By Ray Wylie Hubbard
(March/April 2013/vol. 6 – Issue 2)
Siddhartha Guatama was born around 560 B.C., below the Himalayan foothills.
I was born around 1946 in Hugo, Oklahoma, known as Circus Town, USA.
Siddhartha’s father was a king and his mother was a radiant queen.
My father was a schoolteacher and my mother was also radiant.
A holy man prophesied Sid would become a teacher of gods and men.
My grandfather said I was born to be hanged.
Sid’s father hid his son in a lavish palace to keep him from seeing suffering, old age and death.
My grandfather gave me a board and told me to go out in the barn and kill wasps.
Sid went out of the palace and saw the realities of time passing.
I learned to put butter on wasp stings.
Sid met a homeless holy man who seemed to have found a deep peace within.
I met a bunch of Oklahoma bootleggers who came to my grandfather’s farm to sell whiskey and gamble.
Sid bid his wife and child goodbye, cut off his hair with a sword and vowed to gain control over his body and mind by ridding himself of all passion.
I moved to Oak Cliff, Texas, the testicles dropped and I was off and running.
Sid almost died starving his body in meditation.
I almost died shooting the finger to a senior football player when I was a sophomore.
Sid sat under a Bodhi tree, vowing not to leave until he found enlightenment.
I found someone to buy me a case of Miller High Life.
This god named Maya got mad cause Sid was seeking freedom from the world’s conditions, and sent an army of decaying corpses with flaming swords to scare him. The earth shook and there was flames and thunder.
My mom got mad at me cause I came home drunk on Christmas eve.
When fear didn’t mess up Sid’s composure, Maya sent his daughters to dance around him and invite him to partake of the goods. He was unmoved.
One Sunday morning, Shirley Hodge, who sang next to me in the 8th Avenue Baptist church choir, during the last verse of “Nearer My God to Thee,” slipped her hand under my robe. I was moved.
Persisting in his meditation, Sid’s mind and body became still.
Next to Shirley my mind raced a million miles an hour and my body twirled and shook and shivered and I sang louder than I ever had before.
Sid saw a series of previous births and deaths and new births and his thoughts were filled with compassion.
I couldn’t think of nothing else but Shirley.
Sid then saw peoples’ previous actions cause their present experiences, which is called karma.
I could care less about any consequences of anything I did. Just gimme some beer and a wild girl.
Sid realized that ignorance to one’s true nature causes them to suffer over and over again.
I didn’t realize nothing except that even though I wasn’t a Cajun, it was “let the good times roll.”
Sid came to see that the projection of the mind is like a raindrop merging into the vastness of the ocean or a cloud disappearing into the sky.
I couldn’t see past my next beer.
Sid touched the earth to witness his release from the round of birth and death.
I walked into my second period English class one day and a guy named Rick Fowler gave me Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album.
When Sid looked around him after his experience under the Bodhi tree, he saw the world with new eyes and was enlightened and the god Maya was enraged.
I put the album on the turntable and after I listened to it, I listened to it again, and then again, and as I look back now, from that moment on I was condemned by the gods to write.
Before “Blowing in the Wind”: Striped shirts, penny loafer shoes, pleated pants, everything’s ok, the government can be trusted, flat-top haircuts.
After: Shaggy hair, desert boots, maybe this war is wrong, passion, stand up to ’em, a cause to believe in.
Before “Girl from the North Country”: Date, no premarital sex, marry childhood sweetheart, get a job.
After: Love is pain, poets are back in fashion, collar to wind, rough out boots, leather jacket.
Before “Masters of War”: Obedient, like cattle, don’t rock the American boat, say nothing.
After: Students for a Democratic Society, moratoriums, protest, hearing the truth finally, thinking of Canada, the war is wrong.
Before “Down the Highway”: Boredom.
After: 17 years old, Colorado, sleeping by side of road, bumming round.
Before “Bob Dylan’s Blues”: Andy Williams, Dean Martin, the Four Freshman.
After: Woody, Cisco, Leadbelly, Bill Monroe.
Before “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”: Boring poetry in English class, iambic pentameter, crap.
After: Rimbaud, Verlaine, Bauldelaire, metaphors for the young doomed to die.
Before “Don’t Think Twice”: American Bandstand sweetness, waltzes, Sears acoustic guitar.
After: Fingerpicking, Martin guitar, harmonica rack.
Before “Bob Dylan’s Dream”: Underage drinking beer.
After: Pot, mescaline, girls with no bras, fringed leather jackets, Sante Fe communes.
Before “Oxford Town”: Status quo.
After: The fabric of the flag is torn.
Before “Talkin’ World War III Blues”: Grade school duck and cover, no questions asked.
After: Draft lottery night, #127 … Dad, a WWII vet, says “I don’t want you in that war. If you get called, me and your mom will go to Canada with you.”
Before “Corrina, Corrina”: Pat Boone white-version songs of Little Richard.
After: Doors kicked open to find Howling Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Muddy, Lightnin’, Mance.
Before “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance”: In time, smooth, shiny.
After: Rough, loud, no overdubs, performance more important that pitch.
Before “I Shall Be Free”: Nobody was, even though we thought we were.
After: Austin, Colorado, Sante Fe, Taos, Red River like-minded adventurers on the freedom road. A code of honor but not always following the rules.
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is one who has become awake and delays their own enlightenment in order to liberate and further the awareness of others. I don’t think Bob is Buddhist and I am pretty much a spiritual mongrel myself, but there are days every now and then when I think of myself as some sort of enlightened, lowdown, folk-rock half-assed blues poet, and that’s the result of hearing The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan when I was 17.