Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Herbie Hancock: Buddhism and Creativity

  1. #1

    Herbie Hancock: Buddhism and Creativity

    I have always believed in the context of our practice that studying different cultural, social, and scientific disciplines is critical to our development as Zen Buddhists and citizens. Along the way we discover that they are not different endeavors but all interconnected in some way. I wanted to share this incredible talk given by Herbie Hancock with you. I found it very inspiring. He discusses how he came to Buddhism and its influence on his worldview, cultural diplomacy, and of course, music.

    A little background, courtesy of Tricycle magazine:

    Hancock came to Buddhism nearly 38 years ago, via his old bass player, Buster Williams. Significantly, it was Williams's brilliant playing, inspiring an amazing show “with a kind of spiritual overtone” that had patrons “in tears”, that spoke loudest to Hancock about his colleague's faith.

    After that performance Hancock pulled Williams into the musicians’ room and asked about him about his “new philosophy” that made him play bass like that. Hancock listened to his friend’s explanation of Buddhism only because its lessons were made manifest “through the music.”

    Isn’t that beautiful? It makes me think about the differences between intellectually understanding Buddhist truths and experiencing them.

    Deep bows
    Last edited by Yugen; 05-24-2014 at 02:38 AM.

  2. #2
    Thank you, Yugen. I look forward to listening to this.


  3. #3
    I'll watch it over the weekend and report back.

    Thanks, brother!


    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  4. #4


    Sent from my SGH-I337M using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Thank you Yugen, I too will have a go at it over the weekend. =)


  6. #6
    Okay now I get it -- for the moment anyway.


  7. #7
    Thank you.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  8. #8
    I am a Herbie Hancock fan! But some background may help here ...

    Herbie is a devotee of the Soka Gakkai, which is a group that sprang from Nichiren Buddhism in the 20th Century (my wife's family are Nichiren Buddhists, although not Soka Gakai)) Nichiren Buddhism is a school of Buddhism which developed in Japan (and not found in China) hundreds of years ago centered on the power of the Lotus Sutra ... on the power of faith and recital even in just the name of the Lotus Sutra. Thus, they recite "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" (Hail the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra). Most Nichiren Buddhists and the Soka Gakkai folk do not meditate, which is fine of course. Soka Gakkai (known also as "SGI" in the West) itself developed in Japan as a lay group a few decades ago, although Soka Gakkai had a falling out with the mainstream Nichiren temples in Japan a few years ago and is now independent. In Japan, it would be considered a "new religion" and is a bit controversial mostly due to their influence on the political scene.

    The Soka Gakkai has been described as preaching a kind of "prosperity Buddhism" not unlike the "prosperity gospel" that one may find in many American Christian churches these days ... that good chanting will bring good results to one's bank account, career success and life in general. For that reason, they are much more evangelical than most other Buddhist groups in the west, and have been rather aggressive in seeking converts, through the promise of benefits through the power of the "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" chant to bring all manner of this worldly and next worldly rewards, not unlike the evangelical emphasis on faith in and chanting "Praise Jesus". Nothing wrong with that, however, and everyone needs the medicine they need.

    This is felt very much in this talk too, in which the benefits of chanting with devotion to the Lotus Sutra translates into musical blessings. It is an evangelical faith which is modeling itself on evangelical Christianity in many ways.

    By the way, Tina Turner is also a member of Sokai Gakkai, which is the subject of a very powerful and well made movie I enjoyed ...

    Here is some more very balanced information on Sokai Gakkai from Barbara over at About.Buddhism ... worth a read for everyone ...

    I think Yugen should have provided a little more background and explanation when posting this.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-25-2014 at 04:09 AM.

  9. #9
    Jundo and Sangha colleagues,
    I was not aware of the information you describe regarding Hancock. I found his talk inspiring. My opinion has not changed, this information not withstanding. His points regarding the interconnectedness of humans and the potential for individual transformation are valid. I think it is possible to find aspects of an individual, their life, and faith which can be useful and motivating. There may be other aspects we do not agree with.

    I did not omit or selectively present information regarding Hancock. My apologies for creating any misimpression.


  10. #10
    Never meant to imply anything else, Yugen. I agree with what you say.

    Gassho, Jundo

  11. #11
    Looking forward to looking at the video later today. Regarding Soka Gakkai, I knew a curator who practiced Soka Gakkai, who i haven't seen in a few years. We did not recognize a common view or practice, or understanding, around Buddhism. There was no discord or antagonism or anything like that, it was just two very different things with very little in common, somehow connected by the term "Buddha". It could have been an Inuit Shaman and a southern Baptist, different worlds. He was a nice guy.

    Gassho Daizan

  12. #12
    Hello Yugen,

    thank you for sharing this!


    Hans Chudo Mongen

  13. #13
    Thanks Yugen,

    I had not come across Herbie Hancock (must look up his music )

    The talk was a very nice presentation of how Buddhism has informed and guided his life. I found the background information that Jundo linked interesting from a cultural perspective. I can see how the expression of faith through the teachings of Soka Gokkai mirrors the deep spirituality of Black American evangelism (taking in politics/art music and literature) and would make an easy transit from one expression of faith to the other.

    I also feel drawn towards the notion that the chant is a musical expression of the natural law of the universe.



  14. #14
    btw here is a book by Clark Strand about the history of SGI and it's current status as a growing religion

    I have not read it, but it's on my list. I find SGI interesting from a sociological perspective, as it's one of the most culturally diverse (in terms of western converts) Buddhism-based groups. Perhaps for the reasons Willow touched on. I'm not advocating for SGI here, just find it (and all types of religious movements, really) interesting to read about

    Kaishin (開心, Open Heart)
    Please take this layman's words with a grain of salt.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts