Zen Guitar

by Empirism (Sep 24, 2010)

Helloes, it's Emp here to share with you one of cool book I recently read. It was in Finnish, but I try to share with you some contents I found pretty cool... This is not an technical lesson, this is more how you can improve your playing by thinking stuff from another point of view. If you mods, think is this for the beginner, intermediate or advanced.. its sure for all of them, from guitarist who is thinking to buy a guitar to experts.

Aight, lets start, first words got me smiling.
"Welcome to the Dojo of Zen Guitar, please, let the door open"

So, how long it would take to learn Zen guitar?, only as long as you live. No more. Philip Toshio Sudo, who wrote the book, put the five levels in Zen guitar.

1st level
Which bring out the attitude to progress on your path (yes, its your path). Attitude that you should keep with you on every step you make, its called Mind of the beginner.

2nd level
where you determine your discipline and practice, that is needed in every level in your progress.

3rd level
This is the level, where your Mind, Body and spirit start to unite.

4th level
study the gap, which is beyond the technical ability, that path leads you the deeper understanding.

5th level
there the true path of Zen guitar will reveal itself.

If you think, when this turns more to Zen Filosophy, dont worry, concentrate to guitar playing and your questions answer to you in time.

"My own stuff is in my head, I hear sounds and if I cant get them to piece, nobody can."
Jimi Hendrix

Your purposes why you picked guitar could be anything, but in the "Dojo", we all are here with same purpose.

We are here to create a sound

You have to find your own sound, then dig to there until you reach its source, that is the challenge in zen guitar, because source of your sound is source of all sounds. Practically it means that you learn to hear all sounds, yours and all around you, separate and one united sound.

All that you need to do in the path of Zen guitar, is to do following

1. Keep white belt (means that you keep learning in attitude of 1st level)
2. Take the guitar
3. Tune it
4. Play

Devote yourself to true understanding to these four entries, travel as far as you can without never lose the beginning off your sight. In the end purity and openness of white belt is that where you want to return.

White belt, in this scene describe the spirit of beginning. In Zen this is like famous saying "carry the empty cup", which become from story where professor from university went to meet 1800 year Zenmaster Nan-in. In the conversation professor spent more time to speak than listening. As to answer, first Nan-in started to pour tea to professor cup and kept pouring until cup was full and started to drain to table when professor shouted "what are you doing?" and Nan-In answered, like this cup, you are full of your own thoughts, how can I teach you anything before you empty your cup?

2nd entry, take the guitar, that sounds pretty funny, but think about it. Like every thing you plan to do, do it as well as you can, doing it other way is doing it without spirit. When you take your guitar, pick that with attitude that you ARE going to do things with purpose, if you plan to tinker with it while watching TV, then pick your guitar with purpose in your mind that you are goin to tinker with while watching TV. Guitar is an instrument, its an tool which is made for to doing things, keep that in mind every time you aproach your guitar, when you take it to your hands, TAKE IT TO YOUR HANDS

Bolded means that you are fully consentrated to instrument in your hands, you command it to produce your sound.

3rd entry, tuning is also an wider area than just tuning your guitar. Tuning also means to learning to hear, try with closing your eyes and listen with ears of a blind man. Good and easy practice to this is that every time you pick a guitar, tune it by ear, then check it with the tuner and try to remember that where you did wrong, was it lower or higher (if you did wrong anyway :P) In time, you start to getting closer to right pitch.

4th entry, play... well if you are a beginner and do not actually know how, start playing one note from one string and put your whole heart and soul to that sound, then repeat. Technically you can do it, but challenge is in spirit. Do Listen your playing. Remember, where is the will, there is the path.

"it require lot of adressing and work, or should I say playing. If you love playing, only that have a meaning. I never found any shortcut, and Ive been looking for long"
Chet Atkins

In guitarplaying like every other things in life what you do, you can use old Samurai Wisdom when you practice what you are doing

1st, dont ask, practice.

2nd, seven times down, eight times up.
Never give up, dont feel it, dont say it, burn thoughts like "I cant do this" from your mind.

3rd. Your only enemy is inside you.
Challenges you meet, do not mean nothing... only that have meaning how you answer them.

12 concentration subjects.

Finishing out things.

These things are pretty long stuff, that if you are interested of them, you should loan this book.

12 basic mistakes

disbelieving oneself
immediate success
doing things with half hearted
too much trying
wrongly taken feedback
fixing the bad luck
missing focal point
too much thinking

I left explaining deeply these too that I dont put here too much content from that book, but deeper explanations of these can be found in the book, if someone got interested and I decided to stop here.

I sum some of the thoughts to end that In guitar playing and "Zen Guitar" when you consentrate to doing things right, you get to the state where your mind and body are able to work to produce what your spirit create.

- Cheers!, hope you enjoyed this weird little writing.