Roshi [his Zen Buddhist teacher] said something nice to me one time. He said that the older you get, the lonelier you become, and the deeper the love you need. Which means that this hero that you’re trying to maintain as the central figure in the drama of your life— this hero is not enjoying the life of a hero. You’re exerting a tremendous maintenance to keep this heroic stance available to you, and the hero is suffering defeat after defeat. And they’re not heroic defeats; they’re ignoble defeats. Finally, one day you say, ‘Let him die— I can’t invest any more in this heroic position.’ From there, you just live your life as if it’s real— as if you have to make decisions even though you have absolutely no guarantee of any of the consequences of your decisions.
“Going Home,” the first song on Leonard Cohen’s new album, “Old Ideas,” comes from the perspective of his inner self, or, as Cohen—who lived for five years in a Zen monastery—might call it, his Buddha nature. It is this spiritual Higher Leonard who is looking forward to “going home without my burden, going home behind the curtain, going home without the costume that I wore” as he moves through the latter decades of his life. That costume is the Earthly Leonard, in his suit and fedora, “who knows he’s really nothing but the brief elaboration of a tube.” It is Higher Leonard, we learn—without surprise—who is the craftsman and seer behind Cohen’s twelve mostly brilliant studio albums: Earthly Leonard “only has permission / to do my instant bidding / which is to say what I have told him to repeat.”- Ariel Levy writes about Higher Leonard and Earthly Leonard: http://nyr.kr/z0AS5hPhotograph by Joel Saget/AFP/Getty.
I love to speak with Leonard
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd
He’s a lazy bastard
Living in a suit
But he does say what I tell him
Even though it isn’t welcome
He will never have the freedom
He will speak these words of wisdom
Like a sage, a man of…
Jeff Buckley- Hallelujah
rip paul motion