Friday, October 8, 2010

Sutras by Donovan

Well it's time for a Donovan tape.  Ever since I first heard him I heard him in the sixties I began collecting his albums.  Sutras is an interesting album in that it came after his Troubadour box set.  According to a number of web sites the Troubadour album introduced Donovan to a younger generation.  According to wikipedia. "
In 1993, producer and American Recordings founder Rick Rubin contacted Johnny Cash to record a set of songs featuring Cash with sparse instrumentation. Cash's American Recordings succeeded both critically and commercially, and signaled a fresh start in his career. This success prompted Rick Rubin to search for other artists who would benefit from the same model. While in the studio with Tom Petty, Rubin mentioned that he would like to work with Donovan. Petty suggested that he call Donovan, which he did.
Donovan agreed to have Rick Rubin produce his next album, and prepared over one hundred songs for the recording sessions. The sessions were to feature sparse instrumentation, much like the sessions that made Cash's American Recordings such a success. Rubin insisted that Donovan listen to the folk material that Donovan recorded for Pye Records in 1964 and 1965 for inspiration. The recording sessions commenced in 1995, and the deeply meditative Sutras was released late the following year.

Donovan and Rubin went through over one hundred songs to select the final set. The idea was to make an album like the first ones Donovan recorded in 1965, and like Cash's album American Recordings: sparse instrumentation, one guitar, one voice. Donovan declared in the 2008 documentary Sunshine Superman: The Journey Of Donovan:
«And I realized that I was in the presence of a Mickie Most or a Phil Spector, because he was listening. What kind of record were we gonna make? And he said, "How long did it take for you to make your records in the sixties?" And I said, "Three songs, three hours. An album in a week." And he said, 'I thought so. It's all live, then!" I said, "Yeah. That's how it was done. Everybody did the same." He said, "Let's make a record like that!" I said, "This is great! We'll make a record in a week!"... It took three years to make the record!»
· The final recording sessions included presumably more instrumentation than the initial idea, and maybe that delayed the release of the album. (from Donovan's unofficial site

It is a simple sound and is reflective of Donovan's spiritual path after his experiences with Transcendental Meditation.  The term Sutra  literally means a thread or line that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual.The definition of a sutra by a Hindu religious text is "Of minimal syllabary, unambiguous, pithy, comprehensive, continuous, and without flaw: who knows the sūtra knows it to be thus."  Donovan achieves this in this album

Track 1  is Please Don't Bend
Walking, talking along a lonely shore
With your hair blowing soft on the breeze
I do dream you into my life
Gift me your love if you please

Please, don't bend my heart
Made of glass
I can't promise to be here for you
Please, don't bend my heart
She said to me
I can't promise to be here, be here
Be here for you

Track 2 is Give it all up a simple love story or is it.  Is it a longing for the female energy in man or is it a quest for God.
No gold worth digging for
Without your golden love
No treasure rich enough
To be without your love
No sorrow deeper than
To be away from you
No distance farther than
A night not spent with you

No diamond brighter than
The light within your eyes
No star I gaze at
Brighter in these skies
No sadness deeper than
This longing for you
I'd give it all up
To be with you
Track 3 is entitled Sleep and has lyrics including selected lines from Blessing For The Soul's Release by Fiona MacLeod who was actually a Scottish writer named William Sharp.

William Sharp (Fiona Macleod)

Donovan's Lyrics are:
Sleep now, sleep
And so fade sorrow
Sleep beloved, sleep
Sleep now, sleep
Afar tomorrow
Sleep beloved, sleep

You are home this night
Home of winter
Your home of autumn
Summer and spring
You are home this night
Lasting home
Eternal home
Your eternal home
Fiona Macleod's words are

You go home this night to your home of Winter, To your home of Autumn, of Spring and of Summer; you go home this night to your lasting home, to your eternal bed, to your sound sleeping.
Sleep now, sleep, and so fade sorrow, Sleep now, sleep and so fade sorrow Sleep my beloved, in the rock of the field. The sleep of seven lights upon you, my dear.
The sleep of seven joys upon you, my dear. The sleep of seven slumbers upon you, my dear. Sleep, oh sleep in the quiet of quietness, Sleep,oh sleep in the way of guidance, Sleep, oh sleep in the love of all loving.
You have been called from the place of your dwelling, After times, after duties, after separations, May blessed soul-friends guide you, May helping spirits lead you, may the Gatherer of Souls call you, may the Homeward path rise up under your feet And lead you gladly home.

Track 4 is The Everlasting Sea
I love you like the sea
I love you like the sea
Everlasting sea, everlasting sea
Everlasting sea, everlasting sea
Very Simple very direct and full of symbolism. Sea, water- the unconscious. 

Track 5 is High Your Love and is Lyrics by Donovan P. Leitch, music inspired by a Spiritual Melody from The Sai Baba Community. 

All for the love of leaving am I
All for the love of grieving am I
Looking for you in the longing of life
When all along you were here by my side
It's a high your
It's a high, it's a high your love
Far in the future or in the past
I was a drifting, bound to the mast
Searching for you in the ocean of loss
And all along no ocean to cross
It's a high your
It's high, it's a high your love
All on the island she danced
Sleep of forgetfulness entranced
Gazing on new some distance star
Om-Shri Sai-Baba, so near, so far
It's a high your
It's high, it's a high your love

Track 6 The Clear Browed One

The clear-browed one
Approaching o'er the water
Soft the silver
Hues of purple
Inward gazing
Where the ripple

On the lake
The clear-browed one
The clear-browed one
The pure clear girl
Awaiting in the chamber
Sad the longing
Patient waiting
Trusting fully
Hard the jeering
In the hall

 The centre of the forehead in Hindu tradition is the location of a third eye, a location of spiritual insight. Hindu gods are also frequently represented with a third eye in the middle of their foreheads, representing their divinity. Muslims touch their foreheads to the floor when bowing toward Mecca, and some Tibetan meditation practices focus on the centre of the forehead.
As Lord Byron remarked, ‘Thy calm clear brow, Wherein is glass'd serenity of soul.

Track seven is Music and lyrics by Donovan P. Leitch, including selected lines from the Vintage Books Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu.  Its title The Way.   Thus, Tao Te Ching can be translated as "The Classic/Canon of the Way/Path and the Power/Virtue", etc

Out of nothing comes the one
Out of one comes the two
Out of two comes the three
Out of three comes all things

Other statements for the Tao Te Ching  follows.

The Way that can be told of is not an unvarying way;
The names that can be named are not unvarying names.
It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang;
The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind

The Valley Spirit never dies
It is named the Mysterious Female.
And the doorway of the Mysterious Female
Is the base from which Heaven and Earth sprang.
It is there within us all the while;
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.

In Tao the only motion is returning;
The only useful quality, weakness.
For though all creatures under heaven are the products of Being,
Being itself is the product of Not-being.

Knowing others is wisdom;
Knowing the self is enlightenment.
Mastering others requires force;
Mastering the self requires strength;
He who knows he has enough is rich.
Perseverance is a sign of will power.
He who stays where he is endures.
To die but not to perish is to be eternally present

Track 8 is from another spiritual tradition, Celtic Spirituality. The song Deep Peace has
Music by Donovan P. Leitch, lyrics based on a translation by Caitlin Matthews of a traditional Scottish Gaelic prayer

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace, deep peace

Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you
Deep peace of the wandering wind to you
Deep peace of the flock of stars to you
Deep peace, deep peace

Deep peace of the eastern wind to you
Deep peace of the western wind to you
Deep peace of the northern wind to you
Blue wind of the south to you

Pure red of the whirling flame to you
Pure white of the silver moon to you
Pure green of the emerald grass to you
Deep peace, deep peace

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace, deep peace
Deep peace, deep peace
Deep peace, deep peace

See the Youtube video posting below. 

The next track Nirvana is also from the Buddhist Tradition.  Music and lyrics by Donovan P. Leitch, including selected lines from the Beacon Press book, The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation by Thic Nhat Hanh  I hacve a tape of a workshop by Thich Nhatt Hinh that he gave to a group of therapists about Mindfulness in Psychotherapy. It was very helpful and I use the concepts a lot.  A concept of mindfulness by being aware of a cookie when you eat it an amazing exercise in that as yo break off a cookie and put it in your mouth you address the cookie simply by saying the word cookie and the sensation is incredible because in that moment you are mindful of the experience.

All Buddhas in the past, present and future
Thanks to this, Perfect Wisdom
Arrive at full and right, universal enlightenment

Gone, gone, gone to the other shore
Gone, together to the other shore
Oh, awakening, all hail

Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana
Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana
Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana
Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana, Nirvana

 Track 10 is the poem Eldorado written by Edgar Alan Poe and put to music by Donovan.  It is a quest story and to me it is that quest where, as Jung described there has to an integration of the Shadow.  

Gaily bedight, a gallant knight
In sunshine and in shadow
How journeyed long, singing a song
In search of Eldorado

But he grew old, this knight so bold
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found no spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado

Over the mountains of the moon
Down the valley of the shadow
"Ride boldly, ride", the shade replied
"If you seek for Eldorado

Many old stories talk about the knight that goes on the quest and receives messsages.  One of these stories is contained in the book Men and the Waters of Life by Michael Meade. It talks about a young man's journey to find the water of life to heal his father's kingdom and  he is successful because he listens to a troll by the side of the road.  Sometimes we have to listen to our shadow to reach integration. 

Track 11 Be Mine Music and lyrics by Donovan P. Leitch, including selected lines from The Love Songs Of Sappho,
Venus is flashing
Jupiter rising
Into his sign
Here in the dusky
Rose of the dawning
Be mine and I will be thine

Be mine, be mine
And I will be thine
Be mine and I will be thine
Be mine, be mine
And I will be thine
Be mine and I will be thine

The nest track The Lady Of The Lamp is not about Florence Nightingale I think.  Longfellow named Nightingale the lady of the lamp but this lady "she's the mystic kind." Jungian symbolism would probably talk about the anima   

In this life
In this dark vale
One is rarely
Truly loved
And the lady of the lamp loves
Only me, she is my grail

And the lady of the lamp, she
Lies by me and holds on tight

In the dawn
In the blue dawn
When the sun
Begins to rise
The lady of the lamp sighs

Darkness passed and gone.

In Track 13 we return to Buddhism with The Evernow 

From within the
Endless sky
The silence surges
Softly through me
Listening to the
Desert sigh
In the presence
Of the Bo tree

Comes the dawning
Of the day
Dreaming as
In a trance
Comes the rising
Of the moon
Weaving in
Maya's dance

The only thing to
Really learn
Living in the evernow
To only know the
Single moment
Living in the evernow

The final track the Universe am I talks about spiritual realizations that many people will come to realize.

One day when a man among the throng
Will see his way is wrong
The Universe will shine
One day when the kind you see in dreams
Will baffle all our schemes
The Universe will shine
One day with a smile a wound will heal
And with awareness feel
The Universe to shine
One day when immensity is near
This man will conquer fear
And Universe will shine
In the silver sadness of the moon
I read a prophet rune
The Universe will shine
In the golden temple of the Sun
I see the Fiery one
The Universe will shine
Homo-sapien am I no more
Beyond, beyond I soar
The Universe am I

Well enough of Sutras.  May your quests be good ones. 

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