You Are Right, Sahara

Everything about Leonard's 2006 book of poetry and Anjani's album
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Diane
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby Diane » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:16 am

Hello Judy:-) Yes, you connecting this poem to Zen caused it to make a bit more sense to me. I especially like what you said about The Collapse of Zen. Zen clearly did not ultimately "collapse" for LC. I see Sahara first appears in the first and last stanzas of Collapse of Zen, when he asks how enlightenment can be better than Sahara's sexual hunger for him.

Regarding My Consort, Doron since you pointed out the line from Lucky Old Sun, I notice the line following the 'roll around heaven' one also echoes the song:

We 'roll around heaven'
several miles above the pine trees

While that lucky old sun got nothin' to do
But roll around heaven all day
Dear Lord above, can't you know I'm pining
, tears all in my eyes
Send down that cloud with a silver lining, lift me to Paradise
Show me that river, take me across
Wash all my troubles away


Both 'pine' (as a verb instead of a tree) and 'above' are repeated. (There are a few references in BoL to Pine trees, doubtless because Mt Baldy Zen Centre "is set amidst giant pine trees, some of them at least 150 feet high".)

In My Consort, a fantasy about a heavenly consort is sufficiently vivid to allow him to temporarily stop pining for Sahara.

You Are Right Sahara, to me is by far the superior piece of the three.

Thanks for introducing this excellent Israeli Jewish/Arab ensemble Bustan Avraham!! (The third track Metamorphosis has especially intricate layers of instrumentation and is out of this world.)

Las Vegas does look a bit ghastly, but the meets with the others and the concerts I am sure meant that didn't matter much. It's fantastic that you found the concert "beyond words". Yes, I heard that everyone has been taken ill since the trip. That'll teach you all for staying out all night drinking and gambling.
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mat james
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby mat james » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:47 am

Mists and veils, Dervishes, Gypsies and Bolero; in a spin.
“I also must confess (and that’s to you, Mat) that I fail to see any resemblance between the whirling Dervishes and Flamenco dancing.” (Doron)
It is about discovery, Doron.
Influences are ghostly bedfellows I suppose, DB.
It was the imagery packed into these words below (and Dian's Sufi fascination) that took me to the Dervishes;
“The One Who has Transcended The Great Distance of Mist and Veils. Then for a thousand years, or the rest of the afternoon, such a One spins in the Blazing Fire of Changes, embodying all the transformations,”
…and then daydreaming (creatively) about Spain and the Moors and Islam, Sufis and “spins” and “veils” just sucked me into some wayward interpretation. That is how poetry and discovery and creativity work for me, I suppose.
Southern Spain (Andalusia) exudes a myriad of historical influences, for me. But like soup, the ingredients can be tasted even in that complex whole; if one has a taste for it and is willing to hazard a guess and happy to be wrong.
I have never been to Spain yet the images I receive from Spanish culture seem Eastern (Arabic/Indian) as much as European.
I did a little homework and it seems that the “Bolero” has Gypsy roots with a touch of Spanish and Moorish/Mediterranean mayhem spiced here and there.
In essence it is Indian (Untouchables/Gypsys) apparently. This does not surprise me a bit.

Strangely enough I think this little diversion into the dreamy history of Bolero is very on topic. Mulling over the Blazing fire of changes, veils and spins and violins and “The Window” comes to mind where Leonard is backed by that enchanting Gypsy violin…and where, where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight. It is all a soup for me that needs to be whirled around the mouth and tasted deeply before being swallowed and digested, re-gurgitated and digested yet again and again. This is how I live poetry; feast on it, drink it and get drunk on it, discover it.
“…but I had to do it drunk.”

So every wayward tangent I spin off on is all on topic for me; and part of the discovery process. That is what the forum’s discovery dialogue is all about and that is why I love to converse with you and our friends here who all give their own "spin" on things Leonard and all love getting drunk on Cohen.
I know you know all that; but I say it anyway as sometimes you seem to forget the beauty of being wrong.
Being wrong is great, is beautiful and brave and on song. It means one is on the path...to discovery...

MatbbgJ
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby DBCohen » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:14 am

You Are Right, Diane

Too much drinking and gambling is not good for you, but even LC signed off his concert with “good luck at the tables”, so what could we do?

I’m glad you’ve enjoyed “Bustan Avraham”; between 1992 and 2003 they’ve recorded 7 albums, all great or good and worth looking for.

Thanks for the beautiful observation concerning “Lucky Old Sun” and “My Consort”. I loved the “pine” / “pining” allusion. Following your post I went back once again to Book of Longing, and realized how much there’s still there that we haven’t discussed, and how much there is still to be mined. For example, the very first poem, with the same title as the book, already mentions the allusive “she”, and contains so many beautiful and meaningful lines… It would be interesting also to study the structure of the book, which begins mostly with poems connected with Zen and Mt. Baldy, then goes back to earlier poems, forward again to India, and ends with one of the oldest poems here, written during the war in Sinai, 1973. And a startling coincidence: on the original part of this thread Greg suggested a connection between “Sahara” and “Sarah”, and this name appears in a poem on p. 15… I’m beginning to get a BoM-like itch to go through this one also, although it is so different (much longer, much less clearly constructed)… Not with the same obsessive commitment, for sure, but even so, I know I’m going to regret ever mentioning this…

Mat, I owe you a separate answer.
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby DBCohen » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:16 pm

Mat,

The pleasure of being wrong… I can certainly appreciate the fact that often on the road we make a wrong turn, end up in a cul-de-sac, must backtrack and try again, and we certainly learn by these experiences, but I wouldn’t regard all that as an end in itself. It’s better not to relish this too much, or you’ll never reach your target, although I too have enjoyed an occasional spin on an unexpected tangent. However, both of us have long acknowledged the fact that we look at all these differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As you say, this is part of the fun of posting on this Forum and receiving all kinds of unexpected responses. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed your little tract on Andalusia, where many cultures collided; I may add that Gypsies and their culture also have an important place in the poetry of Lorca. The connections with LC’s work are certainly numerous and intriguing. Keep it up, mate.

Doron
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Diane
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby Diane » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:14 pm

Mat wrote: Being wrong is great, is beautiful and brave and on song.
The poetic posts you spin are a pleasure to read, Mat. The Moorish heritage of Spain is most obvious in the historic buildings. There's nothing like a Spanish city. Regarding flamenco, Lorca and LC - lots of info here, just in case you didn't see this thread about the recently departed Enrique Morente...:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=24164
What I get lost in, more than poetry, more than lyrics, is music - "language where all language ends", and the various "world" music I have discovered, since becoming inspired on this site - mostly by Kush I must say - has been so enriching. To echo what's repeated here quite often - we are very fortunate to have this space.

And ~greg, we remember and salute your irreplaceable self.
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby mat james » Sat Jan 15, 2011 2:30 am

Morente gave Cohen his word to take his music to flamenco, to which Cohen replied: “I would love to see myself mixed up in flamenco, because I love that music, it is the style of music I most respect in the world, so much that, if I were to be reborn again, I would like to be a flamenco singer.”
I suppose this comes through in his music, Diane.
Thanks for the links.

Mat.
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Diane
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby Diane » Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:25 pm

I guess it does come through in some of it, Mat (plus you can simply hear the "deep song" in his voice - his vocals regardless of lyrics). Field Commander Cohen is the only LC album I have on my iTunes at the moment - it contains some of his best melodies and some lovely music (and some of his most intriguing lyrics). The music on that album - as you mention re. The Window and Gypsy Wife - definitely has a "gypsy" flavour.

Re. your and Doron's discussion - even if Flamenco and Whirling Dervishes have no direct connection, they must both be partly manifestations of the visceral impulse to dance, to turn and to spin.

I was interested to see this quote, from Spanish art director Pedro Soler, on the wikipedia page about flamenco:

"If you listen to old recordings, you can see that there was a kind of freedom. [...] The flamenco was not metronomic"

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.


Maybe it's when music is allowed to keep its rough edges, to spin around the centre of the rules of tempo or of scale, and thus create tension, that it binds you to it.

But returning again to You Are Right Sahara:
Then for a thousand years, or the rest of the afternoon, such a One spins in the Blazing Fire of Changes, embodying all the transformations, one after the other, and then beginning again, and then ending again, 86,000 times a second.
On the zen theme, this must be about impermanence, and the experience of emptiness. A version of Roshi's Tathagata/Nature of Zero talk (translated by Shinzen Young), where he explains how everything constantly pulses in and out of existence, is apparently copied in the Nadel bio, which I don't have, and I am wondering if 86 thousand times per second, or some similar number, is mentioned. In any case, I have copied Shinzen Young's verbal explanation of the talk from the Love Itself video:
Sasaaki Roshi has only one talk. There is zero, but zero is inherently unstable, because it consists of all the positive and negative in the universe. Therefore, it inevitably breaks apart into expansion and contraction. In between, they create space, and that vibration is further nurtured and matured in the cleft between them, and evolves into a feeling thinking self, that either knows it just came from zero - in which case we call it an enlightened self - or, it doesn't. You don't understand? - ok "I'll try to say a little more"... As Roshi is explaining this, he is living it. And then he explains it and lives it again. (Our experience is a) private little room where 'father and mother' come into contrast and then reunite...It's like a wave coming to the shore - the top of the wave is expanding, the bottom is contracting - and the cleft between is the analogous to the foam. The awareness of this expansion/contraction is a blissful experience that often feels like trillions of little motes of dust shimmering...it's like being made love to. Beyond that is "the gone". Empty, timeless, spaceless. After that there's nothing to do but come back - but to see the world in a different way. And then to do it again and again. There is the formless, there is the form, and there is them not being fundamentally separate. Roshi notes that everyone wants true love. True love is zero. True love is what happens when you let go of even the most celestial form of love. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSv5ELuujjs
Then for a thousand years, or the rest of the afternoon, such a One spins in the Blazing Fire of Changes, embodying all the transformations, one after the other, and then beginning again, and then ending again, 86,000 times a second. Then such a one, if he is a man, is ready to love the woman Sahara; and such a one, if she is a woman, is ready to love the man who can put into song The Great Distance of Mist and Veils. Is it you who are waiting, Sahara, or is it I?
Leonard's spin on it is that when you have reached this point of experiencing your true buddha nature, then you are ready to love..

Is it you who are waiting Sahara or is it I? Neither Sahara nor (LC/whoever) is really a separate ego. There is no waiting (longing). They are one.

Wow: the idea of spinning in and out of emptiness (God) like this, with a man if you are a woman, and with a woman if you are a man - how mind-blowing!

While searching for Roshi's lecture, I came across this interesting Jan 2009 Shambhala Sun article by Michael Haederle about his experience of a retreat with Roshi http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?o ... mitstart=0

btw, I said I'd copied the entire Bowles piece Baptism of Solitude, but now I have his books out, to re-read the music bits (I hadn't "got" African music when I first read him), I see that's just a small excerpt. Also, I see the You Are Right Sahara that made BoL ends with a grammar tweak: "Is it you who is waiting, Sahara, or is it me?" instead of "Is it you who are waiting, Sahara, or is it I?" I will edit.
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby Diane » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:10 pm

Remembering your info Doron about the Kabbalistic source of You Are Right Sahara, here's a passage I like that ties together Judaism and Zen/mysticism, characterising 'emptiness' as "a special kind of nothing", from Shinzen Young's article, Meditation, Escaping into Life at http://www.shinzen.org/, I expect this is very simplistic from your pov, but still...
the nothingness of the mystic is a very special kind of nothingness. The nihil of Meister Eckhart is not the nihil of nihilism. The nada of St. John of the Cross is not "nada." Nothingness is a terminus technicus, a well-defined technical term in the vocabulary of world mysticism.

Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Taoism differ radically in their beliefs and customs. Yet, the mystics who represent the core of these traditions often speak of the Spiritual Source as a special kind of nothing. Historically, this can only partially be explained as the result of mutual influences. Despite what some New Age books would have you believe, these formulations arose independently in India, China, and the West before there was significant contact. So, we are faced with some fascinating questions. Why should they agree on such a counter-intuitive (if not downright offensive) description of God when they disagree in so many other areas? And furthermore, why does the mystic's description of the awesome creative power of nothingness sound so similar to contemporary theories of cosmology and quantum physics? Is it coincidence or convergence?

As a person of Jewish ancestry, I find it deeply satisfying that the description of God's creative activity as it appears in the Kabbalah is remarkably parallel to that of my (former) teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi, contemporary Japanese Zen Master. The goal of Jewish meditation is to experience Briah yesh me ayn. In Hebrew: Briah (the creation) yesh (of things) me (from) ayn (nothing). Ayn is synonymous with Ha Makom, the Source, i.e., God. Moreover, in Kabbalah, creation is conceived as happening continuously. God literally loves us into existence each moment through the oscillating interplay of hesed (expansion) and gevurah (contraction).

Physicists speak of the creative power of quantum fluctuations of the void. This seems remarkably similar to the descriptions of mystics, especially Buddhist mystics. At the very least, it provides us with some wonderful metaphors. The enlightened people of the world can now stand up and say, "I know that what I'm trying to describe to you sounds weird and paradoxical, but it's not any weirder than these widely accepted theories of science, and as a matter of fact, it's rather similar to them.
I love the way all these ideas spin together.
Tineke wrote:Quoting Mat: "The whirling dervish, or any transcending mystic needs to drop into his center of spin and at that “still point” he aligns with the centre of the “I Am”; Love perhaps."
In regards to Whirling dervishes...I have been wanting to upload this video for a long time and at last I have managed to do it.The actual whirling is at the end of the video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgAlxoAFl7E
mat james wrote:
you must go there alone.
"...The flight of the alone to the Alone" (around 250 A.D)
Plotinus distinguishes three cognitive stages. (1) In sensory experience we are provided with images which, however, are not always or universally reliable. (2) Reason, the theoretical part of the individual soul, then works on the images so as to transcend sensory experience [a] and facilitate the practice of science and philosophy [I, 3]. (3) [For example, VI, 9.] The soul then passes beyond this to become united with nous before finally enjoying a mystical and ecstatic union with the One , in which it loses all consciousness of itself. This is what Plotinus calls "the flight of the alone to the Alone" [VI, 9, ix].

http://www.philosophos.com/philosophica ... e_029.html
I know that by quoting this chap or that chick we end up going 'round in circles...but that circling is strangely on song :lol:
Plotinus has a very Hindu-ish Atman/Brahman "spin" on mysticism...and I love it. Of course Plotinus was around a long time before the Sufi's....or was he?
Discussions like this thread make one come to the conclusion that people have bee doing these "whirling" practices across cultures for a long time. Think of the "Red Indians" (first nations) dancing around their campfire for days on end or the Australian Aboriginals doing similar dances/practices for the last 60,000 years.


such a One spins in the Blazing Fire of Changes, embodying all the transformations, one after the other, and then beginning again, and then ending again, 86,000 times a second.


~greg wrote:("86,000 times a second"?
--maybe a mangled reference to the speed of light,
--since it's pretty close to 186,000 miles/second)


I wonder what other allusions this part has - "such a One spins in the Blazing Fire of Changes..."? There are people on the forum such as Holydove who seem to have a good scholarly grasp of religious and eastern thought. I wonder if anyone else out there has any more ideas about You Are Right Sahara. If anyone has an idiots' explanation about quantum fluctuations in the void and if/how that relates to the speed of light, that would be marvellous also.

I am usually averse to analysing poetry, so I have no idea why I have got into a spin with this piece:-)Thanks Abby Doron Mat and Tineke, and others passing through.

ps shouldn't it be, is it you who ARE waiting?
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby mat james » Fri Jan 21, 2011 12:20 am

I can't resist posting any longer Diane.
Love the mind that eclects to such clarity.

Go the universal "spin".

Mat
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby TineDoes » Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:31 am

Diane wrote:mat james wrote:
Discussions like this thread make one come to the conclusion that people have bee doing these "whirling" practices across cultures for a long time. Think of the "Red Indians" (first nations) dancing around their campfire for days on end or the Australian Aboriginals doing similar dances/practices for the last 60,000 years.
Mat Diane, one more turn:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGQkpoY6Xqc

Raoul Trujillo - a native American: "As People dance they move with rythmes that are outside of them and at the same time are inside of them. And this meeting of the rythme from the outside with the rythme of the inside helps to bring a timelessness to the person."

Enjoy!
"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
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Diane
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby Diane » Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:19 am

I did really enjoy the way it all came together Mat. I couldn't have got there on my own. I bow to the divine in you others.

Your video including the quote, Tineke - just great! (We should open a dance thread some time.)

So, we begin and end 86,000ish times a second and we've been dancing for 60,000 years. And we are spinning around the sun at 67,000 mph.

:)
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby DBCohen » Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:53 am

My article on “The Window”, which I’ve mentioned here a while ago, was kindly loaded by Jarkko on the Files; you can find it by going to the “Analysis” section on the Files, or by clicking on the link on the Front Page, or through the following link:
Www.leonardcohenfiles.com/doron-window.pdf

The article was written about two years ago, and now is finally printed in a scholarly magazine here in Japan (in both English and Japanese versions). For some reason, the magazine would not give me a PDF version of the article (although they do give printouts, which most magazines no longer do), so the PDF you’ll find on the Files is from my own computer, but the text is identical (you’ll find the English version only; anyone who needs the Japanese one can get it from me privately 8) ).

I’d like to thank once again the Forum members who’ve read the draft of the article and commented on it; some of them are mentioned in the last footnote. I couldn’t have done it without you.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my interpretation of “The Window”; I know it means different things to different people, and I’d be grateful for your comments and suggestions.

Many thanks,

Doron
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Re: You Are Right, Sahara

Postby rochan » Thu Sep 08, 2011 2:50 pm

Interesting conjecture on what may be the origin of Sahara's name. Thank you for the rich reading, D.Cohen :D . You're a wonderful addition here and with your Jewish heritage bring even more to the table 8) . Thanks, Simon. I'll look it up and see if there is anything I can add to that thread. Might takae a few days, though.

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