Do they know it's Christmas?
Philip Glass collaborated with Tenzin Choegyal on the soundtrack for Mickey Lemle's film The Last Dalai Lama?, and the soundtrack album was released in 2020 on Philip Glass' Orange Mountain Music label. Tenzin Choegyal appeared here in January this year when I wrote enthusiastically about his Songs from the Bardo album made with Laurie Anderson and Jesse Paris Smith*. That is Tenzin Choegyal in the photo above performing Heart Strings, his most memorable and moving contribution to the soundtrack album. For the film Tenzin Choegyal recorded the track with 150 Tibetan children from the Tibetan Children's Village School for refugee children in Dharamsala, India, and in Pokhara and the Kingdom of Mustang in Nepal; Tenzin Choegyal was himself a pupil at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharamsala.
In their 2020 report on China the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch describes how
Authorities in Tibetan areas continue to severely restrict religious freedom, speech, movement, and assembly... In 2019, officials further intensified surveillance of online and phone communication... From May to July 2019, the authorities expelled thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns from the Yachen Gar monastery in Sichuan, and their dwellings demolished, according to Xi. Those without residence status in Sichuan were deported to their home provinces, where they were reportedly detained for re-education. Meanwhile, Tibetan Autonomous Region leaders called for an intensification of “Sinicization” policies to “strengthen the management of monasteries,” subjecting monastic populations to “legal” exams to test their competence in political re-education, and requiring senior religious figures to endorse state policies on the selection of the next Dalai Lama.On Heart Strings (Nying Thik in Tibetan) the children of Tibet join Tenzin Choegyal in the chorus Om Mani Padme Hum. This is the mantra of compassion closely associated with the present Dalai Lama, who is ostracised by the Chinese Government. In a final affirmation the children and Tenzin Choegyal proclaim 'Bodh gyal lo' - Victory to Tibet! The header photo is a screen grab from a video of Heart Strings. The track is a heart-warming earworm that transcends spiritual and political allegiances; the video can be seen on Philip Glass' YouTube channel via this link, and the movie The Last Dalai Lama? can be viewed on Amazon Prime. As unloved 2020 draws to a close do remember how the Tibetan Buddhist Tantric tradition teaching that, without first encountering the depths of hell, the gates of heaven will never open. A happy Christmas and thoughtful New Year to all my readers.
* Also on the Songs from the Bardo album are Rubin Kodheli and Shahzad. New Overgrown Path posts are available via RSS/email via the link at the top of this page. No review samples used in this post. Any copyrighted material is included for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).