1. The All-Inclusive Mantra
2. Beginning Well (Ganesha)
AUM GANG GANAPATAYE NAMAHA SWAHA
GANG GANAPATAYE NAMO NAMAH
GANESHA SHARANAM JAI JAI GANESHA
AUM. I bow to Ganesha (Lord of Categories). So be it!
GANG (Ganesha’s signature sound). I bow to Ganesha again and again.
I take refuge in Ganesha. Hooray, hooray for Ganesha!
3. Changing Your Trajectory (Saman Mantra)
ASATO MA SAT GAMAYA
TAMASO MA JYOTIR GAMAYA
MRITYOR MA AMRITAM GAMAYA
AUM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTIHI
Lead us from the unreal to the Real,
From darkness to Light,
From death to Immortality.
AUM. Peace, peace, peace be upon us all.
4. Invoking the Formless Supreme (Shiva)
AUM NAMAH SHIVAYA
AUM. I bow down to Shiva (The Auspicious One).
5. Invoking the Supreme Form (Durga)
AUM AING HRING KLEENG CHAMUNDAYE VICHCHEY AUM
SHREE DURGA MA NAMO NAMAH
AUM.. Seed syllables of Saraswati (Wisdom), Lakshmi/Parvati (Purification), and Kali (Transformation).
She who cuts off inappropriate aversion and attachment.
Revered Mother, Durga, I bow to you again and again.
6. Magnifying Self-Giving Love (Jai Shree Devi)
JAI SHREE DEVI NAMO NAMAH
Hooray for the Feminine Glory, the Goddess! I bow to you again and again.
7. Expanding Compassion (Chenrezig)
AUM MANI PADME HUNG
AUM. The Jewel is in the Lotus!
8. Invoking Healing Energy (Medicine Buddha)
TAYATA AUM BEKANZA BEKANZA
MAHA BEKANZA RANZE
This is how it is. AUM. Healing, healing,
Great Noble Healing within,
Permeate everywhere. So be it!
9. Surrendering to Beauty (Krishna)
GOPALA GOVINDA GOVINDA GOPALA
Master of the Cows, Protector.
Joyful Shining God, Son of the Goddess.
10. Energizing Yourself with the Life-Force (Green Tara)
AUM TARE TUTARE TURE SOHA
AUM. Homage to Tara, swift heroine, whose mantra Tutare dispels all fear, and Ture, which fulfills all needs.
11. Decontaminating Yourself (Vajrasattva)
AUM VAJRASATTVA AUM AH HUNG
AUM. Indestructible Being, purify my body, speech, and mind.
12. Dedicating Your Activities (Karmapa)
Source of all awakened activities, remember me.
13. Requesting Realization (Guru Rinpoche)
AUM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PADME SIDDHI HUNG
Indestructible remover of darkness,
Please purify my body, speech, and mind,
And grant me ordinary and supreme realization.
14. Learning Your Life-Lessons (Saturn)
AUM SHAM SHANISH CHARIYA NAMAHA
AUM. I bow down to Lord Saturn (The Slow-Mover).
15. Reuniting Yourself with the Divine (Sita Ram)
RAMA RAMA RAMA RAMA RAMA
SITA RAM SITA RAM SITA RAM JAYA SITA RAM
Incarnate Preserving Deity,
Hooray for the Union of Our Soul with the Supreme!
Following Sound into Silence ~ "Liner Notes"
Here I’m intoning AUM in four different pitches (G2, D3, G3, & D4; forming a perfect fourth across two octaves), seven times. There’s enough silence in between to let the last one sink in while you take a breath for the next. The only instrument here is a gong, struck at the onset of each AUM.
Try putting this track on the “repeat” setting, and then riding this mantra for a long while. You’ll soon be able to sing along--and it will do good things to you internally!
There are three distinct parts to this song:
(a) The opening invocation, featuring simple ektara and a single keyboard tone.
(b) The high-spirited main section, featuring the mantras GANG GANAPATAYE NAMO NAMAH and GANESHA SHARANAM, with percussion and bells being added to the ektara.
(c) The more subtle conclusion, which lauds Ganesha (JAYA GANESHA) and his Mother (in her fearsome aspect, KALI MA), accompanied only by synthesized strings.
3. Saman Mantra
This mantra is presented in two distinct emotional textures; the first is one of supplication and longing, the second of determination and triumph. This represents the two different attitudes of waiting on grace and acting on faith; or asking for help, and then acting like what you desire is already yours.
Musically, the two movements are quite distinct. The first is a slower tempo (108 bpm), with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, dumbek, synthesized keyboard; the second is more up-tempo (130 bpm), adding an assortment of samples and loops for a more energetic and “edgy” feel.
After a three-fold AUM, I begin to call out to Shiva, punctuated by “HUM,” the seed syllable of Bhairava, a fierce manifestation of Shiva as the destroyer of illusion. This chant builds in intensity, first adding acoustic guitar and percussion to the keyboard tone and synthesized flute, finally introducing synthesized strings into the mix, as the vocals become increasingly passionate.
The first two sections of this mantra are musically much the same, the second being phrased so that it takes half as long to get through the mantra as the first. The vocal tune is nearly plain-chant. The third section, however, has a more drawn out melody, with harmonies similar to those used in western chorale music. I wanted this appeal to the Most Holy Goddess to evoke the feeling of majesty, at once ancient and contemporary. Instruments used include ektara, dumbek, synthesized drum, and percussion loops.
6. Jai Shree Devi
This is a love song to the Sacred Feminine. Reverent, yet sensual, this chant is meant to exemplify how we can engage our desire and direct it toward the Highest. Instruments used are all western, and include full drum kit, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, and Hammond B-3 organ (for that sultry gospel feel).
7. Six Syllable Mantra
This mantra is presented in two ways here:
(a) Spoken, just as I repeat the mantra in my own private practice.
(b) Sung, in two different traditional Tibetan melodies. I learned them both in 1996 from the monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery when they traveled to Lubbock, Texas, where I was working as a professor. They were the first tunes in which I learned to chant this mantra. Instruments include ektara, keyboard synthesizer, and percussion loops.
8. Medicine Buddha
I first learned this mantra listening to Lama Gyurme’s recording (2000). I was so taken with the chant that I adapted it for performance in my own kirtans. Years later, I received empowerment to perform the Medicine Buddha practice in Toronto in 2005. Instruments include keyboard synthesizer, dumbek, and percussion loops.
My friend, Dave Stringer, released recordings of two lovely versions of Devakinandana Gopala on his CDs, Japa (2002), and Mala (2004). In this simplified arrangement, I maintain a constant tempo while combining western and eastern styles of drumming. Instruments include keyboard synthesizer and an array of percussion loops.
10. Green Tara
This arrangement, with its monotonous verse and descending pentatonic scale in the chorus, emerged (like so many) out of the sheer quantity of repetitions undertaken in devotional practice. I received the Green Tara empowerment at a gompa (temple) near Boston in 2003. Instruments include ektara, keyboard synthesizer, and percussion loops.
My Guru introduced me to this practice in 2003. I was also inspired by the teaching of Lama Thubten Yeshe, who befriended my Guru during their time together near Kathmandu, Nepal in the late 1960s.
I begin this track with the 100 Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva, who is addressed as Heruka (“blood drinker”), the purifying deity in his wrathful aspect. The mantra is punctuated at the end (PHAT) with a thunderclap and a cleansing rain shower (Vajra can be translated as “thunderbolt”). At the conclusion of the song, we return to the rain shower, but near its end. If you listen closely, you’ll hear distant thunder, followed by a bird breaking into song, signaling the end of the storm--symbolic of the completion of your purification. Instruments include ektara, keyboard synthesizer, and percussion loops.
There are several variations across different renderings of the 100 Syllable Mantra; this is the version that I received, followed by a translation:
AUM VAJRA HERUKA
DRIDHO ME BHAVA
SUTOSHYO ME BHAVA
SUPOSHYO ME BHAVA
ANURAKTO ME BHAVA
SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYACCHA
SARVA KARMA SUCCHA ME
CHITTAM SHRIYAM KURU HUM!
HA HA HA HA HOH!
BHAGAVAN VAJRA HERUKA
MA ME MUNCHA
HERUKA BHAVA MAHA SAMAYA SATTVA
AH HUM PHAT!
AUM Indestructible Heruka:
Guard and protect my commitments.
Heruka, help me be strong.
Be my constant support.
May I ever be pleasing to you.
May you ever be happy with me.
Hold me in your affectionate regard.
Help me attain all sublime accomplishments.
Help me to act virtuously always,
and to purify my mind.
Hum! [invocation of the Five Buddha Families]
Never abandon me, Indestructible Heruka,
Great Embodiment of commitment.
So be it, so may it endure.
12. Karmapa Chenno
My Guru was initiated by the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, and his devotion has continued with the 17th, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. I was introduced to this practice by my Guru in 2003. Instruments include ektara, keyboard synthesizer, and percussion loops.
13. Guru Rinpoche
This mantra was the first from within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition that I received from my Guru in 2003; it was also the first mantra that I set to music. It has a very special place in my heart. Instruments include acoustic guitars, keyboard synthesizer, and percussion loops.
At the conclusion of my Vedic Astrology reading, my Guru told me to chant this mantra to Saturn regularly, in order to align myself with its influences and honor the elderly (Saturn is depicted as an old man). This song was born from that effort, and is offered to assist others in doing the same.
The ethereal sounds at the beginning of this song are a NASA recording of the actual radio emissions of the planet Saturn. I hope to have captured the sonic flavor of this energy in the rest of the song. Instruments include full drum kit, acoustic guitars, electric bass, and Moog Voyager.
15. Sita Ram
This song has two parts. In the first, I chant RAMA, stoking the fire in the seat of will at the third chakra (Manipura). In the second, I chant SITA RAM, reuniting the Father (Formless) with the Mother (Form) energies. Instruments include ektara, acoustic guitar, synthesized flute, and percussion loops.