Rain of Blessings
Lama Gyurme, 2012
Lama Gyurme was named "Oumze" (Master of Music) during his first 3 years retreat for the simple reason that his voice is an incredibly rich source of sonic beauty.
This unique collaboration with keyboardist/arranger Jean-Philippe Rykiel highlights the transcendental chants as the arrangements encourage the medium for absorbing the healing and purifying nature of the message.
LAMA GYURME (Pronounced Djiurmé)
Born in Bhutan in 1948, Lama Gyurme exhibited very early exceptional qualities and a strong attraction for the monastic life. At the age of four he was entrusted by his family to the monastery of Djang Tchub Tcheu Ling in Bhutan, where his inclination for sacred music was rapidly revealed. He became a permanent resident of the monastery at the age of nine and received a complete religious education (sacred texts, writing) and an initiation into the traditional arts, such as music.
He made his first three-year retreat (a stage required on the lamaïc path) at the monastery of Sonada in India. He was then twenty and it is during this retreat that he was named 'Ouzme - Master of Music' by the most Venerable Kalu Rinpoche.
After a stay at the Monastery of Rumtek (Sikkim), he went on to perfect his religious education in Bhutan and received numerous initiations before receiving his degree as a teacher of the Kagyupa tradition which was conferred by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa.
In France since 1974, he has directed the Kagyupa Centre in Paris (Kagyu Dzong) and, since 1982, the Vajradhara Ling Centre in Normandy.
Born blind in 1961, Jean-Philippe Rykiel taught himself the piano from a very early age. If he recognises the influence of Thelonious Monk as preponderant in his decision to become a musician, it was on discovering Pierre Henry that he became impassioned by the perspectives offered by synthesisers.
His technical mastery of the instrument and his musical intuition rapidly brought him recognition by his contemporaries, providing him with many experiences and collaborations as programmer (Vangelis), instrumentalist (Steve Hillage, Jon Hassell, Didier Malherbe) or arranger (Xalam, Salif Keita, Papa Wemba, Leonard Cohen, Youssou N'Dour to cite just a few...). He co-composed and co-produced 'Eyes Open' for Youssou N'Dour in 1992, a collaboration which continued for the worldwide hit album 'The Guide/Wommat' in 1994.
Paralleling these multiple encounters, he followed a more personal musical search that witnessed a first solo album's appearance in 1982 - a work steeped in musicotherapy under the direction of Dr. Patrick l'Echevin - and music composed for performances and for audio-visual (the score and arrangements for the films 'Les Pierres Bleues Du Désert' and 'L'Enfant Lion', and commercials for Christian Dior and Kenzo).
Original Album Sleeve Notes
1 - RAIN OF BLESSINGS - Blessing
Any Tibetan ritual bears a relationship to a 'divinity', a luminous aspect of the perfect purity of Enlightenment, an aspect of Buddha himself. A phase of the ceremony - hallmarked by a particularly high degree of solemnity - consists in bringing down the blessing of the divinity upon the devotee. This blessing is considered to be the active force which transforms the meditator, so that the power of the awakened spirit enters into his consciousness. In this chant Lama Gyurme calls down the blessing of the longevity ritual.
2 - OFFERING CHANT - Offering
Offering is an essential aspect of Buddhism. It leads to the broadening of one's spirit in an ever expanding dimension, whereas keeping things for oneself prevents an opening to the world. Space makes room for happiness whereas confinement holds us back in a state of suffering. Generosity extends itself to those in material need or inwardly in pain. It also unfolds itself, as in this chant, towards the Buddhas and all awakened beings: the practitioner thinks of himself as offering in spirit all the universes, all the beauties and all the wealth they contain; thus he is able to offer more and more, as he continually opens himself to the dimensions of the infinite.
3 - MEDICINE BUDDHA MANTRA - Healing
In his infinite compassion, the Buddha seeks to bring relief to all forms of suffering. To heal the sick, he manifests himself as a mystical form called 'Medicine Buddha', appearing in a blue body of light whose colour is similar to that of the lapis-lazuli. It is in this guise that he revealed the foundations of Buddhist medicine which is still practised today in Tibet. It is also the ritual and the mantras (short incantations) of this lapis-lazuli Buddha which are performed and recited for the sick.
4 - SACRED WORDS OF LIBERATION - Purification
The Buddha teaches that suffering is not a random phenomena, no more than it is handed out by a superior divinity. In reality, individuals are responsible for their own destiny, reaping in one life the product of what their deeds in a previous life have implanted in the mysterious depths of their consciousness. Just like a skilful psychoanalyst seeks to clear the subconscious of his patients, the Buddha has provided methods to purify the spirit of the negative imprints brought forward from past lives and which carry suffering. Lama Gyurme here recites two incantations (the Vajrasattva mantra and the Liberation Sutra mantra) especially dedicated to this purpose.
5 - PRAYER TO SANGYE MENLA - Prayer
This prayer addressed to the Medicine Buddha is calling for his intervention. The request is not limited to the mystical realm as good doctors and effective remedies are also expressions of the Medicine Buddha's activities in our world. Praying is thus in no way at odds with terrestrial care; they harmoniously complete each other.
6 - CHENREZI PURE LAND PRAYER - Liberation
Chenrezi is a divinity personifying compassion and universal love, love which is unconditional and unattached, always giving and never seeking to receive. Pure spirit, Chenrezi, manifests himself on different planes in order to rescue sufferers. On the earth plane, for instance, we consider that he incarnates as the Dalai Lama. But he also dwells in the form of light in a celestial realm called 'Field of Beatitude', ready to greet all those who, after their death, are able to ascend to him. The prayer enabling rebirth in this field of purity wherein one is liberated from all suffering is thus very frequently recited by the Tibetans.
7 - THE SIX SYLLABLE MANTRA OF THE WHITE LOTUS LORD - Compassion
In his celestial form, Chenrezi possesses a white body of light, holds a crystal rosary in his right hand and a white lotus in his left. Thus he is often called the 'White Lotus Lord'. His mantra, om mani padme hung, is extremely popular in Tibet. Elders and youngsters, monks and laymen, the illiterate and the learned, all recite it with fervour, convinced that the sound it gives off brings peace and happiness to all beings - humans and animals as well as invisible ones. To the faithful this mantra represents the vector of compassion which they nurture to the benefit of all that lives.
8 - REFUGE & SEVENFOLD OFFERING - Protection
Each day, the Buddhist recites the 'Taking of Refuge'. He thereby places himself - as well as all beings - under the protection of Buddha, its teaching (which the Buddhist attempts to practise daily), and the community of those who are transmitting these teachings. This protection is not considered as a magical help but rather as supporting the individual efforts undertaken by the practitioner in order to live rightly in the world and to ultimately attain liberation.
9 - OFFERING CHANT (UNPLUGGED VERSION) - Dedication For Peace
- "Rain Of Blessings" fulfils all and every hopes. Five years after the inaugural beauty of "Songs Of Awakening", Lama Gyurme and Jean-Philippe Rykiel are going back to school, hand in hand. To implement this second album must have been a rather hard task since their first encounter was such an achievement. But "Rain Of Blessings" fulfils all and every hopes. Still with exemplary respect of the Lama's prayers, Rykiel dares to diversify his orchestrations and adds sober percussions. Among the most impressive tracks are "Medicine Buddha Mantra" with its liquid pianos reminiscent of Harold Budd and its dotted lines of African kora, "Sacred Words Of Liberation" where the chanting merges with the layers of synths in a most mysterious ambient web, "Refuge And Sevenfold Offering" and its slowly ascending structures. Once again, the great achievement of this enterprise is a rare clear-sightedness which puts form and intention in perfect harmony. Highly inspired, highly dignified, exceptionally elegant. Keyboards Magazine
- In a time when Tibetan Buddhism is taking place among western religions, one should not wonder that it's being illustrated by convincing musical adventures. Lama Gyurme, who has been living in France for 25 years, met Jean-Philippe Rykiel (musician and pioneer of world music with Papa Wemba, Youssou N'Dour, Leonard Cohen and Jon Hassell) a few years ago. In the meantime, the monk has sung on the original soundtrack of "Himalaya" (awarded with a gold album) which revealed the extraordinary depth of his voice to the public. This new album is a series of prayers chanted at a slow pace that Rykiel fills with sparse keyboards notes and pads floating in the wind, sonic images dignified and pure, as if not to alter the meditative words of the monk. The discreet presence of violinist Florin Niculescu here and Yakuba Sissokoh's kora there are an even more beautiful illustration of a possible opening of the world. Le Figaro (France)
- Gyurme's blissed out chants promote healing, purification and liberation. A sublimely satisfying collaboration between a Tibetan monk and a classically trained French keyboardist better known for his work with African artists. ..Gyurme's blissed out chants promote healing, purification and liberation. They float on rafts of shimmering ambient sound constructed from Tibetan percussion, ethereal synthesiser and pensive piano. Vajra Chants instantly dispels cynicism about its inherent 'noo-age' hippie cliches. Sit back, relax, this is too good to miss. Hmv Choice (UK)
- One of those cross-continental collaborations that Peter Gabriel's label pulls off on a regular basis. The results are wonderful: ambient, soothing, inspiring and spiritual. What more do you want? Time Out (UK)