Thursday, April 30, 2015

Do The Meditation



We've been serializing these past few months (and will be continuing a little longer with) Allen's 1978 (Naropa) lectures on Meditation and Poetics. As an amalgam of the two, what more fitting (and instructive) than his 1981 composition "Do The Meditation Rock"

Allen, in his sleeve-notes to Holy Soul, Jelly Roll, offers the genesis:

"I'd had meditation teacher training in the late '70s, when (Chogyam) Trungpa Rinpoche OK'd me to show basic meditation in his tradition to classrooms or groups at poetry readings. I tried to codify meditation instructions in pop form, inspired by the annual New Year's Day Marathon at St. Mark's Poetry Project, knock all the poets out with sugar-coated dharma. Christmas Eve, I stopped in the middle of the block at a stoop and wrote the words down, notebook on my knee. I figured that if anyone listened to the words, they'd find complete instructions for classical sitting practice, Samatha-Vipassana ("Quieting the mind and clear seeing"). Some humor in the form, it doesn't have to be taken over-seriously, yet it's precise. It's the first time I got around to putting a chorus in a song, a take-off on "I Fought The Law": "I fought the dharma and the dharma won."… 

The version here, free-wheeling, differing from the published version. Allen even gets to sneak in a reference to the location (the Ukranian National Home, a bar and restaurant on 2nd Avenue in New York City).  Guitar accompaniment is by Tom Rogers

If you want to learn how to meditate 
I’ll tell you now ’cause it’s never too late 
I’ll tell you now ’cause it's never too late,

never too late and I can't wait.  

(Can you hear the words or is it muddy?
I will continue and sing to you, buddy
Can you hear me now over the guitar? 
I will try if ever you are.)

If you are an old fraud like me 
or a lama who lives in the Himalaya-i 

a lama who lives in Eternity,
in the Himalya-i, in Eternity.  

Do the meditation Do the meditation 
Recreate the nation,  
Play a little Patience and Generosity

Generosity, generosity
and generosity!

The first thing you do when you meditate 
is keep your spine your backbone straight 
(The stage is too weak  to jump around,
so stay there, Tom, on your firm firm ground) 


Sit yourself down on a pillow on the ground 
or sit in a chair if the ground isn’t there 

if the ground isn't there, if the ground isn't there 
Sit in a chair if the ground isn't there


Sit yourself down on a pillow on the ground 
or sit in a chair if the ground isn’t there 

Follow your breath but don’t hang on 
to the thought of your death in old Saigon 

in old Saigon, in old Saigon,
in old Saigon, in old Saigon



Follow your breath right outta your nose 
follow it out where ever it goes,

where ever it goes, where ever it goes,
where ever it goes, where ever it goes.  


Follow your breath when thought forms rise 
whatever you think it’s a big surprise 
big surprise, big surprise,

big surprise, big surprise,


Follow your breath out open your eyes 
sit there steady & sit there wise
sit there wise, sit there wise
sit there wise, sit there wise

All you gotta do is imitate
You're sitting meditating and it's never too late
You're never too late, your never too late,
The older you are, the better you'll relate    

The thoughts catch up when your breath goes on
You forget what you thought about Uncle Don.
Uncle Don, Uncle Don,
Charlie Chaplin, Uncle Don
Uncle Don, Uncle Don,
Charlie Chaplin, Uncle Don

If you see a vision come say hello goodbye,
Play it dumb with an empty eye,
with an empty eye, empty eye.
empty eye, empty eye.

If you see a holocaust, just pay no mind
It just went past with the Western wind

If you see Apocalypse in a long red car
or a flying saucer sit where you are, 
Do the meditation Do the meditation,
sit where you are, sit where you are,
Pacify the nation, sit with the Creation, like a movie-star
like a movie-star, movie-star, like a rock star or a movie star.

If you feel a little bliss, don't worry about that
Give your wife a little kiss when your tire goes flat
tire goes flat, tire goes flat,
Keep your hard-on under your hat 
Keep your hard-on under your hat 

If you can't think straight and don't know who to call
It's never too late,  do nothing at all,
nothing at all, nothing at all,
nothing at all, do nothing at all  


Do the meditation, follow your breath
So your body and mind get together for a rest
get together for a rest, get together for a rest,
Relax your mind and get together for a rest

If you sit for an hour or a minute every day 
you can tell the Superpower, sit the same way 
you can tell the Superpower,  watch and to wait 
to stop & meditate ’cause it’s never too late
never too late, never too late,
never too late to stop and meditate

(In the Ukranian Home (sic)), it's never too late,
It's never too late to sit and meditate

Here, by way of contrast, is the version that he performed (with Steven Taylor, Arthur Russell and Peter Orlovsky) on January 1 1984, as part of Nam June Paik's global event, "Good Morning, Mr Orwell"  

here's the version (recorded at the William Burroughs River City Reunion in Lawrence, Kansas in 1989) that appears on Volume 4 (Ashes & Blues) of Holy Soul Jelly Roll

There's also a version of it here - and here - and...  

Here's the published lyrics (from White Shroud):

If you want to learn       how to meditate 
I’ll tell you now             ’cause it’s never too late

I'll tell you how              'cause I can't wait
it's just that great          that it's never too late
If you are an old            fraud like me
or a lama who lives       in Eternity
The first thing you do  when you meditate
is keep your spine         your backbone straight
Sit yourself down          on a pillow on the ground
or sit in a chair              if the ground isn't there
 Do the meditation     Do the meditation
 Learn a little Patience and Generosity


Follow your breath out       open your eyes
and sit there steady              & sit there wise
Follow your breath right     outta your nose
follow it out                           as far as it goes
Follow your breath               but don't hang on
to the thought of yr death    in old Saigon
Follow your breath               when thought forms rise
whatever you think               it's a big surprise 
 Do the meditation   Do the meditation
Learn a little Patience and Generosity
Generosity   Generosity       Generosity & Generosity


All you got to do                   is to imitate
you're sitting meditating     and you're never too late
when thoughts catch up       but your breath goes on
forget what you thought      about Uncle Don
Laurel Hardy Uncle Don     Charlie Chaplin Uncle Don
you don't have to drop         your nuclear bomb
If you see a vision come       say Hello Goodbye
play it dumb                           with an empty eye
if you want a holocaust        you can recall your mind
it just went past                    with the Western wind
 Do the meditation   Do the meditation
 Learn a little Patience &  Generosity

If you see Apocalypse              in a long red car
or a flying saucer                     sit where you are
If you feel a little bliss           don't worry about that
give your wife a kiss               when your tire goes flat
If you can't think straight      & you don't know who to call
it's never too late                    to do nothing at all
Do the meditation                  follow your breath
so your body & mind     get together for a rest
 Do the meditation             Do the meditation
Learn a little Patience       and Generosity

If you sit for an hour                         or a minute every day
you call tell the Superpower            to sit the same way
you can tell the Superpower            to watch and wait
& to stop & meditate      'cause it's never too late
   Do the meditation           Do the meditation
  Get yourself together         lots of Energy
  & Generosity Generosity   Generosity & Generosity!







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