Living peacefully in a retreat within a Himalayan monastery, keyboardist Chris d’Eon abandoned the daily grind and discovered his own natural rhythms.
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Atmospheric and harmonious, d’Eon’s music sounds like the inner-workings of a peaceful and spiritual soul. Signed to LA label Hippos in Tanks and great mates with fellow Canadian, alt-pop mega-star Grimes, this one man symphony will soon be announcing the release of his debut album entitled LP. Chris took time out from tinkling his fake, plastic ivories to record a session for i-D online and tell us about his former life, living under cloaks in caves as a Tibetan monk.
“Tse Chok Ling tantric monastery is on the side of a mountain in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India, a few hours east of Kashmir and Pakistan, south of the Chinese border. I lived there for a brief time to escape my anxiety in the electronic world. To live there was almost free, and I moved in there because I didn’t have enough money to stay at a guesthouse. The monastery is situated down four hundred stone stairs leading down a rhododendron forest on the side of a mountain, and houses about one hundred monks, mostly young refugees from Tibet. The balcony outside my small room in the monastery overlooked the Kangra valley, and every morning I would watch the sun rise over the mountains and the valley become illuminated. At 5 or 6am every morning, the younger monks would practice reciting verses, and the older monks would perform pujas in the main meditation hall. I would wake up to the sound of the horns, gongs and bells. There was a cow that lived right outside my room, and each day two of the monks would milk it and bring me tea made with the cow’s milk. I ate mostly barley paste, Tibetan flat noodles in soup and thick bread.
During the day I would walk up the stairs into town and take music lessons with Dorjee Tsering, who taught me to play the Dranyen, a six-stringed lute instrument. The Dalai Lama’s monastery and home are in the nearest town, and I would go to there a few times a week and eat pizza in a tiny cafe within the monastery complex. The Dalai Lama himself would sometimes be walking around in the monastery courtyard and in the main meditation hall.
At Tse Chok Ling I was the only person not from Tibet or Nepal, but the monks and I got along well despite an almost impenetrable language barrier. When I walked up the four hundred stairs into the town one morning and passed by a group of monks going down the stairs, I asked them how they were, and they said “better than you right now.” Of all the monks my two closest friends were Lobsang and Drakpa. Lobsang is quiet and reserved but was extremely outgoing and generous once I got to know him. Drakpa loves ‘Rambo’ and zombie movies from the USA, and was constantly making jokes about being a monk and not being able to have any sex or watch TV.
Living in a tantric monastery is just about the opposite of living on the internet in the west. It takes so much time to adjust from being constantly stimulated with media, to being relatively cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by rhododendrons on the side of a mountain. If your life ever irreparably falls apart, I highly recommend running away to a Himalayan monastery.”
Introduction: Milly McMahon
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