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Lions Roar : March 2013
IAN ASTBURY and THE CULT REBORN, AGAIN The influential postpunk-turned- rock band known as The Cult recently resurfaced with a new album, Choice of Weapon. Dharma first showed up as an overt influence on 2007’s Cult L P, Born Into This. This time around, spiritually inclined frontman Ian Astbury is talking to the press not just about the new music but also about the Buddhism that informs it. Astbury told MTV that he’s read Chögyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism “countless times.” He considers Pema Chödrön a “great teacher”: “She has incredible insight. She’s lived the Western life. She has grandchildren. She understands, but she’s an ordained Buddhist nun. If you have the opportunity to see her speak, do.” Choice of Weapon’s cover art even depicts a shaman (a figure not unfamiliar to diehard fans of the band) brandishing a dorje, a Buddhist symbol of enlightenment. TINA TURNER THE QUEEN, HAPPIER THAN EVER Unsurprisingly, much of R&B legend Tina Turner’s con- nection to Buddhism comes by way of sound—specifically, chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (“I devote myself to the Lotus Sutra”), the key practice of Nichiren Buddhism and of Turner’s Buddhist community, Soka Gakkai International. She talks about how it has made a famously difficult life better. How has your practice changed you? I feel at peace with myself, happier than I have ever been, and it is not from material things. Practicing the words Nam- myoho-renge-kyo for so long has put me in another frame of mind, so that even when I don’t practice for a day or a week, I still feel happy. But I do practice. The chant makes you com- fortable because it removes uncomfortable mental attitudes. What does it mean that your album Beyond is about prayer? It 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. Everything has been very positive, and that’s because of my spiritual practice. Is singing a spiritual practice for you? Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a song. It is a sound and a rhythm, and it touches a place inside you. That place we try to reach is the subconscious mind. Lotus Flower Formula: Back in 2007, rapper Xzibit sampled the chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in his single “Concentrate” (its use of less “enlightened” language peeving some adherents in the process). The leg- endary psychedelic outfit Acid Mothers Temple devoted a full-length song/album/freak-out to the chant. Pop figures Courtney Love, Belinda Carlisle, and Duncan Sheik, as well as the late songstress Phoebe Snow, have also engaged in the practice of Nichiren Buddhism. PHOTO:ROBVERHORST/REDFERNS SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2013 64