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Further ruminations on Zen practice and shakuhachi to promote further discussion, derision and/or other 'stuff':
It seems to me that playing music as a support for meditation (in all its 'complexities' and with all its associations) might be that bit more conducive to producing "attachment to the method". Buddha was very clear that his teachings and his methods were just that: teachings and methods to point to the truth; they were to be discarded when they had fulfilled their role (besides they were 'empty' from the very beginning "I came to a dreamlike world, taught a dreamlike dharma...")
There are different types of meditation to promote different results as many or all of us know: There are teachings and methods where it is understood that the result will be the quietning of thoughts and a feeling of stillness and bliss through placing the attention on an object (Shakuhachi playing is as good an object for this sort of meditation as anything else I suppose). This can be said to be a neccesary stage of 'the path'... it can also be said to be a pointless distraction in that, in itself, it points to nothing, and remaining in such a state *may* produce nothing but a stagnation of awareness. From another view, where is the merit in simply being aware of everything 'exterior' if we do not understand our own inherent nature, every 'exterior' phenomena's nature, and 'both' as inseperable in the holism? Many of the Zen teachings would have us constantly challenge ourselves in this respect. This non-duality is at the heart of Zen as far as I'm aware, the inherent 'non-identity-ness' of reality challenging and keeping the relative in check is at once 'the view' and the fruit ("Buddha is a shit stick"!, sutras being used as toilet paper in Zen monasteries etc... inspiration for this thread title). With this view it really doesn't matter if you play the flute, stand on your head, pick your nose, all is just a display of emptiness as a display of fullness.... this is what is sometimes called 'non-meditation', no effort, just awareness and the primordial wisdom of realising that our nature of mind is the nature of everything (even flutes and music!) and that it is indivisible from everything.
The playing of shakuhachi as a meditive practice may well be a cause for liberating ourselves from our pervasive patterns of mind, or it may entrench them of course (are we really meditating on the playing of the flute, or on the method of playing the flute?... Or on our perception of the method of playing the flute!?...): in which case a burnt flute would be an excellent offering from a practice point of view(I wasn't joking earlier! Alternatively, you could offer them to me as I need many for erm... enlightenment purposes, yes, enlightenment). The difference between this and an act of nihilism is the meaning and the motivation.
That's enough of that, it's costing me a fortune!
Last edited by Harry (2006-08-15 06:51:45)
I'm really the last person should be talking about Zen, as the waiter said "I kno no thing".
Years ago I was lent "Zen and the Art of Archery" (sorry can't remember the author, but I believe its well known) as "The best book on bass playing" by a proffesor of Artificial Intelligence. To paraphrase my limited understanding of that:
You are not the player, but the flute.
You are not the flute, but the breath.
You are not the breath, but the tune.
You are not the tune, but the silence.
Lets face it though, its not very Zen to really like talking about it!
Lets face it though, its not very Zen to really like talking about it!
Who's Zen, and when did he say this? And nobody's said they like talking about it :-))
Or, to sum up:
The more things change,
the more they stay the same...
regarding emptiness and nothing
my limited undrestanding of the concept of "nothing" is related to our method of counting especially in relation to ownership, debt and perhaps war etc. hence dominance, submission,violence, nilhism, whatever
emptiness is perhaps the experience of interdependent origonation of phenomena with out fixation
yesterday i read an article by bruno dechanes discussing japanese aesthetics where he discussed the concept of NARU- a primordial flow through which everything evolves and ceases through its own temporal movement and flow
for this blowing shakuhachi may or maynot be useful
personally the conscious experience of breath and sound instill something akin to a peaceful state if only for moments, not to mention confrontation with my attachments and present circumstances
where does the impulse for voice come from?
maybe empty certainly not "nothing"
Last edited by indigo (2006-08-15 13:54:22)
Shakuhachi or suizen is a "practice" in more ways than one. A practice is something you do, not something you think about. A practice is something which yields results whether or not you believe in it or understand it. That's why we practice.
I just mentioned this discussion to my wife, a lifelong Buddhist from Sri Lanka, and she said, "Westerners!!!!!"
"Zen" is many things to many people: a restaraunt, a marketing tool, an exotic oddity, an attractive diversion, a type of buddhism, a familiar way of life... to many it is as relative to everything else as everything else!
Another understanding of it is that practitioners can ultimately defy (transcend if you like) all such notions, or any notion, of Zen .Ultimately it is as "empty" as Buddha, and a completely non-conceptual *experience* of this (hence the seemingly radically extreme actions to negate concepts of buddha). It is a very radical tradition in many ways and manifestations. Ultimately it belongs to neither east or west. From its own view there is no 'one' to own it. No East or West... everything is just here.
How might this view relate to shakuhachi or music? In a completely integrated, experiential way, it underpins all relations... or maybe not?
Maybe Zen is seen very differently generally?
Last edited by Harry (2006-08-15 15:22:07)
Is it a path 'to' enlightenment or a path 'of' enlightenment ?
"you sang all the words, and you played all the notes,
but you never quite learned the song you sing"
If I am curious and in a state of wonder, I am meditating. This is Zen.
Am I a scientist or a 'science groupie'.
I think 'emptiness' is a rather poor translation from the sanskrit term "sunyata". It suggests things that are a recurring problem for westerners (it frequently engenders nihilistic conclusions among westerners). The East has long standing traditions of negating and challenging materialism and solid existence, maybe its more part of the cultural psche there. These are just conceptual problems of course, albeit important ones.
I think there is some reason for calling 'it' emptiness as, in a way, this challenges the view that things do actually exist in the way we generally perceive them to (ie. as solid, separate objects independant and of themselves). I think there may be a better way of explaining the great fullness of identity-less-ness(!) to the western mind usuing more familiar scientific language though: i.e. basic molecular theory, as that is our language (materialist science). Buddhism has prooved its ability to adapt its cultural/relative vehicles to different peoples many times.
I often marvel at how some seem to think that talking of Zen (or other non-dualistic, non-conceptual practices) conceptually is inappropriate: the intellect is a powelful tool to be utylised like everything else for direct understanding. And it is not separate from direct experience when it is observed by the percieving awareness, it is an inseparable part of the whole.
Last edited by Harry (2006-08-15 16:22:49)
What did Buddha say when the vendor asked him for change?
"Change must come from within".
At the memorial [for author Hunter S. Thompson],
neighbor and actor Don Johnson remembered once
asking Thompson: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Thompson responded by slapping Johnson across the face.