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What's Love Got to Do With It?
the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll. An unwanted child. A believer in the power
of love. A longtime Buddhist. ANDREA MILLER talks to Tina Turner.
Tina Turner—I'll never forget my first glimpse of her. It was when I was ten years old and watched Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
She had killer legs, impressively large shoulder pads (even by eighties
standards), and the most incredible raspy, sexy voice I'd ever heard.
What happened to me is what, at that point, had been happening to
audiences for more than two decades, and now has been happening for more
than half a century: I was awed.
Queen of Rock 'n' Roll is not just a powerhouse on stage. She is also a
longtime Buddhist, having begun her practice in the 1970s while
struggling to end an abusive relationship with musician Ike Turner. Soka
Gakkai, the tradition to which Tina Turner adheres, is like other
schools and subschools of Nichiren Buddhism; it focuses on the Lotus Sutra and teaches that chanting its title in Japanese—Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—ultimately enables chanters to embrace the entirety of the text and uncover their buddhanature.
Turner chanting the Lotus Sutra is featured on Beyond,
a CD available through New Earth Records that weaves together Buddhist
and Christian prayers, and also features the singers Dechen Shak-Dagsay
and Regula Curti. "Bringing together corresponding pieces from Christian
and Tibetan Buddhist traditions as has been done here," writes the
Dalai Lama in the liner notes, "will allow listeners to share in these
prayers, stirring thoughts of deeper respect and peace in their lives."
All revenue from the CD goes to foundations dedicated to spiritual
education or helping children and mothers in need.
In this interview, Turner speaks about Beyond, the power of song and practice, and the meaning of love. — Andrea Miller
religions speak about love, and it sounds easy to be loving. But people
so frequently fail to love. Why is loving so difficult?
people are born into a loving family. For example, everyone in the
family greets everyone else in the morning, they sit at breakfast
together, they give each other a kiss when they leave. There is harmony
and love in the house. When you are born with that, you take it with
But some people are born into situations where they’re exposed to everything but
love. The world is full of people that are born into such situations,
and they are traveling through life in the dark. No one has ever
explained to them that they need to find love, and they have no
education for love except for falling in love with another person, for
sexual love. I believe that the problem with the world today is that we
have too many people who are not in touch with true love.
What helped you to become loving?
you don’t come from your mother with love, you might have the gift to
be surrounded by other people or situations that are loving and you
learn to love in that way.
mother didn’t want a child, so I experienced being unwanted. But I
found love when I was with myself. I would go into nature, into gardens
and eat fruit. I would climb trees. I looked to nature and found love
because love is in nature. If you go there, hurt and angry, it can
transform you. I went with nature, with animals, and I found love and
harmony. I would come home at the end of the day—braids pulled out, my
dress torn—and of course I got asked, “Where have you been all day!?”
But I had been in a world of love and happiness.
am very happy that I discovered love in nature because later I was in a
relationship without love and I still found a way to find love. You can
find love when you are of love.