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According to Montreal Mirror, Leonard Cohen was officially ordained as a Zen Buddhist monk on August 9, 1996 at the Mount Baldy Zen Center. He's practiced Zen for many years but has resisted ordination up to now. He's been given the Dharma name of 'Jikan' (Silent One). Here is the full story, posted by Rob Langford, Montreal, Québec, Canada:


Los Angeles- Last Friday, August 9, while a blissful assortment of tie-dyed, dreadlocked Deadheads danced and drummed on Venice Beach to mark the anniversary of Jerry Garcia's death, 70 miles away another major spiritual event was taking place on a mountain top overlooking the city of San Bernadino.

At Mount Baldy Zen Centre, a blood-thinning 6500 feet above sea-level, pop music's reluctant rabbi Leonard Cohen was making it official:with his head shaved bald, he donned the flowing black robes and became a fully ordained Japanese Zen monk.

For the past two years, Cohen has been an almost full-time resident of the Zen Centre, confined to a cabin on a few acres of high desert property in what was once a boy-scout camp. Thousands of students have trained here, coming from across North America, Europe and Asia to practice a notoriously strict and traditional form of Rinzai Zen. Some of the students have been famous: Richard Gere in the 70s, Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass), filmmaker Oliver Stone.

Going on 62, Cohen is Baldy's best-known long term inmate. For years he has been telling interviewers about his close friendship with Sasaki Roshi, an 89-year old monk from Japan famous for his extremely rigourous style of Rinzai Zen. Up until now, Cohen has avoided ordination, preffering simply to practice with the teacher he first met in the early 70s.

Now older, and presumably wiser, Cohen was ready to embrace the spiritual life, perhaps out of sheer disenchantment with the alternatives.

>From now on he'll be known as "Jikan", a dharma name meaning "Silent One". Where this will leave his work is not clear: it will be interesting to see if he decides to sing about the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path and the Five Buddhist Precepts, which include a vow to refrain from sexual misconduct.

Speaking of the music business, Buddhism is becoming the spirituality of choice, with the recent concert for Tibet in San Francisco and Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch's interview with the Dalai Lama in Rolling Stone. But unlike Jerry Garcia's sudden promotion to the spiritual world last August, Cohen's low-key career shift is unlikely to spawn a T-shirt industry. Not many fans will flock to Mount Baldy to practice with Jikan/Cohen: for one thing, the practice is too hard for non-masochists. Plus, the road to the Zen Center is notorious for its gear-grinding switchbacks, and cars have been known to zigzag off its granite slopes straight down into canyons bristling with cactus and yucca plants. As much as his spirituality, Cohen is a man who values his privacy. (ANN DIAMOND, MONTREAL MIRROR)"

PS. In Spring 1999 Leonard Cohen decided to move on and left Mt. Baldy.
Photo © 1997 by Jarkko Arjatsalo