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#1 2009-10-25 18:53:12

-Prem
Member
From: The Big Apple
Registered: 2007-03-27
Posts: 73

Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Hello All-
I just found this article the other day and I found it to be really informative and interesting. I would love to hear your opinions about his research and conclusions. I found his views/research on the historical relationship between Zen and shakuhachi to be especially interesting and challenging to the western notion of spirituality and shakuhachi. Anyway, check it out!

link:
www.japanese-religions.jp/publications/ … a_Deeg.pdf


-Prem

Last edited by -Prem (2009-10-25 18:56:35)

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#2 2009-10-25 20:48:31

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

He says:

"The only extant writing which really has Zen-inspired content was composed by Hisamatsu MasagorØ F¨yØ (1790-1845) 久松雅五朗風陽 who was a disciple and factual successor of the third head of school (iemoto 家元) of the Kinko-ry¨ Kurosawa MasajirØ Kinko黑澤雅二朗琴古 (d. 1816). These works bear the titles Hitori-gotoba 獨言, “Monologue” (before 1830), Hitori-mondØ 獨問答, “Monologous dialogues” (1823) and Kaisei-hØgo 海靜法語, “Dharma-words of the silent sea”'

We've had "Hitori Mondo" on the forum but does anybody have English versions of the other two?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#3 2009-10-27 02:09:24

Lanier flutes
Member
From: Japan
Registered: 2008-09-16
Posts: 32

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Thanks Prem; the article looks quite interesting...


"And the music of humans means bamboo pipes singing"            Yen-cheng  Tzu-yu

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#4 2009-10-27 16:24:40

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Looks like a great article but I haven't had time to read and digest it.

Where are all our verbose Ph.D's and Ph.D. wannabees and our other scholarly types when you need them? I would have thought this would provoke some discussion. winkwinkwinkwink


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#5 2009-10-27 16:43:04

-Prem
Member
From: The Big Apple
Registered: 2007-03-27
Posts: 73

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Me too.

Like Tairaku I would also like to get my hands on translations of the other 2 writings from Hisamatsu.

Last edited by -Prem (2009-10-27 16:45:23)

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#6 2009-10-27 18:04:08

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Tairaku wrote:

Looks like a great article but I haven't had time to read and digest it.

Where are all our verbose Ph.D's and Ph.D. wannabees and our other scholarly types when you need them? I would have thought this would provoke some discussion. winkwinkwinkwink

I have downloaded it and am reading it slowly as I am writing a post-funding report that is way overdue! Sigh! Life! I'd much rather read what Max says. Just TOO bad I didn't know about this guy until now as I have recently been to a conference held at Cardiff University. He is a senior lecturer at the School of Religious & Theological Studies at Cardiff University in Wales! I should have met him then! Damn!
I will be back when I have handed in the report and read the full article. Could be fun to begin a discussion based on it.

THANK YOU so much for the link, Prem! You are a star! (as the Brits would say)


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#7 2009-10-27 18:35:50

-Prem
Member
From: The Big Apple
Registered: 2007-03-27
Posts: 73

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

To be honest I have only read it through once and I feel that I have not really digested a lot of it. I want to read it again more fully as it is quite dense in info. I am very interested in this type of article and this topic because it seems to aspire to get at the truth of the matter (whatever that may exactly mean....). Then this makes me wonder, if this is an "accurate" article, why do people prefer the unreal version to the "real" history? It also makes me wonder why I also would enjoy this fantasy version. Is it more special, more interesting, more alien to my western upbringing? Why does one and all (including the Japanese) accept and propagate the fictitious version? (Believe me, I also love that version! But equally so I love the version as told by this article) I know this info regarding the "real" history of shakuhachi is nothing new but after reading this article it made me look more deeply into various facets of shakuhachi such as: Why would we label some activities as spiritual and others not? Why are Asian arts more spiritual than Western? (Keep your pants on! I am just trying to inspire some questioning...) What would motivate one to call shakuhachi "spiritual"? Why do most in Japan not make this claim yet almost all in the West do? A necessity, a need? (Of course there are exceptions and I realize that words can NEVER convey a very complex past including various views and paths but to inquire is good I think) I guess it makes me even question what does blowing into this piece of bamboo really mean, or not mean. Am I just playing a fantasy, like cosplay? I guess it just inspired me to look more deeply into these topics. Now I see that maybe we will have to resume this discussion in the future. I look forward to it!



P.S. Kiku, you are a bright one also! By the way, when do I get to read your thesis? Seriously!

Last edited by -Prem (2009-10-27 18:48:07)

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#8 2009-10-27 19:04:43

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

-Prem wrote:

. Then this makes me wonder, if this is an "accurate" article, why do people prefer the unreal version to the "real" history?

But when people start to attach all that spiritual baggage (even if it's bogus) to shakuhachi and consider it a spiritual practice, then it becomes a de facto spiritual practice. So there's the element of self-fulfilling prophecy there. Form follows function.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#9 2009-10-27 20:41:28

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Prem, once I have had my viva I will mail you the thesis. But it si so heavy to mail because of all the pictures (I call it my picture book).

Ok, skimmed through Deeg's article. And yes.... this article needs to be read quite a few time. It is very dense!
I find his overview of the religious affiliations and historical sources to be very interesting. That is, of course, also his speciality. This must be the best single source in English on this subject. I find he is slightly weaker on the musical sources that could have provided this article with a little more insight even into extra-musical practices of the Fuke sect. I find the article lacks some of the critical literature about the Fuke legend existing in the musical research.

But I only skimmed through the article... and that is because being in London keeps me awake... zzzz....

The questions you ask are all very valid. Unfortunately Deeg does not go much into the psychology of the legend today in the 'West'. Perhaps if you read Jay Keister's article from 2004 just after this one - it will make sense till today.

Ok, bedtime. Again, Prem - thanks for finding this and sharing it with us!

Somehow the description of the moment Kakushin is attracted to the sound of kyotaku stayed with me (perhaps just because of the very different way the word kawai is used):

Gakushin sat reverently on his knees (kiza 跪坐) and said: “How strange! How wonderful (myō 妙)! One never has heard such a pure tune, such a wonderful melody, amazing and touching the heart (kawai 可愛), from any (bamboo) cane. I beg you to teach me the melody so that I can transfer this wonderful sound to Japan.”


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#10 2009-10-27 21:23:22

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Tairaku wrote:

Looks like a great article but I haven't had time to read and digest it.

Where are all our verbose Ph.D's and Ph.D. wannabees and our other scholarly types when you need them? I would have thought this would provoke some discussion. winkwinkwinkwink

Ok so I stopped my midget pron for a couple of hours and read this one and was quite pleased by the whole thing.

Well all I can say is that when it comes to Historical/religious implications this IS the best English article on the whole thing. Now that being said I feel it is not aimed at individuals that are totally new to the subject since it quotes and names a bunch of more obscure monks that are usually only known by scholars.

As Kiku noted the article is light on the notation and music but in the end I truly feel this IS the reference when it comes to making the whole Fuke story as to what it is when it comes to religious and Historical values of it. This was stuff that I had in books here and there or just stuff that was common sense when you understand Japanese culture and religion but that was missunderstood by westerners so far due to what they want Zen to be. This guy was truly the one to lay it out straight.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

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#11 2009-10-28 00:39:04

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Kiku Day wrote:

The questions you ask are all very valid. Unfortunately Deeg does not go much into the psychology of the legend today in the 'West'. Perhaps if you read Jay Keister's article from 2004 just after this one - it will make sense till today.

Does anybody have a link to this one?

Maybe I should start a new forum for links to external papers and articles?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#12 2009-10-28 00:44:53

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Gishin wrote:

This was stuff that I had in books here and there or just stuff that was common sense when you understand Japanese culture and religion but that was missunderstood by westerners so far due to what they want Zen to be. This guy was truly the one to lay it out straight.

Have you read Torsten Olaffson's paper? He makes the point that shakuhachi has more to do with Shinto and Japanese Buddhism from sects other than Zen than with Zen. What do you think of that?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#13 2009-10-28 03:11:25

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Tairaku wrote:

Kiku Day wrote:

The questions you ask are all very valid. Unfortunately Deeg does not go much into the psychology of the legend today in the 'West'. Perhaps if you read Jay Keister's article from 2004 just after this one - it will make sense till today.

Does anybody have a link to this one?

Maybe I should start a new forum for links to external papers and articles?

Perhaps a good idea. Jay Keister's 2004 article's reference is here:
Keister, Jay. 2004. The Shakuhachi as Spiritual Tool: A Japanese Buddhist Instrument in the West. Asian Music 35.2: 109- 31.

There is a link to the journal here: http://asianmusic.skidmore.edu/contindex/v35n2.htm

but I don't think there is a free link to the article. Perhaps others better at searching the net can find a free link. If you have access to JSTOR you can download it. I have it as pdf file, but I don't think it would be wise for me to make a link to it here in public.... (I might consider mailing it to individuals). Some of you who have been around for a while may remember that Jay Keister posted some questions on Bruce's Shakuhachi List. He has used some answers in his article.


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#14 2009-10-28 03:14:01

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Member Rick Riekert cited this Deeg monograph back in July, quoting this segment:

“First, flute playing mendicant monks of the early Edo period were integrated in the late Edo period into the existing system of the Zen denominations: During this process a line of legitimation had to be created which was connected with the specific feature of this new denomination, the playing of the shakuhachi. Simultaneously, there was a process of laicization, spiritualization and aesthetization of this distinguishing feature, the playing of the shakuhachi, which consisted of an amalgamation of virtuous musical practice and Zen-Buddhist conceptions of spirituality. This development occured during the 19th century, and intensified after the Meiji-restoration. Second, it was this line of interpretation of the tradition which prevailed after the abolishment of the Fuke-shu in certain circles playing the shakuhachi. It was this that, in turn, determined the Western reception of classical Japanese music as a kind of spiritual practice.”

Here's the thread link to his post:  http://shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.ph … 415#p24415

Last edited by edosan (2009-10-28 13:23:43)


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

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#15 2009-10-28 04:03:11

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

A few questions I ponder while we await an answer to the above Mysteries of the Sacred Shakuhachi:

1. Was Buddha literally born out of a lotus blossom?

2. Could Hanuman really fly with his tail on fire?

3. Did Socrates simply order a vodka martini?

4. Did Jesus just take a wrong turn outside of Bethany?


"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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#16 2009-10-28 05:23:14

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Hi Prem
You beat me to it! I had been meaning to attempt to provoke more discussion on this article. Rick posted a link to this article back in July and no-one made any comments!
http://www.shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?id=3837

I found some of what was written thought provoking and of great interest, and was hoping to hear about any agreement disagreement with what was written particularly from Kiku, Josh and Riley and any others who may have studied these things in depth. I'm still trying to understand it, and ended up ordering one of the books he referenced, "Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan - Buddhism and its Persecution". I've only just started that but looks very well written and may be of interest to other forum members too. I'm hoping this will give a clearer picture of the circumstances in which the Fuke-shu was closed down, and also some explanation as to the dismal state of today's Buddhism in Japan.

In the article in question, I found statements such as this interesting:

Simultaneously, there was a process of laicization, spiritualization and
aesthetization of this distinguishing feature, the playing of the shakuhachi, which
consisted of an amalgamation of virtuous musical practice and Zen-Buddhist
conceptions of spirituality. This development occured during the 19th century, and
intensified after the Meiji-restoration.
Second, it was this line of interpretation
of the tradition which prevailed after the abolishment of the Fuke-sh ̈ in certain
circles playing the shakuhachi. It was this that, in turn, determined the Western
reception of classical Japanese music as a kind of spiritual practice.

[emphasis by me, not in original]

This seemed to me as if it might be bringing into question whether or not the shakuhachi was really a spiritual practice or not before the Meiji restoration, or at least whether the view of shakuhachi being historicaly used as a spiritual tool as being accurate or not.

However he goes on to remind us of evidence through history which tells us that the shakuhachi has been the instrument of spiritual practitioners all the way back through the shakuhachi lineage to the Kamakura era, and was the defining mark of this group, which had many names and went through various stages and changes, but always stood out as being religious shakuhachi players.

I liked this part about the Komuso, the pre-Komuso itinerant spiritual renunciates. (Sorry that the copying and psting gives some character errors)

The name komo-sØ first occurs in a poem in the anthology Sanj ̈niban-shokunin-
utaawase 三十二番職人歌合, “Collection of poems (or: songs) from thirty-two
professions” – compiled at the end of the Muromachi 室町 period (1333-1573)
before 1539 – bearing the title KomosØ:
(uta 歌smile Inmidst of the spring flowers – who should be disturbed by the blowing?
It is not the wind but the shakuhachi of the komoso.
(kotobagaki 詞書smile The samadhi of the komo-so consists of putting a paper-cape
around his shoulder, hanging a rice bowl at his hip going in front of the doors
of the rich and the poor and playing the shakuhachi – they are of no other use.

In the title of this poem the name of the monk is written as komØ-sØ 虚妄僧,
literally meaning: “monk of voidness and idleness” connotating at the same time
the meaning of “monk of lies, of betrayal.” The poem and the commentary show
that the kind of mendicant described was not very highly respected or was at least
regarded in an ambivalent way as were the other types of hijiri.

I like the poem and even though it seems to aim at insulting the komoso, the simplicity implied gives me a rather favourable impression! Furthermore, from this and other discriptions we have of them, they are not the kind of people I would especially expect to leave written records of their philosophies and practices, and by the sound of how the public felt about them, even if they had written texts, I would not expect them to be likely to have been preserved or cared for.

He continues:

What can be derived from these sources is that there were, from the 14th
century on, religious mendicants who where known under different names; some
of them obviously had the special sign of playing a bamboo flute. It has to be
emphasized, however, that there is no connection to a Zen denomination and
that the name Fuke is not used. The quoted passage from the Tsurezure-gusa
demonstrates that the boroboro practiced the nenbutsu of nine stages (kuhon no
nenbutsu 九品の念佛),21 connotating the invocation of the Buddha Amida(-butsu) 阿
彌陀佛. These mendicants seem to have placed themselves, or have been placed,
in the context of Pure-Land Buddhism (jØdo 浄土) and not in connection with
Zen.

This served nothing to counter any claim that shakuhachi was used as a spiritual tool, though does suggest it may not have entirely focused upon the Zen sect. I find it fascinating that the boroboro were connected to Pure-land Buddhism as I have heard that there were communities of komuso I believe in the Nagoya area, during the Edo period who were more Pure-land rather the Zen-shu.

Concerning when the Zen connection came, he talks about the term Komuso as a Zen-influenced name:

It is not clear from the sources when the “zenized” term komusØ, “monk
of voidness (ko or kyo) and nothingness (mu)” replaced the older komo-sØ. A still
somewhat polemical transitional form is found in Miura JØshin’s 三浦浄心
(1564-1644) KeichØ-kenbun-sh ̈ 慶長見聞集, “Collection of (Things) Observed and
Heard from the Era KeichØ” (ca. 1614), where he speaks of komusØ 古無僧, literally
meaning: “old (monk who) is no monk.” (Ueno 2002: 191) The earliest evidence of
the form komusØ seems to be in the Keichiku-shoshin-sh ̈ 糸竹初心集, “Anthology
for beginners of string instrument and bamboo (flutes),” by Nakamura SØsan 中
村宗三, published in 1664.24 Up to the beginning of the 18th century, however, the
komusØ were not directly connected with any Zen denomination and were still
considered to be boro – as can be seen in the Wakan-shinsen-kagaku-sh ̈ 和漢新撰下
學集 (1714) – without mentioning the instrument shakuhachi –: “In the east of Japan
the boro 暮露 are called komusØ.”25

The fact that the very name by which they were known was a “zenized” term, as he puts it, may already tell us a lot. As for actually being "directly connected with any Zen denomination", that would seem to me to be a question of politics rather than spirituality. And my understanding of the whole creation of the Fuke legend was that it was indeed to give them political protection by giving them this direct connection within the Zen school, as Riley discussed in his thesis. But this is no pre-requisite for having already strong Zen influence, Zen philosophy, and/or genuine spiritual practice with the shakuhachi. So I cannot see any reason for thinking anyone was wrong in assuming the shakuhachi was being used for spiritual practice. It is interesting though to ponder more the nature of the practices they were doing. I have always wished to know more of the daily routines of the komuso.

Last edited by Justin (2009-10-28 05:30:26)

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#17 2009-10-28 06:21:28

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

-Prem wrote:

Then this makes me wonder, if this is an "accurate" article, why do people prefer the unreal version to the "real" history? It also makes me wonder why I also would enjoy this fantasy version. Is it more special, more interesting, more alien to my western upbringing? Why does one and all (including the Japanese) accept and propagate the fictitious version?

Hi Prem
Do you mean the Fuke legend? Were you told that as true? I have actually heard some Japanese shakahachi players seemingly believing that story, but it is widely known and written about that is was all made up. Or were you meaning another part of what he was talking about? It would be interesting to hear what you have been taught.

after reading this article it made me look more deeply into various facets of shakuhachi such as: Why would we label some activities as spiritual and others not? Why are Asian arts more spiritual than Western? (Keep your pants on! I am just trying to inspire some questioning...) What would motivate one to call shakuhachi "spiritual"?

I have often felt that Japanese arts in particular seem to be generally more "spiritual" than many others such as the Western arts I was exposed to. I don't think that this is simply a case of Westerners projecting on nonexistant spirituality on "exotic" Japan. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for example was a Buddhist master from Tibet, thoroughly trained in the Tibetan arts who also took a particular interest in Japanese art. He studied Jpanese calligraphy and flower arranging, and used these extensively in teaching spiritual practice to his students in the US. He also has his students study kyudo (Japanese archery) and Japanese tea ceremony under Japanese masters.

Of course, any art can be made into a spiritual practice. From India we have examples of Mahasiddhas who would instruct their disciples in very practical ways, how they could become enlightened even though they were busy with their daily work and had no time or opportunity for isolated practice. One such example was a shoe maker, who was instructed how sewing the leather of the shoes could become his spiritual practice, and indeed he succeeded in his path the enlightenment.

They key I believe is not solely in "what" one does but in "how" one does. Many of the Japanese arts seem to have been infused with Buddhism to such an extent that they have developed purposely into spiritual arts. Shakuhachi seems to be one such art, although, perhaps having much to do with the Meiji government trying their best to exterminate Buddhism, today's shakuhachi is lacking in this intention, generally secularised and, I imagine taught similarly to how any Western instrument might be taught.

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#18 2009-10-28 09:56:27

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Correction. Sorry guys. Jay Keister's article was from 2003.
He has also written a more general one too about spiritual approach to Asian music in the West. I like the last one better. Here are the info:

Keister, Jay. 2005. Seeking Authentic Experience: Spirituality in the Western Appropriation of Asian Music. The World of Music 47.3: 35-53.
______. 2003. The Shakuhachi as Spiritual Tool: A Japanese Buddhist Instrument in the West. Asian Music 35.2: 109- 31.

Thanks also to Rick for sharing the article (and to Ed for always knowing who, what, where and when). At the time I did only have my nose into my own thesis, so unfortunately I didn't see it.


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#19 2009-10-28 10:29:53

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Tairaku wrote:

Gishin wrote:

This was stuff that I had in books here and there or just stuff that was common sense when you understand Japanese culture and religion but that was missunderstood by westerners so far due to what they want Zen to be. This guy was truly the one to lay it out straight.

Have you read Torsten Olaffson's paper? He makes the point that shakuhachi has more to do with Shinto and Japanese Buddhism from sects other than Zen than with Zen. What do you think of that?

On this one all I can say is that overall the Torsten Olaffson paper is not bad but I feel it is just stating what you can find in general books here and there also his Shinto thing  is a bit far fetched. When talking about Japanese stuff you can always say it has some sort of connection to Shinto and when saying Shinto for music it would be more accurate to get into the Japanese Neo-Conficianist school mostly based on the works of Shushi. It would be in those packages that you would find more of the musical aesthetics and ideals of sounds etc if you want to move out of the spiritual part and get more to the musical technicality.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

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#20 2009-10-28 18:58:38

-Prem
Member
From: The Big Apple
Registered: 2007-03-27
Posts: 73

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Gishin wrote:

This was stuff that I had in books here and there or just stuff that was common sense when you understand Japanese culture and religion but that was missunderstood by westerners so far due to what they want Zen to be. This guy was truly the one to lay it out straight.

Hey Gishin! Good to hear from you. I have always liked you experiential insights into the actual practice of Zen in Japan and China versus the western understanding of Zen. It is interesting that the primary understanding of Zen here (USA) revolves simply around wild behavior and use of the word Zen to describe anything done with some slight austerity and concentration. Most do not want to know how it is really practiced. The seriousness, the discipline, the renouncing of aberrent thoughts, etc. etc. It is truly something that one must dedicate one's entire being to; staking your life on its fulfillment. This is a far cry than the version in vogue in the USA. Although, of course, there are groups and individuals that are sincerely trying to practice and sincerely discover its Truth. But I feel that the important word in your writing is "WANT". You HAVE to want to know. No want, no know. Thanks again Gishin.


Justin wrote:

They key I believe is not solely in "what" one does but in "how" one does. Many of the Japanese arts seem to have been infused with Buddhism to such an extent that they have developed purposely into spiritual arts. Shakuhachi seems to be one such art, although, perhaps having much to do with the Meiji government trying their best to exterminate Buddhism, today's shakuhachi is lacking in this intention, generally secularised and, I imagine taught similarly to how any Western instrument might be taught.

Ah YES! I like this and your story about the shoe maker very much. Thank you for sharing this! Now I feel that we are touching on something of great importance. This I feel is the true import of doing an activity as some sort of practice. But I equally feel that the key in your story is that the shoe maker was taught by a Mahasiddha. One with the power to transform. I also feel the same as you in that the way shakuhachi is primarily taught is as a musical instrument, not unlike learning a western instrument. Simply playing the shakuhachi in this manner does not transform nor leads to any kind of Grand Understanding. I feel that simply playing the shakuhachi is not related to spiritual practice at all. To aim for that PURE SOUND beyond the melody one needs to become PURE. This is how you live, how you think; EVERY MOMENT of life must go towards that one goal. This is no easy task nor can be learned simply from being disciplined in a musical form. It is supremely vast and takes serious endeavor and inquiry into the nature of Reality itself. Relentless and Radical. The True Guide is the Goal. If one lives life in this manner surely everything is practice, but simply calling it so means nothing. Action is a must. Of course the way Zen or any practice is written about in books and the wonderful adjectives used to describe the Path and Goal is a great starting point, but knowledge and understanding with the mind amounts to nothing. One can easily understand the teachings if one applies oneself. They are illogically, logical. But we have to press on! Dig deep, and keep digging. Go to the ends of the world and stake one's very life on its Understanding. How do we do this? By becoming determined, by being sincere, by becoming serious about this endeavor. Very serious!

Kiku wrote:

The questions you ask are all very valid. Unfortunately Deeg does not go much into the psychology of the legend today in the 'West'. Perhaps if you read Jay Keister's article from 2004 just after this one - it will make sense till today.

Kiku wrote:

I find his overview of the religious affiliations and historical sources to be very interesting. That is, of course, also his speciality. This must be the best single source in English on this subject. I find he is slightly weaker on the musical sources that could have provided this article with a little more insight even into extra-musical practices of the Fuke sect. I find the article lacks some of the critical literature about the Fuke legend existing in the musical research.

I always enjoy your input Kiku! Thanks!
I have never heard of this guy Deeg before I came by his article by accident. Does he have others on the subject of Komuso/Fuke?

I am also wondering what exactly do you mean by musical sources and in what way would they ad to the understanding? Or rather what kinds of musical sources?

I am so glad that you have researched so greatly on the subject of ancient shakuhachi for us English speakers. It is truly invaluable for us that can not read or have access to various sources. Thanks!

I am so happy that we are discussing this topic seriously as I find all everyone's views greatly inspiring and informative. We have so many people on this forum that have researched into various facets of shakuhachi lore and practice. I think that these kinds of serious discussions makes this forum truly valuable. Thank you all!


-Prem

Last edited by -Prem (2009-10-28 19:00:46)

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#21 2009-10-28 20:10:19

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Gishin, really nice to hear from you on this topic! smile

Prem, what I meant by 'musical sources' was, that if Deeg had also based his paper on more research from music people such as ethnomusicologists (but also the amazing literature written by amateur shakuhachi researchers, who actually play a large rȏle in the research done on shakuhachi) the paper could have been more balanced. As all scholars have to go a bit outside their own discipline into related and important themes i regard to the main topic they research, of course ethnomusicologists have also researched into shakuhachi and spirituality. Deeg for example only mentions in passing Nakatsuka Chikuzen but Nakatsuka actually strongly questioned the truth of the legend. Something that was very hard to swallow for the shakuhachi world. Nakatsuka's collection of articles was published in 1979. I can't remember if he was writing already in the 1940s... or earlier. I felt while skimming (and I admit I have only skimmed through the article) that a few of his questions could have been answered by research done by musicologists.

Prem, I am not so strong in ancient shakuhachi research as you may think (blush). I did much more on the shakuhachi's possibilities today. A colleague of mine is writing his PhD in shakuhachi and spirituality. I'll let you know in due time when he finished. I am very excited about reading his thesis. His name is Chris Mau. He was at the Sydney Festival. Also I am very curious about what Matsunobu Koji wrote in his recently completed PhD on shakuhachi. That was related to spirituality too.

For me meditation and spirituality is hard work! Playing the shakuhachi is not enough. Hours, days and years spent on the zafu I personally find necessary. And there is a very fine balance between following prescriptive form and letting go. Without the letting go - I would feel one could not transcend.... if you understand what I mean.

♪♩♫♬♬♬♩♪♩♫♫♩♪♩♬♪♪♩♫♬♬


Dr Max Deeg: Complete Publications (although it must be incomplete as the one we have been reading is not on)
Monographs

* The Places where Siddhārtha Trod: Lumbinī and Kapilavastu, Lumbini (Nepal) 2004
* Das Gaoseng-Faxian-zhuan als religionsgeschichtliche Quelle. Der älteste Bericht eines chinesischen buddhistischen Pilgermönchs über seine Reise nach Indien mit Übersetzung des Textes ('The Gaoseng-Faxian-zhuan as a source for the history of religion. The oldest report of a Chinese Buddhist pilgrim on his journey to India — with a translation of the text'), Wiesbaden 2005 (Studies in Oriental Religions 52), 740 pages and 5 maps

Articles

* 'Buddhist Studies and its Impact on Buddhism in Western Societies', in: The Fourth Chung-Hwa International Conference on Buddhism: The Role of Buddhism in the 21st Century
* „Wer eine kennt, kennt keine ..." — Zur Notwendigkeit der Unterscheidung von Orientalismen und Okzidentalismen in der asiatischen Religionsgeschichte ('Who knows one, knows none ...' — The Necessity of Differing Between Orientalisms and Occidentalisms in the History of Asian Religions), in: P. Schalk, M. Deeg, O. Freiberger, Ch. Kleine (ed.), Religion im Spiegelkabinett. Asiatische Religionsgeschichte im Spannungsfeld zwischen Orientalismus und Okzidentalismus, Uppsala 2003, 27-61
* 'Bhagavat in Chinese Buddhist Translation: An Indirect Example of oral Nirvacana in Buddhist text translations?', in: Sh. Hino, T. Wada (ed.), Three Mountains and Seven Rivers. Prof. Musashi Tachikawa’s Felicitation Volume, Delhi 2004, 153 — 167
* "Laozi oder Buddha? Polemische Strategien um die „Bekehrung der Barbaren durch Laozi" als Grundlagen des Konflikts zwischen Buddhisten und Daoisten im chinesischen Mittelalter (Laozi or Buddha? Polemical Strategies around the "Conversion of the Barbarians by Laozi" as a Basis in the Conflict Between Buddhists and Daoists in the Chinese Middle Ages), in: ZfR 11 (2003), 209 - 234
* 'Legend and Cult — Contributions to the History of Indian Buddhist Stūpas — Part 1: the Stūpa of Kaniska'; in: Buddhist Studies Review 21.1 (2004), 1- 34
* 'Legend and Cult — Contributions to the History of Indian Buddhist Stūpas — Part 2: the „Stūpa of Laying Down the Bows"', in: Buddhist Studies Review 21 (2004), 119 — 149
* 'Verfremdungseffekt beim Übersetzen und "Wieder"-übersetzen der chinesischen Nestorianica' (Effects of alienation in translating and „re"-translating the Chinese Nestorianica), in: Ulrich Berner / Christoph Bochinger / Klaus Hock (ed.), Das Christentum aus der Sicht der Anderen. Religionswissenschaftliche und missionswissenschaftliche Beiträge (Christianity through the others’ looking-glass), Frankfurt a.M. 2005 (Beiheft der Zeitschrift für Mission Nr.3), 75 — 104
* 'Was haben ein Mönch und ein Fisch gemeinsam? Monastische Regeln und Lebensrealität und der Aussagewert chinesischer Pilgerberichte' (What do a monk and a fish have in common? Monastic rules, reality of life and the source-value of the Chinese pilgrim records), in: P. Schalk, M. Deeg, O. Freiberger, Ch. Kleine, A. van Nahl (ed.), Im Dickicht der Gebote. Studien zur Dialektik von Norm und Praxis in der Buddhismusgeschichte Asiens (In the thicket of rules. Studies to the dialectic of norm and practice in the history of Asian Buddhism), Uppsala 2005, 99 — 152

(Co-)Editor

* P. Schalk, M. Deeg, O. Freiberger, Ch. Kleine (ed.), Religion im Spiegelkabinett. Asiatische Religionsgeschichte im Spannungsfeld zwischen Orientalismus und Okzidentalismus (Religion in the Mirrored Chamber. The History of Asian Religions Between Orientalism and Occidentalism), Uppsala 2003
* P. Schalk, M. Deeg, O. Freiberger, Ch. Kleine, A. van Nahl (ed.), Im Dickicht der Gebote. Studien zur Dialektik von Norm und Praxis in der Buddhismusgeschichte Asiens (In the thicket of rules. Studies to the dialectic of norm and practice in the history of Asian Buddhism), Uppsala 2005


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#22 2009-10-28 21:06:37

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Here is a more complete bibliography of Deeg's efforts.

       http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/relig/contacts … ation.html

The article in question is not on the list because it was in progress at the time of the publication of the bibliography.

-----------

Edit: For the time being, here is an edit of Jay Keister's paper:

Keister, Jay    University of Colorado    SEM The Shakuhachi as Spiritual Tool:
                        A Japanese Buddhist Instrument in America

The Japanese shakuhachi flute currently leads a dual existence. Presently,
the shakuhachi functions as an important mainstay of Japanese traditional
music in solo and ensemble performances alongside the koto (zither) and
the shamisen (lute). Unlike these other instruments, the shakuhachi has a
historical association with Zen Buddhism made famous by monks of the now
defunct Fuke sect who once used the instrument as an aid to meditation.
While the Buddhist associations with the instrument are implicit and relegated
to history in Japan, many North American players who have appropriated
the instrument consciously use the shakuhachi as a tool of meditation and
as a way of articulating Buddhist philosophy.

This paper examines how the shakuhachi is being recontextualized in the
West in a way that reifies its Buddhist background and articulates differences
between musical and religious practice. This use of shakuhachi as a meditation
device for “blowing Zen” has raised debate among players and teachers in the
West about the proper interpretation of the Japanese tradition. While some
remain skeptical and assert that the shakuhachi is first and foremost a musical
instrument (gakki), some players go so far as to reject its “entertainment” function
and call for a return to its “original” function as a spiritual instrument (hoki).
This study demonstrates to ethnomusicologists the kinds of transformations
that can occur in Western appropriations of Asian musical instruments. In this case,
the instruments historical associations with religious practices have greater resonance
with Westerners than do current musical practices in the source country.

Last edited by edosan (2009-10-28 22:21:46)


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

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#23 2009-10-28 23:08:20

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Chris Moran wrote:

3. Did Socrates simply order a vodka martini?

?

Obviously in the spirit of "Know Thyself" he must have had a:

http://i215.photobucket.com/albums/cc123/Tairaku/P5FA229D5.png


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#24 2009-10-28 23:28:47

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

edosan wrote:

For the time being, here is an edit of Jay Keister's paper:

[...]
While the Buddhist associations with the instrument are implicit and relegated
to history in Japan, many North American players who have appropriated
the instrument consciously use the shakuhachi as a tool of meditation and
as a way of articulating Buddhist philosophy.

Thanks for that Edo-san.

Prem, you have had a lot of experience with the shakuhachi world in Kyoto, with the Myoan and Taizan groups. Could you share with us what view/views are presented in those schools about this topic? Although in some schools the Buddhist associations with the instrument do seem to be "relegated to history", I have personally met many shakuhachi players here in Japan for whom the connection to Buddhism is explicit, and take their shakuhachi practice as a kind of spiritual activity. I would be very interested to hear about the situation in the shakuhachi schools you have experienced, and how they regard this aspect of the instrument, how the teachers present it, and how the general student body feel or act about it.

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#25 2009-10-29 01:48:02

Lanier flutes
Member
From: Japan
Registered: 2008-09-16
Posts: 32

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Yes, I would agree with Gishin's statement of this being the most comprehensive English language article dealing with the historico-religious implications of the Fuke sect.  I also concur with Kiku that Deeg could have perhaps done a bit more research into what ethnomusicologists have written.  It is an excellent article but I'm surprised he referenced Christopher Blasdel's book but not Riley Lee's dissertation, which goes into greater detail on some aspects of the history of shakuhachi, but as he is a scholar of religion perhaps that is asking too much.  He does make one statement that confuses me, on page 12, if anyone would care to comment - "The basic tone - all fingering holes covered - of the standard length (isshaku hassun) is the small re, the basic scale being a pentatonic one."  What is meant by "small" and is he referring to an earlier name for the base note or should "re" be "ro?"  I did find it interesting that he talks about the re-mythologisation of the shakuhachi in Chinese circles playing the dongxiao and starting to "respiritualize" their instrument.  That could be an interesting avenue for research for someone who wishes to take it up.  I recently received a Taiwanese shakuhachi from an ex-student with the v-shaped mouthpiece that he mentions. Another quote that is puzzling, on page 24, "the time of the first presence of organized komuso which did not develop in shakuhachi circles before the Meiji period and not until after the abolishment of the Fuke-shu."  That doesn't sound exactly correct does it, or am I just carping in my koi pond?  These small details aside I do highly recommend this article.


"And the music of humans means bamboo pipes singing"            Yen-cheng  Tzu-yu

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