Archive for the 'Buddhism' Category

05
Jan
15

1.5.2015 – Books are Spaceships

I must have inherited my love of books from my mother, who – throughout her life – always had a book by her side.

The older I get, the more I enjoy reading.  As the world gets faster, I’m able to slow it down a little by “getting into” a good book.  It’s like stopping time for me – I can get lost for a while in some other drama, inside some other adventure – stepping back or forward in time – studying, learning, experiencing something other than my own existence – removed from the gravity of my normal daily, fast-paced routine.  As Susan Sontag has said, “Books are like spaceships”; they allow us to travel into different worlds and to escape on so many levels.  Books do that for me.… and, of course, they have also inspired many, many songs over the course of my career.

When I found the confidence to express the deeper side of my nature in my songs, books became the key to my inspiration.  “In The House of Stone and Light” was written after visiting and reading about the Grand Canyon; “The Door” (from the same album) was inspired by a book I read about the Nazi concentration camp in Treblinka; “I Guess I Will” and “Everything You Do” were fuelled by my heavy reading of Buddhist philosophy (both songs were featured in the “In The Temple of The Muse” CD).  In fact, the title, “In The Temple of The Muse” was based on an actual book shop that existed in London during the Romantic Poets period.  From the same LP, “Mi Morena” appeared to me after extensive reading of the great Chilean love poet, Pablo Neruda, and, over the years, many of my love songs have been informed by the reading of such Romantic poets as Keats and Lord Byron (I’m a sucker for the dark, melancholic sadness and sentiment that these great poets invoke).  “I Was Made For You” is a song that also pulls from that era of romance.  I love reading all manner of subjects, but history in particular has always had a tight hold on me.  I revere good songs that also allude to an actual occurrence in history – as many folk songs do.  “Story songs” based on true events (or old, traditional folklore) are not the easiest to compose – especially if you’re trying to keep it reasonably commercial (or contemporary).  Back in the 1900’s, Music Hall and Vaudeville did a wonderful job of creating songs that not only told stories of historical events, but were able to do so while still remaining entertaining and catchy – sometimes even with humor.  What skill those writers had!

Quite recently, I’ve been able to build a home library – one of the true delights of my life.  It has become a resource for many of my new songs – a laboratory I visit daily to stir the brain into creative activity.

So, in short, reading a book does a multitude of things for me:  it slows me down, focuses me, takes me away, informs and teaches me, broadens my horizons and turns me on to new song ideas and concepts.  And turning the pages of a book – with great anticipation of what the next page will reveal – is like reaching for the next chord on a guitar or piano/keyboard…. you’re never quite sure what magic awaits the eyes and ears.

Cheers.

 

– Martin

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.

 Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”.

                                         – Groucho Marx

 

“Books are solitudes in which we meet.”

                                         – Rebecca Solnit

 

 

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16
Jan
08

1/16/2008 – The Discourse on Happiness

“To avoid unwholesome actions,

Not caught by alcoholism or drugs,

And to be diligent in doing good things –

This is the greatest happiness.

 

“To be humble and polite in manner,

To be grateful and content with a simple life,

Not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma –

This is the greatest happiness.

 

“To persevere and be open to change,

To have regular contact with monks and nuns,

And to fully participate in Dharma discussions –

This is the greatest happiness.

 

“To live diligently and attentively,

To perceive the Noble Truths,

And to realize nirvana –

This is the greatest happiness.

 

“To live in the world

With your heart undisturbed by the world,

With all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace –

This is the greatest happiness.

 

“For the one who accomplishes this

Is unvanquished wherever she goes;

Always he is safe and happy –

Happiness lives within oneself.”

 

                   – Siddhartha Guatama (The Buddha).

 

            Thanks for dropping in.

 

-Martin

P.S.  I was recently made aware by a friend, of a website exposing the animal cruelty inside Ohio Rodeos.  Please visit www.rodeoabuse.com and www.mercyforanimals.org, to learn more and help. Thank you.

17
Oct
07

10/17/2007 – The Undiscovered Self

Over recent years, I have found great inspiration and motivation in Eastern religions and their respective philosophies.  Buddhism, in particular, has had a very positive effect on my life.  About 8 years ago, during a period of profound change, re-evaluation and sorrow, I found myself drawn to that part of the library that offered a different viewpoint on life from that of the Western perspective.  Somehow, these teachings connected all the dots for me, and spoke to me in a very real and natural way.  No dogma was involved, and Zen/Buddhism appealed to me more as a “science of the mind” than an organized religion.  I read all that I could get my hands on, and eventually taught myself how to meditate – which, I might add, was a major turning point for me.  Grasping the concepts of compassion, impermanence, selflessness and emptiness – not just on the surface, but to understand these insights deeply – was by no means a “walk in the park” and took some radical soul-searching.  However, once the reality of the four noble truths got under my skin, I began to see my life, and all life, through new and different eyes.  In every aspect of my daily life, the teachings enabled me to see more clearly, be more pliable to life’s twists and turns, to let go of what I couldn’t control, and to see others’ points of view with compassion, empathy and tolerance.  In a nutshell, my life became happier, more peaceful and more fearless.  I took to heart that famous phrase, “know thy self”.  Buddhism allowed me to see my true nature, and in doing so, I saw the world – its beauty, its gifts, its mystery and its problems – in a more subtle and transparent light.  It seems to me, in these threatening and uncertain times, that the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”) of 2,500 years ago, are still so very relevant today; for it’s one’s mind – how one thinks and perceives – that forms our world, our reality and our vision for the future.

As Daniel Pinchbeck points out in his book, “2012”, “Today’s technology, its poisonous by-products, weapons of mass destruction, and inhumane repercussions are projections of the human psyche, expressing our current stage of development.”  Carl Jung wrote, “The only thing that really matters now is whether man can climb up to a higher moral level, to a higher plane of consciousness, in order to be equal to the superhuman powers which the fallen angels have played into our hands.  But he can make no progress until he becomes very much better acquainted with his own nature.”

On my inward journey (I’m still traveling), I stumbled across some very special literature; and I hope some of these books are, in some way, helpful to you:

 

TITLE AUTHOR   TITLE AUTHOR
Entering The Stream Samuel Bercholz What is Zen Alan Watts
The Miracle of Mindfulness Tich Nhat Hanh When Things Fall Apart Pema Chodron
Being Peace Tich Nhat Hanh The Wisdom of No Escape Pema Chodron
Two Treasures Tich Nhat Hanh The Book of Life
  1. Krishnamurti
The Four Noble Truths The Dalai Lama The Light in Oneself
  1. Krishnamurti
Healing Emotions The Dalai Lama Inner Revolution Robert Thurman
The Art Of Happiness The Dalai Lama Breath Sweeps Mind Jean Smith
This Is It Alan Watts Compassion Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen
The Way of Liberation Alan Watts What Would The Buddha Do? Franz Metcalf

 

And these magazines, which can be found at the newsstand:  Shambhala Sun and Tricycle

“… Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle”

 -PHILO

             Thanks for spending some time with me today.

 

-Martin