For my Christmas post, I've decided to carry on the Leonard Cohen theme from last time. By coincidence, this has proved to be a topical decision, as here in the UK, rival cover versions of his most famous song, Hallelujah, are in the top two positions of the Christmas pop charts: not bad for a 74-year old!
This You Tube video features another of my favorite Cohen songs, 'If It Be Thy Will'. I hope you enjoy it. This particular performance is truly magical, I think, an effect which is only very slightly diminished by the presence in the audience of a man with a marrow on his head...
I always find this song tremendously moving - I think it speaks especially powerfully to those of us who have had a long-term illness: "if it be thy will/to make us well"... Yet at the same time I'm aware that the song doesn't entirely fit in with my current beliefs about our relationship to God. It appears to be very much about us bowing down before an all-powerful being, about us surrendering our will to His. It appears to be dualistic - based in the idea that 'God' is over there and 'we' are over here, whereas what I believe, and write about in this blog, is more about Unity, the understanding that 'the Kingdom of God is within you', that All is One.
It is worth mentioning in passing that I don't use the word 'God' all that much here at The Secret Of Life because some people find it off-putting. I tend to use other words that serve just as well, such as 'presence', 'the universe', 'What Is', even 'the quantum field'... But as far as I am concerned, it is all the same thing. Sometimes, words just get in the way...
Which is what Cohen, and writers in general, are about, I suppose: trying to use words in such a way that they don't get in the way. The difficulty of doing this is highlighted in another of Cohen's songs, 'Love Itself', about a peak experience. To me, this is a marvelous attempt to capture the wonder of such a moment. Others, who it seems to me are not really paying attention, have interpreted this song as a lament for lost love. But the lyrics in the song 'love itself was gone' are not, I believe, a lament at all. They are not about loss. They are a way of stressing that 'love itself' has been experienced.
'Love Itself' is a much more recent song than 'If It Be Thy Will' and seems to be much more rooted in 'Oneness', perhaps representing the current state of Cohen's spiritual understanding rather better. The intervening years he spent in a Zen Buddhist monastery may have influenced this! Yet Cohen still includes 'If It Be Thy Will' in his concert repertoire, so he clearly still believes it to be relevant - as indeed do I.
What it is important to understand is that in surrendering our will, we are not surrendering our power - quite the opposite. What we are surrendering is the little me, the ego, the part of ourselves which stands in the way of getting in touch with our true selves, our true power. For the God to which we bow is greater than ourselves yet not separate from ourselves. And if 'this night' is truly to end, we all have to play our part in making it happen.
Thank you for reading The Secret Of Life. I wish you a wonderful Christmas season and a peaceful New Year for us all!
(P.S. If you'd like to hear an audio version of these Christmas greetings - plus greetings from numerous other bloggers, some of them in song! - have a listen to Robin's 'Blogger's Recording Project'.)