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Lions Roar : January 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2007 35 Above: Anjani and Cohen, 2005. Right: Self-portrait. that in Cohen’s traditional work would have given way to wider philosophizing (or at least to his favorite word, “naked”). Other songs, while sung by Anjani with an ache and a sweetness and a robust sense of elegy that are all her own, sound as if they come from a man—Cohen himself—and sometimes the voice seems to go back and forth within the same song between the woman and the man. Goodbye to dualism! The process of making a final departure from this world has been on Cohen’s mind for quite a while now. But when I listen to the songs on Blue Alert, I feel that I am seeing, sometimes for the first time, what all the monastic training is about. Even such im- mortal poets as Derek Walcott (in “The Bounty”) offer nostalgia, wistfulness, as they start to close up shop; even the masterful Philip Roth rages against the dying of the light, bewildered, on the run, taken aback, in his later work (The Dying Animal and Everyman). Cohen, by comparison, wastes no time at all on regret or feeling sorry for himself. This phase has ended, his tunes might be saying. But a new one is being born, Anjani’s ringing voice announces. No need to go deep, he says, true to his later positions, “the surface is fine.” No need for extensive farewells or talk of “what might have been”; he got half the perfect world, and a love that went as far as the innermost door. On the previous album, Dear Heather, he offered a song, “Nightingale,” (sung by Anjani) that was so bright and cheerfully colored, about building a house so he could hear this sweet bird of youth sing, that it sounded as if Leonard Cohen had been retired and reborn at once. Here Anjani gives the song a second try, and turns it into something slow, stately, almost a hymn. A ditty becomes a threnody when the delivery is changed. It’s all in the phrasing. In the last song of the album, the words “Thanks for the dance” are offered again and again, jauntily, courteously, with a tinkly melody; they become increasingly sad, truly piercing, only when you realize that they might be coming from someone who’s talking of the dance that is life. The summer of 2006 was a grand one for Leonard Cohen, with a documentary celebrating him (I’m Your Man) coming to theaters, and his first book of poems in at least twenty years, The Book of Longing, arriving in our shops. He was to be found, suddenly, on magazine cov- ers, on radio interviews, in New York, L.A., Montreal. After the shock and drama of being defrauded of nearly all his money by someone he trusted, he showed up again in our midst as if nothing had changed, and he was just the person he’d always been (so careful to say he was not cut out for Buddhism and didn’t get anything much out of his years at a Zen temple— other than the remarkable companionship and stimulation of his ageless Roshi—that you can be pretty sure he did). Here we are back in the “tower” that he mentioned in his very first song, “Suzanne”; there’s talk of sins, and being “forgiven,” as there’s always been (though the phrase “mine against yours, yours against mine” gains an almost physical frisson when you think of two bodies lying against one another). Just as on his first album he took the cover photo in a 25-cent public photobooth, here all the photos are taken by daughter Lorca, around the house. Yet the beauty of late Cohen is that, even more than before, it’s all about the private world, the inner view. Leonard Cohen has had his time in the limelight, playing games with the media, with images of his self, never failing to provoke a response of some sort with his calculated gestures and dry, outrageous pronounce- ments. But that was always something separate from his work, which moved people—and captivates them to this day—because of a sense of privacy and honesty that can’t be faked. He made his nakedness our own. Now he emerges in public again, and the songs are Anjani’s, and there is a real sense that this is the record of their love and togetherness, her dazzling voice playing with and off and against his grave wisdom (as with such Zen poet-monks as Ryokan and Ikkyu, famous for the young female companions they aquired www.DharmaOcean.org IntheTibetanBuddhisttradition,thebodyis considered the gateway to enlightenment—to discover the body is to discover awareness and, eventually, the awakened state. Created for meditators of all levels, this in-depth training focuses on a series of powerful “body-based awareness” exercises drawn from Tibetan Yoga. The program consists of two residential retreats and—to help deepen your practice between retreats—an extensive at-home curriculum that includes recorded lectures, guided somatic practices on CD, readings, and contact with a personal meditation instructor. Designed as a five-month program for optimum integration into your daily life, “Meditating with the Body” is a unique opportunity to study in-depth with Dr. Reggie Ray. Attendance is limited to 60 participants. For more information and to register, please visit www.DharmaOcean.org. Meditating with the Body 2007 April 12–15, SepteMBer 12–16 A five-month training for touching enlightenment with the body • At each retreat, a private meeting with Reggie Ray to discuss your personal questions and experiences • In-depth instruction in mindfulness- awareness practice (shamatha- vipassana) and how to establish strong inner and outer sitting posture based on the principles of alignment, relaxation, and awareness • Uncovering the genesis and nature of the “self,” including how and why it is created and maintained • Extensive instruction in the Tibetan Yoga practices of prana breathing, earth breathing, diagnostic breathing, and many more breath-awareness exercises • Working directly with physical discomfort, illness, and disease • Experiencing the body as the expression of your personal karmic history • Relating to the body as the manifestation of enlightenment itself prOgrAM HigHligHtS Dr. reggie rAy ... is one of the most innovative and experienced meditation teachers currently teaching in the West, drawing on 38 years of study within the Tibetan tradition and many years of solitary and group retreat practice. He teaches within the dharma and meditation lineages of the great siddha Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. On the faculty of Naropa University since its beginning, he is the author of Indestructible Truth, Secret of the Vajra World, Buddhist Saints in India, In the Presence of Masters, and other books. DO14_SS_fp.indd 1 9/27/06 4:29:14 PM