Mirror Of The Universe The Story Behind The Songs Introduction
 - Mystic
 - Cosmic Traveler
 - Railroad To Hell
 - Nightmare #9
 - Peace River
 - Highway Of Dreams
 - Help Me See
 - Highway One
 - River Run
 - Mirror Of The Universe
 - Buddhaland
 - One Way To Go
 - Chant
Cosmystic Music - ÂŠ Roddy McKay - 2006
Introduction The idea for this CD was born in my deluded mind in the early part of 1995 after I had been practicing Nichiren Buddhism for a few months. Some of the songs I had written prior to this and the others over the next three years. In December of 2002 I finally got my act together and built my own personal recording studio. Using the skills attained in my career in the music business, I set out to achieve the inadvisable and almost impossible task of producing this CD completely on my own. Only a person of dubious sanity, such as myself, would attempt to take on the roles of songwriter, arranger, producer, recording engineer, singer, multi-instrumentalist, publisher, graphic and web site designer and make the coffee as well! I did have fairly extensive experience in analogue recording but I had to take on the digital domain and learn a new technology while working more or less full time to pay for all this. I overcame my hatred of computers and was fortunate enough to choose an Apple iMac to learn the techniques of graphic and web design, word processing etc. These computers are actually FUN and no creative individual should pass up the opportunity of trying one out. The end result of these efforts comes from my heart and I have made very little attempt to achieve technical perfection. Most of the instrumental and vocal tracks are â€œfirst takesâ€? and the vast majority of the time was spent late at night and, mostly when I was too sick to work due to an immune deficiency. I am not offering this as an excuse. I did it as spontaneously as I could to try to give you, the listener, my experience of practicing Nichiren Buddhism in a humanistic way with all the mistakes we make and imperfections we tend to possess.
Mystic I was living on the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland when I first heard about Nichiren Buddhism. My sister, Jackie, had called me from California and told me to chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. â€œDo what?â€? At that time I was considered an expert in the consumption of large quantities of hard liquor and supplemented this with a diet of prescription narcotics and tranquilizers. Most of my attempts at withdrawal from alcohol were accompanied by hallucinations and, due to my involvement in music, continuous songs playing in my head. An interesting experience until I found out that this went on 24 hours a day for days on end. Although I could change the songs, instruments etc. I could not find the OFF switch. During one of these hallucinations I heard the chorus of Mystic being sung by a large number of people and, on looking out my window, I saw thousands of people appearing out of the ground and encouraging me to join them. A truly mystic introduction to the boddhisatvas of the earth and the power of the mystic law. When I returned to relative sanity, I wrote Mystic and used to sing it regularly as I did not know how to chant. Looking back, this was the turning point in my life where I set out from hell towards the world of enlightenment.
Cosmic Traveler Most of my life I felt that I had a connection to the universe and that there had to be some reason for it all! I had a strong feeling that the answer lay inside my own life and not â€œout thereâ€?. I researched many religions and philosophies but none of them could answer my questions nor made any sort of sense. While studying Nichiren Buddhism I came across the concept of the Buddha Nature. I chanted for hours and finally, in a brief moment of enlightenment, I understood the reason for my suffering and how to change it. Like most things, it was so simple that I couldnâ€™t see it due to my natural ability to complicate everything with my arrogant and deluded mind. Buddha nature can be looked upon as seed lying dormant in all life forms. Nurturing this seed by chanting will cause it to bloom. I often write songs without really understanding what I am trying to say although the intellectual critics are very eager to tell me what they mean! Finally, after recording this song, I realized that this was my Buddha Nature trying to get through to my lower self.
Railroad To Hell The more astute of you who are actually reading this from
beginning to end will have noticed a reference to my addiction problem. Substance abuse is a high profile and well publicized problem that affects about 20 percent of the population of every country in the world. In the USA in particular, the wide spread addiction to sucrose is fairly evident in the general population. Basically, addiction in any form is an outward manifestation of mental suffering and the one indisputable fact is that it never, ever works in a positive way - it always gets worse. Railroad To Hell is a song I wrote and sang to remind myself of the futility of using mind altering drugs to alleviate my own suffering. Over a period of years I tried every form of therapy and counseling until finally, I was given up by the chemical dependancy community as a hopeless case. This turned out to be the best possible result. As soon as I am told that something is impossible then I usually decide to do it! About eight years ago I sat in front of the Gohonzon and decided that if this Buddhist practice was going to work in my life it better start working now! I realized that my addiction problem was a powerful negative force and all I had to do was turn this into a positive one using Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as a catalyst. Looking back, this was the moment that I made a radical change in the core of my life and I have been clean and sober since. Thank you Nichiren!
Nightmare #9 This is not a song I would recommend you listen to when you are in a manic depressive mode! The constant wars, terrorism and conflicts going on continually all over our planet seem to be pointless and endless and no political solution has had any effect. We tend to forget that the politicians are our elected representatives and that each one of us is directly responsible for all the screwed up goings on in the world today. Nightmare #9 is a song I wrote about a recurring nightmare I used to have about the total destruction of our planet. It serves to remind me of how hopeless I used to feel about the future of the human race and how powerless I felt to do anything constructive to change the situation. Needless to say, my attitude has become more positive since I have been practicing Nichiren Buddhism and seen the growth of the SGI internationally. We are extremely fortunate to have Daisaku Ikeda as our inspiration, leader and mentor.
World peace seems to be a concept that most individuals see as a positive and desirable one. Through my Buddhist practice I have come to realize that, to achieve world peace, I must make the cause in my life every day. It is the responsibility of each individual to contribute their own cause and, by uniting our efforts, we will inevitably achieve our goal. Peace starts in my life and the effect spreads out into my environment through my positive relationships with my family, friends and neighbors. Singing this song helps me to appreciate the efforts of every member in every district of the SGI and how the unity of our cause for peace will eventually become evident worldwide. The creation of value and happiness in our individual lives and our communities is the greatest contribution we can make to secure a happy future for our children.
Highway Of Dreams Those of you who have studied Nichiren Buddhism at an elementary level will be familiar with the ten worlds that we exist in simultaneously. In the world of Tranquility (Rapture) we drift along on a cloud of contentment surrounded by a protective bubble. Then the bubble bursts. Stable, happy, long term relationships built on respect, love and trust seem to be something of a rarity these days. After having had more than my fair share of failed marriages and long term relationships I wrote Highway Of Dreams. It brought me to the world shattering conclusion that the one common factor in all those disasters was me. Why was I not capable of maintaining a happy relationship? Will I ever find that special person to share my life? After focusing on that aspect of my life, chanting for many hours and trusting the Gohonzon to make the choice rather than stupid me, I eventually found my queen on the highway of reality. Thank you Kimberly, my wife and best friend, for coming into my life.
Help Me See Where did I come from - why am I here - where will I go what is the purpose of life in general and my own in particular? How many times have YOU asked these questions? Did you get a satisfactory answer? I wrote this song while I was in rehab in Scotland shortly before coming to California to practice Nichiren Buddhism. The laws of physics teach us that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can be converted from one form to another and that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. As our scientific knowledge increases and the public’s awareness of the advances in quantum physics has been jolted by the incredible movie What The Bleep Do We Know, Buddhist theory is being proved to be a respected and credible explanation to those questions that used to bug me constantly. My perception of the “meaning of life “ is slowly beginning to increase in direct proportion to the efforts I put into my Buddhist practice.
Highway One I wrote this song after my first trip along the Mendocino coast on Highway One shortly after arriving in California. The lyrics are fairly self explanatory and the message is clear..... Hold on to your dream and pursue it with determination and it WILL come true! The practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo speeds up this process in direct relation to the effort and determination you put into it.
River Run The explanation of the infiniteness of life as expounded in Buddhist theory is illustrated all around us, in a practical sense, by the cycle of life in nature. River Run is my attempt to communicate this in song. Seeing myself as a drop of rain or a snow flake falling from the sky and joining up with millions of others to run through the obstacles and pleasures of life together and eventually returning to the Cosmos to reflect on our triumphs and failures before trying again and again and again....!
Mirror Of The Universe The Gohonzon in my butsudan is a reflection of my potential for attaining Buddhahood. It is the mirror that constantly reminds me that everything I need to create value and happiness is right here in my own life. All I need to do is realize that is is there and to tap into the unlimited power and energy of the universe by being at one with the Mystic Law. Look into the mirror of the universe See yourself in the mirror of the universe
Buddhaland Even as a child, I never did subscribe to the theory that life was a “one shot” only deal and, that depending on my performance, I would either go to heaven and live in eternal bliss or be damned to the fires of hell and be tortured incessantly by that nasty guy Lucifer. In Buddhism we are taught to take responsibility for our own lives and that the state of our environment is directly proportional to the level of our life condition. In other words, we control our environment and can’t blame anybody but ourselves if it sucks! This empowers us to improve our own life rather than depend on some unseen and incomprehensible outside agency. Early in my practice I was encouraged to visualize the life of my dreams and go for it! Its up to me to create my own Buddhaland - right here and now.
One Way To Go There are many ways to achieve happiness in life and they all have, to a greater or lesser degree, validity and potential. Nichiren Buddhism works for me and, if you give it a chance, it could work for you. One Way To Go is just what it says - its the way I was fortunate enough to discover that suited my style and has been the vehicle for my journey through life ever since. I am not suggesting that it is the only way nor that it is necessarily your way. In this song I am trying to describe my efforts to navigate the confusion of life and the effect that the practice of Nichiren Buddhism has had in helping me along the road from hell towards enlightenment.
Chant Over the years I spent working on this CD I constantly agonized and chanted about the decision to include a track with chanting. My main concern was that I would be accused, from certain quarters, of commercializing Nichiren Buddhism and Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. I have made tapes of chanting for members I have encouraged in the past and all of them have appreciated the help it gave them to get into the rhythm and pronunciation. The decision was finally taken out of my hands by Kimberly, my wife. When I first met Kim and was encouraging her to try the practice, I sent her a copy of The Buddha In Your Mirror and tried to answer her questions from 400 miles away, over the phone. I sent her a preproduction copy of the CD but was having difficulty in teaching her to chant through a crackling cell phone. I sent her another copy of the CD with the track Chant and she thought that I was crazy not to have put it in in the first place as it was the deciding factor in her agreeing to give the practice a go. I sincerely hope that it will have the same effect on others.
In Conclusion Over the years that I have practiced Nichiren Buddhism as a member of the SGI-USA I have been inspired and encouraged by the many experiences related by my fellow members. Being a songwriter and musician I decide to relate my experience in song. Mirror Of The Universe is the end result and my sincere hope is that it will encourage others to find value and happiness in their lives and perhaps even be entertained in the process. My dream and mission is for world peace and happiness for all living beings.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo Good luck on your exciting journey through this wonderful thing we call life!