Enlightenment awaits when classical music becomes classical music
'When you are you, you see things as they are, and you become one with your surroundings. There is your self. There you have true practice; you have the practice of a frog. Here is a good example of our practice – when a frog becomes a frog, Zen becomes Zen. When you understand a frog through and through, you attain enlightenment; you are Buddha'.Those are the words of Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, and centenary celebrant John Cage was, of course, a Zen practitioner. My recent post The sound of 4’33” generated a large readership, doubtless helped by images of the stunning Zen garden at Venansault, France. When we came to view the photos taken by my wife at Venansault we found the one above that resonates synchronistically with Shunryu Suzuki’s teaching. For many Zen’s metaphysical obscurantism will be irritating, but the Buddhist tradition does contain much truth. Classical music is not an entertainment format, it is not a digital property, it is not a money spinner, it is not a social media toy, it is not a celebrity vehicle, it is not a mass market product, it is not a replacement for dub step, it is not a refuge for the ethically compromised, it is not a spectator sport, and it is not a higher art form beyond the reach of economic reality. Just as enlightenment awaits when a frog becomes a frog, so another form of enlightenment awaits when classical music becomes no more than classical music. And when that happens and we truly understand classical music through and through, many of its so-called ‘problems’ will be seen in a different light. More on John Cage, Zen and small sentient beings in Cleaning the ears of the musically educated.
Also on Facebook and Twitter. Photo is © Mrs Overgrown Path 2012. Quote is from Zen Mind, Beginner's MInd by Shunry Suzuki. Report broken links, missing images and errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk