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Thread: Meditation and music

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  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Meditation and music

    Every now and then, I come across an album which has "music for Zen meditation." Is there any tradition of meditating while listening to music? Actually, I find that close, absorbed music listening is a form of meditation, but I never do it on the cushion.
    Last edited by kirkmc; 08-19-2012 at 06:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Well, music is music. And I love music. Shikantaza is shikantaza. Not mixing is best.
    Mantra recitation is a form of musical meditation, many indian ragas are inspired by devotion, performing- listening are also Hindu practices, shakuachi playing was a form of meditation by these monks with heads covered by bamboo baskets and playing away very sad- spooky tunes...

    In our tradition, we sit. And from there, many things may arise:brush work, body work, sounds, music, words, life itself.

    Zazen listening to music is not zazen anymore. You give it a taste. In the real zazen Coltrane, Bach and Hendrix are friends. Play one of them and this is broken.

    Gassho


    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 08-20-2012 at 12:17 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  3. #3
    I think listening to some special music is good for meditation but not zazen. I read a quote by a zen master that "zazen is not meditation - it's alive"
    Gassho,
    Andy

  4. #4
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Interesting discussion. One of my shakuhachi teachers has an album called Shakuhachi Meditation Music. He is a Zen practitioner and I don't believe he listens to music while sitting, but I think many things can be labelled "mediation practice". However, I think it's in the semantics of what we practice in Soto-shu vs the generality of meditation. Shikantaza is shikantaza, meditation is meditation.

    Also, in the case of shakuhachi, the instrument has a long history of being used for meditation practice, called suizen. Mendicant monks would beg for alms as they played on the flute. Somewhat like takuhatsu.

    For me, shikantaza is my Zen practice. Other forms of meditation such as shakuhachi, sewing, playing with my kids, gardening, and such are meditative but not my Zen practice.

    Just my random thoughts.

    Good topic though!

    Gassho,

    Dokan
    We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.
    ~Anas Nin

  5. #5
    Music connects directly with movement/emotion for me, and it colors the world. Not sentimentality and personal memory (unless maybe it is nostalgic music) but a kind of deep feeling movement with the music. I actually don't listen to music as much as I used to because of that. I love it.. and deeply respect musical talent .. but need to be sparing. Zazen and music only go together if there happens to be music playing during Zazen, but it is not transportive if heard during Zazen.

    Gassho, kojip
    大山

  6. #6
    Like Dokan said, shikantaza is my zen practice ... but I also find rocking climbing, sewing, playing with my dog, kayaking, and biking to be meditative. Music for sure ... when I am picking away on the old guitar I can have some amazing "In the moment" experiences.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    My dad is a musician and I grew up listening to all kinds of music from around the world.

    I remember those lonesome teenage nights that I used to loose myself, with closed eyes, to a nice Kitaro or Vangelis album. Like it was said before, music is good for meditation.

    I find music as distracting as listening to the TV or a conversation.

    So I like my zazen raw, with no music. Just me, my improvised zafu and the wall.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  8. #8
    I have enough music in my mind going on in Shikantaza. hahahha

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    I have enough music in my mind going on in Shikantaza. hahahha
    So true ...

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  10. #10
    disastermouse
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    I have enough music in my mind going on in Shikantaza. hahahha
    Wait, you got music? All I get is a clusterfuck of neurotic thoughts and static.

    Must be my karma, I guess.

    Chet

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post
    Wait, you got music? All I get is a clusterfuck of neurotic thoughts and static.

    Must be my karma, I guess.

    Chet



    Willow

  12. #12
    Hello,

    although I also am of the persuasion that it's best (at least for me) to take my Shikantaza straight, no ice please and no music....music has a great power to touch us humans irrespective of sectarian differences. If something lifts you up, it lifts you up, if a tune allows you to transcend and embrace ecstasy...than it just does that. No questions about religious/sectarian compatibility there Unless one thinks that all Rock'n'Roll is Satan's work...bring on some Bon Scott AC/DC!!!!

    Gassho and thanks for bringing up this topic,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Well now that you mention it... Sometimes I sit with a song playing endlessly in my mind. Not AC/DC, but something along the lines. More like Blind Guardian.

    The thing is, when that happens, I get all distracted and it's hard to let go of the song.

    That's why I avoid listening to the same song many times.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin


    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello,

    although I also am of the persuasion that it's best (at least for me) to take my Shikantaza straight, no ice please and no music....music has a great power to touch us humans irrespective of sectarian differences. If something lifts you up, it lifts you up, if a tune allows you to transcend and embrace ecstasy...than it just does that. No questions about religious/sectarian compatibility there Unless one thinks that all Rock'n'Roll is Satan's work...bring on some Bon Scott AC/DC!!!!

    Gassho and thanks for bringing up this topic,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Engineer Seimyo's Avatar
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    Normally I'd say most things are better with a soundtrack, but I'm afraid I'm another who just prefers the sound of the room, whatever that is (when I sit). Voices and melodies are certain distractions for me.

    Gassho,
    Chris

  15. #15
    Hello Kyonin,

    obviously Blind Guardian is an exception to the rule since their marvelous German speed metal songs and ballads come straight from the Buddha fields of Maitreya (kind of).

    Guardian, Guardian, Guardian of the blind.....

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  16. #16
    I do qigong to music, but i take my zazen raw
    --Washu
    和 Harmony
    秀 Excellence

    "Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body" George Carlin Roshi

  17. #17
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    Meditation and music

    My spouse often interfuses her daily activities with "motivational" music....of all sorts.
    She is surprised that I just get along with it being quiet (i.e. just what it "is-ness") and she asks, "Don't you like music when you're working on something?"
    And I have to honestly convey an answer something like "Well, I do have a kind of music going on....f.x. when I am cleaning up the kitchen it is the sound of water, and wiping, and dishes clinking and 'frig doors swooshing open and closed." And her reply is, "Uh huh....yeh...that sounds really motivating."

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    You know, it's funny that you mention it.

    From about four or five years to these days, I have noticed that the more I practice and sit, the less I need external stimuli. Like music, TV and such.

    My dad was a musician, so I grew up listening to old rock and roll (specially Elvis). So as an adult I used to listen to music from dawn till dusk.

    Now I am really comfortable with just the sounds of my surroundings, even if its traffic or machinery. When I go out to run every morning, I avoid using headphones. I love the noise of this city waking up.

    I'm not saying I don't like music. Quite the contrary, but I feel I just need it less than I used to.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin

    Quote Originally Posted by YuimaSLC View Post
    My spouse often interfuses her daily activities with "motivational" music....of all sorts.
    She is surprised that I just get along with it being quiet (i.e. just what it "is-ness") and she asks, "Don't you like music when you're working on something?"
    And I have to honestly convey an answer something like "Well, I do have a kind of music going on....f.x. when I am cleaning up the kitchen it is the sound of water, and wiping, and dishes clinking and 'frig doors swooshing open and closed." And her reply is, "Uh huh....yeh...that sounds really motivating."
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by YuimaSLC View Post
    ...And I have to honestly convey an answer something like "Well, I do have a kind of music going on....f.x. when I am cleaning up the kitchen it is the sound of water, and wiping, and dishes clinking and 'frig doors swooshing open and closed."
    Thats exactly how it is. Why would one want music, other than to take us out of this wonderful symphony.
    _()_
    Myoku (is not kidding)

  20. #20
    Music and Zen
    Not one, not two
    Burn oneself completely
    Straight, no chaser
    Zafu, wall, non-thinking
    Riffing on nothing
    The music of the open hand
    Jazz of no thought
    Cycles and loops
    A quiet room

    _/\_

    Eika


    Sent from tapatalk
    [size=150:m8cet5u6]??[/size:m8cet5u6] We are involved in a life that passes understanding and our highest business is our daily life---John Cage

  21. #21
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    I sometimes sit with a song stuck in my mind so I don't really need to listen to external music

  22. #22
    Junior Member 肯。爱立心。's Avatar
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    Where I sit, we have screechy bluejays, tittering sparrows, wood-pecking flickers, acorns pinging the roof, wind shuffling past pines and manzanita, complaining cieling fan, creaking floors, occasional yammering guests downstairs in the dining hall, the odd sneeze, forbidden sniffles, creaking bones, wheezy breathing. Trying to erase that music is like trying to silence a yammering monkey brain's yack yackity yacking. Brains think. Life sings. Who needs other music when you just sit?


    Right now, "A Stranger On The Shore" is stuck in my head. Sadly, the only cure, "The Girl from Ipanema", is worse than my present song-stuck illness. Maybe time for a piano break, time to riff on Eika's jazz of no thought, mixing it up with Taigu's not-mixing.


    Gassho,


    Ken (肯)

  23. #23
    I'm with Hans. I like my zazen like good bourbon: no ice, no mixers. I get enough distraction as it is.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Ah, somebody once posted a video around here of a guy trying to sit but Lady Gaga kept popping up his mind. Anyone remember that one?
    The result is not the point; it is the effort to improve ourselves that is valuable. There is no end to this practice. --Shunryu Suzuki

  25. #25
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Yup that was me.

  26. #26
    If music is playing heard down the hall, we sit with that. If a car engine is back firing, or bird is chirping, or a baby is crying, or a helicopter is noiselessly flying overhead, we sit with that (actually, in the case of the crying baby, we made need to briefly get up to change a diaper ... but that is Zazen too). If no music is playing, we sit with that.

    But no need or benefit at all in putting on nice music or bird songs to facilitate Zazen. In fact, quite bad if we feel it ultimately necessary to hide the car engines and babies and helicopters in order to sit Zazen.

    Time for a repost of Suzuki Roshi on noise ...

    Gassho, J

    Last edited by Jundo; 08-27-2012 at 02:00 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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