Four Divine States of Mind
2020 / Metta Mindfulness Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Four Divine States of Mind by Yuval Ron is “soulful sacred music for cultivating higher virtues, meditation and healing a wounded world” and is “dedicated to the children who will grow up to embody the Four Divine States of Mind” (quoted from the liner notes of the album). The album consists of four tracks that range from just under 12 minutes to about 14 1/2 minutes and feature guest artists that include vocalists Estrella Morente, Deva Premal, Uyanga Bold and Chloe Pourmorady.
Again quoting the liner notes: “‘The Brahma-viharas - the four ‘sublime states’ - are considered to be the ideal social attitudes, the springs underlying the ideal modes of conduct towards living beings. They are the great removers of tension, the great peace-makers in social conflict, and the great healers of wounds suffered in the struggle of existence. A mind that has achieved meditative absorption induced by these sublime states will be pure, tranquil, firm, collected and free of coarse selfishness.’ Nyanaponika Thera, Buddhist Publication Society.” The Four Divine States of Mind are Loving Kindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Vicarious Joy (Mudita), and Equanimity (Upekkha). Yuval Ron composed all of the music and plays oud and keyboards on the album. He also wrote the original lyrics; some lyrics are in traditional Sanskrit. The music is beautiful, melodic and each track is distinctly different from the others, providing a unique and deeply emotional listening experience.
The album begins with “Loving-Kindness (Metta),” and is dedicated to Deva Premal. Chloe Pourmorady provides the vocals on this one, backed by Blair Studio Singers children choir and several artists performing on traditional Indian instruments. The slow, easy flow of the piece is hypnotic and soothing, as are the lyrics, which are sung in Sanskrit and Hebrew.
“Compassion (Karuna)” is a fascinating surprise. The verses are sung in Spanish and the chorus in Sanskrit by Flamenco vocalist Estrella Morente. Backing musicians include Adam Del Monte playing Spanish guitar (gorgeous!) and Yuval Ron on oud. Passionate and deeply moving, I really love this one!
I’m not sure anyone can sit still while listening to “Vicarious Joy (Mudita)”! Deva Premal, the children’s choir, and lively sitar, oud and percussion by Pandit Nayan Ghosh, Yuval Ron and Somnath Roy lift the spirit with joy and a carefree sense of fun. I love this one, too!
“Equanimity (Upekkha)” is the state of mental calmness and composure, especially in difficult situations, and this piece is quite different from the others. Uyanga Bold provides the deeply moving vocals and the instrumentation includes gorgeous cello solos by Dennis Karmazen of the Divine Sutra String Ensemble. A fervent prayer for peace weaves throughout the track, which is often dark and haunting.
Since I review so much piano music, I am a little surprised at how much I love this album! This quote from Deva Premal sums it up so well: “You can’t sing with a closed heart. You just can’t do it. And if you try, as soon as you start singing, your heart just naturally opens up more and more.” The album is available as a download, a CD or for streaming. There is also a “radio versions” edit with shorter tracks to stream or download.
September 23, 2020