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Beginner mind....
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 11:58    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

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Brian Tairaku Ritchie wrote:
Chris, now you're putting words and thoughts into my mouth and head when I haven't said anything of the sort. Stop speculating....... Okay Razz

Nobody said anything about people not having a right to "express themselves".

Some styles of shakuhachi are about expressing oneself and some are not.



Brian,I did not presume to put words into your mouth. I know that's not what you meant.
I'm simply thrashing about trying to find meaning in what I am doing. My interpretation of one man, for the moment, allows me to say to myself "Keep going,old mate, there might be light at the end of the tunnel".
And yes, I've heard your improvisation, and how punk can you get having a bloke on cardboard box drums! I loved it and perhaps one day my technique will be a fraction of yours, but out in the woods, I'm the best thing those trees have heard!
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 12:02    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

I tell a lie! It's even better when I stop!!!
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De Fouw
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 13:14    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

Kees (de Fouw) likes Okay Riley Lee's posts here!

Watazumi? Is that some Manga character? Disturbing a tea ceremony and such.......
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J. Danza
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 15:00    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

The interesting thing about Zen is that, although there's endless philosophising about so called "freedom" (particularly in the North American versions of it), it's an incredibly disciplined lifestyle in the temples! This "personal expression" or "freedom" requires "earning" it! What a lot of (mostly young) people call "expressing oneself" is simply staying within the extremely limited confines of one's conditioning... the amount of growth within those parameters are very minimal.
I started studying Shakuhachi almost forty years ago, and I still appreciate and seek the guidance of good teachers... its an endless and humbling path.
When we start, as Riley said, we are like like little children... nobody would expect a child to learn their abc's without a teacher. Watazumi himself had teachers and was a man with the discipline of a marine... his peeing on tradition comes from within the tradition, and thus opens new doors from the inside.
The funny thing to me is... if what attracted someone to the instrument was the playing of a master (which is the most likely scenario) how can one disregard all the training it took for that master to get to that moment when their sound blessed our ears?
It is my experience, as both student and teacher, that nothing can stop someone with the will and intention to achieve something. When I started I drove two and half hours (each way) to my teacher's home twice a week, and I worked as a waiter to make it financially. I don't buy it when someone says they can't "afford" a teacher. If someone can afford the computer on which they are reading this they can afford a teacher.
It takes an incredible amount of perseverance to play this amazing instrument... a lot of that perseverance will be wasted without proper guidance. If that is ok, then it's ok, and nobody can tell you otherwise, but to use Zen platitudes to justify that is very misguided.
Whatever path you choose, however... no question about it... keep going!... that's the only way to get somewhere Cool
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 15:17    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

Can't argue with that, 'cos i know I'll get hammered. I know you're right which is why I will be looking for guidance . But there is a place for the devil's advocate here, in that, when all said and done, whatever floats your boats..... we're all in our different places and no-one can speak except from their own experience. And I concede that your experience is greater as far as the shakuhachi is concerned. Guidance and direction are two different things, and it's up to the individual to choose.
That was fun. Bye bye.
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Rick Riekert
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 18:54    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

J. Danza wrote:
What a lot of (mostly young) people call "expressing oneself" is simply staying within the extremely limited confines of one's conditioning... the amount of growth within those parameters are very minimal.


Whatever its import for Zen practice, Shunryu Suzuki’s dictum “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few” arguably has it the wrong way around. Owing to ignorance and lack of skill it is the beginner who is aware of few possibilities while the expert, because of his knowledge and technical proficiency is often awash with possibilities unsuspected by the beginner.
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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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m a doherty
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PostPosted: 2013-03-26, 19:46    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

"...his peeing on tradition comes from within the tradition, and thus opens new doors from the inside." Indeed. Watazumi was a person in a place and time, reacting and acting within a framework... and also outside of the framework I would guess. Ours is a a varied multifarious perspective on this person's words spoken with a different context, no matter how similar. Words give insight into where he may have been coming from, but much better to listen to his playing, its evolution, risks, gentleness, expansion, etc.

Watazumi also stepped outside of both Zen and shakuhachi traditions. Tradition, technique, music, meditation... these things came to a boil with him it seems and became something else... each in turn came to fruition and he might have stepped across the boundary of those confines but not before... this is my speculation. But in the end he did not claim to even be a shakuhachi player, or a Zen practitioner- as far as I have read/heard.

Concerning the dichotomy between Zen practice and shakuhachi. One's own Zen practice started when they were born- it did not get imported from Japan (loose paraphrase of John Daido Loori's words). To actualize realization takes years of sustained zazen practice most typically with a qualified teacher and sustained by community. Yet, in the practice of shakuhachi, and other arts and activities, one can dabble in their own experience of actualizing in the moment, but that holds no necessary position in any shakuhachi lineage, and in fact can be a normal part of any activity. Lineage / tradition are constructs that you can hold dear, or ignore. Zen doesn't care - Bodhidharma died many years ago. But one should chose a path, and stick to the path they have chosen and take full responsibility for that path.

If you play shakuhachi, do so, without qualification. If you want to learn how to play like Riley, learn from him. You want to play like Watazumi, seek a student of his, or their students. If you want to play like Sabu, listen to him. And listen... hard to your teachers. If you are not interested in anyone else, then make a clean cut and stand on that ground.
If you recognize something of yourself in Zen Buddhism, go there to. Seek the advice of a teacher who is there to help you (you should shop around if possible to find someone that you have an affinity for), and stick to it. Also, listen... hard.

Shunryu Suzuki"s beginner's mind dictum concerns an experiential frame of mind, perspective, whose truth "value" is based more on transformation than our typical correspondence theory of truth, and not a pragmatic view of technique or accumulated knowledge. Applying a Zen teaching to either justify or deny, is the denial of it. Put yourself in the middle of Suzuki Roshi's genuine advice, there is no right or wrong. What does that tell you about your life? Where does shakuhachi fit into that?
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J. Danza
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PostPosted: 2013-03-27, 02:28    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

The trick is to become an expert that doesn't lose the beginner's mind...
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-27, 08:03    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

Possible scenario:

Beginner: "Anything is possible".
Expert: "No it's not".
Beginner: "Can you explain why not?".
Expert: "You wouldn't understand".
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Brian Tairaku Ritchie
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PostPosted: 2013-03-27, 09:21    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

Why do people think that to play specific notes takes training but that improvising doesn't? If so we'd all be Charlie Parkers.

Mort de Rire
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-27, 09:44    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

You can only improvise with what you've got.

Possible scenario, after the fashion of a Zen tale:

Student:"Have you been to the top of that mountain, Master?".
Master: "Yes".
Student: "Was the way difficult, Master".
Master: "I don't remember. Take me with you".
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-28, 11:23    Post subject: For me, but maybe not for you, it's a no brainer. Reply with quote

This discussion seems to have come to an end, so no-one will be reading this. I'll bury my words here rather than open a new topic, because it's clearly controversial.

I entered the forum because I wanted to act as devil's advocate.

It is a no brainer, as I have concluded after several years, that a teacher is necessary. For reasons that are nobody's business but my own it has taken me that long to reach that conclusion.

There are probably dozens of people scattered around the world who are teaching themselves this glorious,unique, expressive, ingenious flute. Their reasons for deciding on that path may be varied. If I might bare my soul a little, my reason for hesitation is that I was a self-employed craftsman until I retired, and the teaching situation scares me rigid. I am used to my own skills and company in a craft, the proficiency in which I made enormous sacrifices for, and not just a couple of trips a week to see the master craftsman who took me on. Other people may say simply that they can't find or afford a teacher, but it's never that simple, that's not life. If someone,like me wants to make the shakuhachi part of their life, but not all, then so be it. It's no threat to the system, and if Mao can say "My enemy's enemy is my friend", why can't everybody say "My shakuhachi's friend is my friend". No-one says, why are you dabbling with the violin, you'll never play like Menuhin or Grapelly.

The notion of a teacher should always be on the agenda, but derision and judgement should not be the lot of those who choose a different path.

When I was a student we would take ideas and run with them, showing no hesitation in discussing them in a lively and hopefully constructive manner. I hope I still do, as with Watasumi. Can no-one see the humour, as I can, of a beginner desperately working away, dreaming of one day playing perhaps a single honkyoku,( or more who knows), while at the same time reading of that wonderful maverick figure deconstructing from within the same material. No-one in their right mind could possibly disrespect such a figure, dedicated life and soul to a daily regime that leaves a body gasping. Showing such respect isn't limited to my betters.

When I hear a master play, of course I'd love to be able to get that clarity, but realistically I won't, since my hands already show wear and tear from my craft. But that won't stop me enjoying what experience I am having, however shockingly average.

Anybody writing to this forum should limit themselves to factual enquiries, avoid obscure humour, keep quiet if they're not seeing a teacher, (but always keep the idea of having one on the agenda), and love your shakuhachi.

If anyone suspects someone is working alone, just give good advice about resources and not go on the offensive in any way. They might being doing it wrong but it's what their circumstances or head dictates, and it's for no-one to say otherwise.

If my rantings here or previously on the forum have in any way caused offence, then I apologise without reserve.
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Eugene
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PostPosted: 2013-03-28, 17:49    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

Chris Northover wrote:
When I hear a master play, of course I'd love to be able to get that clarity, but realistically I won't, since my hands already show wear and tear from my craft.

There can be miracles when you believe Wink
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J. Danza
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PostPosted: 2013-03-28, 18:10    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

Dear Chris... by your writing it seems that it is you who took offense... Some people here express themselves stronger than others, but the intent is always a free and positive exchange of ideas that will benefit everyone. We all get to keep our beloved free will... and we all get to speak our mind... The fact that people take the time to show up here simply shows they care... each in his/her own way. Take whatever serves you and chuck whatever doesn't... there is no such thing as right or wrong (but there is such thing as skillful and unskillful Very Happy )
I'm pretty sure you have everybody's blessing on your path... whatever you choose...
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Chris Northover
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PostPosted: 2013-03-28, 18:17    Post subject: Beginner mind.... Reply with quote

J. Danza wrote:
Dear Chris... by your writing it seems that it is you who took offense... Some people here express themselves stronger than others, but the intent is always a free and positive exchange of ideas that will benefit everyone. We all get to keep our beloved free will... and we all get to speak our mind... The fact that people take the time to show up here simply shows they care... each in his/her own way. Take whatever serves you and chuck whatever doesn't... there is no such thing as right or wrong (but there is such thing as skillful and unskillful Very Happy )
I'm pretty sure you have everybody's blessing on your path... whatever you choose...


Thank you and bless your heart.
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