Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Stolen Flute

My teacher was in Japan in July and his shakuhachi was stolen.  He had placed his backpack down in the Tokyo Shinkansen station with some other of his luggage.  When the train came, the backpack was gone.  A police report was filed and the backpack was recovered a few days later, but the shakuhachi was gone.  If you have any information about this shakuhachi, please help and let us know.  It has a lot of sentimental value, as this shakuhachi was a gift from a temple abbot, given to my teacher when he left to start a new career in the United States in the 1960s.  The hanko reads Truth. We hope it can be recovered.  I will be in Tokyo, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto and Wakayama in September and October to recover the instrument, should it be found.
More here on the history of the flute: http://myoanshakuhachi.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-gift-from-shinnyo-do-temple.html


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Komuso Dialogue with a Yamabushi

One time, when Ikkyu was in a solitary mood, he went to the Kanto with only his flute for company. A yamabushi happened to meet this priest strolling up the path playing his flute like a wandering komuso. Feigning stupidity, the yamabushi approached and asked him,
"I say there, wandering priest, where are you going"
"I go wherever the wind takes me." 
"I see. But what do you do when the wind stops blowing?"
"Why I just do the blowing myself," said Ikkyu turning back to his flute.
Outdone, the yamabushi clapped his mouth shut and passed by without a backward glance.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Shakuhachi Pyramid Axes

Collection of Suizen[Blowing-Zen]-teachings by Okamoto Chikugai

 Written in 1972 by Okamoto Chikugai and other members of the Myōan-sōryū-kai. Published in: Shakuhachi-zuisō-shū („Collection of Shakuhachi-Essays“) Myōan-sōryū-kai, 2012 (11999), (pp. 215-217).
1) Dantian [Tanden]-breath means to emit [the breath] from the lower dantian.

2) There is breath which is collected in the dantian and goes out of the body through the bamboo-pipe and there is the resonance of soundlessness circulating within the body.  As if it was a resonating ground for the gradually fading sound of a distant temple bell.

3) The resonance of sound that goes out through the bamboo-pipe and the resonance of soundlessness, that is to say the resonance of soundlessness circulating within the body, completely merge, and – so to speak – manifest the sound. If one of the two is missing, sound will not come into existence. Being and nothingness are one and different, and different they are one. You must understand that light [myō] is darkness [an]1 and that darkness is light.

4) The resonance of Suizen is one and many, and you could say that many are one, it is just like the sound of resonance and the sound of non-resonance [together] transform breath into sound because of the very existence of the bamboo-pipe. But you must also know, that even if the bamboo-pipe would not exist, breath would circulate throughout the universe continuously and it would play the resonance of soundlessness.

5) If you understand the above principles, then you know that your whole body is breath and that it is your whole body which creates resonance. This is meant by “knowing the oneness of breath”.

6) Let the breath which has been collected in the dantian expand throughout the universe and when the dantian is nothing other than the universe and the universe is nothing other than the dantian, the breath is circulating by A-UN. You must know that the breath of "A" is that which goes out through the bamboo-pipe, and that the breath of "UN" is within the body and creates the resonance of non-resonance and lets it circulate.

7) It is necessary to properly maintain a situation in which the pathways of this circulation within the body run vertical, front and back and left and right through three intersecting axes, these are running through the two shoulders, the spine and both legs.

8) Observing the A-UN-breath is called Suizen. Maintain the above mentioned three axes properly, regulate the mind [chō-shin] and regulate the respiration [chō-soku]2 and observe how the breath is flowing along them.

9) Observing the breath is the secret. It is necessary neither to hear the sound, nor to hear the voice [of the bamboo], neither to listen to the sound, nor to listen to the voice [of the bamboo], but instead to practice and acquire observing the breath and observing the sound.

10) If you – based on experience – understand the secrets above, it will become clear to you that things like putting tension in one's lips in order to create a kan-sound, or to relaxing one's lips to create an otsu-sound, so to speak, produce all kinds of voices but are not the correct method of Suizen. The phrase “Just blowing like the natural breath” expresses that truth.

1  Here the characters for myōan 明暗 are used.
2  Here the character chō 調 from Chōshi 調子, Honte-chōshi 本手調子, Take-shirabe 竹調 etc. is used twice.

Shakuhachi within the Tokyo Hospital

Morimasa Horiuchi plays for his sister
Christopher Blasdel plays for a butoh master