The Open Door

People talk about me.
What they say may be true.
But just three short steps
Take me to the winehouse of my lover.

—Sixth Dalai Lama, The Turquoise Bee: The Lovesongs of the Sixth Dalai Lama (#51 p. 99)

"Eucalyptus" pen and ink drawing by Victoria Accardi

“Eucalyptus” pen and ink drawing by Victoria Accardi

At a bookfair some weeks ago, I randomly opened to this page and read the line—”But just three short steps / Take me to the winehouse of my lover.” I simply closed the book and purchased it on the spot. The fact that these achingly sweet lovesongs were written by the sixth Dalai Lama (Tsangyang Tshomo Gyatso) is fascinating. He wrote of himself as the “Turquoise Bee” in his small collection compiled and translated by Rick Fields and Brian Cutillo.  Fields writes a brief history of the first five Dalai Lamas and then we come to the unique and sensual sixth: Tsanayang Gyatso, meaning Ocean of Melodious Song. He was, needlesstosay, a controversial figure.

 

 

By drawing diagrams on the ground
The stars of space can be measured.
Though familiar with the soft flesh
Of my lover’s body
I cannot measure her depths. (#13 p. 49)

There is such longing and passion in his melodious songs, and such innocence that touches the heart of spiritual reverence. The joining of the sacred with the profane in the face of a disapproving society is lovely, brave and profound.

Face of frost on grass,
Icy north wind’s messenger—
Robber of the bond
Between the bees and the flower. (#40, p. 85)

I have neglected my blog. It has been a long many weeks for me: life throwing all sorts of joys and traumas my way. Reading these lovesongs is a sweet salve, a confirmation of what gets me through hard days and deep fears. I’ve never understood religions or philosophies that insist on removing one from one’s own physical presence. I can’t make sense of a dogma that would require the renunciation of that which is our experience: our bodies, our emotions, our sensual phenomenological being. When one loves, the door to a world of pain opens. But I would rather walk through that open door than live without giving my heart to those I love.

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8 responses to “The Open Door

  1. Here’s to hoping your weeks to come will be better.

    What gorgeous lines – I’ll be definitely on the hunt for what I can find of his. Ocean of Melodious Song – what a name!

  2. Walking through the door is what faith is. The very best of the words of men, prophets, apostles, poets, mystics, monks, philosophers or zealots, are all ways of saying that the act of loving, is holy. To disbelieve in organized religion does not preclude ‘faith’.

  3. The poems seem to me not an attempt to join the profane and the sacred—the what’s knowable and what can only be felt—but a reflection on how they can’t and perhaps shouldn’t be joined.
    You are right, I mean I agree, that philosophies that claim “bracketing” is necessary and theologies that preach otherwise, but in deeds agree, ignore the fact that we are embodied, whether we like it or not; we experience the real the iconic/imagery and the symbolic realms all together and constantly whether we renunciate or not. Read this, http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/julian-baggini-i-love-kierkegaard/
    Glad to have you back in the blogosphere. The blogger, alone in his or her room, turns to the black night beyond the open window and yells “I’m mad as hell…” but unlike after Mr. Beale’s request, the blogger hears nothing but the city’s hum of commerce. Sad this, but it’s better than pounding pointlessly on the room’s locked-from-the-outside door, as there sometimes is, outside the window and from the darkness, a voice—not an echo—above the hum.
    Back to old Søren who said, “to exist is an art.” Was he promoting blogs 150 years before they existed? However, on the other team is Sartre’s nauseated would-be blogger bemoaning, “I exist, that’s all. And that particular trouble is so vague, so metaphysical, that I am ashamed of it.” and Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” who asks no one in particular, “Why do I torture myself to put it down?… without the possibility of action, all knowledge is labeled ‘file and forget’”

    • Interesting article. Kierkegaard’s passion is a compelling feature of his work. I understand his suspicion of “living in the now” but I guess I don’t think I agree that living fully in one’s body and in this world necessarily has to be equated with a sort of cheap aesthetic avarice-tic sort of life. This is what we know—the bright sun, and dark sea, glittering stars and the hand of loved one…for me those physical aesthetic things ARE sacred. But he certainly walks a fine line and is someone I should read more of. I have just spent the last three months reading Hume who is quite the pragmatist. Perhaps he has warped my brain a little!

  4. I’d walk through that door too! All the best to you Jessica.

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