Isaac Hayes Death A Buddhist Reflection
On Sunday August 10, 2008 I was on my cell phone working at Lemoyne College in Memphis when my friend Barry told me that Isaac Hayes had passed away. I said to myself what a strange omen because I was just a few hundred yards away from what was once Stax recording studio where the world famous legendary singer made his most famous recordings.
At the time of this writing you can travel around the inner-city of Memphis and you will see many bill boards of me featured with Isaac Hayes along with Memphis Civil Rights activist Maxine Smith endorsing our 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen. The Caption of the add reads “Home Town Heroes fighting for Memphis.” I never thought of myself as a “Hometown Hero” and the thought of being in an add with a legend like Isaac Hayes made me feel so unworthy because Isaac Hayes is a real Hero a true phenomenon who has affected the stage of world events and influence. In fact when I returned home that evening the lead story on CNN news talked about the life and influence of “Black Moses” Isaac Hayes. Just three days after the Congressman wins primary election Issac Hayes passed to a new phase of life.
This lecture is not totally about Isaac but this is a Buddhist lecture that hopefully will give you a window into the profound teachings of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism and how Buddhism relates to life and the universe. In starting my lecture the 1st Buddhist terms comes to mind is the wordKenzoku -Myo or the mystic relationship. In a general sense Buddhism teaches that relationships are mystic and people we meet in this life we have perhaps met them in a past life and our meeting or relationship is a matter of what we call in Buddhism as “Karma.” Karma is the “sum total of our existences” or the result of our “cause and effect” relationships or karma.
Let me share with you my reflection or Karma as it relates to Isaac Hayes. Back in the day Memphis was a great influence upon the music world and Isaac Hayes was leading the way with his great recordings at Stax music studio. During my youth I too wanted to be a singer and I was once known as “James Brown Jr.” because I could dance so good and about the time of Isaac Hayes Album “Hot Buttered Soul” was released in 1969 I was a youth in high school as a lead singer in an “All White Band.” I got the job in the band because I could sing and dance like James Brown.
The way that I connected to Isaac Hayes was through a band in my old neighborhood called Elliston Heights in Memphis. I clearly remember being a my friends home by the name of Barry Wilkins who was a guitar player who later went on to play with the Barkays who was the studio band at Stax recording studio. Barry got a hold of an early release of the 1969 Isaac Hayes recording because one of the older neighbor hood boys who was also Barry's cousin whose name was Harold Bean.