Yellow hat Monk
Yellow hat Monk

Tibetan Monks
Tibetan Monks
The government of a Tibetan Monastery may be described as a pyramid organized into three levels. At the lowest level the general monk population is divided into groups called ‘khangchens'(or ‘michens’). Monks are organized into “khangchens” by their place of origin. Each “khangchens” consists of about 100 monks, with the one topmost in seniority serving as the “jigen” or leader. An executive committee within the ‘khangchen’ handles the day-to-day affairs. The level above the ‘khangchen’ is the ‘dratsang’ or school (it is more fashionable to call it ‘University’). Usually formed by several ‘khangchens’, each ‘dratsang’ is run more or less independently. Resembling a monastery within a monastery, each has its own prayer hall, library and monks, and possesses its own land, pastures and housing. However, ‘dratsangs’ differ from each other in size and wealth. Some of them are so small that they have no `khangchen’ under them. Some ‘dratsangs’ are schools of exoteric Buddhism, and some of esoteric or tantric Buddhism. While in Tibet we met a lot of monks. Roughly monks in Tibet are categorized as follows :
a) Lama
The term ‘lama’, meaning ‘guru’ or master in Tibetan, used to be the tittle reserved solely for high-ranking or accomplished Tibetan Buddhist monk, ordinary monks were merely ‘drapas’. Later, as ‘lama’ came to be used as a polite form od address for any ‘drapa’, it became a common misnomer for all Tibetan monks.
b) Monks
Tibetan Buddhism used to have private tutorships for monks. Ge-lug-pa started a school system for monks. That is the ‘dratsang’ system. All sects, including Bonism, adopted this system. In a monastery, monks are divided into four groups:
(1). Monk students of exoteric and esoteric Buddhism. Called ‘bachogwa’ (scholars) in Tibetan, these monks, are prospective holders of the top degrees of monastic study, and stand an excellent chance of becoming candidates for the position of monk officials. They represent “the best hope” of all monks but not all of them can hope to fulfill this intention.
(2) Monks trained in religious professions. These are monks who hire themselves out to pray for the safety and the happiness of their clients; to conduct religious ceremonies to release the dead from their sins, or as oracle consultants. Sometimes they pray on the street.
(3) Artisans and specialized practitioners. This category includes sculptors, molders and casters of images, painters, wood-block carvers and printers of Buddhist texts, and doctors.
(4) Monk laborers. These ordinary monks who perform various chores and duties about the monastery make up the majority of the clergy.
But these official descriptions does not imply the beauty of all these humans. The video below gives an impression of the privelge we had to meet some of these wonderful people. Enjoy!.++

Tibetan Meditation

Tibetan Meditation

Lhasa
Lhasa
Dear reader. As promised in my comment on the article Zuozheng He I had to write something about original Chinese music. My choice has fallen on Tibetan Meditational music. This music is pure sound that is relaxing, meditative and transportive. The sounds of my choice is beautiful and faithful and is superb for relaxation, massage & bodywork, deep sound meditation, yoga relaxation and sleep inducement. It is an amazing sound of vibrations and perfect for deeply letting go. So here is one of my favourite performers of Tibetan music. Phil Thornton is not from Chinese origin but that did not stopped him making loveley meditational music. The compositions are sacred. They are significant parts of lengthy, colorful, elaborate healing ceremonies which attempt, through music and symbol, to magically open up consciousness to our inherent “Buddha Nature” of peace and compassionate wisdom……the healing rituals performed by the Shartse monks tap into the power of imagination, involving meditation and visualizations in which the divine forces of the inner and sprit worlds are invoked to transform pain and suffering.” For those who want to listen to the full album mail your adress to tibet @ mazalien . nl and I will send you a copy. (This also concerns you Parvez!)

Tibetan Meditation
Tibetan meditation

After working on the album ‘Initiation’ with Steven Cragg, Phil Thornton was inspired by the musical possibilities that were opening up. As they were both keen to try a full scale collaboration and he had acquired a Tibetan horn this became a natural starting point. In the end the album was 2 years in the making! No stone was left unturned in finding the right path for the music to follow. PhilI has a particular passion for albums with a ‘journey’ theme and this album remains a firm favourite. A distant temple bell sounds, as the unmistakable tones of the ancient tradition of meditational chant resonate, creating an ambience of meditative calm. Inspired by the very distinctive culture and music of Tibet, Phil Thornton has created an exceptional album that captures the very essence of Tibetan music. As you listen to the sounds of overtone chanting, Tibetan Singing Bowls, The Ragdung, Cymbals, Gongs and the Tibetan Thighbone, take time to reflect, explore and discover your soul.
Phil Thornton
Tibetan Meditation
09/30/2003
New World Music
Tibetan meditation – track listing
1 Meditation (4:58)
2 Welcome Return (9:31)
3 View from the Pass (5:23)
4 Mandala: Ascent (6:24)
5 Temple Valley (7:45)
6 Mandala: Equilibrium (4:01)
7 Lotus Dance (9:55)
8 Chant of Souls (8:37)
9 Resolution (8:48)


Tibetan meditation - Phil Thornton
Tibetan meditation - Phil Thornton
Tibetan meditation - Phil Thornton
Tibetan meditation - Phil Thornton


Tibetan meditation – album credits
Grant Young Fretless Bass
David Roberts Arranger
Mike Rogers Tibetan Thighbone
Al Jenkins Engineer
Harvey Summers Sound Design
Hanna Burchell Cymbals, Singing Bowls, Gong
Phil Thornton Keyboards, Singing Bowls, Temple Bells, Bamboo Flute, Percussion Programming, Producer

Tibetan Horn
Tebetan Horn

A kaleidescope of incredible musical invention that compels the listener along an inner and outer journey of spiritual awakening and attainment, across the ‘roof of the world’ – the Himalayan ‘abode of the snows’. From the primal initiations of Shamanic and Buddhist rites, be guided to the inaccessible summits, plateaus and glaciers of mountain Ashrams, following the ravines down to the sub-tropical jungles and holy lands of India. An authentic, outstanding experience of pure artistry, insight and deep, universal harmony. A keen sorcerer of sonic visions, Phil Thornton has written and produced over 20 solo albums – with sales of 1,200,000+ world wide – since beginning his musical odyssey in the early ’80s with the group ‘Expandis’ (a unique artists collective best known for their innovative use of electronic sound).
Album Details
Released 1993 by New World Music.
Bon – a clash of cymbals
(2:24)
Through The ‘Valley Of The Flowers’ (2:10)
Bon – reprise (1:20)
Solitude In Focus (3:23)
The Way (10:32)
a) Pilgrimage
b) Union
Prayer On The Wind (3:49)
Rivers Of Ice (10:17)
The Cave Of Amarmath (1:14)
Falling Into The River of Exile (10:47)
a) Deliverance
b) Rain Forest
c) Indus
d) Source
Instrumentation
Phil Thornton – Recorders, moog, keyboards, chimes, ambient sounds, programming and digital compilation.
Steven Cragg – Dong Chen (on Tibetan Horn), crystal bowls, didgeridoo,talking drum, rainmaker, gong, temple and finger bells, percussion, chimes, ambient sounds, programming and digital compilation.
David Voase – Tabla (on Rivers Of Ice)
Composed, produced and engineered by Phil Thornton and Steven Cragg.
Chinese Bamboo Flute Music
Bamboo flute

As requested by Parvez in his comment on Zuozheng He and as an contrast on the Tibetan Meditational Music, the sound of an Chinese bambo flute is quite different. Traditional Chinese musical instruments comprise a wide range of string instruments (both bowed and plucked), wind instruments, and percussion instruments. Traditionally, they were also classified according to the materials used in their construction. Chinese flutes are either played solo, or collectively in large orchestras (as in the former imperial court) or in smaller ensembles (in teahouses or public gatherings). Normally, there is no conductor in traditional Chinese music, or use of musical scores or tablature whilst in performance. Music was generally learned orally and memorized by the musician(s) beforehand, then played without aid, meaning totally accuracy and teamwork is required. But nowadays, music scores can be used, or a conductor if the number of musicians is large enough for that need. There are different kind of flutes :

Di Zi (??) – Transverse bamboo flute with buzzing membrane
The Di Zi (??, pinyin dí zi), is a unique kind of Chinese transverse flute. It is also known as the Dizi, or simply the Di, and has varieties including the Qudi and Bangdi. It is sometimes also known as the hengdi.The di zi is a major Chinese musical instrument, popular not only in Chinese Folk Music, Chinese Operas and Chinese Orchestras, but also used in music exported to the west. The di zi has a deep, rich history, and a lasting appeal. Traditionally, the di zi has also been popular among the Chinese common people, since it is simple to make, easy to carry, and of course, beautiful when played.
Xiao (?) – End-blown flute
The xi?o (? or ?; also spelled hsiao) is a Chinese vertical end-blown flute. It is generally made of bamboo. It is also sometimes called dongxiao or dong xiao (?? or ??), dong meaning “hole.” The qin xiao is a version of the xiao which is narrower and generally in F-key, used to accompany the guqin. The Japanese shakuhachi and hocchiku, and the Korean danso (also spelled tanso), are descended from the xiao.
Paixiao (Traditional Chinese: ??; Simplified Chinese: ??) – Pan pipes
The paixiao (traditional: ??; simplified: ??; pinyin: páixi?o; also pái xi?o, pai-hsiao) is an ancient Chinese wind instrument, a form of pan pipes. It is no longer used, having died out in ancient times, although in the 20th century it was reconstructed.
Chi (?)
This is a very ancient Chinese flute.
Xindi (??)
This flute is a modern transverse flute with as many as 21 holes.
Dongdi (??)
“Dong” means hole in chinese. The modern type is often made from a nine joint black bamboo, has six finger holes, five at the front and one at the rear, and 2-4 air holes at the lower end.
Koudi (??) – Very small transverse bamboo flute
The koudi (Chinese: ??; also spelled kou di) is a very small Chinese flute made from bamboo. It was invented in the 20th century.

Listen to Jie Bing Chen from the album Spirtit on two strings with the song On the way home :