One of My Favorite Prayers
Ama La (feat. Anoushka Shankar)
How does one classify the first album by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama? Music? Guided meditation? Lectures and mantra set to instrumental accompaniment? Yes. Released on the occasion of his 85th birthday, Inner World brings a now-classic new-age format—soothing sound overlaid with suggestive, meditative speaking—into a cultural moment obsessed by calm but with no calm in sight. The pace is glacial, the rhythms gentle, and the styles surprisingly diverse, evoking Eno-esque ambient (“Courage”), deep, quiet jazz (“Healing,” “Children”), and pastoral folk (“Wisdom”). Is the Lama a musician? Not in the way we typically use the term. But his delivery contains music, recalling both the rhetorical cadence of a great public speaker and, of course, the hypnotic emphases of Buddhist chant. “Now today, we are in the 21st century,” he says at the beginning of the album-closing “Humanity.” “Lot of violence, lot of killing. All this, you see, due to lack of human compassion, human affection, a lack of sense of oneness of human brothers, sisters.” Believe it or not. But it’s the truth.