tibetan book of the dead (1994)

Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this two-part documentary series explores ancient teachings on death and dying and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to Tibetan philosophy. Tibetan Buddhists believe that after a person dies, they enter a state of “bardo” for 49 days until a rebirth.

Program 1, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life documents the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, tracing the book’s acceptance and use in Europe and North America. Included is remarkable footage of the rites and liturgies surrounding and following the death of a Ladakhi elder as well as the views of the Dalai Lama on life and death. 

Program 2, The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation observes an old Buddhist lama and a 13-year-old novice monk as they guide a deceased person into the afterlife. The passage of the soul is visualized with animation blended into actual location shooting. 

This information comes from the website of the National Film Board of Canada. NFB produced the documentary in co-operation with NHK Japan and Mistral Film of France.

michelle mcgrane – cento for leonard cohen (2006)

leonard-cohen-montreal-1973-photo-ralph-gibson

Leonard Cohen, Montreal, 1973. Photo: Ralph Gibson

once there was a path and a girl with chestnut hair – – – we met when we were almost young – – deep in the green lilac park – – you held on to me like i was a crucifix – – as we went kneeling through the dark – – – i loved you in the morning – our kisses deep and warm – – your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm – – yes – many loved before us – i know that we are not new – – in city and in forest they smiled like me and you – – – let me see you moving like they do in babylon – – show me slowly what i only know the limits of – – dance me very tenderly and dance me very long – – dance me to the wedding now – dance me on and on – – – there’s a concert hall in vienna – – where your mouth had a thousand reviews – – i remember you well in the chelsea hotel – – you were famous – your heart was a legend – – i thought you were the crown prince – – of all the wheels in ivory town – and everywhere that you wandered – – love seemed to go along with you – – – lost among the subway crowds – – i tried to catch your eye – – i saw you there with the rose in your teeth – – i’d been waiting – i was sure – – – but you’d been to the station to meet every train – – – i knew i was in danger of losing what i used to think was mine – – just dance me to the dark side of the gym – – chances are i’ll let you do most anything – – so we’re dancing close – the band is playing stardust – – balloons and paper streamers floating down on us – – – i know you’re hungry – i can hear it in your voice – – and there are many parts of me to touch – you have your choice – – – the women in your scrapbook – – – (i was in that army – yes i stayed a little while – – though i wore a uniform i was not born to fight) – – – now your love is a secret all over the block – – – i’m just a station on your way – – – where are you golden boy – – where is your famous golden touch? – – the sun pours down like honey – – and yes it’s come to this – it’s come to this – – hey prince you need a shave – – – i forget to pray for the angels – – and then the angels forget to pray for us – – – your letters they all say that you’re beside me now – – then why do i feel alone? – – i’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web – – is fastening my ankle to a stone – – – everybody knows that you love me baby – – everybody knows that you really do – – everybody knows that you’ve been faithful – – ah – give or take a night or two – – everybody knows you’ve been discreet – – but there were so many people you just had to meet – – without your clothes – and everybody knows – – – and i can’t wait to tell you to your face – – and i can’t wait for you to take my place – – – i cannot follow you – my love – – you cannot follow me – – i am the distance you put between – – all of the moments that we will be – – – i choose the rooms that i live in with care – – the windows are small and the walls almost bare – – there’s only one bed and there’s only one prayer – – i listen all night for your step on the stair – – – i don’t like your fashion business mister – – and i don’t like those drugs that keep you thin – – – some women wait for jesus – and some women wait for cain – – i was waiting for a miracle – i waited half my life away – – – lately you’ve started to stutter – as though you had nothing to say – – – you don’t love me quite so fiercely now – – you’re weak and you’re harmless – – you’re sleeping in your harness – – – you thought that it could never happen – – to all the people you became – – the rain falls down on last year’s man – – that’s a crayon in his hand – – – like any dealer he was watching for the card – – that is so high and wild – – he’ll never need to deal another – – – (o you’ve seen that man before) – – his golden arm dispatching cards – – (but now it’s rusted from the elbow to the finger – – and he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter) – – – everybody knows that the dice are loaded – – everybody rolls with their fingers crossed – – everybody knows that the war is over – – everybody knows the good guys lost – – everybody knows the fight was fixed – – the poor stay poor – the rich get rich – – that’s how it goes – everybody knows – – – well – i found a silver needle – i put it into my arm – – it did some good – did some harm – – but the nights were cold – and it almost kept me warm – – – in a dream of hungarian lanterns – – in the mist of some sweet afternoon – – some girls wander by mistake – – into the mess that scalpels make – – – morning came and then came noon – – dinner time a scalpel blade – – lay beside my silver spoon – – those who earnestly are lost – – are lost and lost again – – – i journey down the hundred steps – – the street is still the very same – – was i – was i only limping – was i really lame? – – – i can’t run no more with this lawless crowd – – – you say you’ve been humbled in love – – cut down in your love – – – you say you’ve gone away from me – – (i see you’ve gone and changed your name again) – – but i can feel you when you breathe – – – you stumble into this movie-house – then climb in to the frame – – – your pain is no credential here – – of course you’ll say you can’t complain – – you who wish to conquer pain – – love calls you by your name – – – why do you stand by the window – – abandoned to beauty and pride – – the thorn of the night in your chest – – the spear of the age in your side – – lost in the rages of fragrance – – lost in the rags of remorse – – lost in the waves of a sickness – – that loosens the high silver nerves – – – yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control – – it begins with your family – but soon it comes around to your soul – – – well i’ve been where you’re hanging – i think i can see how you’re pinned – – when you’re not feeling holy – your loneliness says that you’ve sinned – – – it’s four in the morning – the end of december – – it’s dark now and it’s snowing – – the cadillacs go creeping now through the night and the poison gas – – the cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone – – – all the rocket-ships are climbing through the sky – – the holy books are open wide – – – the blizzard – the blizzard of the world – – has crossed the threshold – – – do you remember all of those pledges – – that we pledged in the passionate night – – ah they’re soiled now – they’re torn at the edges – – like moths on a still yellow light – – no penance serves to renew them – – no massive transfusions of trust – – why not even revenge can undo them – – so twisted these vows and so crushed – – – i’m cold as a new razor blade – – your shirt is all undone – – – will you kneel beside this bed – – that we polished so long ago – – your eyes are wild and your knuckles are red – – and you’re speaking far too low – – – you don’t know me from the wind – – you never will – you never did – – – the crumbs of love that you offer me – – they’re the crumbs i’ve left behind – – – and is this what you wanted – – to live in a house that is haunted – – by the ghost of you and me? – – – i’ve lain by this window long enough – – to get used to an empty room – – and your love is some dust in an old man’s cough – – who is tapping his foot to a tune – – – and why are you so quiet now – – standing there in the doorway? – – you chose your journey long before – – you came upon this highway – – remember when the scenery started fading – – i held you till you learned to walk on air – – so don’t look down the ground is gone – – there’s no one waiting anyway – – the smokey life is practised – -everywhere – – – looks like freedom but it feels like death – – – i balance on a wishing well that all men call the world – – we are so small between the stars – so large against the sky – – – and where do all these highways go – now that we are free? – – the age of lust is giving birth – and both the parents ask – – the nurse to tell them fairytales on both sides of the glass – – – there is a war between the rich and poor – – a war between the man and the woman – – there is a war between the ones who say there is a war – – and the ones who say there isn’t – – – there is a war between the left and right – – a war between the black and white – – a war between the odd and even – – – i can’t pretend i still feel very much like singing – – as they carry the bodies away – – – there’s blood on every bracelet – – you can see it – you can taste it – – – (every heart – every heart – – to love will come but like a refugee) – – – too early for the rainbow – too early for the dove – – these are the final days – this is the darkness – this is the flood – – and there is no man or woman who can’t be touched – – but you who come between them will be judged – – – so the great affair is over but whoever would have guessed – – it would leave us all so vacant and so deeply unimpressed – – – it’s like our visit to the moon or to that other star – – i guess you go for nothing if you really want to go that far – – – it’s over – it ain’t going any further – – i’m sick of pretending – i’m broken from bending – – i’ve lived too long on my knees – – – the river is swollen up with rusty cans – – and the trees are burning in your promised land – – – along with several thousand dreams – – – there’s nothing left to do – – when you know that you’ve been taken – – – it’s closing time.


(cento: a composition made up of quotations from other authors; latin: patchwork garment)

lyrics taken from:
songs of leonard cohen: suzanne; master song; winter lady; stranger song; sisters of mercy; so long marianne; hey, that’s no way to say goodbye; stories of the street; teachers
i’m your man: first we take manhattan; ain’t no cure for love; everybody knows; take this waltz
songs of love and hate: avalanche; last year’s man; dress rehearsal rag; diamonds in the mine; love calls you by your name; famous blue raincoat
the future: the future; waiting for the miracle; closing time; anthem; light as the breeze; death of a ladies’ man: iodine; paper thin hotel; memories; death of a ladies’ man
songs from a room: the old revolution; the butcher; you know who i am; tonight will be fine
new skin for the old ceremony: is this what you wanted; chelsea hotel #2; there is a war
various positions: dance me to the end of love
recent songs: the guests; humbled in love; the window; the gypsy’s wife; the smokey life