1977 & 1978: The Legacy of the Late Myōan Taizan-ha
'Suizen' Players/Teachers Yoshimura 'Fuan' Sōshin
& Ozawa 'Zetsugai' Seizan - and Hisamatsu Fūyō's
Sincere Ascetic Shakuhachi Credo 200 Years Ago
禅尺八 - 'ZEN SHAKUHACHI'
修養の尺八 - 'SHŪYŌ no SHAKUHACHI'
"The Shakuhachi of Self-cultivation and Self-discipline"
The Myōan Taizan-ha Way of Authentic Shakuhachi 'Suizen' Asceticism
represented by Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, 40th 'Kansu' of Kyōto Myōan-ji.
MYŌAN-JI YONJŪ-SE YOSHIMURA FUAN SŌSHIN
Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin - 1904-1998
1977, August 9 - YOSHIMURA FUAN SŌSHIN:
Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's letter to Torsten Olafsson, August 9, 1977, page 2
"Myōan Shakuhachi can not be likened to the playing of an ordinary wind instrument.
Such thing as a fixed way of playing does not exist.
What I can say is, plainly, that I am only concerned with directing my blowing
towards my own Self - with a gentle mind.
It is my opinion that people who trifle with skill of playing and "play well"
- who exercise exceedingly intending to impress the listener and the like -
that way of blowing with an egocentric mind represents the worst of human attitudes (that I can think of).
There are people who produce changing sounds depending on technical skill,
but as for the shakuhachi practice of the Myōan Temple,
I believe that the ideal way of Zen Shakuhachi
is to let one's true Mind listen to the sounds and to cultivate one's own Self
in accordance with those sounds.
I can not easily express this in words but to practice the shakuhachi of 'Zen Shakuhachi' is indeed a way of mental training and self-cultivation that is practiced
with an open and humble mind and does not develop into technical skill with a selfish attitude.
The accumulation of this daily practice will, eventually,
bring about the realization of the true Self of one's Human Nature.
It is, in any case, wrong to act against Nature.
I am devoting myself every day to follow Nature and not to be mistaken about the Way."
Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin, Myōan-ji, August 9, 1977.
Private correspondance. Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson.
Read more about Yoshimura Sōshin at www.komuso.com, link:
明暗尺八 - MYŌAN SHAKUHACHI
明暗雙雙 - MYŌAN SŌSŌ - "The Myōan Pair"
法器 - HŌKI - "Instrument of the Buddhist Law"
1978 - OZAWA ZETSUGAI SEIZAN
Detail of a letter of recommendation for T.O.
written by Ozawa Seizan in Spring, 1978
See translation below ...
"Myōan Shakuhachi is related to the Fuke Sect of Shakuhachi and it has as its purpose to employ the ancient Japanese shakuhachi flute as a Dharma instrument [hō-ki]
in order that one understands the Ultimately Adual Nature of the 'Bright' and the 'Dark' [Myō-An] and experiences the Essence of Non-substantiality
[kyo] through Self-Cultivation.
This [practice] is called 'Suizen'."
By Ozawa Seizan, 1939-2012, Myōan-ji, 1978, in a letter
of recommendation to the author. Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson.
Ozawa Seizan Sensei, 1939-2012
Photo: Torsten Olafsson, Spring, 1978
Read more about Ozawa Sensei at www.komuso.com, link:
An INTERESTING BACKGROUND PERSPECTIVE:
In a publication dated 1818, titled Hitori-goto,
Hisamatsu Fūyō, 1791-1871, a renowned representative of the early Kinko-ryū Shakuhachi tradition,
expressed the following:
'Shoshin yori, utsukushiki oto no mumami o shugyō subekarazu.
Ne-en mumami wa dekiru kononde, dekasu o kirau.'
"From the beginning (lit. with a beginner's intention), do not (ascetically) practice
the "tastefulness of a beautiful sound".
I dislike it when people please themselves with putting out tasteful "sound gloss"."
Trsl. by T.O.
That is what Hisamatsu Fūyō expressed in humble writing at the time when the ‘Kinko-ryū’ tradition of shakuhachi asceticism had not yet changed,
metamorphosed, into a sophisticated, technically demanding "shakuhachi 'honkyoku' concert performance art form".
In 1983, Andreas Gutzwiller published this translation in German, in his book "Die Shakuhachi der Kinko-Schule”:
"Man darf nicht von Anfang an danach streben, einen schönen Ton zu erlangen,
und es ist verdammenswert, wenn jemand es liebt, einen glanzvollen Ton hervorzubringen."
Wolfgang Fuyūgen Heßler presented his English translation like this:
"One must not deliberately strive from the beginning to achieve a beautiful tone.
It is disgraceful when someone loves to produce a splendid tone."
And, in 2010/8, Matt Treyvaud contributed with this rendering of his in English:
"As a beginner, do not strive for the (m)umami of beautiful sound.
It is pleasing when polish and (m)umami emerge from (dekiru) the sound;
to force them out (dekasu) is disagreeable."
By the way, Matt Treyvaud also cited Hisamatsu-san for this exchange of his
in the 1823 Hitori-mondō,
"Q: What kind of person was Master P&ucaron;huà [Fuke]
A: I don't know. Ask a scholar at a zen temple."
In other words, we should probably surmise that Hisamatsu-san was not himself a Zen monk?
Nor, that he was himself a 'komusō'?