Leonard Cohen, the novelist/poet/singer/songwriter, has emerged from his mountaintop Buddhist monastery for a world tour. The New York Times catches up to Cohen (whose Zen Buddhist appellation is “The Silent One”) for a rare interview.
Some nuggets: “Even on the longest flights Mr. Cohen sits cross-legged and straight-backed in his seat, in a monk’s posture. Asked whether he also does yoga to build strength and agility for his stage shows, Mr. Cohen, his demeanor courtly but reserved, smiled and replied, `That is my yoga.'”
“`There’s a similarity in the quality of the daily life’ on the road and in the monastery, Mr. Cohen said. `There’s just a sense of purpose` in which `a lot of extraneous material is naturally and necessarily discarded,’ and what is left is a “`rigorous and severe`” routine in which `the capacity to focus becomes much easier.’
“Mr. Cohen is an observant Jew who keeps the Sabbath even while on tour and performed for Israeli troops during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. So how does he square that faith with his continued practice of Zen?
“`Allen Ginsberg asked me the same question many years ago,'” he said. ‘Well, for one thing, in the tradition of Zen that I’ve practiced, there is no prayerful worship and there is no affirmation of a deity. So theologically there is no challenge to any Jewish belief.’
Zen has also helped him to learn to ‘stop whining,’ Mr. Cohen said, and to worry less about the choices he has made. ‘All these things have their own destiny; one has one’s own destiny. The older I get, the surer I am that I’m not running the show.'”
Photo by NYT.