Dear fellow practitioners, warm greetings
I am happy to share with you on this occasion something a little different…
You know something that I have never confessed to our dear subscribers is that although I generally appreciate having the opportunity to be able share Dhamma reflections with people all around the world regularly. There are definitely also moments when I get a bit bored with the tedium of audio file editing! (Yes I edit all of my talks myself – because no one else would be as particular as I am!)
So in having initiated a new 'Chanting with Soundscape' project I have given myself a little break from editing Dhamma talks and have also allowed myself the opportunity to enjoy a little more creativity. Several close and supportive students who were sympathetic towards the project have sponsored the significant costs so that we might be able to produce something of genuine quality. This was a gift to Ajahn Achalo… and now I am able to share it with you. The chants that I am sharing on this occasion were chanted late at night in the Dhamma Hall at Anandagiri here in Thailand back in September of last year. I deliberately chanted the chants while I was on a long solo retreat – so that I might be able to capture a heightened sense of composure, energy and sincerity in the voice. I am also sharing the breadth of my own chanting practices, as having had the good fortune to practice regularly for long periods under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya – I have become familiar with many of the chants of several Buddhist lineages. We do our regular Pali pujas here each evening in the monastery. But late at night alone in my kuti I have quite a repertoire! Chanting is a wonderful way to both contemplate Dhamma and to brighten and energise the mind.
These raw chanting 'audio files' were then sent digitally to Christopher Conway who lives in Leicester in England with a paragraph of suggestions for a suitable 'soundscape' for each track. Christopher who is a 'multi-instrumentalist' as well as an electronic music composer would then work on each track for a while and then send it back to me for comments. (One of Christopher's neighbours played the sitar!) We have been working on this collaboration for four months now and are currently a little more than half way through the proposed 9 chants. Today I am sharing 5 'Chants with Soundscape' with you. Two are inspired by the Indian/Pali tradition and three are inspired by the Sanskrit/Tibetan tradition.
Listening to chanting with music is not a replacement for our formal chanting practice. But it can be suitable and useful in the right time and place. People have found it to be a more wholesome type of entertainment while being stuck in long traffic jams for example… or have found it to be a good way to relax after a stressful day at work and to try to get 'more in the mood' to listen to Dhamma or meditate. Others who have had debilitating illnesses have found some of my previous chants with music a pleasant way to brighten the mind and remember our beloved Lord Buddha and his marvellous liberating teachings with gratitude.
Like anything artistic though… some people will appreciate what we've produced here and others may not. I am aware that my students are diverse in age, cultural conditioning and tastes. I offer this gift freely as an act of Loving-Kindness and encouragement, please make use of it if it is helpful to you – or simply leave it aside if it is not.
Ajahn Achalo Bhikkhu
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