Friday, December 11, 2009
The Spirit of Shakuhachi
The training and discipline common to the Way of shakuhachi consists of three levels of mastery: physical, psychological and spiritual. On the physical level mastery of form is the crux of practice. The teacher provides a model form, the student observes carefully and repeats it countless times until he has completely internalized the form. Words are not spoken and explanations are not given; the burden of learning is on the student. In the ultimate mastery of form the student is released from adherence to form.
This release occurs because of internal psychological changes taking place from the very beginning. The learning routine tests the student's commitment and will power, but it also reduces stubborness, curbs wilfulness, and eliminates bad habits of body and mind. In the process, his or her real strength, character and potential begin to emerge. The spiritual mastery is inseparable from the psychological but begins only after an intensive and lengthy period of practice.
The heart of spiritual mastery is this: the ego self becoming the egoless self. Free expression of self is blocked by one's own ego. In the Way of shakuhachi the student's mastery of fom must be so total that there is no opening for distraction to enter. One becomes vulnerable when one stops to think about winning, losing, impressing, disregarding or taking advantage of a spirit or audience. When the mind stops, even for a single instant, the body freezes, and free, fluid movement is lost.