A Quote from Rinzai ( d.866), and Jazz by Kenny Burrell

Today I want to take the time to think about the following quote:

“Today’s students of the Buddha-Dharma need to look for genuine insight. If you have genuine insight, birth and death will not affect you, and you will be free to come and go. Nor do you need to look for worthiness; it will arise of itself.

Followers of the Way, do not let yourselves be deluded by anyone; this is all I teach. If you want to make use of genuine insight, then use it right now without delay or doubt.

Students nowadays do not succeed because they suffer from lack of self reliance. Because of this lack, you run busily hither and thither, are driven by circumstance, and kept whirling by the ten thousand things.-“
Rinzai ( d.866)

I found it very empowering to read “if you want to make use of genuine insight, then use it right now without delay or doubt.”

That makes me feel like a child, who knows without doubt the value of feeling good, of wanting and then receiving a desired thing (be it material, experiential or emotional, mental)…

As an adult I often question the voracity of wanting anything – would it be good if I got it, what if I can’ t  get it…all this just keeps me from living…keeps me in fear, in a place where I am fighting to be “not – alive”….but the statement “use it right now without delay or doubt” opens it all up for me…When I watch a video (like the one I have posted below), I can see without delay or doubt how I will practice today:

…I practice in the wake of the greatness I experience in the videos of  Wes or Herb or other great guitarists.  I will flow with it …for the joy of it…like a child on fire with the delight of mastery — just for the sake of getting lost in the pursuit, not because it will lead to a gig or impress someone else.

Advertisements

Six Ways To Begin Again

I have to begin again on my blog so I found this great list of things about that very subject, written by Collin McCarty, and a song by one of my favorite jazz singers; although not an exact match for the topic, his voice is worth a listen…

1.  Begin to see yourself as you were when you were the strongest and happiest you’ve ever been.

2.   Begin to remember what worked for you (and what worked against you), try to capture the magic again

3.  Begin to remember how natural it was as a child – to live a lifetime each day.

4.  Begin to forget the baggage you have carried with you for years:  the problems that don’t matter anymore, the tears that cried themselves away, and the worries that are going to wash away on the shore of tomorrow’s new beginning.

5. Tomorrow tells us it will be here every new day of our lives; and if we will be wise, we will turn away from the problems of the past, and give the future–and ourselves–a change to become the best of friends.

6.  Sometimes all it takes is a wish in your heart to let yourself…begin again.

What has worked for you when you decided to begin again? I hope you’ll share in the comments.  Happy Holidays,

Love,

Trella

 

What is your “Path With A Heart?” Know it–for it is the only path that is any good.


path 2If I  don’t “make it” as an artist, should I quit?

That isn’t the question, that isn’t even the even the…That misses the whole point.  A musician friend on Facebook posted that he was discouraged about not making more money with music and not getting emotional support from community and family–thus he was thinking of quitting.

I wrote to him:

either or, do or not…anytime there is a side we must take there is stress…No side needs to be taken, this is Zen so it may go by un-clarified…but…no need to choose a side…An old Zen Koan said, Eat your food wash your bowl. Get up, music, eat sleep, live, take out trash, feed dogs…life.. The path with a heart is the only path that is any good (paraphrased from Carlos Castaneda).

Every moment we walk on a beautiful path, if we don’t lose our way

imagesBelow are some words from another post. I gratefully acknowledge the New Earth Heartbeat for posting this most invaluable writing. You can read the entire post via the link below, but I copied some parts below that I wanted to discuss.

http://newearthpulse.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/being-the-boss/

I am moved by the words from that post stating that if we cannot admit we are Buddha then we don’t understand Buddha nature. This means to me allowing Buddha to be, versus trying to explain or prove something about it. No one can get another to use this teaching that does not already have the propensity to do so. That is not to say it is worthless to write and speak about it—for there are many who DO have the propensity, and YOUR WORDS may be just what the doctor ordered to allow them to know and be Buddha nature, to stop seeking to understand, and to know that they already know

And if we seek to understand it, we cannot understand it. This phrase empowers me to tap into what is already there, the part that we all have that is one with nature and with all humanity, that knows what to do, that is always the boss. Focusing on this, I realize that I am the boss, because Buddha nature is the boss, someone far more capable than the ego part of me, someone I surrender to, trust completely to love and be kind to me and everyone else. That is the only way Buddha can be – loving, kind, wise, always able to protect us from losing our way. Buddha nature shows us what to do next, and how to do it, right here and right now—how to eliminate stress, to commit to the next thing–brushing your teeth or painting a glorious work of art, or making a call to set a doctor’s appointment—all those tasks are equal, when done with Buddha nature, all those tasks bring peace and are equally important. There is a way to do each of those diverse things that will bring about loving kindness in yourself today and in everyone you encounter today.

Another part of the post that struck a chord in me is “this means you should not lose your way”….

Today I will not lose my way, even though I did five minutes ago or yesterday or last year or 20 years ago, today I no longer need to lose my way, nothing else matters. If you are lost and you’ve been through many errors, failures, tragedies, and so on—if you have done wrong, or wrong has been done to you…why would you want to continue to be in that mess when you can be Buddha the one that will no longer lose his or her way?

The music of today is in the spirit of knowing that in me is a place beyond consciousness where music and art live in the most beautiful and effortless forms, and from that place things I thought were too hard suddenly become easy, or the process of breaking them down and learning them becomes a basic and joyful labor of love, leading to the level of musicianship infused with love that I aspire to…This process holds for whatever art or job or family rising or relationship making you are doing today.

 

“…When we ask what Buddha nature is, it vanishes; but when we just practice zazen, we have full understanding of it.”

“…So what Buddha meant by Buddha nature was to be there as he was, beyond the realm of consciousness.”

“…Buddha nature is our original nature; we have it before we practice zazen and before we acknowledge it in terms of consciousness.”

“If you want to understand it, you cannot understand it. When you give up trying to understand it, true understanding is always there.”

“…if you are under the idea of doing or not doing zazen, or if you cannot admit that you are Buddha, then you understand neither Buddha nature nor zazen.”

“Wherever we go, we should not lose this way of life. That is called ‘being Buddha,’ or ‘being the boss.’”

“Wherever you go you should be the master of your surroundings. This means you should not lose your way.”

How May I Drive Away the Sorrows?

“And now as long as long as there are beings to be found,lake
May I continue likewise to remain
To drive away the sorrows of the world.”

Shantideva – Verse 55 / Chapter 10 of the Bodhicharyavatara

With my music, everything I say, do, think and feel, may I, Trella, be a driver away of sorrows of the world. This phrase moved me and put into focus why I live, why anyone lives.  It is to have a hand in bringing joy and beauty while driving away the sorrows.  What an amazing outlook on life. Today as I learn music and write songs may it be from this perspective.  Perhaps the songs will be heard, downloaded from iTunes…and with each listen, the songs will help to drive away these sorrows.

Wes Montgomery Relax It’s Friday + Philosophy

I found the following words in my stuff and it hit home with me, maybe with you to.  It is by Sir Laurens van der Post, an anthropologist and author from South Africa. A movie was made about his life in 1996.   The second quote below pertains to happiness and affirms: Meaning is more important than gratification.  Think of Nelson Mandela going through that horrible treatment in prison and yet I believe even then he was doing fine because he knew all along his purpose.

 

The spirit of man is nomad. His blood bedouin, and love is the aboriginal tracker on the faded desert spoor of his lost self; and so I came to live my life not by conscious plan or prearranged design but as someone following the flight of a bird.”

 

“The Bushman in the Kalahari Desert talk about two “hungers”. There is the Great Hunger and there is the Little Hunger. The Little Hunger wants food for the belly; But the Great Hunger, The Greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning…

 

There’s ultimately only one thing that makes Human beings deeply and profoundly bitter, and that is the have thrust upon them

A life without meaning…

There is nothing wrong in searching for happiness….

But of far more comfort to the soul…

Is something greater than happiness

or unhappiness and that is meaning.

Because meaning transfigures all…

Once what you are doing has for you meaning,

It is irrelevant whether you’re happy or unhappy

You are content—you are not alone

In your spirit—you belong”

(Sir Laurens van der Post from Hasten Slowly, a film by Mickey Lemle)

 

 

Help! Is this Hard Bop? Be Bop?

 

 

Here is Russell Malone, great player.  Hope you will give comment on my question above.

I love this style, so as I learn to play it I want to be sure I am using the term that  generally applies to this “type” of jazz .

 

Today I have had more trouble with pain as I work on the arpeggios in each key.

 

But that will not stop me.  I took 600 mg of ibuprofen and used an icy hot patch.

Here goes for 4.5 hours today.  Also breaking it into nine sessions to avoid repetitive stress on the mussels and joints.  Speaking of joints……ah…just kidding…no really.  I could use one about now.

 

On another note, there is a book I have mentioned before, but it bears repeating.  It is called “The Perfect Wrong Note”

This bear looks like the attitude I need today to get my practice done.  Damn it, I am mad as hell that I  don’t know the scale patterns yet and  I’ll be darned if anything will stop me, so watch out world!

Back the the afore mentioned book:  When I spoke about some of its concepts to a former guitar teacher, he was NOT receptive. I believe some of the approaches require one  to be a bit ZEN like.  I am all for that.Perhaps I will revisit the book where he addresses pain caused by long hours of practice.

 

…Readers, stay with me, over the coming posts I will be sharing my insights on zen and music, on making a difference in the world rather than complaining about politics and  such, and especially on my continued love affair with jazz guitar, with being an adult learner, and breaking through my life long inability to stick to something and become excellent.  To actually succeed via my own firm commitment.

 

This will entail overcoming my fear that when I do well I will be expected to keep doing well, and I will become somewhat well known at least regionally…

Which will make me feel like a phony, or too public, or, I don’t know – afraid I won’t be me anymore.  That I will try to be what or who I think the people that like my music think I am.  Or I will try to be like some other female jazz guitarist or singer.  If you have gone from obscurity to a small degree of local fame, how have you kept on your original path, avoided a swelled head, and continued to work as hard as when you were just trying to get out of the starting gate?

You see I am a very private person who likes to be soft and gentle–not all gutsy like those guitar shredders I  have read about.    Emily Remler in particular. Don’t get me wrong, she was a great player.  But whatever she was doing in her life, she ended up addicted to H and died in her 30s.

This is a big challenge for me as you can see.  But life is either a daring adventure or nothing as someone once said.

The ocean shows me one-ness: This is what I think of while enjoying the waves, sky, sand, birds, plants, cliffs…

The ocean is so vast.  The vastness of all that is–being so huge as it is– does not mean that we are insignificant (i.e. so tiny in comparison to the vast infinity that we don’t matter). Instead, it gives us HUGE significance, to know that in the infinite cosmos, we are the only ones (that we have seen so far) with water, love, flowers, dogs…it means we “hit the jackpot”.

…and we are not in some desolate place with no trees, no dogs, no cats, no sex, no water, no LIFE…. We are the only ones with LIFE and our human habit is– instead of appreciating all this–to suffer by hating people, being scared, thinking every moment about past pain, or fear of pain we may feel in the future, and WE MISS OUR PERFECT HUMAN STATE OF ALIVENESS IN WHICH THERE IS NO SUFFERING. There is no suffering in the here and now. The suffering in only from

  1. Remembering and feeling pain about the past,  or judging and finding fault with the past (I didn’t do good enough, they didn’t respect me…), or from thinking the past was so magic and great and now life sucks in comparison.
  2. Thinking of the future –worrying about it, or doing things (work, paying penance etc.) that we believe will give us happiness at some later time, thinking there is no way to have happiness without doing all these other things first.

We can notice  how vast “all that is” is, and notice that we won the statistically impossible – like that one in a million who get to be a movie star – We won Earth.

Earth is the “movie star” among all the planets and the infinite cosmos, and we have this amazing place–a dream come true of delicious food,fresh fruit,  breathing,  seeing colors, feeling the warmth of the sun, hearing/making great music, laughter, the sound of one another’s voices articulating the beauty of being human, and yet we hang around smack dab in the middle of this heaven we call earth, at this amazing miraculous event called life, and we hate, fear, worry, and conjure up awful versions of what is around us, rather than concentrating on the  999 percent that is all solid gold.

Instead of,  “let’s go enjoy it”—oh no, we can’t do that, first we have to spend a thousand years hating each other because we have different ideas about how it all got here, arguing about god, no god, evolution, intelligent design…..

We  are like a ship or vessel of life forms/humans, that was lost,  got tossed about, and landed in PARADISE – the BEST PLACE with the greatest capacity to feel love, joy, ecstasy, sublime peace and tranquility; to live in the affirmation of the tremendous dignity and sanctity of our own and all other sentient beings lives.  And somehow we as a species got confused, and in our attitudes a glitch came about, the glitch of anger, stress, low self-esteem, fear and confusion and inability to BE HUMAN—and inability to BE in the present moment. We got caught up in a negative loop that goes round and round of;  they are better, I want their car, money, attractive husband, etc,  or I am better, how dare they have part of my stuff (i.e. expect me to pay taxes).

So now what can be done?

How can humans appreciate all the cosmos/life/earth/nature / each other?

By being here and now, by feeling and learning from and releasing traumas, death of loved ones, and old grudges and regrets.

By acknowledging (as explained in the great book, The Tao of Physics), the past, present and future is all right now, not linear. We CAN be in the present:  there is no need for encumbrance from past.  And there is no need to fear the future, or engage in excessive preparation for the future.  Notice people like the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh , many others – joyful in the present.  It is humanly possible to be that way, not based on money or material success, but on noticing our breathing, and living mindfully.

We can embrace the concept that we are the ones that hit the jackpot of life, of nature, of living in this place so well suited to us. We can respect the nature, our part and place in it.  We can ALLOW ourselves to be/feel who we really are, human animals connected with the one-ness of all that is. We can use our intellect to direct us to the feeling place of peace and love and kindness, transcending prior (and current) approaches based on fear, hatred, closing off between groups in various places on earth and closing off between one person and another.

We act like it’s not ok to function as we were designed to function – to pee, poop , have sex –things we all do and pretend we don’t (well SOME of those things)– and we pretend people don’t die, and become sad when they do.  We pretend we can control life, when actually we are here to roll with it–the weather, the change of seasons, the always evolving, living, dying and living and dying of people/plants/animals.

We pretend we are immortal, and thus go for decades and decades without enjoying or feeling happy in life…to perhaps take a 2 week vacation in which we are supposed to get the reward of 20 years of not really being alive while we work at a job that has no meaning, that isn’t using our talents.  Or we  convince ourselves that  “If only I work the next 20 years, or until retirement, at a job that I force myself to go to,  and sacrifice all present enjoyment, I will have lots of money, or the perfect spouse or house, and then I can be happy.”

We pretend we don’t die:  Thus, we often disregard the present moment, acting like it doesn’t matter, imagining that it will matter some other time–tomorrow, or this weekend, or at the holiday break.  Think of a party that we are all invited to, called life, we know that the party is happening, but we don’t go.  We say we will go later. Alternatively, think like a little child who has not yet removed himself from living in the moment.  Someone comes and says lets go see the sights, play, laugh, roll in the grass, stare up into the sky, the kid goes.  He does not say “I can do that later” or I am holding out for a better party later, or the cool people won’t be there so I don’t want to go, or, that party won’t last forever so it isn’t any good.

We can stop pretending that some people are not human, and have compassion for all life, human and other, and build systems that reflect that, systems that foster the state in which we can frequently  EXPERIENCE the ECSTASY of being alive.  Feel our breath, the fresh air on our skin, a breeze caressing our skin when we walk outside in the morning, the lovely laughter of children playing, and cease our habit and systems that wall off our lives into buildings, cities, in which each person is expected to hoard items they “buy” after selling their time at a “job” that is not intrinsic to who they are. We can allow our planet and its humans to blossom out in the intrinsic thing that is who they are.

We can make art and design things that will help the planet heal, find ways to solve problems like garbage floating in the ocean and homelessness…. And base our economy on only things that help heal ourselves and the planet, exchange goods and services that help all, ceasing to run the world using economies that  harm millions while benefiting 10 or 20 wealthy people that own some big corporations.

Quote for the Day…

From The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius   59
  57. The sun appears to be poured down, and in all directions indeed it is diffused, yet it is not effused. For this diffusion is extension: Accordingly its rays are called Extensions [Greek] because they are extended [Greek]. But one may judge what kind of a thing a ray is, if he looks at the sun’s light passing through a narrow opening into a darkened room, for it is extended in a right line, and, as it were,is divided when it meets with any solid body which stands in the way and intercepts the air beyond; but there the light remains fixed and does not glide or fall off.Such then ought to be the outpouring and diffusion of the understanding, and it should in no way be an effusion, but an extension, and it should make no violent or impetuous collision with the obstacles which are in its way; nor yet fall down, but be fixed and enlighten that which receives it. For a body will deprive itself of the illumination, if it does not admit it.Marcus Aureliuss seems to say that showing your light is all that is needed to remove darkness, that you needn’t fight it, or try to prove that your light is right and the dark is wrong, just let that sucker SHINE!

HOW WILL I GET THROUGH TODAY WITHOUT GIVING IN TO DEPRESSION?

Each day there is that pull, to just sit in the chair and stare at videos on you tube or tv, eat all day even though I am not hungry, and just quit my jazz guitar adventure….but this blog is helping me to commit to something greater.  Each day i have to be aware that the habit of just becoming a depressed blob is there, and I have to read, write  meditate (NOT medicate), take a walk…do anything I can to rally myself to be on my own side, to not pretend that I don’t exist…

To me, depression is a feeling like you don’t exist, and yet you are here…the pain that, yes, you ARE here and you must accept yourself.

How do you accept yourself, love yourself, show yourself the loving kindness you would to a friend or a child?  There, I have begun to turn it around…

I imagine a kid on Christmas, a child…the child in me…what right do I have to deny her the chance to live, to have fun, to hurl off the fetters of depression and low self esteem and just declare “I AM HERE, YOU BETTER NOT FUCK ME OVER TODAY YOU BITCH”

Maybe that is me talking to the bad person my mom sometimes was to me, the mom that wished i would just disappear –the “uncaring mom” that now lives in my head.. that thinks i am too much trouble to have around…

BUT THERE ALSO THE LOVING MOM..the one in my head, and the one my mom was before we become disconnected from each other.

That is the mom I will have with me today, the one that loves me and wants me to succeed, to love playing jazz guitar, to eat in a healthy and tasty way, and to get exercise in the outdoors–by the way, studies have shown that exercise is as effective as anti depressants at countering depression!!!!

YEP it is time to LIVE my life, play jazz music, and try to be part of the solution for me and others like me, that artists  the sensitive ones…here is to all of you my fellow bloggers!

Here is a fav jazz player, Herb Ellis, so free in his playing…now THAT is something that washes away your depression! learning to play jazz guitar…(or _____ – insert whatever works for you, something that demands you be in the PRESENT!)