Worship Something You Can See and Trust
When they don’t feel like laughing
But no one cries
When they don’t feel like crying
That should tell you something
(And mean is operative here)
Look in the eyes of people
While they are doing evil
People who take their own pain
And want to spread it around town
You will never find joy there
Unless of course just the unkind fake kind
And you know what all this tells me?
Worship something you can see and trust
Worship tears of joy
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Invocation:
“Towards the one, the perfection of love, harmony and beauty, the only being, united with all the illuminated souls who form the embodiment of the master, the spirit of guidance.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan’s Prescribed Daily Mantra:
“My thoughtful self: Reproach no one. Bear malice towards no one. Hold a grudge against no one. Be wise, tolerant, considerate, polite, and kind to all.”
Leonard Cohen just died. And thereby hangs a tale. He was a Jewish Buddhist. More of a Buddhist I believe, than Jewish, and an interesting sort of Buddhist.
I don’t know much about Buddhism, and it is an odd introduction to a post dedicated to a discussion about the existence of God (Which was the plan. Half written in fact. But then, as I say, the great man died). It is odd because Buddha never talked about a “God.”
I have a theory about why. It goes something like this:
People go funny on you when you bring “God” into the equation. (And often it is taken as a frightful invitation to hypocrisy or worse, an excuse for abuse.)
But I think Buddha wanted to go directly to the indisputable part of God, the joy that comes from eliminating fruitless desire. I tend to go that way myself. As you can see with the introductory poem above, though perhaps it stems as well from gratitude. Or from the feeling one is not after all, alone. That one has a powerful and loving protector, who just happens to see a bit further than we can.
But what else would you expect when you compare the infinite to the finite? Is it reasonable to expect that the finite is fit to judge the infinite? I think this is the main reason (among the wise) for the constant iteration of the need for faith.
But I digress.
So I will attempt to blend these two subjects (Leonard Cohen, a Buddhist, and the question of the existence of God) into a coherent whole. (Wish me luck!)
There are ways, and then there are ways to approach the issue of God or not. Especially anent the matter of “proving” such a thing.
For instance, I remember watching a high class drama on television, in the course of which a visiting friend was told that the music being listened to was a proof of the existence of God. It was the third movement of Beethoven’s fifteenth string quartet. You can hear it here to decide for yourself about that:
And Leonard Cohen certainly approached the subject interestingly. Seeing the Divine also in sorrow and despair. This is a needed subject in this world of tears and doubt. A favorite example of mine is from Kahlil Gibran, in his wonderful book The Prophet. When the eponymous prophet was asked, “Speak to us of pain,” the prophet said something like this: The pain, the sorrow in our lives, digs a reservoir whose depth defines our capacity for joy.
Of course, I personally am a Pollyanna poet, in that I like to emphasize the bright side. But I do admit it needs to be done, some comment on the rationale for the other side. After all, this grand experiment we call creation had to be a perfect thing, a complete thing, and so it had to include pain and suffering. If only for the fulfillment of Hegel’s dialectic. For a chat with that in it see the post for September 1, 2014:
And Leonard Cohen was big on recognizing that. In his poem, “Anthem,” he put it into perspective:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
And in his song “Hallelujah,*” which has struck a chord in so many hearts as to be in danger of trivialization . . .(It has been adopted into popular culture to the point almost of constant repetition, which can be a bad thing**)
Well, folks, this post is getting to have a super high word count. And so it looks like it will be a three-parter. And this seems like a good place to stop. Stay tuned for the next two installments which really get into the issue of the existence or not, of God. If you click on the follow button and enter your email address, you will be notified when parts two and three are published.
God be with you,
* Available here (my favorite version, sung by the tragic Jeff Buckley):
**Here’s an example. Perhaps you gentle folk are familiar with the incredibly beautiful Canon in D, by Pachelbel. When I first heard about it, was years ago during my initiated Sufi days in the San Francisco ashram. A dear friend, Marianne Barnhart, came by with the record in hand, and played it for me and my then wife, Judy. And she told me I could get it for only a dollar due to a come on of an offer from some classical music society membership. So I ordered it and sat hour after hour, day after day, just listening to it. But do you what can happen from constant repetition? One gets dulled to it. It loses its magic. In fact just yesterday or the day before I wrote a poem about the danger of that, saying that was the trouble even with the moon and stars. Here is the poem:
The Trouble with the Moon and Stars
“If you really want to live in a rainbow
there is no reason why you shouldn’t.”
–Pollyanna’s father (PBS Masterpiece Theater)
Consider prisms if you will–All those colors
Now why was that necessary
In the evolution of the world?
But then why were tears necessary
Or a big hug?
But here I am back again to tears
Or have you never cried from receiving a hug?
Especially when you really needed it
And hadn’t seen it coming?
The trouble with the moon and stars
(Why we don’t cry every night just for that)
Is that it comes to be expected
In a way we would all be happier
Of course there is a precedent for that:
As for Marianne, that later became a bit of a tragedy at least on my side, when I lost her friendship. I am just throwing that in, in case Marianne is reading this, so she will know that she was missed. You see, a lot of this blog’s followers are from that old Sufi group. For the record, I was tempted to include Cohen’s song, So Long, Marianne, except it would have been misleading since so much of it is not applying to Marianne’s and my situation. Oh hell, in at least an appreciation of Leonard Cohen, here is the apt url:
And while on the subject of lost loves, this is for Kate of Lowell high, who fancied herself Suzanne
And finally this, for a new friend, Hakima, whose favorite Cohen song was this: