Holy Saturday: Leaving Mount Baldy

Leaving Mt. Baldy
By Leonard Cohen (1999)

I came down from the mountain
after many years of study
and rigorous practice.
I left my robes hanging on a peg
in the old cabin
where I had sat so long
and slept so little.
I finally understood
I had no gift
for Spiritual Matters.
‘Thank You, Beloved’
I heard a heart cry out
as I entered the stream of cars
on the Santa Monica Freeway,
westbound for L.A.
A number of people
(some of them practitioners)
have begun to ask me angry questions
about The Ultimate Reality.
I suppose it’s because
they don’t like to see
old Jikan smiling.

On the CD, in which Philip Glass composes music to poems in Cohen’s “Book of Longing”, the last line in “Leaving Mt. Baldy”, where Cohen was a practitioner and ordained Rinzi priest, is changed to “they don’t like to see old Jikan smoking”. “Old Jikan” is Cohen himself. I like the idea of outrage at old Jikan “smoking”.  Could be just cigarettes but I prefer to think Old Jikan teaches while toking a bong: just so!  Hmmmmm. Ahhhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhhhh.

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