Meditation #27

April 25, 2010

“The woman’s song, however, could have been a signal called by one mountain wayfarer to another on a distant hill.  In certain long notes which lay outside the passage of time because the rhythm was suspended, there was the immeasurable melancholy of mountain twilights.  Telling himself it was a beautiful song, he decided to stand still and let it work upon him whatever spell it could.  With this music it was senseless to say, because the same thing happened over and over within a piece, that once you knew what was coming next you did not need to listen to the end.  Unless you listened to it all, there was not way of knowing what effect it was going to have on you.  It might take ten minutes or it might take an hour, but any judgment you passed on the music before it came to its end was likely to be erroneous.  And so he stood there, his mind occupied with uncommon, half-formed thoughts.  At moments the music made it possible for him to look directly into the center of himself and see the black spot there which was the eternal…”—Paul Bowles, The Spider’s House.
A shakuhachi improvisation.   Meditation #27
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“Sanya”

April 18, 2010

“…Reshaping narrow law and art
Whose symbols are the millions slain,
From bitter searching of the heart
We rise to play a greater part.”
— F. R. Scott (1899-1985), “Villanelle for Our Time.”

Sanya

Long associated with the defunct Futaiken Temple in Sendai (the site is now a parking lot), “Sanya” (“Three Valleys”) is the quintessential honkyoku piece.

Meditation #26

April 11, 2010

“The melody of inhaling and exhaling…Markandeya is listening to this song.  He is listening to the breathing of the Highest Being”—Heinrich Zimmer, Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #26

Meditation #25

April 4, 2010

“You don’t have to live in a cave or sit by a precipice to treat wealth and power like passing clouds.  You can sip wine and hum poetry without being addicted to streams and mountains”—Hong Zicheng, Vegetable Roots Discourse (Caigentan), trans Robert Aitken.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #25
*A note on the photographs: With two exceptions, all podcast photographs thus far were by Paul Scrivener of Vancouver, Canada.  (The photograph for “Light from the Shadows” is an archival photograph which was featured in the film by Robert Kowalcyzk.  The photograph for “Murasaki Reiho” was by a former student of mine, David Gardiner Garcia.)  Paul Scrivener’s photographs of Kyoto are available on the CD-ROM Kyoto Gardens, a project which we worked on together in the mid-90s and of which I retain fond memories.  From this podcast, “Meditation #25,” accompanying photographs are by Stewart Wachs, a long-time friend and colleague here in Japan.  Please refer to the links below for further information on Light from the Shadows, Kyoto Gardens, and Stewart Wachs: Photography.

“Hifumi Hachi Kaeshi”

March 14, 2010

“Poetry is where you find it, not where it says it’s at”—Ed Dorn.

Hifumi Hachi Kaeshi

“One-Two-Three, Return the Bowl”—a literal translation of the title, “Hifumi Hachi Kaeshi”—is a traditional piece played by mendicant komuso monks while on pilgrimage.
N.B. I will be in California for the next two weeks.  I will resume podcasts on April 4, 2010.  Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement.

Meditation #24

March 7, 2010

“If someone is not humane in spite of being a man, what has he to do with music?”—Confucius, The Analects (3.3).  A shakuhachi improvisation.
Meditation #24

Meditation #23

February 28, 2010

“No artist is able to overcome, through his own individual resources, the contradiction of enchained art within an enchained society”—Theodoro Adorno, Philosophy of Modern Music.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #23
Bell recorded at Enryakuji Temple, Mt. Hiei, Kyoto.

“Horai”

February 21, 2010

“We see him [Arthur Rimbaud] victimized by the illusion that freedom can be obtained by external means”—Henry Miller, The Time of the Assassins.

Horai

Horai is a sacred mountain in Chinese and Japanese lore.  Traditionally, the region represents a timeless heaven on earth, as well as a kind of fountain of youth, a place where no one grows old, where all diseases are cured, and the rice bowl is always full—in contrast to Prince Siddhartha’s initial discoveries after venturing outside the palace walls.  The music is a standard piece in the komuso repertoire.

Meditation #22

February 14, 2010

“Leaves fall and return to the roots.  When they appear again, they are silent”—Hui-Neng, the sixth Zen partiarch after Bodhidharma, qtd. in The Essential Teachings fo Zen Master Hakuin, trans. Norman Waddell.
A shakuhachi improvisation.  Meditation #22

Meditation #21

February 7, 2010

“…What I came to say was,
teach the children about the cycles.
The life cycles.  All the other cycles.
That’s what it’s all about, and it’s all forgot.”
—Gary Snyder, “For/From Lew.”

Meditation #21