8 Mar
Posted in: Poems
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Then Suddenly You Know

And now for something a little different (but really the same):

Leonard Cohen spent 5 years on retreat at Mt. Baldy and was ordained as a Zen monk (taking the name Jikan, which means “silence”), after which he wrote:

My Life in Robes
by Leonard Cohen

After a while
You can’t tell
If it’s missing
A woman
Or needing
A cigarette
And later on
If it’s night
Or day
Then suddenly
You know
The time
You get dressed
You go home
You light up
You get married


I was never “in robes” and I don’t smoke and I did not get married when I came back from retreat, but I know what he’s talking about. The point of being on retreat is not to be really good at being on retreat. The point is to get far enough away from the world — to get quiet enough and still enough — to be able to see the world (often suddenly) with enough clarity that you can go back out into the world and do what needs to be done.

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