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Is it important to have a particular place to practice?
I practiced the Lord’s Prayer I simply went down on my knees, so you
can pray anywhere, but there are psychological benefits when you have a
shrine in a quiet place in your house where it is comfortable to sit.
You can cry your heart out there and it is private. The fact is that you
have to have your quiet place in your house, your Buddha shrine. It is
not private at church where you have to listen to the priest. At your
place, you are focusing on something your person and your mind needs.
In your view, how often do people need to practice?
people have to practice a lot—morning, middle of the day, evening. Some
people can practice once a day. Traditionally, when you’re starting
out, you practice twice a day—when rising in the morning and before
retiring in the evening. When I was having the hardest time of my life, I
was practicing for four hours a day. And I saw how it was working. My
reactions were spot on and I knew that was because of my practice,
because my normal reactions weren’t that way.
Why do you consider it important to have a CD that combines Buddhist and Christian prayers?
answer to this question is unity. Years ago, when I was on tour in New
Zealand, I was given a purple book that I couldn’t stand the color of,
but somehow I kept it and opened it after my tour. It explained that God
is within us and it doesn’t matter what your religion is. Whatever
words you use, the results are the same. If you are in another country
and you go to their meditation area to pray with them and you do your
own prayer and they do theirs, that’s fine.
The CD Beyond
is to remind people or to educate people that God is inside them. How
you tap into God is your decision. Whether you meditate or whether you
become a Christian, it’s up to you. Beyond is an invitation to open the heart for all religions and to become united.
How did you get involved with Beyond?
was invited to get involved in the project by Regula Curti, born
Christian in Switzerland, and Dechen Shak-Dagsay, born Buddhist in
Tibet. I thought it was a good idea because I was already on the journey
of unity, of thinking about how there are religious wars and how
someone has to help people know that God is to be found within, so that
peace and harmony will evolve.
and Dechen and I started to chant together and we discovered unity on a
deeper level, more energetically and spiritually. The thought of unity
in prayer became, for all three of us, a field to explore musically. We
hope that everybody realizes that the system—the system of God, of
contacting God, of being a better person, and of correcting your life
conditions—is within you. What we are trying to say is that it doesn’t
matter what holy words you chant, what matters is that you do it with
all your involvement—physical, mental, spiritual. It doesn’t matter if
Regula sings Ave Maria and Dechen sings the prayer for Tara and I sing
the Lotus Sutra. Prayer is prayer. What’s important is doing it and not worrying about how others are praying.
On Beyond you say, “When you go beyond that’s where you find true love.” What does that mean to you? What is true love?
are many different forms of love, but true love is something that
transcends doubt, something that is not judgmental, something that is
openhearted and accepting. We are not talking about passionate love,
sexual love. We are talking about a love of human beings, of the
planet—the love of seeing a little flower growing out of the earth at a
certain time of the year.
you have the capacity to find love in beauty, that is the door opener
of true love. True love comes from looking at a beautiful day and the
feeling that comes from that. Perhaps you don’t have the words for it,
but you just feel, “Ah, gosh, what a wonderful day,” and that particular
moment makes you happy. You see beauty and you embrace it—that is love.
What or where is this “beyond” that you refer to?
that’s a deep question. Let’s start with meditation. There is a stage
in practice where you don’t faint, you don’t black out, but you are in a
space. In this space you are able to stop the conscious mind, the one
that constantly talks and gives you all kinds of information from your
eyes, your ears, your nose. When you’re able to get into that space,
that is “beyond.” That’s where you find truth. In this stage of my life,
I personally believe that you get truth from your subconscious mind and
by meditating you get into the subconscious mind. Meditation opens the
space I call “beyond.”
What does it mean for you as a rock singer that your newest album is about prayer?
means that people who work in the arts need prayer as much as anyone
else. I don’t separate my work as a rock singer from prayer. When I went
on stage to make a living, I made people happy with my work. The
feedback was always that I inspired people to get out and help
themselves to go forward, to practice Buddhism. Everything has been very
positive and that’s because of my spiritual practice.
feel alone now—my mother is gone, my sister is gone. But I have two
sons, I have my relationship with my partner, Erwin, and I have my
practice. I feel that I have help. The practice takes care of me. If you
practice, you will see that this is exactly what it does.
Photo by Alberto Venzago.