How Buddhism helped Tina Turner walk out of an abusive marriage
Tina Turner was often known as the Queen of Rock 'n' roll and was instrumental in heralding R&B as a genre in music. But not many know that she was also a prominent practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism. Over the years, she spoke about how Buddhism had helped her steer her life and find the strength to leave her abusive relationship with her former husband Ike Turner in 1976.
In the years since then, Turner was known to recite Buddhist chants daily and made its life philosophy an integral part of her life. Many would recall her interview with Larry King on CNN in 1997 when she spoke about how Buddhism helped her cope and she had even chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for the celebrity host and recited a few prayer lines.
She continued to practice until her death on Wednesday, at 83, in her home in Küsnacht, near Zurich, Switzerland, where she had reportedly kept her own Buddhist shrine.
Tributes for the iconic singer poured in from all quarters on Wednesday and many recalled how Turner's faith in the philosophy inspired them to start practising Buddhism and some to leave harmful, toxic relationships.
Turner's Introduction to Buddhism
In her interview with Larry King, Turner revealed that she was introduced to Buddhism by a number of people. But it was a woman whom her ex-husband Ike Turner brought to the studio one day who convinced the singer to start practising and chanting.
The woman, Valerie Bishop, was a member of the Soka Gakkai community, a form of Nichiren Buddhism, which is active worldwide. Those who practice Nichiren Buddhism and are a part of Soka Gakkai, typically chant the prayer twice a day- morning and evening. The life philosophy is based on faith, practice and study. The chanting helps to manifest things in life, ease out roadblocks and imbibe a positive attitude towards life.
“The more you chant, the more you become liberated, mentally,” Turner said in the 2021 HBO documentary “Tina,” during a scene that featured a voice-over of her reciting Buddhist prayers.
“I started seeing my life — I started really seeing that I had to make a change,” Turner continued in the film, recalling the effect chanting had on her life. “I started to become much more confident. I mean, not even caring what Ike thought about me — becoming less afraid of him.”
Turner recalled to Larry that she turned to Buddhism after she attempted suicide by overdosing on Valium. "Buddhism literally saved my life,” she said.
She eventually left Ike Turner and took years to find a foothold in the music industry. But Turner said her faith 'kept her sane' through years of struggle and superstardom.