusri mantra. Suddenly Shamanic demons attack me with their wails and lamentations. Then Manjusri manifests himself, wielding his sword, and subdues the evil beings.”
VIII. Avaloketeshvara: “During my springtime meditation by a quiet stream, I hear the chant of Avaloketeshvara. It is sung by a mystical bird sitting in a tree above me, accompanied by a harp and the music of dancing dakinis.”
IX. Seven-Line Prayer #2: “An autumn storm arrives as I travel through the mountains. At last I come upon a monastery in a hidden realm shaped like a heart. The monks are singing the 7-line prayer. In the distance again I hear the sounds of the dongchen horns and the solitary sacred bell ringing. The thunder, rain and wind slowly stop and the blue sky opens as the gray clouds part.
The sacred music of Tibetan Buddhism has a profound and centuries old tradition with highly developed associations of instrumental sounds with chanting. It is not the purpose or intent of this work to emulate that.
Our fanciful musical story of Dorjé the wandering Tibetan musician is intended to draw the listener to focus on images and experiences within his own imagination, and to be introduced to a few of the inspiring chanted mantras and prayers of Tibetan Buddhism.
As a composer I have for many years been inspired by the power and depth of Tibetan ritual music and offer this work with the aspiration that listeners will perhaps be drawn towards the sublime world of religious, musical and meditative practice embodied by the Tibetan sacred experience.
Los Angeles, California September, 2007
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