Stressed out while working at a bank in New Zealand, Junelle Kunin began searching for music paired with teachings from the Dalai Lama to calm herself down and allow herself to focus. But she couldn't find it online, per the AP. That's when the musician and practicing Buddhist proposed an idea to The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Let's make an album fusing music with mantras and chants from the Tibetan spiritual leader. She was politely turned down. But on a trip to India—where Kunin says she typically gets a chance to meet the Dalai Lama—she asked again, this time writing a letter and handing it to one of his assistants. Five years later, Inner World is born. The 11-track album featuring teachings and mantras by the Dalai Lama set to music will be released on July 6, his 85th birthday.
On her trip to India, Kunin wrote down a list of topics and mantras she thought would be great for the album, and recorded conversations with the Dalai Lama. Back home, her husband, Abraham, who is also a musician and producer, helped her create music and sounds to enhance his words. The religious leader recites the mantras of seven Buddhas on the album, discussing topics like wisdom, courage, healing, and children. "He really was so excited" as "he [talked] about how music can … transcend differences and return us to our true nature and our good-heartedness," Kunin said. Net proceeds from the sales of the album, featuring dozens of other musicians, will benefit Mind & Life Institute as well as Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning, an international education program developed by Emory University and the Dalai Lama. (Read more Dalai Lama stories.)