Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

General discussion about Leonard Cohen's songs and albums

Would you say that Leonard's lyrics are influenced by Buddhist thought?

Yes, throughout his career
26
76%
Yes, since Mount Baldy
5
15%
No, not even after Mount Baldy
1
3%
I have no idea
2
6%
 
Total votes: 34
User avatar
remote1
Posts: 2503
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:59 pm
Location: between the snowman and the rain

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby remote1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:39 am

B4real wrote: This is from the official scientology and dianetics glossary:
"Clear: the name of a state achieved through auditing or an individual who has achieved this state. A Clear is a being who no longer has his own reactive mind. A Clear is an unaberrated person and is rational in that he forms the best possible solutions he can on the data he has and from his viewpoint. The Clear has no engrams which can be restimulated to throw out the correctness of computation by entering hidden and false data."
Not trying to be facetious but I have come across clearer definitions of the word "clear"! :lol:
"We are so lightly here"
Lilifyre
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 7:29 am
Location: Birmingham, AL, USA

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby Lilifyre » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:25 am

The phrase: "when you planned to go clear" as used in Famous Blue Raincoat, seems to refer to where (mentally/emotionally) the "adversary" or the 2nd man in the love triangle is when he gave "Jane" the lock of his hair. It only concerns Leonard or the song's speaker in a way to refer to what was happening to that other party. Whether it directly refers to how the term "clear" is used in Scientology or one of the other possible meanings for the word "clear" is actually a minor point. In my opinion, it describes that other party's state of mind when breaking up with "Jane".

Holydove, where are you? I'd value your input on some of the ideas floated around here and any possible Buddhist connection you might see.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
User avatar
remote1
Posts: 2503
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:59 pm
Location: between the snowman and the rain

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby remote1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:53 pm

Lilifyre wrote:The phrase: "when you planned to go clear" as used in Famous Blue Raincoat, seems to refer to where (mentally/emotionally) the "adversary" or the 2nd man in the love triangle is when he gave "Jane" the lock of his hair. It only concerns Leonard or the song's speaker in a way to refer to what was happening to that other party. Whether it directly refers to how the term "clear" is used in Scientology or one of the other possible meanings for the word "clear" is actually a minor point. In my opinion, it describes that other party's state of mind when breaking up with "Jane".

Holydove, where are you? I'd value your input on some of the ideas floated around here and any possible Buddhist connection you might see.

Lili
Hi Lili, I agree with everything you say.
And Holydove, like Lili, I am looking forward to your ideas when you have the time. Don't pass us by! ;-)
"We are so lightly here"
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby holydove » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:01 pm

Hi Lili & Remote1 (& any other interested parties) - thank you for your posts & sweet words! Some other things have been eating up my time, but I would never pass you by (lol - very funny, remote1)!

About the lines: "I guess that I miss you/ I guess I forgive you/ I'm glad that you stood in my way. . ."

Lili, I'd say your "hunch" is accurate - from the Buddhist perspective, forgiveness is very important. There are several factors involved: Forgiveness is an aspect of what is known as loving-kindness, which is a crucial Buddhist practice. When we harbor anger & hatred toward others, we are really hurting ourselves the most - not only in the present, but negative emotion creates negative karma for ourselves, which may be played out in this life, or in future lives. Also, Buddhism teaches that we create our own reality, so when we blame others for our situation or our pain, we are projecting things onto others, when our own thoughts/emotions are the true cause (at least in part, if not entirely) of whatever we are experiencing. Also, Buddhism emphasizes the idea of "interdependence" (I think I've mentioned this before), which means that there are literally zillions of causes for any given condition that arises at any given moment - in fact, the whole universe & all the forces thereof, are involved in any & every little thing that happens at any & every little moment; so, to blame any one individual for any given circumstance would be seen as extremely simplistic & "ignorant" - (ignorance means being unaware of the true nature of reality). Of course, this doesn't mean it's better to blame many people instead of just one person (LOL), it means the notion of blame itself is really irrelevant, & it justs fosters further ignorance. Also, loving-kindness is an aspect of compassion, & true compassion (& forgiveness) has to do with being willing to see, understand, even feel, the pain of others. True compassion & forgiveness come from understanding the pain of others, because whatever harm or pain a person inflicts on others is caused by that person's (the inflictor's) pain; and the ability to see the other person's pain will naturally give rise to compassion, because we are all connected. Obviously, really understanding all this, on more than just an intellectual level, & putting it into practice, requires alot of exploration of one's own mind & whatever situation one finds oneself in, & I'd say Leonard is expressing this kind of self-exploration in Famous Blue Raincoat (as he does in all of his magnificent art, of course!), so, although these lyrics can be interpreted in other contexts (including a purely personal expression), I think a Buddhist interpretation also works quite well here.

And "I'm glad you stood in my way. . . ": along with what has been said about the "way"/"path" connection, Buddhism teaches that every situation (& every moment) is an opportunity for enlightenment, if we can develop the skill to use it that way. So one possible interpretation could be that the narrator, having done some deep exploration of the circumstances, & the emotions/thoughts that have arisen in his mind, is now able to feel loving-kindess/compassion for the other man ("I guess that I miss you/I guess I forgive you. . . "), & has also been able to use the situation/emotions to see his own mind more clearly, & seeing one's own mind is what brings one closer to enlightenment - therefore, he can be grateful (glad) for what he experienced/perceived as the pain or difficulty, which was seemingly "caused" by his "friend" - which also ties in which the Buddhist teaching of welcoming, equally, everyone & everything, whether we perceive the given situation/person/etc. as painful or pleasurable (that's called "equanimity").

Gotta go now, & I welcome any other thoughts on these very beautiful lyrics. . .
User avatar
TineDoes
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:48 pm
Location: Holland

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby TineDoes » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:48 am

Hi all who are contributing to explaining this wonderful song. I have a thought to add.
Holydove: I am very touched by the by what you said about Buddism with regard to blame and hurting others and how it reflects on the self. This reminded me of another explanation I once read about this song. Which would explain the letter writer's compassion with the 3rd person "did you ever go clear?"
The song would suggest that it is Leonard writing to a friend who has a blue raincoat. But Leonard himself "who owned and loved a blue 'Burberry' raincoat that he bought in London in 1959 and wore to a thread. It is suggested that Leonard is referring to his former self; "one more thin gypsy thief". That he is in some way formulating his own failure to an earlier relationship. The forgiveness and compassion is to and of his former self.
This idea doesn't quite fit in with the story but it is a very interesting thought.
"There’s no forsaking what you love ...."

Rotterdam 2008; Antwerpen, Dublin 2009; Gent 2x, Lille , Las Vegas 2x 2010, Gent, Amsterdam, Dublin 2x 2012, Antwerp, Berlin, Rotterdam 2013
User avatar
B4real
Posts: 6572
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:49 am
Location: Q'ld, Australia

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby B4real » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:54 am

holydove wrote:from the Buddhist perspective, forgiveness is very important
Holydove, I think it is a given essential for a person to function wholly in any way of life or belief. But I just have to say I absolutely love the way you have expressed it here. So beautitfully and "clearly" conveyed and I thank you for your wonderful words. :D
TineDoes wrote:Holydove: I am very touched by the by what you said about Buddism with regard to blame and hurting others and how it reflects on the self.
I am in total agreement. 8)
It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to B4real ~ me
Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy ~ me ...... The magic of art is the truth of its lies ~ me ...... Only left-handers are in their right mind!
Lilifyre
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 7:29 am
Location: Birmingham, AL, USA

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby Lilifyre » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:47 am

Holydove, thanks for responding. You have been missed :) You've given a lot to "digest" here....quite a feast, if you will. My response may seem a bit disjointed so I hope you can follow what I have to say. I'm not entirely certain I follow my own thoughts at time ;-)

You mention the concept of "loving-kindness"....this seems quite similar to the Jewish concept of longing-kindness....an unconditional acceptance of others. It by no means that one approves of or condones all the actions of another, but a seeing of the true person beneath the outer shell which may be very "unlovable". Since my knowledge of Buddhism is extremely limited, I don't know if both Judaism and Buddhism are that parallel in their ways of thinking or if Leonard tends to express the parallel concepts due to his background and his own studies. Either way, such parallels are quite frequently expressed in Leonard's songs. Once again, we have a peeling back of layers to get to the heart of the matter.

Personally, I've had a problem with the concept of "forgiveness". I've wrestled with the idea of "forgiving" someone for something "unforgivable". This could be something such as the various governments...i.e. Nazis, Inquisitors, Pol Pot regime, Taliban, etc....who have engaged in genocide over the course of history, or individuals such as Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, abusers of children/women/those "different" etc. How do you "forgive" a murderer? How do you forgive one who acts purely for his/her own benefit at the expense of others? I still struggle with this. But then I suppose the fact that I DO struggle with it means that I am dealing with it. I am learning.

The verse:
"Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried."

I suppose by wrestling with those issues I am trying to take the the "trouble from her eyes"...the imperfection that stands between unforgiveness and acceptance. Acceptance is not the same as excusing a behavior. That's where the problem lies for me. Learning to accept without excusing.

I'm thinking such concepts may be what drew Leonard to the study of Buddhism. It certainly has allowed him to become a better person without requiring him to give up himself as many religious philosophies would have. It has enabled him to become the best "Leonard Cohen" that he can be.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
User avatar
remote1
Posts: 2503
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:59 pm
Location: between the snowman and the rain

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby remote1 » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:24 am

Holydove, it was well worth the wait! Many thanks for the intricate, subtle and enriching response to Lili's question. It was a pleasure to read it!

I am interested in what you might answer to Lili's last response which I also found very relevant. I had pretty much the same reaction as you, Lilifyre, when reading Holydove's explanation, but from the perspective of Christianity (which is the one religion I know a little about, simply because it is the cultural environment I grew up in). I would say that the concepts of forgiveness, compassion (suffering with, feeling the pain of others), loving kindness, and of not blaming others ("He that is without sin among you; let him first cast a stone at Her"!), are all fundamental teachings of Christ and Christianity. Turning the other cheek is one example that springs to mind when referring to the lines Lili quotes in Famous Blue Raincoat. But there are many more examples that create a connection with what you are saying about Buddhism, Holydove. So, of course, religions tend to have lots in common and this is largely because they are often related (especially, in the case of Judaism and Christianity), but what I would like to know is whether FBR is more of a Buddhist text than it is Jewish or Christian, or whether it is simply not religious at all. After all, atheists are also capable of forgiving and of being compassionate, generous and non-judgemental (B4real speaks of forgiveness as being "a given essential for a person to function wholly in any way of life or belief", and I see what she means)...
"We are so lightly here"
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby holydove » Thu Jun 10, 2010 9:49 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your beautiful thoughts & words!

Lili & Remote1 - about the issue of forgiving unforgivable actions - good question! From the Buddhist perspective, one thing I would say is that forgiving doesn't mean allowing, excusing, or even accepting unacceptable situations/behaviors. In fact, Buddhism teaches that one should take action, when necessary, to attempt to correct something that is unacceptable; but the action shouldn't be driven by anger or hatred, it should be driven by compassion. There is a story that I think may be relevant: The Buddha was once on a boat with a group of people, & the Buddha knew that there was a man on the boat who was planning to kill a number of people; so the Buddha killed that man, to save the lives of the others who would have been killed. You can make of that what you will - I think it's very interesting "food for thought"; I once asked a very wonderful & knowledgeable teacher what kind of karma he thought the Buddha created for himself with that action, & the teacher said "he probably had a headache one day"(!) Also, the teaching about forgiveness is not meant to suggest that one should push away, repress, or otherwise negate or ignore feelings like anger - in fact, Buddhism instructs us to really feel whatever we are feeling - really explore the feelings - just don't act from that place. The deep & thorough exploration of the feelings is meant to enable us to eventually dissolve or transmute negative emotion into something positive, like loving-kindness or compassion. We will still know that an unacceptable situation is unacceptable, but then whatever action we take, to change the situation, can, hopefully, be driven by compassion/understanding, rather than anger or hatred. So forgiveness wouldn't mean accepting or not trying to change something, & it wouldn't mean not feeling anger - it would mean not holding onto/ being attached to/ idenitfying with, the anger; & it would mean not acting from a place of negative emotion. Of course, it's not suggested that this is an easy thing to do - it's very difficult - anger can be so powerful & overwhelming - but imagine if everyone in the world worked toward that mode of operation - what a different world it would be!!

Remote1 & B4Real - you mentioned that even atheists can be compassionate, & that one doesn't need any particular religion or belief in order to cultivate forgiveness, etc. - I say, ABSOLUTELY! In fact, Buddhism is, essentially, a sort of "atheistic" path (it's not considered a religion - or it's also been called "the religion of no religion) - there is no God in Buddhism - there is only Mind. I say "sort of atheistic" because the teaching is not to "NOT believe" in God or anything else, but it's not to "believe" in God, or anything else, either; the teaching is to not have beliefs or non-beliefs at all - it's to just trust your experience, whatever your experience happens to be. And one of the most crucial Buddhist teachings (& this definitely parallels teachings of Judaism & Christianity) - is to just BE KIND (sounds so simple, doesn't it - but, hmmm - sometimes not so simple - & then there's the ongoing question of what exactly constitutes kindness, esp. in some not-so-simple situations - but let's leave that question for another day!)

TineDoes: I have also read about Leonard's blue raincoat that he loved, & I have also wondered about how it seems to be a different person who has the blue raincoat in the song, & thought that perhaps, therefore, he is referring to himself. I agree that the story makes more sense if the one wearing the blue raincoat is another person; maybe this is another case of multiple meanings - maybe he is referring to his former self, AND another man; or maybe he bequeathed his beloved raincoat to his friend (at least in the song, if not in reality) - it is an interesting thought - thank you for mentioning that.
User avatar
TineDoes
Posts: 218
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:48 pm
Location: Holland

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby TineDoes » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:56 am

holydove wrote:Remote1 & B4Real - you mentioned that even atheists can be compassionate, & that one doesn't need any particular religion or belief in order to cultivate forgiveness, etc. - I say, ABSOLUTELY! In fact, Buddhism is, essentially, a sort of "atheistic" path (it's not considered a religion - or it's also been called "the religion of no religion) - there is no God in Buddhism - there is only Mind.
Remote1, Holydove and others,
I just have to react to this “that ‘even’ atheists are capable of forgiving and of being compassionate, generous and non-judgemental. I think that it is really quite a strange idea to ‘even’ think that atheists would NOT have this capability. Kindness is as, LC would say it, part of the ‘human’ condition or as B4real said "a given essential for a person to function wholly in any way of life or belief". Everybody in any society is capable of kindness. In my atheist society, or should I say multi denominational society, kindness in combination with honesty is the vehicle by which we aim to communicate; it is what we teach our children. Religious teachings, be it Christianity, Muslim or Judaism and even Buddhism, do not have a monopoly on kindness. I know that religions teach unconditional forgiveness to all people as Lilifyre mentioned. But is it sadly not so that in the name of religions great acts of cruelty have been/or are being committed? Kindness, as LC says, that is indeed the hard one.
Holydove, I would be interested to hear from you “what constitutes kindness”.
"There’s no forsaking what you love ...."

Rotterdam 2008; Antwerpen, Dublin 2009; Gent 2x, Lille , Las Vegas 2x 2010, Gent, Amsterdam, Dublin 2x 2012, Antwerp, Berlin, Rotterdam 2013
User avatar
remote1
Posts: 2503
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:59 pm
Location: between the snowman and the rain

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby remote1 » Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:16 am

Tinedoes, To be honest, I think we are all in agreement here. But then it is 2.15am so I may be delusional. By the way, I am an atheist as well as an insomniac. I hope you are only the former!
"We are so lightly here"
holydove
Posts: 1566
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:38 pm
Location: Connecticut

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby holydove » Sat Jun 12, 2010 5:50 pm

Remote1, I agree that we all agree here, so either you are not delusional, or we are both delusional; & I am also an insomniac ( interesting thing to have in common!); good thing we are in different time zones, or it might be too easy to feed each other's insomnia by chatting in the wee hours!

Gotta go now, will return soon. . .
Lilifyre
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 7:29 am
Location: Birmingham, AL, USA

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby Lilifyre » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:31 pm

One of the things that I so love about Leonard, is his way of finding the positive in all forms of spirituality. He refuses to give hatred a foothold. One of my favorite lines of his is: When hatred with his package comes, you refuse delivery."

These are obviously more than just lyrics to fit a song. These seem to be words he lives by. There's an interview with him...(BBC I think from the early 80s maybe? Not sure) where he remarks that everyone has the right to "not like" someone's voice or music, but they don't have the right to be mean about it and speak hatefully of the person. I think this was in reference to criticism of his Hallelujah and the various covers of the song, but it works for everything in life. I wish I could be more like him in that respect. :oops: In Judaism, this is referred to as "avoiding loshen hora" or avoiding the "evil" tongue. It goes beyond avoiding malicious gossip and is probably one of the most difficult of the Mitzvot to keep. It's a true honoring of each individual as they are "warts and all". Like true forgiveness, the avoidance of loshen hora does not mean you agree with everything anyone says or does, but it acknowledges the individual's right to whatever beliefs/disbeliefs he/she may have....even if you know for a fact that those beliefs are wrong. At the same time, it doesn't mean you allow someone to spread falsehood about another person or thing.

From what you've explained about Buddhism, Holydove, I'd say this has a parallel within Buddhism. This world would be so much better if we all could learn to live by this principle. The best way for any of us to help bring about that time, in my opinion, is to first listen to others....truly listen...and then to speak from our integrity, from our highest self, and to encourage others to do the same.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."
humbled
Posts: 29
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:18 am
Location: Ohio USA south of the R&R Hall of Fame and the Mistake on the Lake

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby humbled » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:23 pm

To All:

Trying to equate the idea of compassion in Buddhism with that of Judaism is, to put it as kindly as possible, egregiously incorrect. The compassion of Buddhism is a complete, universal, catholic compassion that of Judaism (or hi-western mythology in general) is diametrically opposite. This is not something that must be conjectured, you don’t need to read between the lines, or have a base of any conspiracy theory. It is right there for all to see metaphorically written in stone, as it were, and in one case (Ten Commandments) in fact.

The compassion of the Hebrew was to be shown only to the other “chosen people” not to outsiders. The Ten Commandments is one example of how to treat your own, how to treat others in also graphically detailed. To paraphrase: when you come to a city give them ONE chance to surrender and if they do makes slaves of them use the women as you will and take all the booty, for the lord your god has brought you to this place (that is it for compassion), period. If they don’t surrender kill them all, destroy the city and do what you will with everything there. Now that’s the kind of down home compassion a Mujahidin could get his arms around! It is the same in Islam; we have been inundated with those verses from the Koran for the last decade so I’ll omit them here.

In Buddhism the compassion is that as shown by the Dali Lama. In the 1950’s when China invaded Tibet it did its best to exterminate the monks. Whole monasteries were wiped out. Many of these contained five thousand, ten thousand, and even more monks. Since the time the Dali Lama was spirited out of the country he has not spoken one, not ONE word of hatred or vengeance against the Chinese. THAT is compassion.

That is why it is also grating to here people say that Judaism and Christianity have so mush in common. Mythological nothing could be further from the truth. The only reason these two were “joined” at all is to give Christianity a “cachet” of history. At the time of Jesus the “world” was in turmoil and so there were a great many prophets. You could hardly chuck a stone and not hit a prophet starting a new religion so the first Christians tried to set themselves apart by showing a long history and a fulfillment thereof. Had the Gnostics became dominant Christianity might well have become a western form of Buddhism; in many important way it is these two religions that say the same thing.

I’ll provide two examples of the gulf between Christianity and Judaism which also speaks to the idea of universal compassion. In opposition to compassion only for the “in crowd” we have the story of the Good Samaritan. Since it is well know I won’t retell it but there is an important point. Why did Jesus specifically choose a Samaritan? Because while the Hebrews had no love lost for other tribes it held a special contempt for Samaritans. They were the dregs – the scum of the earth. So Jesus used a Samaritan to show the Hebrews the shallowness of there compassion right in their teeth. It was this, lowest of all, who actually showed the transcendent and did it in a way that the Hebrews were incapable of doing it in action, incapable of putting it in words, possibly even incapable of comprehending.

The second example is one that far right-wing Christians would be happy to purge from the bible: “turn the other check”. For those Christians who try to do the philosophical gymnastics of praying to the Prince of Peace while adhering to a martial philosophy this often returns the trite “yes but Jesus doesn’t say what to do when the other check has been smited!” Oh yes he does, in great detail, (to paraphrase) if he demands this of you give him also that, if he demands thus of you, give him also so, if he forces you to walk a mile with him go two. THAT is universal compassion!

I believe that trying to equate Buddhist compassion with that of Judaism or equating Leonard Cohen’s songs with a deep base in Judaism denigrates both Buddhism and Cohen, making both of them no more than “One thin Gypsy thief”.

Please Note: This is not to say that adhearens to these mythologies or people with no beliefs at all are incapable of true compassion.
Lilifyre
Posts: 234
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 7:29 am
Location: Birmingham, AL, USA

Re: Are Leonard Cohen's lyrics influenced by Buddhism?

Postby Lilifyre » Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:03 am

Humbled, thank you for your input, however, I must disagree with your position. Your assessment of religions other than Buddhism is based on a lack of knowledge of those religions. You point out man-made revisions to those religions as fact, instead of scratching beneath the surface to find the truth. Judaism is much more than the 10 laws etched into stone. The rules of Judaism are pure. That human beings have twisted those rules or have even negated them in practice speaks of the do-er as opposed to the law itself. Judaism calls for fair treatment of all....Jew and non-Jew alike.....as exampled by the admonition to treat the stranger with kindness for "you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt". Judaism does not demand that all follow its paths or be "damned" as many other religions do. The (so-called) 10 Commandments are only meant for the Jews, true. Others are not expected to follow Judaisms laws nearly as completely. The avoidance of "loshen hora" as I pointed out, requires the Jew to keep from speaking ill of others....ALL others. Charity is to be given to all in need, regardless of status, beliefs, race, nationality, etc.

What many, including you, my friend Humbled, fail to see is that the Hebrew Bible is not simply a book of rules. It is also a story of an imperfect people. Jews like all other humans are imperfect. The stories tell how a tribal people tried and failed and tried again. When the laws were broken there were consequences, the people were rebuked by G_d. When the Children of Israel were fleeing for their lives from Pharoah and Pharoah's troops were drowned (it makes no difference whether this is a factual account or a story used to teach a lesson) G_d asks Moses and the Children of Israel "How can you rejoice when my children are drowning in the sea?" Is that not the same kind of "compassion" you pointed out from the Dali Lama? What many of the stories in the Bible express is that humans are imperfect. Even a great king such as David (yes, the David from Hallelujah) made mistakes, horrendous mistakes. The message is not "this group is more dear to me so they have one set of laws and everyone else has a different set of laws". The message is "ALL humanity is dear to me. I expect more from some than from others, but I love them all the same". Don't confuse the law with the way humans have perverted it.

You wrote:
I believe that trying to equate Buddhist compassion with that of Judaism or equating Leonard Cohen’s songs with a deep base in Judaism denigrates both Buddhism and Cohen, making both of them no more than “One thin Gypsy thief”.
You are entitled to your opinion, but your lack of understanding shines brightly thru this statement. Before Leonard ever heard the word Buddhism, he stood with his father and uncles in the synagogue, listening to the ancient words spoken by the Jewish people for millenia. He has never once claimed to be anything other than a Jew. He has made a point of the fact that Buddhism has never asked him to give up his Jewishness nor has he. He still observes Shabbat and the Jewish Holy Days...at least in part, which is all any of us do. In interview after interview, Leonard himself, confirms his Jewishness and the influence Judaism has had on his work. To remove, or even attempt to remove Leonard from Judaism or vice versa, is to rip the very heart of the man from his body. Judaism is that "birthmark on [his] skin" that guides him.

Perhaps you need to spend a bit more time practicing that Buddhist form of compassion yourself, Humbled, and accept the Jew in Leonard Cohen.

Lili
Lili
"Well, that's my story
I admit it's broken and it's bleak
But all the twisted pieces fit
A 1000 kisses deep."

Return to “Leonard Cohen's music”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests