To continue: before I go back to the holy dove imagery, I want to say that the first verse of Anthem contains a practically word-for-word quote of something the Buddha reportedly said; here is one transcription of the Buddha's words (different texts may vary slightly): "Do not dwell in the past/ do not dream of the future/ concentrate the mind on the present moment"; I remember reading something Pema Chodron said about this, that seemed so poignant to me that it still comes into my mind eleven years later: she said that the saddest thing is that, because we are constantly thinking either of past events (which are now gone), or future possibilities (which do not exist), we miss our whole lives, because our minds are never in the present moment. Anyway, back to Leonard's lyrics: "start again/I heard them say/don't dwell on what/ has passed away/ or what is yet to be" - seems like a pretty direct allusion to the words of the Buddha.
Interestingly, the opening lines of the song (right before the "Buddha" words): "The birds they sang/ at the break of day/ start again/ I heard them say" - these lines have the narrator receiving this message from birds; various cultures & religions have seen birds as bearers of heavenly/divine messages, or even as divine revelations in themselves. The bird has also been seen as representing the soul when released from the body, as well as immortality/godliness/transcendence/etc.
Which brings us back to the holy dove imagery in the next verse: turns out this imagery is not only Judaic & Christian. But first to recap for sake of clarity: in Judaism, white doves were sacrificial offerings, offered for purification, at the Temple; they also represent, in Old Testament - the love of God, & divine inspiration; & the dove was also used as a poetic image, many times, in Song of Songs to convey affection/endearment, because it was observed that they mate for very long periods of time.
In Christianity, obviously, it represents the Holy Spirit, or again, "heavenly messenger". Interesting to note here, is that the Holy Spirit is the "entity" in the Trinity that is debated the most, & has the most variations, between different sects, regarding what exactly it is. The Pentecosts have a very interesting take, in that they see the Holy Spirit as directly interacting with, & affecting the lives of individuals; they don't see it as representing, or functioning as, the Church; they say that when people are baptized with the Holy Spirit, the power of the Spirit is released in the lives of the individuals, in the form of natural & supernatural gifts, e.g., tongues & prophecy (so here again, is the Holy Spirit as divine inspiration, or spirit which inspires prophets).
In ancient Babylon, the dove was the symbol of a female deity of love, fertility, war & sex, called Ishtar; there were analogous Semitic goddesses, of Ancient Egypt, Sumeria, & other parts of Ancient Middle East, who were ymbolized by the dove, & represented love & fertility. For the Ancient Greeks, the dove was a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love & beauty, & thus also had erotic connotations. As related to the fertility goddess in these cultures, the dove also became a symbol of love between human beings, & between the deity & the worshipers. The Romans sacrificed doves to Venus, the goddess of love & fertility. A dove whispered in the ear of the prophet Mohammed & was his oracle. It goes on and on. . .
There is also (you guessed it) a Buddhist story called "The Eagle & The Dove", in which Sakra, the King of Gods, turned himself into a dove (& one of his gods into an eagle), in order to test the King of a certain country (Siddhartha Gautama in a previous life), to see if he was indeed the future Buddha, as many people of that civilization were claiming that he was.The dove is not, however, as widely used as a symbol in Buddhism, as compared with other religions/cultures. I find it interesting that in Christianity, the Holy Spirit is male, whereas in all the other religions/cultures that I have read about so far, it represents a female energy.
No more time now, but the next verse, which is also the chorus, has strong allusions to Buddhism, in my view; I will come back to that, probably tomorrow. . .