The Shakuhachi Lesson

by Mary Lu Brandwein
Sensei: Play this part please.
Hai, doozo....
Student:[ S i l e n c e ]

Into the pause of the two-second black hole that follows the request by the teacher to play a few notes, the fears of many lifetimes are sucked:

I can't play;
I'm not capable of learning
You will laugh
I'll be rejected
I'll be scolded
I'll feel worthless
My music will be ugly; I'm ugly
The sound will not come out
I will not succeed
It is illogical to do this at my age
It is a waste of time
It doesn't produce money
Does it really feed me inside
Am I really an artist
Is it a personal fantasy
I shouldn't have been born
I'm a burden
I'm good for nothing
I still haven't got it together
Maybe I never will
I have failed at everything
I am stupid
I'm alone
No one cares about me
I do not know how to love sound
or anything else
I'm not good enough
I have done nothing with my life yet
I only make mistakes
I never know what to do or say
I'm going to die...this way

Self-centered little-mind secretions of no substance,
Of little truth...secretions of the believing mind.
The body contracts to paralysis.
The words come faster and faster into the brain and
Are crowded into the hardening rock-body.

And again: [ S i l e n c e ]
Sensei: Take a deep breath
Breathing, blowing
Bamboo vibrates
Sound arises

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