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#51 2009-11-02 22:23:17

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Tairaku wrote:

Justin wrote:

Josh wrote:

A lot of the stories I have gathered lead me to believe that originally the shakuhachi had a lot more to do with esoteric Buddhism and Daoism etc, as opposed to Zen Buddhism.

Hi Josh
Would love to hear more about this.

That was the gist of Thorsten's paper. Maybe Josh has other, different stories.

I don't know why shakuhachi has to always be linked with other philosophies and practices as if to legitimize it. Blowing the bamboo in and of itself without any connotations is good enough.

Hi Brian
For me it has nothing at all to do with legitimizing it. I am very interested about the history of our instrument, and understanding the background of our music and instrument. So learning about the history of the komuso is naturally interesting for me, and the position and use of our instrument and its music through its course of development. My own research is focused upon the musical history, how the melodies were transmitted and how they changed over time and place. That and also the instruments themselves. The cultural, religious and social aspects are all another dimension to this same picture, and since many of us, including myself, came to shakuhachi through Buddhism in some way, it may be particularly interesting to know more about this aspect of the komuso tradition.

Looking forward to hearing more about it.

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#52 2009-11-02 22:57:43

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

My comment about blowing the flute was not related to anything you said Justin or directed at you. Of course most of us are interested in those historical things. I was just musing upon the concept that some people seem to need those connotations to make shakuhachi valid to themselves. Then when an idea like Deeg's or Thorsten's or Josh's that shakuhachi is not really so Zen after all comes along, does that make people insecure? Even if Buddha flew down on a celestial chariot into Chado and told me it's NOT Zen, I'd still feel good about blowing it! wink


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#53 2009-11-02 23:37:06

Josh
PhD
From: Grand Island, NY/Nara, Japan
Registered: 2005-11-14
Posts: 305
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Good point Tairaku. But by bringing to light the fact that it was associated with a variety of religions/philosophies, I'm trying to say that in the early days with a wide variety of influences the players were probably attached to said philosophy before coming to the shakuhachi. Therefore it was much more of just a love of blowing bamboo. Like the story of Ikkyu, he wasn't playing any specific Zen music from the Fuke sect but his playing came more from the heart, which was actually a symbol of rebelling against organized religions and his solitariness.
The people who have an interest in the history and like you say are secure with their own blowing can digest these ideas and probably enjoy them. Those who are wrapped around and attached to the concept of it being a "Zen Tool" won't even let this kind of blasphemous thinking in. Japan in general was and still is a fairly syncretic society, you can have your cake and eat it too, picking and choosing beliefs as you go along.

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#54 2009-11-03 00:12:32

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Hi Brian
Ah I understand you now. It's funny! The whole lineage fabrication seems like it was made up due to political insecurities, and now people hold on to that fabrication due to emotional insecurities!

So then I guess you're saying Zen is more attractive to people in the US than other Japanese Buddhist schools? I wonder that this might be different in Europe. One friend of mine who teaches and lives in Europe once pointed out to me the difference in perception of the spiritual/mysterious side of the shakuhachi between Europe and the US.

I always had the opinion that it doesn't matter what tradition it comes from, so long as it works.

Josh wrote:

But by bringing to light the fact that it was associated with a variety of religions/philosophies, I'm trying to say that in the early days with a wide variety of influences the players were probably attached to said philosophy before coming to the shakuhachi. Therefore it was much more of just a love of blowing bamboo.

Hi Josh,
This is interesting. I suppose the komuso may have joined the order when they were already adults, or even perhaps nearing retirement age so to speak - could this be true? In that case such an organisation might naturally be more eclectic than an order whose monks join as children, before they may have studied/practices other traditions.

This also reminds me of the martial arts done by the komuso, and that it was explained to me that they would also be practicing all kinds of arts, whatever arts they had learned and practices before joining the Fuke-shu, rather than any specific "Fuke-shu" martial art. (Would love to hear stories on this topic too if anyone has any).

Josh will your Phd cover this religious stuff? Will you write it (or make it available) in English?

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#55 2009-11-03 03:23:50

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

ABRAXAS wrote:

Maybe some of our institutionally-connected scholars can gain access to a neuroscience dept. to hook some wires into the brains of shakuhachi players (like they did with Zen Monks) and see what the results look like?

I did a little test that was too small to be called research for real. I measured brain activities in 2 persons listening to jinuri and jinashi shakuhachi. smile

It looked a little like this:

http://i691.photobucket.com/albums/vv276/Kikuday1/Kamillespil12-1-1.jpg

It was extremely interesting... something I would like to do more of - if I move to a university with a science department. SOAS is purely a university of humanistic studies in Asia and Africa....
But it would be very difficult to choose what kind of players one need to look at. smile

Josh wrote:

His conclusions are good, although I would have liked to see more talk about his Weberian theory of the the different classes affecting the shakuhachi players, since he does mention it in the conclusion (although that is the stuff that editors tend to chop do to a lack of interest among the general population and page limit).

Interesting, I didn't think of that. Funny how we all want to see more of what we are experts in ourselves! LOL lol
What would you have put the Weberian theory onto... the loose organisation of Fuke in regard to capitalistic philosophy? Just joking, but I'd like to hear as you must have much more solid knowledge of social theory than I do (we have to do lots of theory in ethnomusicology too - but it is not as major as with you guys).
Is that your experience from that online journal that they want to cut out theories? My own experience with journals is that they want more and even more theory.
Anyway, with only a month left before submission - I suppose we will not hear much from you. Good luck with the last run-up!
And say hi to Izukawa if you see him!

The JiNazi wrote:

Josh wrote:

Shimura performed the modern honkyoku piece written by Takahashi Yuji for ji-nashi called "Shinubi" (he premiered it in Japan and Kiku premiered it abroad, and apparently yes it specifically says it is only for ji-nashi- it is forbidden to be played on ji-nuri wink )..

VERBOTEN!

Funny, did Simura say that? When I commissioned it from Takahashi Yūji, I asked him to write with the sound of jinashi shakuhachi specifically in mind. He was naughty. I kept asking me why? He provoked discussions with me by saying he found Watazumi to be samurai anachronism etc etc. He is great! It was really stimulating albeit slightly tiring too!
But he didn't actually write on the score it is for jinashi shakuhachi..... so I was surprised to read Simura expressing that. I guess Takahashi must have said so to Simura and that T was just trying to make me discuss things.
As Takahashi is very much into the score being available for everybody, I'd like to post it here on the forum (in pieces and notation) if someone emails me and explains how to upload a 2 pages pdf file so people can download it.

Tairaku wrote:

I don't know why shakuhachi has to always be linked with other philosophies and practices as if to legitimize it. Blowing the bamboo in and of itself without any connotations is good enough.

Ohhh... I guess we all are a bit insecure playing this weird instrument. Yes, blowing bamboo is good in itself! wink

Last edited by Kiku Day (2009-11-03 03:25:52)


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

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#56 2009-11-03 07:33:16

Josh
PhD
From: Grand Island, NY/Nara, Japan
Registered: 2005-11-14
Posts: 305
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

I'm in the sociology department of Osaka University, which is a really strong sociological theory school and they are all hung up on statistics and theories. Luckily my advisor is in the qualitative boat so we value interviews, stories, real people etc. So for the hardcore sociologists they are constantly pushed to make it more readable to a general audience, i.e. less theory. But for someone like Izukawa in the music  and composition department at an arts university he is pushed into something more concrete with a theory backing up his ideas. I guess a balance is always the best way.
I'm not a hardcore weberian but it would be interesting to see someone apply his ideas of class to the players because it seems like they were actually varied, not as strictly having to be from the samurai lineage as the Fuke sect likes to say they were. But I do think that even in the Edo period it was probably wealthier people who had the time and money to play in the sankyoku ensembles, which also created an environment that would not have been supportive of female players, even if they had come from money. But the division of labor relationship is pretty obvious as Japan became more capitalistic, whith jobs specializing in making shakuhachi and Tengai etc emerged and a reliance upon a greater amount of people became necessary.

Yeah, Shimura said that smile  It was also specifically written in Japanese on his notation by Takahashi that the piece was written for ji-nashi. His notation was written in shakuhachi notation, is yours?  Takahashi may have written it that way afterwards, I don't know. But Shimura had talked to Takahashi about the piece and Takahashi wanted a ji-nashi player specifically to premier it in Japan (Tokyo).

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#57 2009-11-03 07:52:59

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Josh wrote:

I'm not a hardcore weberian but it would be interesting to see someone apply his ideas of class to the players because it seems like they were actually varied, not as strictly having to be from the samurai lineage as the Fuke sect likes to say they were.

Hi Josh
When you say "they" I take it you are meaning komuso? Are you saying they were not so strict about only letting samurai become komuso? Do you have examples or stories about this? I was always led to believe that only samurai could become komuso although other classes could still study and obtain shakuhachi names. Would love to hear more, and if possible the time period of it happening.

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#58 2009-11-03 08:06:23

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

Josh wrote:

Yeah, Shimura said that smile  It was also specifically written in Japanese on his notation by Takahashi that the piece was written for ji-nashi. His notation was written in shakuhachi notation, is yours?  Takahashi may have written it that way afterwards, I don't know. But Shimura had talked to Takahashi about the piece and Takahashi wanted a ji-nashi player specifically to premier it in Japan (Tokyo).

Yep, balance of theory and content is good! smile ok, so you were thinking of class relationship.

How funny! My notation is in Western. I discussed this a lot with Takahashi in fact. He was afraid that if he wrote it in shakuhachi notation it would make people only from that school (for example if it was written in kinko) to play it and discourage others. So, we settled on Western notation. I will upload it so you can see when I figure out how to do that.
Simura must have asked for a particular notation and Takahashi made a version for him. How cool ! smile
I like that after all these discussions where I had to defend why I wanted a piece for jinashi that Takahashi actually himself  was that specific about it afterwards. lol
And he told me that Simura is his favourite player.


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

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#59 2009-11-03 21:59:44

Rick Riekert
Member
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 100

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

I'm puzzled by Deeg's assertion on page 9 that in Japan playing the shakuhachi does not have and has never had "religio-spiritual connotations". Immediately after making this claim Deeg states that in 19C Japan playing the shakuhachi was connected with Zen Buddhist ideas of spirituality, a connection which intensified after the Meiji restoration and became dominant at least in "certain circles playing the shakuhachi".

If Deeg's latter claim is true it seems to contradict his former assertion that in Japan playing the shakuhachi has never had religio-spiritual connotations.


Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fûyô

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#60 2009-11-03 23:37:41

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Hi Rick
Here's the sentence in question:

In the West playing the shakuhachi is connected to religio-spiritual
connotations which it basically does not have, and never has had, in Japan.

I agree that this seems to make no sense at all, as this is clearly not true for contemporary Japan or even the very obvious fact that the shakuhachi was the instrument of a religious sect, the Fuke-shu. Even in the immediately preceding paragraph he writes:

This ‘spiritualisation’ of an originally historical Zen denomination which had its roots in the late Edo period 江戸時代 (1603-1868) and
early Meiji period 明治時代 (1868-1912) can be comprehended with the aid of two
concepts, those of “attaining buddhahood through one sound” (ichion-jobutsu 一音
成佛) and “the Zen of blowing (the flute)” (suizen 吹禪).

So he is talking of the religious and spiritual (if they are even different or not) connections, in Japan. To me it is not clear in this paragraph whether he is saying that the ‘spiritualisation’ of the Fuke-Zen sect; or the sect itself had its roots in the late Edo and early Meiji periods. Neither makes sense to me. The roots of the Fuke sect clearly did not start in the Meiji period, since it was a sect of the Edo period (possibly with earlier roots) which was abolished at the beginning of the Meiji period. So if he is meaning that the ‘spiritualisation’ of the Fuke sect had it's roots in the Edo and Meiji periods, does he go on to explain this claim? Even if he does, this surely must still be in Japan, refuting his claim that shakuhahachi has never had these connotations in Japan.

But let us suppose he is saying that the roots of its spiritualisation are in the Edo and Meiji periods. He goes on to say (page 9):

My main assumptions, which I will develop on in the following paper, are:
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
.

[emphasis added]

This seems to imply that the playing of shakuhachi did not start to be regarded as "spiritual" (I take this to mean a spiritual/religious practice) until the 19th century. And yet 2 paragraphs before this he has said, as I quoted above:

This ‘spiritualisation’ of an originally historical Zen denomination which had its roots in the late Edo period 江戸時代 (1603-1868) and
early Meiji period 明治時代 (1868-1912) can be comprehended with the aid of two
concepts, those of “attaining buddhahood through one sound” (ichion-jobutsu 一音
成佛) and “the Zen of blowing (the flute)” (suizen 吹禪).

As far as I understand, the term "ichion jobutsu" is attributed to Kurosawa Kinko, perhaps the most influential of all shakuhachi players, who lived in the 18th century (1710~1771) and was head shakuhachi teacher for the two head temples of the Fuke sect, Ichigetsuji and Reihoji.

Furthermore, the 'Three Tools' of the komuso (in the Edo period) which were necessary for them to have and which defined them, were a shakuhachi, a tengai (basket hat) and a kesa (small Japanese version of the monks' robe). These were regarded as religious items. This is explicitely explained in the honsoku, the most treasured document of each komuso which certified him as a komuso, where it is written (at least in this honsoku which Riley Lee quotes in his thesis):

The shakuhachi is an instrument of the Dharma (法器, hôki). [...] It is the profound source of all creation. Playing [the shakuhachi] imparts the Dharma of the Myriad Things. One's ego dissolves into darkness and the objective realm and the [subjective] heart/mind become oneness.

I could not find any reference to the date of this honsoku. If anyone knows I would love to hear about it. At least I assume it is from the Edo period as a Fuke sect document.
I can't see how it is possible to get any more expllicit or "intense" about the religious/spiritual associations of shakuhachi than this honsoku, or even Kurosawa Kinko's expression "ichion jobutsu" in connection to the shakuhachi practice of a religious sect (or the writings of Hisamatsu Fuyo for that matter). Where is the evidence of this "intensifying" after the Meiji period?

Here is an extract from Riley's thesis which may also be of interest:

The book Keichôkenbunshû [(慶長見聞集, Collection of information of the Keichô era, completed in 1614)] is the source of the widely reported (Kurihara 1918:180; Malm 1959:157; Kamisangô 1974:14; Sanford 1977:437; Ueno 1984:206; Blasdel 1988:96), but frequently inaccurately told story of the famous Ôtori Itsube (大鳥逸兵衛, executed in 1612) meeting a komusô (written 古無僧, old nothing priest). Used as an example of ribald Edo humour and sensibilities, Malm, Kamisangô, Sanford and Blasdel write that Ôtori insulted a komusô (虚無僧, priest of nothingness) by taking his shakuhachi and playing it with his rear end. In fact, the original passage as quoted by Ueno (1984:206) states that Ôtori, "taking the shakuhachi from the komusô (虚無僧, priest of nothingness), turned it upside down and blew into the end (尻)", thereby insulting the komusô (虚無僧, priest of nothingness). The misinterpretation may stem from the use of the ideogragh 尻, which can mean a person's rear end as well as the end of a pipe (as in kanjiri 管尻), the pipe in this case being the shakuhachi.

The Ôtori story does not end there. What follows the description of Ôtori's rudeness is historically more important, yet ironically is not mentioned in any of the above references. It is one of the earliest references made by a komusô (虚無僧, priest of nothingness) to the ninth century Chinese monk Puhua (普化, J. Fuke). Fuke is the central figure in the Kyotaku denki legend of the origins of the spiritually oriented shakuhachi tradition (see pp.36-39), and after whom the religious sect of the komusô (虚無僧, priest of nothingness), Fuke shû (普化宗) was named. The komusô (虚無僧, priest of nothingness) in the above story replied to Ôtori's insult by saying that in the past he was a fourth generation bushi but now he had become a hermit, leading the life of poverty and destitution. Following in the footsteps of Saint Fuke (普化上人), he had become a disciple of the Buddha, and had entered the way of enlightenment.

I find this significant both for the time period of the Fuke reference, and also the clear explanation we have of the komuso's intentional spiritual path, renouncing his former honourable life for the renunciate life of a komuso monk on the path to enlightenment.

He continues:

Another early reference to Fuke can be found in the book Seisuishô (醒睡笑, Waking sleeping laughter) dated 1623, which describes a komosô (薦僧, straw mat priest) agreeing to reply to questions directed at him only after being addressed as a Fuke priest (普化僧 fukesô). These two references to Fuke indicate that the association of the shakuhachi playing tradition of the komosô (薦僧, straw mat priest) with the Chinese priest Fuke and its accompanying spiritual connotations were fairly common knowledge as early as the late 16th or early 17th century (Ueno 1984:206-207).

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#61 2009-11-04 12:26:58

Rick Riekert
Member
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 100

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Yes Justin, the professor does weave a somewhat tangled web. For the record, I didn’t write or imply that the first statement you quote from Deeg “makes no sense”, i.e. that it is either meaningless or false. It certainly is not meaningless and my ignorance of  Japan past and present precludes me from pronouncing on its truth. I was merely concerned to point out that Deeg seems to want to eat his religio-spiritual connotations and have them too.


Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fûyô

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#62 2009-11-04 16:18:28

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Justin wrote:

Hi Rick
Here's the sentence in question:

In the West playing the shakuhachi is connected to religio-spiritual
connotations which it basically does not have, and never has had, in Japan.

I agree that this seems to make no sense at all, as this is clearly not true for contemporary Japan or even the very obvious fact that the shakuhachi was the instrument of a religious sect, the Fuke-shu.

My guess is that he is not saying the instrument lacks religio-spiritual connotations at all. But just that the ones attributed to it in the West (i.e. Zen) are different than the actual religio-spiritual connotations it had in Japan. A case of poor or confusing wording.

If my interpretation is correct, however, I disagree with that statement because it obviously has at least some Zen connotations even in Japan.

Do any of the members of the Shakuhachi Ph.D.'s and Ph.D. wannabee cabal know this Deeg character? Ask him to join the forum and clarify some of these points.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#63 2009-11-04 18:57:07

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Tairaku wrote:

Do any of the members of the Shakuhachi Ph.D.'s and Ph.D. wannabee cabal know this Deeg character? Ask him to join the forum and clarify some of these points.

Ask him yourself:

        Email:DeegM2@cardiff.ac.uk
        Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 75479
        Extension:75479

       
       lol


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

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#64 2009-11-04 19:28:04

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

edosan wrote:

Tairaku wrote:

Do any of the members of the Shakuhachi Ph.D.'s and Ph.D. wannabee cabal know this Deeg character? Ask him to join the forum and clarify some of these points.

Ask him yourself:

        Email:DeegM2@cardiff.ac.uk
        Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 75479
        Extension:75479

       
       lol

I do not communicate with Ph.D.'s

Well.............except sometimes when I talk to my wife. "Where are my socks?". etc.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#65 2009-11-04 22:01:20

caffeind
Member
From: Tokyo
Registered: 2006-04-13
Posts: 148

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Rick Riekert wrote:

I'm puzzled by Deeg's assertion on page 9 that in Japan playing the shakuhachi does not have and has never had "religio-spiritual connotations". Immediately after making this claim Deeg states that in 19C Japan playing the shakuhachi was connected with Zen Buddhist ideas of spirituality, a connection which intensified after the Meiji restoration and became dominant at least in "certain circles playing the shakuhachi".

If Deeg's latter claim is true it seems to contradict his former assertion that in Japan playing the shakuhachi has never had religio-spiritual connotations.

If he means that originally there was no spiritual or religious connection and that the connection developed during the 19th century, it might have been better to write 'did not have' instead of 'does not have'. Possibly. The sentence in question references the entirety of the two volumes of the International Shakuhachi Society Annals, a rather broad reference, and the parallel of desacrilisation/sacrilisation of life/music is drawn with a European source. Needs more support.

Last edited by caffeind (2009-11-04 22:35:40)

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#66 2009-11-04 22:36:12

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

I sent a brief note and invitation to professor Deeg to have a look at this forum so at the least he may know that his article has been read and is currently the subject of fervent discussion.


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

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#67 2009-11-04 22:36:24

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

caffeind wrote:

Perhaps one way to interpret what he is saying is that originally there was no spiritual or religious connection and that the connection developed during the 19th century, in which case it might have been better to write 'did not have' instead of 'does not have'.

He was very specific:

In the West playing the shakuhachi is connected to religio-spiritual
connotations which it basically does not have, and never has had, in Japan.

[emphasis added]

But I think Brian's right, he seems to be saying it's connected to religio-spiritual connotations in the West where those specific connotations have never been connected to it in Japan. What I can't see him saying is, what those connotations are. This seems to be a strong point of his, and yet it seems very strange to leave it totally unexplained, with no examples (except as you say, referencing only 2 volumes of one publication without actually giving any examples from said texts of what he is talking about).

As far as the 19th century thing goes for the time of shakuhachi becoming connected to religion/spiritual practice, as I mentioned before, this article itself details the shakuhachi having religious connections as far back as the 14th century:

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.

Last edited by Justin (2009-11-04 22:54:49)

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#68 2009-11-04 22:37:26

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Lanier flutes wrote:

I sent a brief note and invitation to professor Deeg to have a look at this forum so at the least he may know that his article has been read and is currently the subject of fervent discussion.

I sent a mail too, but it bounced back. I wonder if he may have moved?

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#69 2009-11-04 22:48:23

caffeind
Member
From: Tokyo
Registered: 2006-04-13
Posts: 148

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Justin wrote:

caffeind wrote:

Perhaps one way to interpret what he is saying is that originally there was no spiritual or religious connection and that the connection developed during the 19th century, in which case it might have been better to write 'did not have' instead of 'does not have'.

He was very specific:

In the West playing the shakuhachi is connected to religio-spiritual
connotations which it basically does not have, and [b]never[b] has had, in Japan.

But I think Brian's right, he seems to be saying it's connected to religio-spiritual connotations in the West where those specific connotations have never been connected to it in Japan. What I can't see him saying is, what those connotations are. This seems to be a strong point of his, and yet it seems very strange to leave it totally unexplained, with no examples (except as you say, referencing only 2 volumes of one publication without actually giving any examples from said texts of what he is talking about).

Are there no people in Japan who practice shakuhachi in a spiritual or religious context? I thought there were, or at least players who claim to. My experience with shakuhachi has only been with certain areas of the shakuhachi world and I have never ventured over that side of the tracks, so I dont know for sure.

As you say, its one of the main points of his argument, and yet its not strongly supported.

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#70 2009-11-04 23:04:55

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

caffeind wrote:

Are there no people in Japan who practice shakuhachi in a spiritual or religious context? I thought there were, or at least players who claim to. My experience with shakuhachi has only been with certain areas of the shakuhachi world and I have never ventured over that side of the tracks, so I dont know for sure.

As you say, its one of the main points of his argument, and yet its not strongly supported.

There are plenty who regard their shakuhachi playing to have spiritual/religious connections, some who refer to their playing as "suizen" (blowing meditation), a term which is commonly used in contemporary Japan in some shakuhachi circles (which comes I believe from an old komuso expression "blowing (shakuhachi) and (sitting in za)zen are one (i.e. the same)".

To quote the head shakuhachi teacher of the head Fuke-shu temples (Ichigetsuji and Reihoji in Edo), Hisamatsu Fuyo writing in 1823:

Shakuhachi is a Zen instrument. It should not be treated indiscriminately.

Q. In what way is it a Zen instrument?

A. There is no being in the three worlds (past, present and future), that does not have Zen quality. There is no event that does not have Zen quality. Above all, shakuhachi is not just an instrument one sounds to make music. Following the flow of your breath it becomes your Zen practice. If it is not a Zen instrument, then what is it? Since its essence goes beyond intellect, it is difficult for outsiders to understand.

More information above in post #60 above.

Last edited by Justin (2009-11-04 23:10:00)

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#71 2009-11-04 23:08:00

caffeind
Member
From: Tokyo
Registered: 2006-04-13
Posts: 148

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Justin wrote:

caffeind wrote:

Are there no people in Japan who practice shakuhachi in a spiritual or religious context? I thought there were, or at least players who claim to. My experience with shakuhachi has only been with certain areas of the shakuhachi world and I have never ventured over that side of the tracks, so I dont know for sure.

As you say, its one of the main points of his argument, and yet its not strongly supported.

There are plenty who regard their shakuhachi playing to have spiritual/religious connections, some who refer to their playing as "suizen" (blowing meditation), a term which is commonly used in contemporary Japan in some shakuhachi circles (which comes I believe from an old komuso expression "blowing (shakuhachi) and (sitting in za)zen are one (i.e. the same)".

To quote the head teacher of the Kinko-ryu, Hisamatsu Fuyo writing in 1823:

Shakuhachi is a Zen instrument. It should not be treated indiscriminately.

Q. In what way is it a Zen instrument?

A. There is no being in the three worlds (past, present and future), that does not have Zen quality. There is no event that does not have Zen quality. Above all, shakuhachi is not just an instrument one sounds to make music. Following the flow of your breath it becomes your Zen practice. If it is not a Zen instrument, then what is it? Since its essence goes beyond intellect, it is difficult for outsiders to understand.

More information above in post #60 above.

In that case the statement that he makes is simply incorrect, isnt it? That's why I thought 'did not have' instead of 'does not have' would make more sense and make his case stronger, and we would not need to speculate. It would also make the desacrilisation/sacrilisation of life/music point more pertinent and provide a better inroad to use that reference.

Last edited by caffeind (2009-11-04 23:29:03)

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#72 2009-11-04 23:28:21

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

This thread is really interesting but I feel some people are beating around the bush when I truly feel that the essay discussed here is quite clear and sums up what historical facts there is about the making and legitimation of the Fuke School and other religious and political involvements.

Maybe this will help recap the whole thing fro some so here is my mental picture of the whole Shakuhachi thing.

1- Shakuhachi as a musical instrument came from China and was used at some time in Gagaku. The instrument was not really well known or popular at the time and somehow disappeared.

2- Shakuhachi made a come back when Kakushin (A Shingon /Esoteric Buddhism monk) went to China to learn Zen and according to the legend came back with some Shakuhachi music/transmission. Now taking into consideration the he was a Shingon monk before going to China and when he came back dedicated himself to Zen after quitting Koyasan it would be safe to assume that he always kept a Shingon twist to his explanations and presentation of what he felt was attaining the way trough the bamboo flute. I am saying this based on the fact the when Eisai came back from China although he was promoting Zen he always had a twist towards esoteric Buddhism and was known to still perform the fire ceremony until old age. So I feel Kakushin must not have been very different. Anyway many basic facts about Shakuhachi point directly into Esoteric Buddhism and not to Zen when it comes to the meaning of the holes name of some of the pieces etc.

3- Later to make this an official sect it was decided that like any other Buddhist School in Japan it needed a lineage so they made one up/arranged facts to be seen as a real tangible link to China and associated it with Zen since the Zen schools were the ones ready to accept such a thing it would not have been accepted by Shingon, Tendai Jodo etc.

4- Then the ban came and Shakuhachi was transformed on many aspects being the instrument, music etc...

Now what is sad is that most foreigners go all Buddhist about it when in fact I truly feel that there is no real tangible Buddhist aspect other than some Historical links and some relations to some Buddhist concepts. Now if some Buddhist monks or lay practitioners wanted to make it their Shugyo then it can become one of their meditative practices. But in this way then tea,painting, calligraphy etc all fall under the same boat.

When looking at Japanese stuff many people make the mistake to just get into the Buddhist thing and fail to look into the influence Confucianism and Taoism had on general Japanese culture like music and spirituality in general. Too many times all that stuff is just presented under the blanket of Zen Buddhism. Although we see Zen as some extreme and freaky school the fact remains that it is the Zen schools that were responsible for the spread of Confucianism in Japan.


As one of my teachers told me (Get out of your stupid Sutras and mantras look elsewhere and you will get to see the real picture about life and MAYBE if you are lucky you will get a glimpse of understanding IT before you croak) wink


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

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#73 2009-11-04 23:41:19

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

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

Justin said "I sent a mail too, but it bounced back. I wonder if he may have moved?"

Yes, mine bounced and I tried to contact him through several social/business networks that he used to be on but neither worked.  Maybe he became a monk.


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

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#74 2009-11-05 04:25:31

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

Lanier flutes wrote:

Justin said "I sent a mail too, but it bounced back. I wonder if he may have moved?"

Yes, mine bounced and I tried to contact him through several social/business networks that he used to be on but neither worked.  Maybe he became a monk.

I have just emailed an ethnomusicologist at Cardiff University, that I know, to ask whether Deeg is still around. I'll let you know if I hear back. But you never know with these busy academics....! roll


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

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#75 2009-11-20 10:49:11

Austin Shadduck
Member
From: New York, NY
Registered: 2008-09-21
Posts: 38
Website

Re: Interesting article on Shakuhachi and the History of Komuso

In his last paragraph Deeg says, "Such a musical tradition [a shakuhachi music that "made claims to religiosity and spirituality through the appropriation or creation of “fictive” lines of transmission"] could then eventually enter into a new, second period of spiritualisation in the postwar period of Zen-enthusiasm in the West. Paradoxically, in Japan this assumed spirituality was lost in the more and more secularised and formalised world of Japanese shakuhachi practice of the main schools." Based on my limited experience, however, it seems that the spirituality associated with shakuhachi playing rarely disappeared from the Japanese consciousness, especially in the minds of the main school practitioners even before World War II (Kinko and Meian at least; I know very little about Tozan). I am under the impression that the majority of non-Japanese shakuhachi masters today who studied with Japanese greats during the 70s and 80s gained a solid understanding of Zen principles through their practice, and the principles were perpetuated by their teachers (who would have likely gained their Zen ideals in connection with shakuhachi playing from their own teachers, who lived prior to World War II).

I think the article's interesting, but it's surprising that Deeg didn't stumble upon the work of Riley Lee, who tackled many of the details beforehand.

Has anyone received a response from Professor Deeg?


“His first, last and only formal instruction for me was embodied in one word: observe.” -Billy Strayhorn on Duke Ellington

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