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#1 2006-08-14 12:45:58

Anthony
Member
Registered: 2006-08-10
Posts: 23

Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

do formal lessons mix with the goal of blowing for meditation purposes only?

in other words, does it somehow defeat the purpose/goal, or does in contribute to?

thanks,

anthony

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#2 2006-08-14 13:33:24

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Anthony wrote:

do formal lessons mix with the goal of blowing for meditation purposes only?

in other words, does it somehow defeat the purpose/goal, or does it contribute to?

Mostly, as in any meditation, I think the answer depends on the mindfulness of the practitioner.

I also think that formal lessons (in almost anything) can be beneficial to the extent that they teach
the player skills which free him/her up to become immersed in what is being played, instead of
'how to play it'.

It's not the same as Zazen, IMO, but it's the immersion, that's the ticket...


Also, responding obliquely to a question you raised in another thread today:

If it's the fruits of meditation you're after, it's not the length, color, cost, provenance or 'beauty'
of the flute that counts. It's what you do with it. The search for 'just the right shakuhachi to get
the most out of my meditation' is an endless one...

eB


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

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#3 2006-08-14 14:43:31

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Could we also say "the search for the meditation to get the most out of my shakuhachi is an endless one" ?

Kel.     §


Kia Kaha !

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#4 2006-08-14 17:03:40

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

I think that goes without saying...smile


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

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#5 2006-08-15 00:55:22

Anthony
Member
Registered: 2006-08-10
Posts: 23

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Thanks for the dialogue folks - I'll take it one lesson at a time and see what happens.  At this point there seems to be much value.

Thanks again,

Anthony

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#6 2007-09-02 18:16:20

ENLIGHTED-ONE
Member
Registered: 2007-09-02
Posts: 4

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Last night during my meditation session I tried playing my Shakuhachi flute for the second time. I was surprised that I did not feel true flustration while making very little sound. I feel the breathing excercise did me good, but I do hope to make some tones in the future.  I am searching for a teacher myself, because even following the buddist path a person can get lost with out directional help. I am happy you have found a teacher and I will continue my search.

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#7 2008-01-02 17:33:12

Golgofrinchian
Member
From: Rochester NY
Registered: 2007-12-28
Posts: 19
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

For the time being I am working on a Shakuhachi of my own. I currently have to use my NA flute during zazen at home. I find it comforting and soothing, generally I do it after my initial 25 minute round.

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#8 2008-01-03 11:05:42

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Golgofrinchian wrote:

For the time being I am working on a Shakuhachi of my own. I currently have to use my NA flute during zazen at home. I find it comforting and soothing, generally I do it after my initial 25 minute round.

I dont quite understand what you are saying by using a flute during Zazen. Are you actually saying you play the flute while doing Zazen? If so I guess your definition of Zazen is not the same as I have.


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

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#9 2008-01-03 14:10:47

Golgofrinchian
Member
From: Rochester NY
Registered: 2007-12-28
Posts: 19
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

"I find it comforting and soothing, generally I do it after my initial 25 minute round."

Then I sit again. This is when I am at home. Not when I am at sesshin or the center.

Thanks smile

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#10 2008-01-04 15:49:42

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

I find the two practices (suizen and zazen) lead to each other if I give them the chance.  So I keep my flutes within arm's reach of my zafu.

Both disciplines require attention, but not thought, and both are essentially just postures with no gross activity except mindful breathing.  But keeping the judgmental mind away from suizen is harder for me than zazen, because suizen delivers such an obvious "result" that can be (but shouldn't be) evaluated as "good" or "bad".  I like that aspect.

-Darren.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#11 2008-01-04 22:33:06

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Yes I have to say Darren it’s a nice way to present the relation between them. But when it comes to mixing Shakuhachi and Zazen I would tend to disagree a bit. For me doing Zazen is doing Zazen period not other thing sounds etc. Then after my Zazen is done I might play but usually I just go for some tea and then go to work or any other activity I need to do. 

Those two practices indeed complement each other but I do feel that they should be treated or practiced as separate.


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

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#12 2008-01-05 13:16:55

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Gishin wrote:

For me doing Zazen is doing Zazen period not other thing sounds etc. ... Those two practices indeed complement each other but I do feel that they should be treated or practiced as separate.

Fair enough, but can I dig deeper into why?  For example, kinhin has an accepted place in zazen practice.  I know there's a healthy physical reason to take such walking breaks, but it is an example of alternating zazen with another meditation activity.

Of course, nobody needs a reason why.  We just do what we do.

-Darren.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#13 2008-01-05 18:17:54

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Indeed the obvious reason for Kinhin is the getting some blood back in those legs and according to what was given to me is also to not attach yourself to your Zazen practice too much or Zazen experience at the time.

Now when it comes to Shakuhachi I still see that there are too many internal and external stimuli involved. The flute itself being a great generator of thinking patterns of us trying to play song X and Y focusing on technique such and such etc… Even if you lose yourself into it at one point you still are playing and attaching yourself to an external tool. Zazen is supposed to lead you to a point of total detachment so mixing both in my opinion is not the thing to do.  Using both is another way to go so when doing Zazen its Zazen then when your meditation session is over play Shakuhachi but my recommendation would be to concentrate on Zazen and then later on in the day practice the flute. The main reason for this is to make a clear line between both so that with time the student can see and appreciate more clearly the value and place of both practices instead of just blindly mixing them to begin with.

Also the sound will act as some form of gratification or even entertainment which can lead you astray of what we try to do in Zazen. When looking at Shikantaza or Makashikan as explained by Dogen or Chigi Shakuhachi by its nature would go against the whole concept of SITTING and just let the world be around you.

I am not saying or going towards saying that the Shakuhachi is not a meditative practice because it IS one. The only thing is that for me it does fall under another category of meditative practice kind of like in Mikkyo where we use form (Mantra,Mudra and a bunch of other toys and tools) to achieve a meditative state so in this way Shakuhachi because of the flute being a tool and trying to make sound patterns being either improvisation or classical songs would fall into this category of meditative practice.

The question is can it still be considered as Zen. Sure it can but we have to also see everything as having a time place and reason as well.


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

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#14 2008-01-06 06:11:44

Riley Lee
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From: Manly NSW Australia
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 78
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

From what I can remember of my reading of Japanese primary sources about shakuhachi, my impression was that historically, all practicing Zen Buddhist monks did zazen, or seated meditation. The komusô, the very small group of monks belonging to the Fuke Sect, also played honkyoku.

It seemed that the komusô who were really interested in spiritual practice, in contrast to the ones who just liked the lifestyle, approached shakuhachi playing a bit like monks approach working in the garden, or as Gishin suggests, sutra chanting. Definitely meditation, definitely part of a daily routine, but not to be confused with or a substitute for zazen.

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#15 2008-01-07 08:59:23

KenC
Member
From: Western Massachusetts
Registered: 2006-01-05
Posts: 75

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Here is a very brief description of the way Shakuhachi is viewed as "Art Practice" within the MRO (Mountains and Rivers Order) of Zen.

"Our creativity and spirituality share a common source. From its inception,training at Zen MountainMonastery has included the study of both the traditional Zen arts, as well as contemporary art forms, to delve deep into the self. Art practice deals with the elements of the creative process: the artist and the tools, the relationships between artist and subject, artist and object, and object and audience. Together, these interactions show us that creativity is an inherent human process, not distinct from life itself.

Again just a brief view.

That said, my evening Shakuhachi Practice time always ends with meditative type playing, but it is in addition to Zazen.  When sitting  Zazen, sit Zazen.  When Playing Shakuhachi, play Shakuhachi. :-)

Last edited by KenC (2008-01-07 09:00:16)

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#16 2008-01-07 09:49:44

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Riley Lee wrote:

From what I can remember of my reading of Japanese primary sources about shakuhachi, my impression was that historically, all practicing Zen Buddhist monks did zazen, or seated meditation. The komusô, the very small group of monks belonging to the Fuke Sect, also played honkyoku.

I have also come to the conclusion through my reading of historical texts, that Fuke sect members were not required to do zazen - only playing shakuhachi (this was not called suizen until the end of 19th or beginning of 20th century - according to Dr. Tukitani). Some serious komuso may, of course - as Riley suggests, have done it anyway in their daily practice.

I had several conversations with both Dr. Tukitania nd Dr. Simura regarding the spiritual aspects of shakuhachi during my 6 month stay at Osaka University of Arts, because I was very curious about it. And there I was with 2 people, who had probably gone through more shakuhachi related reading than anyone else presently.

So, DID anyone break through and become enlightened by playing shakuhachi? Apparently there is no description of enlightened komuso monks. That, of course, does not mean there weren't any. But I find it interesting that no-one has written down accounts of an enlightened komuso, if they admired his teaching. Documents can get lost, but usually there would be several sources.

During these conversations we agreed, that probably in order to break through, one must do more than shakuhachi playing. Many ours of zazen was probably necessary...

What do others think? What about you, Gishin? Perhaps, if a dedicated monk did for example a many years of retreat with many, many hours of shakuhachi playing... would it be as efficient as zazen practice?
But still - it is the fewest of us breaking through.

It is nice to hear about other people's practice. I have recently (since early 2007) had a daily meditation practice. This supports honkyoku playing in a unique way, I find.


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

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#17 2008-01-07 11:12:25

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Kiku Day wrote:

What do others think? What about you, Gishin? Perhaps, if a dedicated monk did for example a many years of retreat with many, many hours of shakuhachi playing... would it be as efficient as zazen practice?
But still - it is the fewest of us breaking through.

It is nice to hear about other people's practice. I have recently (since early 2007) had a daily meditation practice. This supports honkyoku playing in a unique way, I find.

Well the question is quite good and will bring out other key points in Zen practice.

When asking if a monk that went on a long term Shakuhachi retreat could actually achieve something in terms of Kensho. My answer to this one is that most likely he will get to some point of realization/attainment since if concentrating on any particular practice being alone training hard at it etc…will surely make you realize something. I have felt this for example from someone that had nothing to do with Buddhism and this person was a sword smith in Japan the same can be said of some potters that I have heard of.

Now coming back to the Buddhist ballpark if a monk dedicates himself in Shakuhachi only it will produce positive results but the only issue I have with this is that after he has achieved something is how is he going to share or teach this to others?
Ok some people will have a natural talent to verbalize or create some tools or ways of practicing to help others but some others even if they have attained something because they do not have the aptitude to teach will not be able to share this. Also if they only know about Shakuhachi how can they approach other with educational way other than the flute to help them not every human being will want to learn the flute or will be totally touched by it. So Zen practice Zazen sutras writing etc. goes only in the mind without any external toys,

So this is why I feel concentrating in Shakuhachi only could show later on as lots of weakness in knowledge of sutras, writings of masters, written guides of practice etc. Sure in the end in Zen we are to transcend all this but in order to transcend it you still need to have learned them in order to use them for what they are and not the other way around claim we don’t need it because it is all to be transcended so take the shortcut. Believe me there is no shortcut and it is very easy to see in any verbal or written discussion whenever some individuals are taking that road.

So to get to a straight answer to your question in answering if the results between Zazen or Shakuhachi will be the same my own personal answer would be the following.

In terms of raw results being detachment transcending concepts being calm and immovable etc. I tend to think the results would be the same. But when going to the educational level if one does not also have the written knowledge that goes with it there is a very high risk that he will not be able to transmit what he has achieved so maybe this is why there is so few records on individual Komuso or their achievements or way of practice etc. Since I tend to think that most Komuso were not very literate monks to begin with and then concentrated only on the Shakuhachi.


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

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#18 2008-01-07 14:42:58

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3202
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Kiku Day wrote:

Riley Lee wrote:

From what I can remember of my reading of Japanese primary sources about shakuhachi, my impression was that historically, all practicing Zen Buddhist monks did zazen, or seated meditation. The komusô, the very small group of monks belonging to the Fuke Sect, also played honkyoku.

I have also come to the conclusion through my reading of historical texts, that Fuke sect members were not required to do zazen - only playing shakuhachi (this was not called suizen until the end of 19th or beginning of 20th century - according to Dr. Tukitani). Some serious komuso may, of course - as Riley suggests, have done it anyway in their daily practice.

OK you guys are contradicting each other.

Were the Komuso required to do zazen or was blowing shakuhachi a substitute for zazen?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#19 2008-01-07 15:00:16

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Oooops! Yes indeed, I did contradict. As far as I understand, they did not do zazen. Well... digging into the history records again.
I may hav one forthcoming article.... some where... just a moment!


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

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#20 2008-01-07 15:29:02

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 917
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Ok, here is the only quote I can find right now.
This is a quote from Chapter 7 in Alison Tokita and David W. Hughes's forthcoming book on Japanese music. This book should hopefully soon get published and replace Malm's somewhat outdated general book on Japanese music. Chapter 7 is written by Dr. Tukitani Tuneko from Osaka University of Arts, and translated by Dr. David Hughes. Hughes is my advisor and that is why I have the chapter on shakuhachi from this book. This quote is on the 6th page of chapter 7:

"The Fuke sect was named after its putative Tang Chinese founder, Puhua (Jap.: Fuke). It has no doctrines or scriptures, parishioners or lay believers; its equivalent to Zen meditation or sutra recitation is the playing of shakuhachi – what practitioners call suizen (“blowing Zen”). No such use is recorded in China." (Tukitani in Tokita, Hughes Ch.7 p.6)
                               

By saying that the equivalent of Zen meditation and sutra recitation for the Fuke sect is playing shakuhachi... I did interpret this as the komuso monks were not required to practice zazen.

I am sorry, I read Riley's post so quickly that I contradicted it. But I hope this quote from Tukitani helps us understand a little about what shakuhachi playing was for the komuso monks. Tukitani is an amazing scholar. Her knowledge of shakuhachi is something. The people who participated in the festival in Bisei this year heard her talk and interview there.

Last edited by Kiku Day (2008-01-07 15:31:54)


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

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#21 2008-01-07 15:45:08

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3202
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

It's amusing that in shakuhachi we get obsessed with little things like which finger MUST be used to repeat a note or how many nodes the shakuhachi MUST have. Yet we may not even know if shakuhachi was or wasn't the primary meditative activity of the Komuso. This is an interesting line of inquiry. Keep the information coming!

I blow shakuhachi because I DON"T want to do zazen, so I am particularly interested in this subject.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#22 2008-01-07 16:51:16

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

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Tairaku wrote:

I blow shakuhachi because I DON"T want to do zazen, so I am particularly interested in this subject.

Slacker!!


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

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#23 2008-01-07 17:03:42

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3202
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

edosan wrote:

Tairaku wrote:

I blow shakuhachi because I DON"T want to do zazen, so I am particularly interested in this subject.

Slacker!!

I am NOT a slacker! I do "snorkelzen" almost every day! wink


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#24 2008-01-07 17:42:33

caffeind
Member
From: Tokyo
Registered: 2006-04-13
Posts: 147

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Im on holidays at the moment so I am doing zen zen  (:

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#25 2008-01-07 19:19:06

Riley Lee
Moderator
From: Manly NSW Australia
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 78
Website

Re: Blowing for meditation and formal lessons

Kiku's quote of Tokita and Hugh's quote of Tukitani's quote does not contradict the feeling I have from my admittedly limited (especially when compared with that of Tukitani) reading of primary sources on the subject, which is that all practicing Zen Buddhist monks did and do zazen.

The reason we don't know much about the activities of the members of the Fuke sect is because not much was ever recorded or written down about those activities, and even less remains today. Ironically, just from reading the extant literature, one is (or more accurately, I was) left with the impression that the Fuke sect was from the very beginning more about politics and lifestyle than about spiritual practice, whether zazen or suizen.

Fortunately, the proof that this wasn't entirely the case is the honkyoku. We still have the honkyoku. They can affect us in profound ways, and they continue to be transmitted from generation to generation. They are the records of individual komusô or their achievements or way of practice. That these pieces exist is proof that at least a few komusô were interested in things covered in this topic.

I think that the reason that contributors to this shakuhachi forum are obsessed with little things like which finger MUST be used to repeat a note or how many nodes the shakuhachi MUST have, is simple. These are the very things shakuhachi players are interested in. Cooks are interested in spices and what they do to the taste of food, even when used in minute amounts.

In contrast, what the komusô did or didn't do is really little more than an intellectually interesting question. The answer to this question might (or might not) legitimise, exalt or romanticise shakuhachi playing for some people, but that's really about all it will do. Not like the little things we do with our fingers, which make immediate and hugely noticeable changes to our sound and to our practice.

Last edited by Riley Lee (2008-01-07 19:22:23)

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