Ani Choying: Singing for freedom
Book review by Roshan
January 05, 2015
Name of Book: Singing for Freedom
Author: Ani Choying Drolma
Publisher: Nepa-Laya, Kathmandu
TIt is certainly one of the best books I have read in recent years, the story of a fearless woman triumphing over immense odds and coming out much stronger. Ani (meaning “nun” in Tibetan) Choying Drolma is an internationally renowned Buddhist nun, known especially for her incredible voice, which she uses wonderfully to sing Buddhist chants around the world. No one who saw her (I was lucky enough to meet her briefly a few weeks ago, when she kindly autographed the copy of her book I got) would ever guess at her boyish demeanor. missed, her soft and sparkling eyes and contagious cheerfulness that she had a particularly painful childhood. But as she tells us in this book, she didn’t allow herself to succumb to the heartbreaking trauma she suffered for years. Instead, the trauma only made her a stronger, more courageous, more compassionate and loving person. If it hadn’t been for her terrible childhood, she might never have become a nun and walked the spiritual path and reached where she is today.
Ani Choying was born into an impoverished Tibetan family who lived in a one-room apartment in Kathmandu, Nepal. Ani Choying’s mother adored him, but his father was a horribly violent man. He would fly away in a murderous rage without excuse, mercilessly beating Ani Choying and her mother. As you read Ani Choying’s heartbreaking account of growing up in a brutalized family, you will firmly believe that one of the most pressing needs in the world today is compulsory parenting training for people who wish to have children. children as well as a child legally. Charter of the Rights of the Child applicable in all countries.
However, not all small children who are victims of parental violence are as fortunate as Ani Choying. Her Tibetan Buddhist society allowed her to escape: to become a nun. Unable and unwilling to endure her father’s cruelty again, the day her father nearly stabbed her to death, she decided it was time to run away. She escaped to a Buddhist monastery outside of Kathmandu and asked to be ordained a nun. An ani enjoys a certain respect in Tibetan society, and she knew that as a nun, her father would not dare to torment her anymore.
Life in the monastery, which houses dozens of nuns, had its charm as much as its challenges. Ani Choying blossomed under the love and care of her spiritual master, a very compassionate man. Aware of Ani Choying’s painful past, he gently guided her on the Buddhist path. However, she did not turn out to be a conventional Tibetan Buddhist nun. She learned to drive a jeep, worked hard to improve her English, and flouted conventions by learning martial arts. When an American jazz guitarist visited the monastery and heard her sing, he invited her to record an album with him. Soon she became an internationally renowned figure, spending much of the year abroad, captivating and inspiring audiences with her spiritual music. This is what she continues to do even now.
But Ani Choying doesn’t sing for the money or for the fame, although these two she earns a lot. On the contrary, she sings for a cause. The money she earns from her singing tours goes to the Arya Tara school that she created for young Buddhist nuns in Nepal, little girls who often come from brutalized, miserable homes with cruel fathers. Ani Choying is determined to ensure that these girls are spared the horrors she faced when she was their age. Her experience of an abused childhood is at the origin of this remarkable educational initiative which now supports around a hundred girls. Not stopping there, Ani Choying went on to start another project for which she also uses her singing money: a hospital for the needy. Ani Choying’s mother suffered and died from kidney problems, and she is determined to do her part to help others like her. Her singing work helps get this hospital off the ground. If it takes being an unconventional Buddhist nun who travels the world chanting Buddhist chants to generate resources for all this good work for others, Ani Choying is more than happy to do it!
As her fear of her father drove her to don the robes of a Buddhist nun, her spiritual master gradually helped Ani Choying overcome the wounds of her battered childhood. Slowly she began to learn to derive joy from so-called “little” things – saving an injured mouse, for example, or crying over a Bollywood movie or coming up with a new idea for a song. Being a nun didn’t make her oblivious to the beauty of life. In fact, it made her even more grateful. Her spiritual practice allowed her to heal gradually, although she could still get angry, especially in the face of injustice. She started visiting her family regularly and even helped finance a house for them. Every now and then she was brought home when she heard about her mother being beaten by her father. Sometimes she would boil with anger, but now she knew that, as the Buddha said, anger can only make things worse. More and more, she began to discover that she was able to overcome her resentment towards her father somewhat. Although it pained her to see that her father continued to abuse her mother, she was able to develop some compassion for him without tolerating his behavior, while still trying to encourage her parents to reconcile. Without her father and his brutality, she gradually realized that she might never have chosen to flee home and become a nun. Instead, she could have become a very ordinary housewife, led by an abusive man like his father.
Ani Choying has a fine command of words, not only when she sings them, but also when she writes them. She weaves the very moving story of a little girl who managed to heroically escape from a horrific family situation, and of a young nun who was able to be healed through spiritual practice, including using memories of a painful childhood as a resource for his inner transformation. From a lot of evil, his life reminds us so vividly, a lot of good can also emerge.
Ani Choying could easily have felt sorry for himself and hated his father. But she consciously chose not to. She would have only seriously injured herself beyond repair if she had done this. As a result of Buddhist practice, she was finally able to see her tormentor as her benefactor, be grateful to him for all that he had done for her and towards her (including brutal torture) and in doing so, emerge as a more person. compassionate, loving and stronger person. As she says:
“My father allowed me to overcome, to look deep within myself for resources that I didn’t know I had. He made me fight. Everything I am I owe to my father, and I will always be grateful to him. If I hadn’t been beaten, I would never have been in contact with my teacher and I would not have any of the qualities that I managed to develop to be a good human being. I believe hardships make you a better person. Because the sour taste of pain allows you to better appreciate the sweetness of life … Like a magnet drawn in opposite directions, I have built myself around love and hate, violence and unconditional love, restraint and infinity. I was drawn first one way, then the other, until my internal receptors stopped panicking and sending mixed messages to me, until I found my stability.
Following the wisdom of the Buddha and inspired by his spiritual master, Ani Choying transformed the fear and terror of his father into love, compassion and understanding. Her many years of terrible trauma made her determined to dedicate her life to working for girls living in family contexts as brutal as hers, as well as helping people on the spiritual path across the world through the gift of her beautiful voice.
An incredible life and this book describes that life in an incredible way!
(For more details on Ani Choying, see http://www.theanifoundation.org/
(You can listen to several songs sung by Ani Choying on youtube.com)