“Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
I just read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. While many of my students tell me it was the most amazing book they’ve ever read, I found it, while quite good, to be exactly what I expected: a fictionalized story (almost a parable) of self-discovery which parallels the Buddhist eight-fold path. I am sure that I was less astounded by this because I was already familiar with Buddhism, but it was fairly new to my students and quite contrary to much of what they’ve experienced to this point in their lives.
It did, however, remind me of how many times we experience Buddhist-influenced (either direct or indirect) ideas. As a teacher of American Literature, I recognize that the Transcendental Philosophies draw heavily on the religions of the Far East and, since they are such an influential part of our national identity and morality, it is little wonder that we find them infused into various aspects of our pop culture as well. I have long contended that the novel/movie Fight Club has heavy overtones of Transcendentalism (and, by extension, Buddhism) before it gets perverted by Project Mayhem (I’m still trying to rectify the whole second half into my theory).
Likewise, Dylan, one of the more enlightened people of the century, incorporates (either overtly or incidentally) Buddhist concepts into his work, and nowhere is this more obvious than the simple song of peace and tolerance, “Blowin’ in the Wind”. The song suggests an interconnectedness of everything and an understanding that all problems are simply complications that, once simplified, can be easily rectified. It also suggests that, while some things may seem obvious, the answers seem to allude us, blowing in the wind, and may even change.
Which brings me to this version of the song. Originally released as a simple song by a single performer, Dylan saw his song get remade and reworked numerous times by a variety of vocal groups and bands, all of whom changed it in some way. Eventually, Dylan changed his live version of the song, incorporating many of the changes that others had made. The result wasn’t a perversion of the song, but merely an indication that the truth (the song) had undergone changes because others had been allowed access to it. So in essence, the song not only presents some of the basic elements of Buddhism, but also becomes the epitome of the ever-changing truth.(153 plays)