DECEMBER 8th


Its December 8th. Thats a significant date for me for three reasons. Ill list the stuff I always think of on this day in order that they usually occur to me.

John Lennon was killed on December 8, 1980. Im sure everybody in the blogosphere has already written about that by now. The day Lennon died I was just starting 11th grade and I was already a Beatle geek. Its weird now when I think about the reactions I used to get as a teenager buying Beatles records. I remember a few years earlier, the clerks at Recordland in Rolling Acres Mall in Akron being stunned and amazed that a teenager was not only buying a copy of Revolver but actually knew enough to buy the imported version instead of the US pressing that had fewer songs. That would have been less than ten years after the Beatles broke up and the album itself would have only been about 12 or 13 years old. Thats more recent than the last Nirvana album is today, and I cant imagine anyone being the least bit surprised by a contemporary 15 year-old liking Nirvana. I dont know what that signifies, really, if it signifies anything. At the time I just thought that all contemporary music with the notable exception of KISS blew. It took a while for punk to finally reach the backwater burg I lived in. By the time Lennon died, though, I was already well into punk. But I never lost my affection for The Beatles.

I first heard about Lennons death the following morning when it appeared on the front page of the Wadsworth News Banner, the local paper. I thought it had to be some kind of joke. I had to see it on several other newspapers and TV before I accepted it was true. I still have trouble accepting its true. Just recently the contract Lennon signed with Geffen Records in 1980 came to light. Apparently hed included a clause that allowed him to do future records with The Beatles independently of his obligations to Geffen. So, obviously he must have been thinking about getting the group back together. Its a real shame that never happened.

The other significant thing about December 8th is that it is the day on which Zen Buddhists celebrate Buddha becoming enlightened. Tradition has it that this was the day Buddha had his great moment of profound insight there under the Bodhi tree sometime around about 500 B.C. A lot of people in the Zen tradition commemorate this event by having a period of intensive Zazen practice for a week. Its called the Rohatsu Sesshin. Ive never participated in one myself. But it always sounded like fun.

I don’t know if the tradition of celebrating Buddha’s enlightenment day on December 8th is any more valid than the tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday on December 25th. It might be, since the early Buddhists were a bit more meticulous about keeping such records than the early Christians. But I’ve never seen much discussion about it either way. Buddhists in general tend not to be overly concerned with whether their history is “literally true.” Whatever works, works.

December 8th is also the day on which the Japanese consider the attack on Pearl Harbor to have taken place. To us December 7th is the Day That Will Live In Infamy. But, because the international dateline is between Japan and Hawaii, as far as the Japanese are concerned, it happened on the 8th. I didnt realize this until I moved to Japan where I lived for 11 years. I once asked to a co-worker upon noting it was December 8th if she knew what day it was. At the time, I just wondered if shed know it was Buddhas enlightenment day or if shed only remember Lennons death. I was surprised when she got kind of sheepish about it and finally answered that she knew very well it was Pearl Harbor day.

Most Japanese people seem basically embarrassed by their role in WWII. Of course there are all kinds of issues related to this. But, Im afraid Ive never seen the point in endless debates about the matter. Im no more interested in pushing it than my Japanese friends and relatives are.

Finally, December 8th is usually the day my dad remembers to tell one of his favorite jokes.

Did you hear about the guy who was half Japanese and half African-American?

Every December 7th he attacks Pearl Bailey!

28 Responses

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  1. Debra Morris
    Debra Morris December 8, 2006 at 12:26 pm | |

    I found your blog by chance or maybe dharma arrangement. I found it interesting. I didn’t put together Lennon death and Rohatsu.

    Ironically, I am married to a bass playing Buddhist.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 8, 2006 at 1:26 pm | |

    Chotto matte kudasai…

    > Most Japanese people seem basically
    > embarrassed by their role in WWII.
    > … But, Im afraid Ive never seen
    > the point in endless debates about
    > the matter.

    Oops, there appears to be a
    misunderstanding here. The point
    of a previous post was not to insult
    the Japanese, but to remind folks
    that both Japanese and Americans
    were duped into war by their
    governments and religions. This
    happens time and time again throughout history with false flag attacks, state-controlled media, and
    uneducated citizens.
    And it’s happening now.

    “War is a racket.”
    –Major General Smedley Butler

    ==============================

    Imagine there’s no Heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say that I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

    –John Lennon
    ==============================

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 8, 2006 at 1:41 pm | |

    ??

    ?????

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 8, 2006 at 9:35 pm | |

    Two options:

    1) Ignore anonymous posts.

    2) Block anonymous posts.

    I vote for option 2.

  5. door knob
    door knob December 8, 2006 at 9:57 pm | |

    I was in Grade 8 (or 8th Grade, as the Yanks say) when Lennon died. I also was a huge Beatles fan. When I was 11 to 13 years old during the late ’70s, I thought the Beatles were an ancient group–and they had only broken up less than 10 years earlier. Funny how a year seemed like forever when I was a kid.

    I wasn’t all that depressed about Lennon’s murder, though. My clearest memory about it was when some kids at school were talking about it and they were saying, “Jack Lennon.” I suppose some people named “John” like to be called “Jack,” but in this case, my mates just didn’t know the correct name.

    Besides that memory, I’ll never forget the “Double Fantasy” album. It was released shortly before his murder. It’s not a great album, but it has extra significance because of the timing.

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 8, 2006 at 11:05 pm | |

    Tying the John Lennon thread together
    with the earlier Jesus-Buddha thread, you
    might enjoy the music video available
    here:

    “If Jesus Drove a Motor Home”

    http://www.luakabop.com/jim_white

  7. Dan
    Dan December 9, 2006 at 4:18 am | |

    ” Imagine no possessions “

    ha! that guy was a millionaire!

  8. PhilBob-SquareHead
    PhilBob-SquareHead December 9, 2006 at 7:25 am | |

    >ha! that guy was a millionaire!

    I’d like to add a verse to “Imagine”,

    “Imagine no cynicism, it’s not easy, but try
    No anonymous bloggers,
    Hangin’ with Dan getting high”

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 9, 2006 at 9:45 am | |

    Wow, dude!
    That day-glo picture of Lennon is so
    Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds!
    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink,
    say no more, say no more.

  10. zenmite
    zenmite December 9, 2006 at 11:14 am | |

    I was a huge beatles fan when I was 15 too. It was the mid 70′s and I only knew of one other kid at my high school that liked them. Jesus, Buddha’s enlightenment day and Lennon’s death are tied together for me as well. I’d been doing zazen about 3 years and was mindful that dec. 8th was the anniversary of the Buddha’s enlightenment. I heard about Lennon being shot that morning before work. I was saddened by the news. I asked my boss if he’d heard what happened. (My boss had recently become a born-again christian conservative) “Yeah, & I hope it’s the death of his hindu god too!” His remark is still clear in memory. I can only imagine his reaction if president Reagan had been assassinated and someone had commented “Yeah, and I hope it’s the death of his christian god too!” As I recall, Lennon’s killer (Chapman) also considered himself a born-again christian.

    Double Fantasy also has significance for me. My (future) wife and I often listened to those songs when we first met. Oh, and in the 70′s I used to trip on acid while listening to Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery tour.

  11. Jinzang
    Jinzang December 9, 2006 at 2:42 pm | |

    I don’t know if the tradition of celebrating Buddha’s enlightenment day on December 8th is any more valid than the tradition of celebrating Jesus’ birthday on December 25th. It might be, since the early Buddhists were a bit more meticulous about keeping such records than the early Christians.

    Actually, the question is moot. Even if we did know the day the Buddha was enlightened (and we don’t), which “day” it was depends upon which calendar you use. Calendars are human conventions.

    The Indians were horrible about keeping records, the Chinese were much better. Much of what we know about Indian Buddhism comes from the records of Chinese pilgrims who visited India.

    The first album I bought was the Beatles’ Revolver. I never cared as much about Lennon’s or McCartney’s solo efforts, but I did like Shaved Fish. I was at Karme Choling doing a dathun (month long meditation retreat) when I heard John Lennon died. One of the few pieces of news that filtered into the retreat. Shows what an old fossil I am.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 10, 2006 at 2:06 am | |

    Hearing it beats reading it any day:

    Imagine

  13. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 10, 2006 at 9:54 am | |

    Interesting. For me (as for most people who were brought up catholic, I suppose), 8 December is the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. I did not know about both the Buddha and the Lennon connection with this date.

  14. door knob
    door knob December 10, 2006 at 9:32 pm | |

    That joke about “Pearl Bailey” reminds me of a little slip up my sister made. Does anybody remember this Gordon Lightfoot song from the mid-70s, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald“? If the name doesn’t ring a bell, I’m sure if some of you old timers heard it, you’ll say, “Oh, that song.”

    Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was having trouble remembering the name of this song. My sister couldn’t remember, either, but then she piped up, “Oh, are you thinking of ‘The Wreck of the Ella Fitzgerald?’”

    At least I thought it was funny.

  15. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 10, 2006 at 11:01 pm | |

    Reminds me of the first time I heard the
    Creedence Clearwater Revival song
    “Bad Moon Rising”…

    When John Fogerty sang
    “There’s a bad moon on the rise”

    I heard him singing
    “There’s a bathroom on the right”

    I was pretty drunk in a bar at the
    time and having difficulties with
    basic navigation. I guess we hear
    what we wanna hear.

  16. Prof Wes
    Prof Wes December 11, 2006 at 5:34 am | |

    I was far more affected by George Harrison’s death than John Lennon’s in a general sense. Lennon though was the first person I ever knew (of) that was KILLED – actively, I guess. I’d known a few people that simply DIED, but Lennon was a different story. That affected my half-understood childhood immensely, trying to come to grips with the idea that somebody could hate anybody like John Lennon enough to actively seek his death, to reach out and just execute him like that.

    That’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re 11 years old.

    I read a really interesting news report on the “survivors of Pearl Harbor” reunion that takes place every 5 yrs, this year being one of them. A lot of the guys that were there are well into their 80s now; their numbers are dwindling steadily and quickly. There was one really poignant sub-story about a guy who is the last living survivor of his ship.

    I spent quite a long time living in Germany when I was a kid; I imagine for many Japanese that World War II is merely a history lesson like it is for most Germans. Some aspects of the war are taught merely factually (this is what happened), some are taught somewhat nationalistically (this is what happened, be proud), and some are – of course – taught as warning (this is what happened, be ashamed). The last of these directions has significantly faded (in Germany) in the last generation of education.

    I wish US history was taught in the US in the same way, but alas it’s pretty much rah-rah with a little intellectual critique. Oh well.

  17. Otto Kerner
    Otto Kerner December 11, 2006 at 6:56 am | |

    “ha! that guy was a millionaire!”

    Well, of course, that’s why he had to imagine no possessions. A lot of people in the world don’t have to use their imaginations.

  18. oxeye
    oxeye December 11, 2006 at 10:07 am | |

    imagining no posessions and imagining you are a billionaire are the flip sides of the same dumb fantasy.

  19. earDRUM
    earDRUM December 11, 2006 at 10:17 am | |

    I remember the moment of hearing of Lennon’s murder. It really shook me up. It felt like I had lost a friend. Such a senseless waste.
    Lennon had guts, and he stood up for good causes. He caught a lot of flack because of his stand on pacifism. But he affected a lot of people.
    Growing up during the 1960′s and 1970′s, the Beatles were such a huge force in the world. They affected the lifestyles and attitudes of a whole generation. I doubt that aby band or entertainer will ever have that kind of an effect again. It isn’t possible for anyone who grew up with MTV to understand this. It is a very different world now. (Not better, mind you… just different.)

    It is funny but I find myself sort of celebrating the Buddha’s day of enightenment too, even though I don’t believe in “enlightenment” the way most people do.

  20. Dan
    Dan December 11, 2006 at 10:43 am | |

    ” imagining no posessions and imagining you are a billionaire are the flip sides of the same dumb fantasy.”

    good point

  21. Jules
    Jules December 11, 2006 at 12:10 pm | |

    Anonymous said…
    Interesting. For me (as for most people who were brought up catholic, I suppose), 8 December is the day of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

    So, in the Catholic scheme of things, was Mary pregnant for just three weeks, or a year and three weeks?

    You’d think bringing a baby to term in three weeks would be hard on the system. It’s a miracle she survived.
    ;D

  22. Anatman
    Anatman December 11, 2006 at 3:40 pm | |

    Jules:

    You are thinking of The Annunciation, which is March 25th. This is when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would give birth to the son of God.

    The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the idea that God created Mary’s soul without the “Original Sin” that all humans were born with under normal circumstances. This “Original Sin” was something passed down through the generations from Adam and Eve, and essentially refered to the status of humans as having fallen from God’s grace.

    Mary, on the other hand, was conceived with God’s full grace (the immaculate conception), and proceded to live a life completely without sin.

  23. guyropes
    guyropes December 12, 2006 at 10:45 am | |

    guys
    I just wondered if any of you had come across U.G Krishnamurti before? – not the same as J Krishnamurti. Some of the things he says are pretty mental. Iconoclastic, but also inpenetrable, perhaps.
    http://www.well.com/~jct/
    D

  24. Anatman
    Anatman December 12, 2006 at 1:15 pm | |

    guyropes:

    I’ve read some of the interviews with UG. I like what he has to say.

  25. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 13, 2006 at 11:12 am | |

    Its also Jim Morrisons birthday don’t forget!

    No connection really, just thought I’d mention it :)

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous December 13, 2006 at 7:00 pm | |

    Definitely connected:

    “Into this world we’re thrown
    Like a dog without a bone…
    Riders on the storm.”

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous March 15, 2009 at 6:45 pm | |

    “wreck of the Ella Fitzgerald” nice that people remember the sex clark 5.

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