That interview about dating I just did (see post below) is on line now. click here to see it!
As most of you have heard by now, the music world lost one its great legends, a performer who changed the direction of pop music forever and influenced a generation in terms of style and sound. I’m speaking, of course, about Sky Sunlight Saxon, legendary front man and bassist for The Seeds.
Although best known for their biggest song, Pushin’ Too Hard, The Seeds were more than one-hit wonders. Sky Saxon continued to pilot various line-ups of The Seeds right up until his death on Thursday. Though they never became as famous as the people they influenced, The Seeds’ sound is clearly apparent in a host of more popular performers including Iggy Pop, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The White Stripes, Nirvana and many others.
I was the proud owner of some of Sky’s later albums on which he expanded The Seeds original pounding garage punk into brutally beautiful slabs of twisted madness, often lasting an entire LP side and consisting of just two chords that pummeled the listener into psychedelic psubmission.
In other news Farrah Fawcett Majors passed away yesterday. When I was in junior high I had her poster. You could see nipples! And I think one of the Jackson Five died too. They used to have a cartoon show. Or maybe it was one of The Osmond Brothers. I always got them confused.
Ironically, the morning of the day all this news broke I attended the cremation ceremony for a close friend of one of the people who comes to the Saturday morning Zazen classes at Hill Street Center (info to your left, I’ll see you there tomorrow!). Buddhist cremation ceremonies generally consist of some chanting, followed by covering the body with flowers, followed by some more chanting and the offering of incense. It’s a nice ceremony. Short and sweet.
The person in question happened to be a priest in another Zen organization in town. I was not there, but I was told that one of the other priests in his organization took the opportunity of his passing away to deliver a lecture about how a newly departed person searches for his or her next mother for 49 days before reincarnating. I could be mistaken about the contents of this particular lecture. But this is not at all an uncommon topic of talks following the death of a monk or Buddhist practitioner.
I get kind of annoyed when people use death as an opportunity to air all their superstitions, especially when those people airing the superstitions do so cloaked in the guise of religious authority. I know that it’s done partly as a way to ease the pain of those in mourning. But I don’t see why we need grand speculations on topics that nobody could possibly know anything about in order to comfort those in mourning.
The Universe is vast and mysterious. We know that neither matter nor energy is ever created or destroyed. The Heart Sutra says it this way, “No one is born or dies.” Those who pass away remain with us as long as we remember them. And more than that, their life never really departs from this very place because there is nowhere else to go. Beyond this, everything else is pure speculation.
I’m not convinced that it’s ultimately useful to escape into the world of fantasy after someone we know or love dies. I can understand the desire to turn away from the pain of reality. It often seems too much to cope with. I know my mom’s death in 2007 sure did — and still does sometimes. But we can never truly escape from that which is real. We can cover our eyes. But even then we’re confronted with the reality of our own covered eyes.
Too often, though, the occasion of death is taken as an excuse to indulge in fantasy. We don’t simply take a break from the pain of loss to remain quiet and absorb its lessons. We fly away into the false beauty of our imaginations. Not that imagination is a bad thing. But it isn’t good to get lost in it.
We think that reality might be more than we can handle. But I’m not certain that’s ever true. Much of the pain of grief is often fueled by imagination too. We imagine life without our loved one and speculate about how we won’t be able to cope. But such speculation is as fanciful as imagining our loved one with wings and a halo walking streets paved with gold way up high in the clouds. I don’t think we cure our pain by any kind of speculation.
We cure our pain by feeling it as it is, not adding to it and not trying to make it stop. The pain of loss is just what it is. We feel it and then we move on.