Four reminders in two songs

As I get deeper into my Buddhist studies, I’m increasingly seeing things through the lens of its teachings. While I have no interest in claiming anything as “Buddhist” when I notice resonance, I do feel a bit like the proverbial little boy who, when given a hammer, starts to see everything as a nail!

Consider this Chastity Belt song, for instance (and in case you’re wondering whether or not to hit play, that’s the name of the band, not the subject of their song… though that would be an interesting read on it):

I’ve been playing this song over and over in the car for weeks. When I finally sat down to read the lyrics (see the end of this post) I immediately thought to myself, “Oh! What a great representation of the Four Mind-Turning Reflections!”

I like thinking of the Four Mind-Turning Reflections, AKA the Four Reminders, as a Buddhist “Facts of Life” of sorts, designed to keep us focused on the things that are really important.

Here’s an attempt to paraphrase them into my own words:

  1. Being alive, in this body, right here and right now, is a unique opportunity;
  2. We’re all going to die eventually;
  3. Our intentions and our actions have an impact; and
  4. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we can control everything to suit our preferences, and ultimately the attempt to do so leads to even more suffering.

I’ll spare you my line-by-line analysis of the song’s lyrics but I’m satisfied that they cover off all four pretty effectively 🙂

Then this morning I remembered another song I’ve appreciated for ages, the classic Feel So Different, from the person formally known as Sinéad O’Connor:

The songs’ titles are similar, obviously, but they share a lot more than that. This one too feels distinctly “Buddhist” to me right now.

Is it though? I have no idea how she identified when she wrote Feel So Different nearly 30 years ago (and she recently converted to Islam)  so I can only guess: probably not, and it doesn’t matter; I care a lot less about assigning labels, and a lot more about appreciating reminders to stay awake to my life’s priorities, no matter what form they take.

***

Lyrics to both songs below.

Different Now by Chastity Belt

You’re hard on yourself
Well you can’t always be right
All those little things that keep you up at night
You should take some time to figure out your life
But you’re stuck indoors and thinking poorly

You’ll find in time
All the answers that you seek
Have been sitting there just waiting to be seen
Take away your pride and take away your grief
And you’ll finally be right where you need to be

Take all of it, take everything you’re owed
‘Til you finally feel okay being alone
Yeah it’s different now
Yeah it’s different now, you’re old

And you try and you try and you try and you try

***

Feel So Different by Shuhada’ Davitt (formerly Sinéad O’Connor)

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference

I am not like I was before
I thought that nothing would change me
I was not listening anymore
Still you continued to affect me

I was not thinking anymore
Although I said I still was
I’d said I don’t want anymore
Because of bad experience

And now I feel so different
I feel so different
I feel so different

I have not seen freedom before
And I did not expect to
Don’t let me forget now I’m here
Help me to help you to behold you

I started off with many friends
And we spent a long time talking
I thought they meant every word they said
But like everyone else they were stalling

And now they seem so different
They seem so different
They seem so different

I should have hatred for you
But I do not have any
And I have always loved you
Oh you have taught me plenty

The whole time I’d never seen
All you had spread before me
The whole time I’d never seen
All I’d need was inside me

Now I feel so different
I feel so different
I feel so different

I feel so different
I feel so different

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