Tag Archives: transformation

Change and transformation

“We’re mistaken to think there are things that exist solidly within the flow of experience that is our life. We think of who we are as something that’s permanent, that continues over time in the same unchanging form, independent of external conditions. We also think that the world around us exists in the same solid way. Yet whether we look at ourselves, at objects large or small, or at the conditions of life, we don’t find anything that meets those criteria. We see only change and transformation.” – #DzogchenPonlop #rebelbuddha

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The World Begins: bob and wheel

Today the world begins or ends;
we celebrate both birth and death,
and in between, our lives stretch on
in days and nights all much the same.
Who is to blame?
Some fools would blame the child,
while others seek the cause
among the sick, defiled,
and dying who create our laws.

What is the truth we seek to find?
Some reason that our side is right,
to justify our lust and greed
and bathe ourselves in light.
But what is right?
No system forms its cage,
no moral code defines its bounds.
Not boundless joy nor rage
can claim what is not found.

The world transforms from night to day;
we bask in light or hide in shade.
In neither state do we reflect
a righteous sense of purpose.
Are we then worthless?
What use is thinking so?
While there is breath, take air
and seek out those who throw
their lot with you, out there.

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Music and me

There are those who imagine “magical” places like they are scenes from the “happily ever after” part of a fairy tale: in a strange twist, they believe the hereafter, the great beyond, and the future tense of once upon a time to be like the world initially encountered by the young Siddhartha Buddha, one without care, disease, want or sorrow. But the truth is these places are just like right here, with their absence from our immediate view the only advantage given their fabulous and dazzling marketing brochures.

Music is one of those magical places. People say music is a language, a conduit, a means for connecting. Those metaphors make it seem like another world, or at least a foreign country. Extending that metaphor, people don’t really talk too much about the place whose natives speak that language as their first tongue: there’s not a lot of information on its geography, customs, and government, nor its climate, flora or fauna, be they beneficial and friendly, or poisonous and otherwise harmful.

I’ve know a lot of people who have visited, including myself, but I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who actually “lives” there year-round or calls it their original homeland.

There is no authoritative guidebook or CIA fact book about this foreign place – although to some it may seem one is necessary. A lot of people THINK they understand musicians, sometimes, but at other times must be content to shrug their shoulders, shake their heads and walk away, puzzled and confused.

Think of this as the beginning, then, of a travelogue, a descriptive narrative of these travels to the land of music. Because music, especially singing, CAN transport you to another place, where your body, mind and spirit are entirely wrapped up in a universal current. The danger is that when you come back from that place, you cannot communicate what you found there, because it does require a different language, a non-language. And getting back there is hard. It is tempting, so tempting, to fake your passport to that land, or at least grease a few officials’ palms, by artificial means. But those artificial means only make you think everyone else understands you while you’re there. And then, at some point, the artificial means can betray you, leaving you standing at the border only able to look in, but not cross over.

10 SEP 2014

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The Catacombs of Night

Lo! I have wrestled angels in the catacombs of night
and risen, as if from the dead, bone-weary, at daylight,
my sheets soaked through with fevered sweat and every muscle sore,
and tufts of mutilated feathers scattered on the floor,

to find the world transformed in just a single evening’s span
from one of warmth and sunlight to a shadow, pale and wan,
bedraped with funereal shrouds, their edges dipped in mist,
that turn to bitter gray and cold cheeks summer once had kissed.

And from that sleep like unto death, where angels and I tossed,
I woke not knowing why we fought, nor if I won or lost,
nor why the air that morning no more smelt of life’s perfume,
but seemed to hang like sullen, leaden clouds there in my room.

From my opponents, not a word, no revelation come;
as if they were but ancient ghosts, their voices long since dumb,
or worse, bereaved of speech and reason, just their body’s shells,
imprisoned in my dreams between their heaven and my hell.

I felt a sense of deep foreboding creep into my mind,
as if there should have been some message they had left behind,
some alchemic instruction, some archaic mystic key;
but I found nothing in the room, except what seemed like me.

I wondered then, if they were truly angels, or disguised
as such, mere demons I had conjured up to fantasize
some victory against the darkness of my thoughts of late;
some active principle to best my wont to hesitate

borne deep of my subconscious mind, where inhibitions fail
and dreams are formed of both apocalypse, and holy grail,
or if it was a memory brought out by some distress.
I wonder, what if William Blake had been taught to repress?

06 DEC 2006

for William Blake

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The Devil’s Daughter

Thinking for some reason of this song I wrote and recorded probably 15 years ago, during my “Elvis Costello” period…

I used to dream with my eyes wide open
I would sing songs for the deaf and paint pictures for the blind.
I spent my life destroying
every good thing I could find.

I fell in love with a bad idea;
I could look in the mirror and tell myself lies.
It was easy to believe
that there was nothing left inside.

Spent my life looking for the Devil’s daughter
and now all I’ve got left is some wine that used to be water

I used to think through my mental blinders
that the worst thing you could do is learn someone’s last name.
I could never be tied down;
just kept shooting the horses when their legs went lame.

I used to think it would all be ending:
we could dance down to the river and sing songs with the king;
but now looks like the castle’s empty
and it ain’t guarding anything.

Spent my life searching for the Devil’s daughter
and now all I’ve got left is some wine that I wish was water.

Yes it’s true. Pride can bring you down;
just look at anyone after they fall.
You may have seen a miracle, but when the deed is done
the water’s gone, the wine is gone;
there’s no much left at all.

I’ve spent my life living with the Devil’s daughter
and now I’m waiting for someone to come
and change this wine back to water.

1988

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The weather again

It’s raining and the air is cold, the skies are dark and gray
There’s not a speck of sunshine on this January day
And not a smile or cheerful word is spoken or displayed
Sometimes the world is like that, or at least it seems that way

It’s raining, and the gutters rattle with a heavy load
They shake each time the lightning flashes and thunder explodes
And water fills the dirty holes there hidden in the road
Sometimes the times are like that, and you never seem to know

It’s raining on the battlegrounds and in the fields and streams
In oil-slicked puddles the green world is turning submarine
And only on a lonely hill can you survey the scene
Sometimes the future’s like that, or at least that’s how it seems

It’s raining and the sewer drains are filled up to the brim
There’s not much sense in traveling out simply on a whim
And those who venture out are bound to be soaked to the skin
Sometimes the one who doesn’t take the field is he who wins

It’s raining and some things the rain won’t quickly wash away
There’s bones and shells of ancient conflicts buried in this clay
And in the sandy bosom of the earth the dead will stay
Sometimes the cost is higher than the price you’d like to pay

It’s raining and the clouds above are filled up with the stuff
There’s stormy days still coming, and it’s likely to get rough
And those who wish it wasn’t so may find the going tough
Sometimes the weather doesn’t care when you have had enough.

09 JAN 2004

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Blacksmithing

for LJ user occipitaldruid

Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from The Village Blacksmith

If you would have your horse’s hooves re-shod
or plowshares rendered from your tools of war,
a barrel wrapped round with an iron rod
or brand new railing where your fence is poor

Just make your way out to the smithy’s door,
his crucible will change your scrap to gold;
there on the anvil that he stands before
the future’s formed by the great sledge he holds.

But you must work the bellows as he toils
and bring with you the raw goods to transform;
your eyes will burn and your tears turn to sweat

as the inferno brings your blood to boil.
And then, at last, your soul, in molten form
will break free of the mold of past regret.

04 DEC 2003

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