Friday, February 10, 2012

John Bennett: Golden Buddha in a Blade of Grass

Golden Buddha in

a Blade of Grass

John Bennett

I'm wading through Stranger Music, Leonard Cohen's collected poems, written before his diamond-clean Book of Longing. "The Death of a Lady's Man" section is particularly trying. So much bitterness anchored in shattered illusions of love.

And then, out of nowhere and way out of context, Cohen's Zen master pops up in two poems and dispels the darkness.

It has something to do with absolute acceptance. It has something to do not only with not casting judgment but not suppressing the urge to cast judgment: with not having the urge to cast judgment.

"Kone," says Roshi, deep into a bottle of Courvoisier, "you should write cricket poem."

It's the summer of 1977, and they're sitting in the dark in a cabin on Mt. Baldy with the door open to let the breeze in, listening to the crickets.

"I've already written a cricket poem," says Leonard. "Two years ago. Right here in this cabin."

They sit in the darkness a while longer, and then Roshi says, "Kone, what is the source of this world?"

When Leonard can provide no answer, Roshi says, "Ah...difficult..." And then, in a soft voice: "Yah, should write more sad."

Then he rings a little bell by his side, and Leonard bows and leaves.

Photo by Diciu

and a deeper silence
when the crickets
Leonard Cohen

Photo by S. Sparrow

about as good
as the morning-glories...
temple bell
translated by David G. Lanoue


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Anonymous said...

Oh so many
(temple) bells'

Oh so many
"The Buddhas"

10, 000 crickets in a
dew drop

clapping one hand !


everyboddhi worth a crap is
operating between the Before Birth
Silence & the After Death Silence

It's all getting so trite ...

might as well take another Advanced Degree
The 5 Noble Truths 237

at one of the Top Universities with one of those Top Drawer Credentialist "Teachers" who have memorized
the Right Way Program !

Full Moon
what she pretends to be


Chen-ou Liu, 劉鎮歐 said...

Cohen's verb choice is thematically and psychologically effective.

Thanks for sharing.

Chen-ou Liu

Charles Gramlich said...

I want to read Stranger music. Been intending to get to it.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see kind words for Book of Longing, which so far as I remember didn't enjoy the kind of reception accorded a slew of lesser collections back in 2006. Thanks for this post!

Anonymous said...

glory to morning bell flower cricket song

wonderful post, thank you.

Woodland Rose said...

Love this whole post. Thx Don.

TC said...

"Yah, should write more sad."

(Coals to Newcastle?)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Coals to Newcastle, indeed! Maybe, in new age speak, an affirmation?


Anonymous said...

How to find a Zen master these days? Don, are you too busy?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Well, I'm thinking we start with a bottle of Courvoisier and a volume of Kone, placed ever so artfully in a mind-snare of someone else's conjuring.

And wait. Or not.