Leonard Cohen on Mt. Baldy

A student sent me a link to a video made about Leonard Cohen in 1996 when he was living as a monk at Mount Baldy Zen Center. It’s mostly about Leonard but it does show some footage of our mutual teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

Any videos or photos that document the physical appearance of a realized person are important. Roshi’s liberation is expressed through his demeanor and body language as well as what he says. If you’re sensitive to such things, you can get “a direct transmission” of his liberation just by really looking and listening. In particular, check out his gaze; he no longer “needs to make an object of self or world.” Also check out the catlike, egoless body language.

Leonard reads a beautiful poem he wrote for Roshi (“Roshi is Tired Today” around 2 minutes in). Another intense high point is Leonard’s poem on terrorists (about 35 minutes in).

On a personal note, years ago when I used to translate for Sasaki Roshi at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, I would sometimes stay in Leonard’s cabin, the one you’ll see in the video.