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Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Religion is the Smile on a Dog"

[This essay was originally posted to "The Third Tale," a blog on Weebly. In transferring it I have updated and made corrections where necessary.]

Twenty-plus years ago, Edie Brickell (who is also Mrs. Paul Simon--did you know?) sang in "What I am":

I'm not aware of too many things,
but I know what I know if you know what I mean.
Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box.
Religion is the smile on a dog. (complete lyrics)

That last line was a topic of discussion at the time; was it a good thing or a bad thing?

Here's something Ms Brickell has said since (via Wikiquote):

In a world religion class, everyone was complicating life and existence by over-thinking. I had this sense it's right here, right now. It's who we are and what we feel. It's not this tangled web of psychology and philosophy. I was driving to band practice and started singing that song. I wanted to be real, not adopt some philosophy or role. Instinct is our driving force.

There you have it: instinct. We continually get our minds in the way, between what is and what we perceive. Dogs don't have this problem.

The two above were my teachers many years ago, around the time the song was popular. Ginger (the smiling one) was with us a short time, until one day she had a disagreement with a train. Buster (the serious one) was found on the street, and never lost his savvy. He died of old age on my ex-wife's farm in Tennessee.

In "The Hollow Men," T.S. Eliot wrote:

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow


Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow


Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow


Could this intervention of thought between "out there" and "in here" be what Eliot means by "the Shadow"?

Categories: Bio, Buddhism, Mindfulness, Music, Photography, Poetry, Quotations, Spirituality

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