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#26 2009-05-11 17:06:18

nyokai
shihan
From: Portland, ME
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 613
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

edosan wrote:

How can you be sure?

You're right, I can't be sure at all. I should have said "There is no evidence I know of that accessorizing with spiritual props increases one's chances of enlightenment, and there are good arguments that it can be distracting from the Buddha's essential instructions, if one cares about that."

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#27 2009-05-11 17:35:04

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

nyokai wrote:

edosan wrote:

How can you be sure?

You're right, I can't be sure at all. I should have said "There is no evidence I know of that accessorizing with spiritual props increases one's chances of enlightenment, and there are good arguments that it can be distracting from the Buddha's essential instructions, if one cares about that."

If you experimented with tin foil pyramid shape hats you might change your mind.








smile just kidding...


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#28 2009-05-11 18:14:24

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

radi0gnome wrote:

If you experimented with tin foil pyramid shape hats you might change your mind.

I've come a long way on the tin foil hat...


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#29 2009-05-11 18:27:10

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

I just tried a stainless-steel wok measuring 360mm diameter. It reflected the high frequency harmonics.
Then I tried a plastic glazing trough measuring 570mm diameter with 250mm depth hich gave a reflection of the mids.
Then I combined the two which did increase the reflections of either alone. It is a short half second duration like a small room reverb but I think the circular shape causes it to 'ring'.

Well worth the exploration.
It also means you have to stand up straight and a small amount of attention is required to keep it balanced but it did not restrict small head-dips to do meris.

Kel.


Kia Kaha !

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#30 2009-05-11 19:07:14

nyokai
shihan
From: Portland, ME
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 613
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Holy Christ, this is a weird place!

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#31 2009-05-11 20:22:52

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

nyokai wrote:

Holy Christ, this is a weird place!

Registered: 2005-10-09:Took you a long time to figure that one out! cool


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#32 2009-05-12 00:46:10

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

nyokai wrote:

Holy Christ, this is a weird place!

Are you referring to the space inside your Tangai ?

Kel.


Kia Kaha !

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#33 2009-05-12 02:58:46

Justin
Shihan/Maker
From: Japan
Registered: 2006-08-12
Posts: 540
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Hi Josh

Josh wrote:

Wow, a lot of different viewpoints and a lot of information to digest. Food for thought, thanks.
Was it really used as a training aid?

I wonder. What I talked about was just a suggestion as to how it might help as one, in order to explore how viable the possibility would be. As for actual practice, what is your opinion judging from the historical sources?

Josh wrote:

Some people have mentioned they may feel like they are in their own world and are able to concentrate on their music/self better with it on, but actually I find the practice of performing in front of people with all eyes on you a very eye opening, 100% concentration needed, slap in the face wake up call sometimes, type of practice that is much more intensly insightful than trying to block out the world or hide in the dark at home and practice.

The effect of public performance may change with time. If you play every day in the streets, you may get used to it and get less of that adrenalin which focuses you so much. However in my own experience I would agree that playing in front of people even in the streets does keep me more focused, even if they are ignoring me.

Also I would not think of the tengai as blocking out the world. Only blocking them recognizing the individual person inside. It could just remove one level of the interaction. It certainly wouldn't block out the musical communication.


Josh wrote:

Don't get me wrong, playing in the dark with a dim light is really a cool feeling, but there are probably many other better training aids.  I heard a saying before something along the lines of, anyone can find peace in the mountains, finding piece on a city subway is a much better test.

When asking one Tibetan master about the importance of individual isolated retreat and how necessary, he pointed out to me that all of the great masters had undergone such training. The idea of the test is good. If the person has really succeeded in his training, the ordinary life of the city, socializing etc should prove no problem, leaving his realisation unshakable. But such a test may come after accomplishment. On the way there, training methods may be very useful. I think training methods make the job far more easy. Whether or not the tengai was one of those useful methods, I don't know. But I do believe that for quickening our path, certain sacrifices of the common lifestyle can be beneficial.

Josh wrote:

So up until the end of the Edo period they were just fine with playing in the more shallower style tengai. Why was it that they felt that a deeper hat would somehow be more spiritual? They had been playing mindfully for a very long time up until the change was called for. So it leads me to believe that there were other ulterior motives for the change other than deepening the players spirituality.

Have you asked Shimura-sensei about this? I heard that the Fuke sect was somewhat degenerating at the end of the Edo period. I wonder if those 2 trends are connected.

However, even the shallower tengai conceal the face, or at least the upper part. Indeed even the usual monks' hat which they wear when begging, seems to hide their face. Perhaps they would be good people to ask, about how that effects their practice, and whether it is connected to their spiritual training.

As the hat deepened, that would hide their face more. I think an interesting thing to find out would be, at what stage did the small holes appear, which enabled the komuso to see out, but not be seen. That may be insightful in understanding this topic. In the photograph posted above, I cannot notice any holes, though I cannot be sure. With no holes, it not only stops people seeing the komuso's face, but also stops the komuso from looking at the faces of others. It is quite a common practice and is said to have been recommended by the Buddha, to walk about with down-caste eyes. So this may be a way of enforcing that practice. As a way of encouraging mindfulness and lessening distraction.

On the other hand making holes through which the komuso can see, keeps the factor of not being seen/recognized, which can be a part of the spiritual practice, but also forfeits the eyes-down discipline. I suggest these possibilities for that modification:

1) Continuance of the differentiation of the Fuke sect from other groups, in this case by external appearance.

2) Extension of the functionality of the tengai by increasing wind protection of the airstream. This could have been a natural evolution. Once the tengai becomes sufficiently deep to cause increased inconvenience to vision, making holes to see would make sense as an adaptation.

3) A shift in importance of the role of the tengai, towards something which lets people see out but not in, merely for anonymity, or anonymous observation.

Josh wrote:

"This MAY have been true in Edo-period Japan (we can't see into the souls of komuso), but clearly these days wearing a tengai is a sign of differentness, individuality, i.e. ego -- even if the only audience for your statement is yourself (you always see yourself through the eyes of our culture). "  And given the small numbers of komuso that would be in any given town in Japan in past, wouldn't this have signified the similar attitudes of individuality etc.?

Do you have any figures for the numbers of komuso? If there were more than 100 temples, I am guessing there would have been thousands of them. Even in the first half of the 20th century there were enough komuso for my friends to remember seeing them as kids. Still the numbers must have been small of course, but perhaps enough for them to be a part of Japanese life at that time, perhaps similar to other begging monks?

Justin

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#34 2009-05-12 03:22:11

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

http://www.shop-japan.co.jp/shop/image/roninkasa-by.jpg

For Shakuhachi Ronin.


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#35 2009-05-12 08:52:30

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

I've come a long way on the tin foil hat...

I believe William Buroughs also worked in this area in an attempt to focus "orgones," partical/wave representations of the universe's orgasmic energy.  Orgones ... Bitchin'


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#36 2009-05-12 10:00:13

Nyogetsu
Kyu Dan Dai Shihan
From: NYC
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 259
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Orgon Erergy.....Wilhelm Reich


The magic's in the music and the music's in me...
"Do you believe in Magic"- The Lovin' Spoonful

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#37 2009-05-12 11:01:36

marek
Member
From: Czech Republic
Registered: 2007-03-02
Posts: 186
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Hi,

nice thread here. I think it is especially interesting to look at the tengai from outside. Once a guy with a tengai hat was walking towards me, and, as he was coming real close, I suddenly felt in danger (although I knew him very well). It was the fact that I couldn't read any intentions from his countenance which looked powerful and mysterious. - Tengais make you taller and change the anthropomorphic figure.
I find it very interesting to look at tengai as a symbol of abundance of something we've got used to lack, of privacy. Intentions, identity or destination of the komuso was unknown. Their music was also very hard to decode. With this in mind I can see a possibility why the komuso lifestyle was popular (and reserved for the elite).

My stream of conscience.

Cheers,

Marek

Last edited by marek (2009-05-12 11:03:05)


"what are you gawping at!?"
                                          Uchiyama Roshi
 
" www.komuso.cz !"

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#38 2009-05-12 18:21:26

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Today, if you wanted to 'look out' and not have others 'look in' all you need is to wear dark sunglasses.

kel.


Kia Kaha !

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#39 2009-05-12 22:11:12

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Karmajampa wrote:

Today, if you wanted to 'look out' and not have others 'look in' all you need is to wear dark sunglasses.

kel.

Not quite the same, because with the sunglasses, you know that others can see your face. It's a different kind of 'looking out' if you know that
the people around you can't see your face.


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#40 2009-05-12 22:30:14

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1524
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3592/3408323416_c96d59aee5.jpg

from the flickr.com site of a fellow by the name of Jim O'Connell. What is compelling for me from this photo is the differences and age of the various tengai.

Last edited by Chris Moran (2009-05-12 22:31:07)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#41 2009-05-12 22:56:37

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

edosan wrote:

Karmajampa wrote:

Today, if you wanted to 'look out' and not have others 'look in' all you need is to wear dark sunglasses.

kel.

Not quite the same, because with the sunglasses, you know that others can see your face. It's a different kind of 'looking out' if you know that
the people around you can't see your face.

My analogy specifically relates to the eyes being windows to the soul.
When we discuss expression displayed by the face, by far we relate to the eyes.
we have already mentioned whether the eyes are looking above the horizon, Aspiration, or below the horizon, Contemplation, or at the ground, perhaps Despair.
It seems to me we have the Historical use of the Tangai which was probably for acoustic and cultural reasons, and something 'spiritual'. Then we have the present, modern use, which seems to be more of a novelty, but the question remains, what is the human psyche attempting to embrace through this tool, today and yesterday ?
I know, the shades are something of an extrapolation, and so is the Mask, but it is interesting psychology.

Kel.


Kia Kaha !

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#42 2009-05-13 11:33:22

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Hi All, I've always liked this photo.

Something about the sinuous nobekan Wabi Sabi flute. Looks like a 2.2.

http://www.yungflutes.com/logphotos/wabisabiflute.jpg

Dig the attentiveness of the guy in front of him with the umbrella.



Namaste, Perry


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#43 2009-05-13 11:47:27

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Great photo!!!


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

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#44 2009-05-17 03:31:41

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Kind of slow to react, but last week when this was a hot topic, I was out playing in full komuso drag. I've had the chance to reflect on some of these ideas.

First, the value of the tengai as shelter from wind turbulence is vastly overstated. If you want to be able to play outdoors on a windy day, you don't need a magic hat, you need a strong embouchure (How do you build the embouchure necessary for playing in the wind? The answer to that is too obvious to be repeated).

The sound that you hear (as a player) is quite different. The whistle tones and chiff that are generated at the utaguchi are inside the tengai with you, and are much more apparent to you than to anyone outside. A Tozan player who prefers very clean, controlled tone would probably describe it as noisy and distracting. To a player from Zensabo who likes edgier sounds, it may seem perfectly normal. For me, it isn't the best sound I have ever heard from my flute, but I'm not playing to listen, I'm playing to play--and it probably sounds normal to anyone else.

nyokai wrote:

Stated another way, as a very personal fashion opinion: a modern Japanese person wearing a tengai looks pretty silly; a Westerner wearing a tengai looks goofy as hell.

Depends on what else they wear with it. I once saw a guy in Berkeley wearing a Speedo and a basket on his head; OK, that's goofy. I also think it is goofy when someone wears a tengai with a formal kimono/hakama/haori ensemble. If, however, they wear the outfit correctly, how do you tell whether they are Japanese or western?



I don't think that anyone looked goofy at the festival in Sydney, but I was the only one out of eight who had to tie my obi; all the Japanese komuso wore a three-piece obi that attached with velcro.

Last edited by rpowers (2009-05-17 03:46:10)


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#45 2009-05-17 07:33:21

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

I gave a lecture/demonstration to a bunch of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders here in Tasmania yesterday and used the tengai and Japanese garb to give an idea of Komuso practice. They enjoyed it. There is definitely something interesting about the tengai to the casual observer.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#46 2009-05-17 10:57:42

Jim Thompson
Moderator
From: Santa Monica, California
Registered: 2007-11-28
Posts: 421

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Brian
    I hadn't thought of that. What a great device to get kids attention. They are very open to stuff like that. You draw them them in with mystery, give them the thrill of knowing they are about to see something they've never seen before and a good shot of adrenalin when they ask themselves for a fleeting moment" Am I about to get robbed?"
    Good work Brian!


" Who do you trust , me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx

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#47 2009-05-17 16:00:56

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Can those of you who have a Tengai tell me why you wear it ?
So far the only reason I see is that it is part of the Komuso costume.
We have some assumtions why it was used historically, and I have my presumtions, but has anyone directly experienced for themselves pragmatic reasons for its use ?

Kel


Kia Kaha !

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#48 2009-05-17 20:54:18

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Karmajampa wrote:

. . . has anyone directly experienced for themselves pragmatic reasons for its use ?

Kel

Not likely. Search the forum archives and see if anyone has ever stated a pragmatic reason for playing shakuhachi.


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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#49 2009-05-18 08:51:10

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

pragmatic reason for playing shakuhachi

It is a good way to dispose of any pesky cash that is just laying around.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#50 2009-05-18 10:09:28

lowonthetotem
Member
From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
Website

Re: Thoughts on Tengai

Almost forgot, it is also an excellent way to see how much patience  and love your significant other really has for you.  I imagine walking around in a crazy face-hiding hat may do that as well, but I can't help but think that the old Tengai may have some use as a marital aid (or maybe better as a drunken one night stand aid).

"C'mon baby, put it on, please.  It will be fun and kind of kinky.  Where's your sense of adventure?"


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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