Leonard Cohen offers some insights


“You can visit that world; you can’t live there.” — Leonard Cohen, interviewed in 1997 about his time in a Zen monastery; CBC television (7 min. 6 sec. Well worth it. You’ll see.)

… in 1994, following a tour to promote his latest album The Future, he [Cohen] sought sanctuary in the Mount Baldy Zen Buddhist monastery in the rattlesnake-infested San Gabriel mountains behind Los Angeles.

Cohen had been a regular visitor at the monastery for more than a decade, sometimes spending three months at a time there. But this time it looked as though the world had lost him for good. He shaved his head, donned black robes and devoted himself to the study of Zen Buddhism.

“I wasn’t looking for a religion,” he says. “I already had a perfectly good one [his Jewish faith]. And I certainly wasn’t looking for a new series of rituals. But I had a great sense of disorder in my life, of chaos and depression, of distress. And I had no idea where this came from. The prevailing psychoanalytic explanations of the time didn’t seem to address the things I felt. Then I bumped into someone who seemed to be at ease with himself and at ease with others …”

That someone was Kyozan Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the monastery’s founder.

Source: The Independent (a British newspaper), 15 June 2008



9 responses

  1. This may be the best 7 minutes and 6 seconds I’ll spend all week. It’s certainly the best 7 minutes and 6 seconds I’ve spent today. So much good stuff here.

    I’ve always loved Cohen. Now I like him even more. 🙂

    Thank you so much for this.

  2. @fw – I do know what you mean. I wanted to give him a hug. Thank you, Leonard Cohen. Thanks for all those songs I loved when I was 18 (and still do), and thanks for talking about sincerely practicing Buddhism.

  3. Hello,

    I’ve created a new aggregation blog for the Zen Community at http://community.zen-sangha.org. The Zen Community blog is meant to aggregate the blogging of the Zen Community. The idea is to give a snapshot of what is going on in the Zen blogosphere.

    I’ve blogged about this on my own blog in more detail at http://www.arcanology.com/2009/02/12/new-zen-community-aggregation-blog/.

    What it does is read the RSS feeds of other blogs and republishes the posts from these feeds on the site. The Mozilla community uses that for its members at http://planet.mozilla.org, for example, to pull in Mozilla posts from blogs all over the world. This is common in the software development world. I want to do the same for Zen bloggers.

    What I am looking for is other Zen bloggers who are willing to let their content be republished at the site. I won’t pull anyone’s feed without permission and, in most instances, I can make it so the feed only pulls categorized posts if people mark Buddhist or Zen posts in a certain category for those that write on many topics.

    All links on the posts themselves point back to the original blog and comments are off so people will go to the original blog if they have comments. I would like to add your blog to the site, if I can get your permission. If you have any suggestions for other blogs or wish to forward this message to others in order for them to contact me, please do so.

    Thank you,
    Al Billings

  4. Excellent stuff you’ve got here! I love your blog. I think Zen Buddhism and many other spiritual paths of awakening and realizing the Inner Self are all so similar that it is hard to draw a line between them. Please check out my blog.


  5. Good Lord. At first glance, I saw Barack Obama in 20 years’ time … Haven’t even heard the vid yet. Dear Leonard; he never fails to blow my mind! 😉

    Now there would be a dynamite meeting of the minds: Leonard and Barack.

    Mr. Cohen is a long-loved musician, poet, philosopher-sage here in Canada, right up there with Pierre Trudeau … and he’s truly *sane* … the epitome of cool.

    Oh now. Imagine this: Leonard, Barack, and Pierre in conversation. Oh my. Good Lord — add Alan Watts. Rachel Carson. Harriet Tubman. Bill Moyers. Bill MAHER!! Rick Mercer. Maya Angelou …

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall 🙂

    … Many thanks.

  6. Z2 – How are you? I’ve missed your posts over the past month and I’ve found myself wondering about you. In my fantasy, you’re sitting Kyol Che at Diamond Hill. But if not that, then I do hope you are doing well.


  7. @Al Billings – Hi, Al. Thank you for posting here. I’m very sorry I did not see your comment earlier and approve it — it was in the “holding cell” because it includes a URL (that’s my spam protection), and I was neglecting this poor little blog for a while.

    I have seen your posts at Dharma Folk, and I’m trying to visit your blog more regularly. (Once I get finished with my research paper, I will have time for blogs again!)

    @Barry Briggs – Sorry, Barry. As you can see, I’m back, although still only intermittently for now.