Friday, August 31, 2007

"Everybody Knows..."

First, a note of thanks to those whose responded so generously to yesterday's entry. I do like the notion that we have a growing community in these blogs that are our peculiar avocation and delight (well, most of the time!) I myself have the feeling that, as the world grows more impersonal and removed from the sense that we can in some way influence what happens in it, community is getting to be THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we need to establish and nurture. Thanks to all for joining me in making this small corner of the blogosphere matter. And now, a kind of poem called...

"Everybody Knows..."

... how hard it can be,
sometimes, to shake stuff
out of the head. Take
this very morning, when
I sat in meditation, out
in the back garden, and
the words and music
of Leonard Cohen kept
coming back—a man
of sometime tortured
now gentle and sage
substance. Last night
I watched the film
about him, “I’m Your
Man,” and the words
and music had been
playing all night long
inside my head, and they
would not stop. Yes,
"Everybody knows." Then
the words of this poem
began to come instead,
and soon the inside
of my head was busy
not forgetting them,
I wanted so much
to write them down
correctly once my sit
was done. I tried
to substitute them
with that mantra from
the end of the Heart
Sutra, gate, gate, para-
gate, parsungate,
bodhi svaha
, lovely
words whose meaning
is mysterious to me,
impenetrable and, true,
I had some success
with this new approach,
the head did begin
to let go of its other
words and the mind to
empty out and focus
on the breath. Still,
did you never notice--
to misapply, once
more, those words from
the ever apt supply
of John Lennonisms--
how hard it can be?

Here's what I heard from a friend in the gym this morning: He had seen on another friend's car a bumper sicker that he loved. His friend gave him one of the same, and he promptly stuck it on the rear end of his own car. Shortly thereafter, he was driving with a young woman friend in his car and was nearly forced off the road by an irate driver who sped up behind him in a fury. My friend feared, he told me, literally for his life and for the life of his passenger. And tore the new bumper sticker off as soon as he got home.

The bumper sticker read: OSAMA BIN LADEN BELIEVES IN GOD.

Oh, and while we're on the subject... thanks to Ellie for drawing my attention to the New York Times squib on this controversy. Bin Laden depicted "in a Christlike pose"? A "Virgin Mary covered in a burqa"? This competition for religious art at the National Art School in Sydney, Australia (where, incidentally, I'm thrilled to have some regular readers of The Buddha Diaries! Please check in, one of these days!) has a new member of the art morality squad out protecting religion from scurrilous attack. Prime Minister John Howard now joins the not-so-distinguished ranks of such notable art critics as Rudy Guiliani (remember those elephant turds?) in condemning the artists Priscilla Banks and Luke Sullivan: "The choice of such artwork," thundered the good Prime Minister, "is offensive to the religious beliefs of many Australians." I'm sure those Aussies need the protection of their Prime Minister from the subversive attacks of these dangerous artists. Right, Aussies?

1 comment:

Paul said...

How dangerous it would be to wear a bumper sticker that said GOD BLESS IRAQ.

But oh my, don't we love to hate our enemies - in spite of the Biblical admonition to love them as we love ourselves.