I am currently working on a long-term music project which is a kind of soundtrack for the Bardo Journey as described in the Tibetan Book Of The Dead. That book is probably most widely known via Timothy Leary's interpretation, which inspired the Beatles' ground-breaking song “Tomorrow Never Knows”. The final piece will eventually be about two hours long with a more obvious connection to the Tibetan Buddhist meditation and chanting traditions, especially featuring the “Om Mani Padme Hum” mantra. For more details of my nādayoga practice, see the links on my main nādayoga.us page.
Structurally, the piece will start with a five or ten minute requiem for death itself, which precedes the three stages described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Parts 2 and 4 are complete, parts 1 and 3 are in progress...
Part 1: Death
I had just started recording material for this section when my Mother passed away in October 2017. Working on that in the following months was a huge emotional journey for me. By December I had shifted from grief and sadness at her passing into joy and gratitude for everything she was, and everything that she and my Dad did for me. This led me to shift my attention to Part 4, Rebirth and finish it relatively quickly.
Part 2: The Clear Light
I think of this section as being subtitled "Cosmic Chanting". In this part of the Bardo Journey, there are no words or images, only transcendent awareness. Musically, this 30-minute piece includes two slightly different "incarnations" of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, but is mostly focussed on meditative chanting.
Zorg - The Clear Light
This is not yet released on a record label.
Part 3: Hallucinations
This is the longest part of the Bardo Journey, in which the soul sees visions of Heavens and Hells, and its spiritual work is to try not to grasp after the Heavens, and try not flee from the Hells, but to calmly accept what is, and to remember that all contingent phenomena are impermanent. Musically, this will be over an hour long, with the dramatic subtitle of "The Roller-Coaster of Doom!". It will be a wild ride of different songs joy and angst, interspersed with moments of reflective calm. I have written a lot of material for this and recorded some of it, but it is not yet ready for release...
Part 4: Rebirth
The final part of the soul's Bardo journey, as described in the Tibetan Book Of The Dead, is the reincarnation into new life. My personal journey of grieving after my Mother's passing brought me, after several months, to a place of profound gratitude and joy for the fact that she had ever lived at all. I became acutely aware of the miracle of life, in both its strength and fragility.
As I had sat meditating with my Mother's body in the funeral home after her death, what struck me most was how peaceful, wise and spiritually strong she looked. She was a woman of deep faith, and so I think of this celebration of her life as subtitled "Dance of the Spiritual Warrior."