SMiLE is a koan, an expression
"Satori may be defined
as an intuitive looking into the nature of things in contradistinction
to the analytical or logical understanding of it. Practically,
it means the unfolding of a new world hitherto unperceived in
the confusion of a dualistically-trained mind....Logically stated,
all its opposites and contradictions are united and harmonized
into a consistent organic whole."
~Zen Buddhism: Selected
Writings Of D.T. Suzuki, (pg. 84.)
"As Satori lies beyond
the intellect, which alone can define and describe, one cannot
define Satori. It is that condition of consciousness wherein
the pendulum of the Opposites has come to rest, where both sides
of the coin are equally valued and immediately seen."~C.
Humphreys, Buddhism, (pg. 185.)
The opposites. From right
to left-yin and yang.
The SMiLE Shop album cover
pictures the male and female opposites. Brian Wilson's photo
in the SMiLE booklet is a mirror image opposite.
Lyrically there are "mother
and father," "heroes and villains," "boys
and girls," "lost and found," "in and out,"
"up and down," and "now and then."
There are also the thematic
opposites. The first movement is Brian's negative trip experience
and the third movement is Brian's positive trip experience. The
first movement represents Brian prior to his enlightenment and
the third movement represents Brian after his enlightenment.
The second movement opens with "Wonderful" about a
young female growing up to find God and closes with "Surf's
Up" about a male growing younger to find God. Culinary-wise,
"Barnyard" is the first movement's 'meat' to the third
movement's "Vega-Tables." SMiLE opens with a battle,
"Heroes And Villains," and closes with "I Love
To Say Dada/In Blue Hawaii," which represents peace (see
Peter Reum's SMiLE Shop essay for more on this).
"Buddhist enlightenment consists simply in knowing the secret
of the unity of opposites- the unity of the inner and outer worlds..."~Alan
Watts, Buddhism:The Religion Of No-Religion,
published 1996, (pg. 80.)
There are also the "inner
and outer" opposites ("within you" and "without
you" in Beatle language.) These lie on opposite sides of
the ego, the "I" and the "not-I." To let
go of one's ego is to realize the unity of these opposites. The
inner "I" and the outer universe(the"not-I")
are unified in The
"It (satori) is the plane
whereon Jijimuge is reality, where the whole is seen as such
and its parts in their due proportion."~Buddhism,
finding the Universal Buddha in every particular thing....all
"thou's", or apples, or boats, are not only THAT but
directly each other, completely and altogether."~Buddhism,
The Lava Lite is wind chimes.
Wind chimes are the Lava Lite.
"...the apple is an apple
none the less for being a boat, and the boat is a boat for all
its appleness, or grand-piano-ness or cup-of-tea-dom."~Zen
Buddhism, (pg. 152.)
The fire trucks are the iron
horse. The iron horse is the fire trucks.
"...a chair is a chair
and it is also not a chair (although we can chose to call that
particular pattern of atoms at that particular moment by the
word chair) and a human being is certainly a human being (for
example, he will react if pinched), but he is also not a human
being but only a temporary vibrational design formed by his position
in space and time."~Zen For Beginners,
pub. 1986, (pg. 52.)
The sunrise is a rainbow.
The rainbow is a sunrise.
SMiLE scholars often cite
the use of both lyrical and visual puns. The alternating images
of Carl and Dennis from the American Band video's
SMiLE segment, for example, can be seen as a visual pun.
R. H. Blyth, however, would
most likely dismiss this pun-Zen connection.
"For Zen the most important thing in these lofty ethical
pronouncements is the paradox itself. A paradox is not a kind
of pun, to be resolved by explaining the double meaning of the
word. It does not spring from a desire to mystify the hearers
or oneself. It arises from the inability of language to say two
things at once."
~Zen In English Literature And Oriental Classics,
"You can get hung up
in words, you know. Maybe they work; I don't know....If they
don't get the words, they'll get the music, because that's where
it's really at, in the music"~Brian Wilson
Blyth continues, "In
this way music is greater than language. We can say two things
at once, and the two separate melodies become one single indivisible
harmony."~Zen In English Literature And Oriental
Classics, (pg. 180.)
"...the doorknob is the
cat and the cat is the doorknob, but though they are both interfused
in one they never cease to be the doorknob and the cat respectively.
Which is absurd, but Zen."~Zen Buddhism,
"But Zen is neither;
it knows that whether one turns inward or outward one is the
same. Both inner and outer are illusion; meanwhile here is a
cup of tea, which is out, and my love of it, which is in, so
why all these long words and furious distinctions? The glory
is here, and now, and this; we need not look for it in the East
or West."~Zen Buddhism, (pg. 205.)
SMiLE is about it,
Oneness, the moment, the absolute, the eternal now, the ultimate
religious experience, cosmic consciousness, one thought, God
("It's just a word, anyway.")
"This is a mystery
and a miracle, but according to the Zen masters such is being
performed every day. Satori can thus be had only through our
once personally experiencing it."~Zen Buddhism: Selected Writings Of D.T. Suzuki, (pg. 84.)
"The principle is that
all dualities and opposites are not disjoined but polar; they
do not encounter and confront one another from afar; they exfoliate
from a common center. Ordinary thinking conceals polarity and
relativity because it employs terms, the terminals or
ends, the poles, neglecting what lies between them. The difference
of front and back, to be and not to be, hides their unity and
mutuality."~Alan Watts, The Joyous Cosmology,
"For what consciousness
overlooks is the fact that all boundaries and divisions are held
in common by their opposite sides and areas, so that when a boundary
changes its shape both sides move together. It is like the yang-yin
symbol of the Chinesethe black and white fishes divided
by an S-curve inscribed within a circle. The bulging head of
one is the narrowing tail of the other."~The Joyous
Cosmology, (pg. 50.)
"According to Buddhism,
the notion of an ego, that is, awareness of oneself as a discrete
individuality, is an illusion. It arises because, misled by our
bifurcating intellect(the sixth sense) into postulating the dualism
of "myself" and "not-myself," we are led
to think and act as though we were a separated entity confronted
by a world external to us." ~Philip Kapleau, The
Three Pillars Of Zen, (pg.363.)
SMILEY SMILE begins and ends with opposites. "Heroes
And Villains" is the opener and "Whistle In,"
with its daytime-nighttime theme, is the closer.