Thursday, December 31, 2020


It’s almost midnight here in NYC.  I’ve wanted to post something before the end of the year and for whatever reasons that hasn’t yet happened.  There are a few things I’ve considered writing about and many more that I wish not to.  We’re almost at the end of 2020.  You were there, you experienced it.  And now we’re moving into 2021.  Rather than write an essay, I’m going to offer a simple set of words from Buddhist teachings often used for meditation practice, known as The Four Immeasurables.  As musicians we know something of these qualities.  But no matter what your orientation may be, I think these are worthy to concentrate on and expand upon for the coming new year…

The Four Immeasurables
Immeasurable Love 
Immeasurable Compassion 
Immeasurable Joy
Immeasurable Equanimity

As a recitation:
May all beings be free from suffering 
and the root of suffering

May all beings know happiness 
and the root of happiness

May all beings live in sympathetic joy, 
rejoicing in the happiness of others

May all beings live in equanimity, free from passion, 
aggression and delusion.

There is also a text many centuries old that touches on these, this exchange taken from the Vimalakirti Sutra.  

Manjushri asks: What is the great compassion of a bodhisattva?
Vimalakirti: It is the giving of all accumulated virtues to all living beings.
Manjushri: What is the great joy of the bodhisattva?
Vimalakirti: It is to be joyful and without regret in giving.
Manjushri: What is the equanimity of the bodhisattva?
Vimalakirti: It’s what benefits both self and others.
Manjushri: What should we resort to when terrified by the fear of life?
Vimalikirti: A bodhisattva who is terrified by life should resort to the magnanimity of the Buddha.
Manjushri: Where should one who wishes to resort to the magnanimity of the Buddha take their stand? 
Vimalakirti: You should stand in equanimity. You should just live for the liberation of all living beings.  
Manjushri: What should one who wishes to liberate all living beings do?
Vimalakirti: Liberate them from their passions. 
Manjusri: How should one who wishes to eliminate passions apply themselves?
Vimalakirti: Appropriately. 
Manjushri: How do you apply yourself appropriately? 
Vimalakirti: Don’t produce anything and don’t destroy anything. 
Manjushri: What should I not produce? What should I not destroy?
Vimalakirti: Don’t produce anything harmful, and don’t destroy anything good.
Manjushri: What’s the root of good and evil?
Vimalakirti: Form.
Manjushri: What is the root of form?
Vimalakirti: Desire. 
Manjushri: What is the root of desire? 
Vimalakirti: Unreal mental constructions.
Manjushri: What’s the root of an unreal mental construction? 
Vimalakirti: A false concept, a false view. 
Manjushri: What’s the root of false views?
Vimalakirti: Baselessness.
Manjushri: What is the root of baselessness? 
Vimalakirti: Manjusri, when something is baseless, how can it have any root? Therefore, all things stand on the root which is baseless.  

Best wishes to all of you, looking forward to 2021 and all of the music it brings...

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