l.c. and roshi

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shyone
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l.c. and roshi

Postby shyone » Sat Aug 17, 2002 5:40 am

this may be a little provocative and i certainly don't mean to offend ,,perhaps i simply don't understand but here goes ,,does anyone get the feeling that l.c. is a little too dependent on 'roshi' and his teachings?



christine
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jarkko
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Postby jarkko » Sat Aug 17, 2002 10:23 am

My personal feeling is that things changed significantly in 1999
when Leonard decided to "move on", left the Mt Baldy Zen Center
and concentrated on new songs, poetry and other activities.
Of course they still are very dear friends. As far as the past
is concerned, I don't have information enough for an
exhaustive answer. It would be interesting to hear what the others
here think!!!
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Paula
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Postby Paula » Sat Aug 17, 2002 11:00 am

I think we all at some time search for the answer and when we think we have found it we give our attentions to the people who appear the most knowledgable on the topic.

We commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the situation and I think LC did just that until he had soaked up what he needed to to assess.

If he relied heavily on Roshi for a period of time it is probably because he had the greatest respect for his teaching and wanted to learn. He did not give his soul to Roshi he gave his commitment to gain understanding of a peaceful and respectful way of life.
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sat Aug 17, 2002 4:48 pm

Dear Christine,

That seems to me a reasonable, thoughtful, and fair question. My sense has been that the Zen practice of entering a monastery for study, devotion, and attention is one of total immersion.

From the article I heavily quoted on the other thread, regarding the monastery, " 'This place is really quite a trip,' he says, smiling: 'You enter a kind of science-fiction universe which has no beginning and no end.' ..... For half an hour or so, to the beat of a steadily pounded drum, the assembled company races through twenty-four pages of Japanese syllabary, my host, like many others, reciting the entire Heart Sutra from memory. ..... They are coming to the end of a winter retreat, rohatsu, in which they sit like this, all but uninterruptedly, for seven days. Monks patrol the aisles with sticks, ready to hit anyone who threatens to drop off. ...... and now he [Leonard] accompanies the man he calls his friend to Zen centers from Vienna to Puerto Rico, and goes through punishing retreats each month in which he does nothing but sit zazen, twenty-four hours a day for seven days on end." For me, these speak to the level of immersion that is necessary and expected if you're going to go the route of a Zen monastery.

Also from that article, "Cohen has, in fact, been a friend of Joshu Sasaki ever since 1973, though he has not made a fuss about it ..... Apart from his 26-year-old son, Adam, and his 23-year-old daughter, Lorca, the Japanese roshi seems to be the one still point in Cohen's endlessly turning life ..... as 'cook, chauffeur, and sometimes drinking buddy' to a 92-year-old Japanese man with whom he shares few words" and in another article, I read something about Leonard saying something to the effect that he felt if he was ever going to really deepen his friendship with Roshi, now was the time to do it, given Roshi's age [i.e. with Leonard's availability, given his breakup with Rebecca De Mornay at the time].

Leonard has a long history of seeking peace, and release from the turmoil, within, through various pharmaceuticals to address his depression, drugs, and various other activities. Leonard has always seemed to be one to immerse himself, anyway, in whatever he is doing. With Zen Buddhism and its teachings being ancient practice, and the activities above standard fare and required, Roshi is, at once, both merely part of the mix, as well as Leonard's significant friend. With such immersion, however, there is a deeper bonding that would naturally come with/from sharing a rigorous [yet spiritual] experience ~ and half-a-decade ~ like that [which Leonard seemed to know and had as a large, motivating reason for going there]. Their connection [longtime] still simply became only highly visible with Leonard's retreat to Mount Baldy.

I feel the "still point" observation and the "with whom he shares few words" comment speak volumes regarding what being in Roshi's presence means [and has always meant] for Leonard. Leonard also credits Roshi for his own learning of the beauty of unconditional love....as he experienced it from Roshi. There's a quote somewhere having to do with that [not those exact terms, but the word sick, i.e. Roshi loving him in spite of his 'sickness' is in there somehow]. If I can put my hands on the actual quote, I'll update this massacred paraphrase with it. Finally, I feel they have managed to become simply good buddies, even drinking buddies at times, though not in the typical rowdy sense. With Leonard's preoccupation with women, and his life seeking and on the road, Roshi seems to have been simply one, of probably a very few good, close, male friends.

As Paula has said, just slightly differently, if you're serious in an endeavour, you do tend to pay close attention to your teacher[s], and "until he had soaked up what he needed to, to assess," Leonard duly immersed himself and then decided to "move on" [Leonard's quote, offered by Jarkko].

So, with the use of some more details from Leonard's own life, that's my answer. For me, I initially also wondered what's this thing with Roshi all about, the ongoing visits between them and everything, and it did seem to have an element of dependence. Prior to September 2001, I hadn't even known Roshi existed, and only relatively shortly prior to that, knew that Leonard had been on Mount Baldy. The articles have really helped me to put their relationship ~ and what may appear as Leonard's dependence on Roshi ~ into perspective. Leonard's feelings of peace with and respect for Roshi really emanate from the photos in the article.

When you see other photos of Leonard's face and the peace that exudes from it, and listen to recent interviews with him, and then listen to Ten New Songs, it seems that his immersion is now reflected in lessons well learned....and Leonard finally ["Teachers" song reference] found a teacher to his liking....and one who also seems to walk, alongside, as a friend. For all that their relationship has brought Leonard [and apparently, Roshi, as well], I feel it's duly in context and perspective, very healthy, and in balance.

All good things,
Lizzytysh
Last edited by lizzytysh on Sat Aug 17, 2002 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Linda
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Postby Linda » Sat Aug 17, 2002 5:36 pm

Shyone,
Welcome from someone who hasn't been visiting this board all that long herself.

I don' think your question is offensive, a good question really.

This question also brought other questions to mind for me. Roshi must be well into his nineties, Is he still on Mt. Baldy? From the video of Leonard on Mt Baldy, LC seemed like he cared for him so much, and did everything he could for Roshi, so it looked like a two way relationship. What a wonderful friendship to have. LC has obviously benefited from Roshi's teaching it seems, but I would bet LC has also thought Roshi afew things. :D
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sat Aug 17, 2002 6:29 pm

Hi Linda [and Christine],

That's the way it seems to me, too....that theirs has been/is a two-way, symbiotically beneficial relationship. In the photos I mentioned, the respect and affection are visibly mutual. I'll be interested to hear what Jarkko says regarding Roshi still being on Mt. Baldy, yet I have to believe that he still is, when he's not traveling, possibly still doing retreats. A more recent article spoke of him coming to Leonard's house [as though he had come from the monastery]. Leonard has previously spoken of his apparently radiant health. Trusting and hoping that remains the same.

All good things,
Lizzytysh
shyone
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Postby shyone » Sat Aug 17, 2002 7:34 pm

hi everyone and thanks for your input.
when i first heard of Roshi ,i thought it was kind of interesting that he had such a constant relationship with this one person . but then i started wondering if it wasnt one sided . what i'm really trying hard NOT to say is this,,when i realized that he thought so highly of someone else and (very likely) sought his advice on i'm sure very important matters, i began to wonder if perhaps i was wrong to place such emphasis on someone who (it seemed anyway) relied heavily on someone else for his thoughts on issues in the world. Do i sound like a traitor ,,im just trying to figure out how i feel about l.c. and his words , i'll admit that i am a little disillusioned by this whole 'roshi thing'. i also realized that two of my favourite songs by l.c. are based on works by other poets (the last waltz and alex leaving)
i still love his work (especially his novels). i want someone to help me get back that original feeling of wonder and awe i had when i first heard him a year ago. christine[/url]
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sat Aug 17, 2002 9:55 pm

Hi Christine,

My feeling is that it's normal for people to have a friend with whom they seek advice and discuss important matters. However, despite the influence in those people's lives, their individual thinking and actions will often prevail, despite the best of advice. I do feel that Roshi has been very influential in Leonard's life, as a friend and mentor, as well as formalized teacher at the monastery. I feel that Leonard's individuality has remained intact, regardless. They've been close friends for a very long time. Yet, Leonard has been through a whole lot during that time, so his relationship with Roshi hasn't been a panacea either.

From what I've read, Leonard's decision to go to Mount Baldy wasn't at Roshi's behest or even suggestion. When Leonard left Mount Baldy, I understand that it was as a result of Leonard's realization, acceptance, and acknowledgement to himself that he is not the devotee/"religious man" that the others, or Roshi, are.....Boogie Street, the traffic jam, the freedom to live life with his children, and perhaps a woman, called to him. My feeling is that if he were to be unduly influenced by Roshi, all of their time together there would have resulted in that....and he'd likely still be there.

I understand your personal disappointment regarding your favourite songs, though that's not to say that I share in it. I was surprized, but not disappointed ~ particularly with Alexandra Leaving. It speaks so well to how he well could have written, without any outside influence or based on any existing poem, just totally on his own, regarding a woman leaving. That dignity and acceptance, despite grief. Yet, in reading some other posts discussing it elsewhere, the meaning of it apparently still goes beyond just that.

For me, I have many "favourites," to the extent that the word pretty well loses it meaning :?. So, no level of disappointment could ever affect my feelings about him and his words. I'll be sustained no matter what. Have you listened to all of his recordings? Have you had the chance to look at all the writing and rewriting that it took for him to come up with Alexandra Leaving? I can't remember the number of verses that he had for it, but it was huge [I want to say in the 60's, 80's, or higher]. With those poems, he still struggled to make them his "own" [giving credit to their source, of course].

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling disillusioned, but I like your honesty with how you're feeling about him and his music.

All good things,
Lizzytysh
eeey
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Postby eeey » Sat Aug 17, 2002 10:36 pm

Christine,

WOW! You've got courage!

I'm not an idolater either. But I do admire some of LC's songs very much. Take This Waltz and Alexandra Leaving are, as you say, derivatives of the work of others.

But this a a time-honored tradition in literature and if done well can be a great compliment to the original poet. Shakespeare, Dante, Byron, Gorky, T.S. Eliot, (the list goes on and on) all have written poetry of which the idea can be traced to others. It really isn't cheating!

I consider the song Take This Waltz to be superior to the poem by Lorca. But I also think Alexandra Leaving is inferior to Cavafy's poem "The God Forsakes Anthony".

As to your other question about Roshi...

Yikes!!!

eeey
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Postby BlueNote » Sat Aug 17, 2002 11:20 pm

Dear Christine :

I don't know if my comment will help you - I wish it will - and be sure that I respect your opinion and feelings.

I think that the zen monastery episod is a logic continuation of... may I say his personal path of Life? When he feels that what he was doing there was finished, he took another path, what people who get tell what to do can not.

Regarding the songs, first, Alexandra Leaving is a song I like but I'm not crazy about.

Take this Waltz is one of my favourite too (one that I'm really crazy about :D ). He made a wonderful English adaptation of the Spanish poem and, please, do not forget that he turned into a colourful waltz what was just flat black (fantastic) words on white paper. What better tribute could he have done to the poet who sealed his destiny?

And may I suggest (who I am to suggest a think like this, but I do it anyway :lol: ) that you trust your strong feelings for the artist even if you do not always understand the human being behind.

Sincerely,

BN
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Aug 18, 2002 2:56 am

Hi Christine,

What Blue Note has said is something I really agree with, too. Without taking those words and adding voice, music, and melody....as he has done....they never would have materialized for them to be your favourites [the upside of your disillusionment ~ I hope :wink: ]. I don't see myself as an idolator [as eeey says he's not]; however, all of the songs I've heard done by Leonard, I appreciate tremendously, for one reason or another, and the vast majority of them for multiple reasons. It's just my personal taste. What eeey says regarding its being an honour to the original poet is surely true. And Lorca is one who's influenced him from early on, the same as other songwriters and singers are influenced by Leonard.

All good things,
Lizzytysh
shyone
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Postby shyone » Sun Aug 18, 2002 1:26 pm

hi everyone and thanks for not yelling at me.
when rereading my post i see that i didnt make clear that despite my 2nd thoughts about l.c. i still think that he is a genius . he stands head and shoulders above most artists. his self deprecating manner is just hilarious considering how really phenomenal he is . i still list him as my favourite artist ,way above anyone else. i just wanted to say that .

p.s. it 's really nice to have a place to air some feelings that are not always what the people want to hear.


thanks ,,christine
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lizzytysh
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Postby lizzytysh » Sun Aug 18, 2002 2:34 pm

Hi Christine,

For me as well, Leonard happens to align with my personal taste in wordsmithing, conceptuals, voice, vocal expression, and music. 'Tis not my fault he meets all my criteria in each category.....some of which, incidentally :wink: were set by him. Ah well! :D

In many ways, we are what we love, so even though Leonard didn't write the original poems that the songs were based on, they're still him. Take This Waltz, Alexandra Leaving, [cover of] Be For Real.....he woulda, coulda, shoulda! 8)

Your clarification was pretty major and a pleasant surprize. :) Your honesty is great! No yelling ~ overall, I've found Cohen folk to be pretty reasonable people.

All good things,
Lizzytysh
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Kush
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Postby Kush » Mon Aug 19, 2002 8:40 pm

The theme & style of 'Who By Fire' is also closely reworked from an old Jewish prayer. LC has mentioned this in concerts & interviews. There may be a couple of others in this category too but I am not sure. It would be nice if a single section on this site gave the antecedents of various songs of LC that was inspired or reworked from earlier stuff (rather than having to find out from disparate sources or links). It is nice to know the history.
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Postby smile » Thu Aug 29, 2002 5:35 pm

No I don`t think he has been too dependant but if he had what does it matter. His work is good and that`s what we are doing here inputting....

We all experience turbulence and LC has had plenty of that in his life and I can understand why he went to Mt Baldy...

Perhaps he is reflecting a little thesedays who knows!!!!
Life is love so treasure every day.........

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