Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

a movie to check out ~

sorry the videos have been disabled - try this search: Akira Kurosawa's Dreams - YouTube

Dreams (Yume; aka Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, I Saw a Dream Like This, or Such Dreams I Have Dreamed) is a 1990 magical realism film based on actual dreams of the film's director, Akira Kurosawa at different stages of his life. The film is based more on imagery than on dialogue, and the dreams are presented as eight separate segments.
The alternative titles ("I Saw a Dream Like This") are a translation of the opening line of Ten Nights of Dreams, by Natsume Sōseki, which begins: Konna yume wo mita ~
こんな 夢 を見た

Sunshine Through The Rain Pt.2
There is an old legend in Japan that states that when the sun is shining through the rain, the Kitsune (foxes) have their weddings. In this first dream, a boy defies the wish of a woman, possibly his mother, to remain at home during a day with such weather. From behind a large tree in the nearby forest, he witnesses the slow wedding procession of the kitsune...

kitsune (kitsɯne) is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

The Peach Orchard Pt.2
Hina Matsuri, the Doll Festival, traditionally takes place in spring when the peach blossoms are in full bloom. The dolls that go on display at this time, they say, are representative of the peach trees and their pink blossoms. One boy's family, however, has chopped down their peach orchard, so the boy feels a sense of loss during this year's festival. After being scolded by his older sister the boy spots a small girl running out the front door. He follows her to the now-treeless orchard, where the dolls from his sister's collection have come to life and are standing before him on the slopes of the orchard. The living dolls, revealing themselves to be the spirits of the peach trees, berate the boy about chopping down the precious trees. But after realizing how much he loved the blossoms, they agree to give him one last glance at the peach trees by way of a slow and beautiful dance to Etenraku. After they disappear the boy finds the small girl walking among the treeless orchard before seeing a single peach tree sprouting in her place.
Etenraku, literally music brought from heaven) is a gagaku melody and dance. It is usually played with a hichiriki or ryūteki, and is accompanied by other traditional instruments such as the shō, koto and kakko.
Gagaku (literally "elegant music") is a type of Japanese classical music that has been performed at the Imperial Court in Kyoto for several centuries.

Dreams @wikipedia

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams @Netflix

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams on YouTube


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

recent activity

here is what's been up the past few months

my newest grandchild, Phoenix Don Agenbroad, arrived on Oct. 22

path to zendo I recently participated in "SELF SETTLING into the SELF" One Day Sitting at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center.
An opportunity for beginners as well as experienced sitters to plunge into the heart of Zen practice, the retreat included Friday night dinner, evening meditation and overnight stay; 8 periods of meditation, bowing, formal meals, chanting, work practice, and dokusan (a private interview with Kwong-Roshi).
禅/禪 The Japanese word Zen is derived from the Chinese word Chán, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna, which means "meditation" or "meditative state." I have added a bit about Zen and Buddhism to my page "Master of the Sakuhachi," and also below in the ango section of this post.
I have also been attending the Fall Study Group at SMZC. The group was led by Shinko Kwong, and focused on Jakusho Kwong-roshi's book "No Beginning, No End"

हिन्दुस्तानी शास्त्रीय संगीत

Pandit Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, a renowned Hindustani vocalist from India, and dear teacher of mine from "back in the day," performed at SSU. It was great to see him after a long time. (The video is just one that i found on youtube) ... I added some info on North Indian Classical Music to the page that i created abut this.

Pani Bina (Kabir Bhajan) - (bhajans are devotional songs; Pandit Tewari sings this in light classical style)

Click for a video of him performing in the Classical Style several years ago - a really nice intro to the depth of his practice >> Rāga Bilaskhani Todi

~ read more

Dharma Wheel artwork update;
plus I have added a bit about Dharma to the page.

~ visit page

Rinzai Zen monk Ejun Iechika, a Master of the Shakuhachi and certified teacher of the Komuso lineage, performed on shakuhachi for the sangha at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center; I have added a bit on Zen & Buddhism to this page.


• Suizen: A Zen practice consisting of playing the shakuhachi bamboo flute as a means of attaining self-realization. The monks from the Fuke sect of Zen who practiced suizen using the shakuhachi as a spiritual tool are called Komusō (literally "emptiness monks").

~ read more

Gauri artwork update
- contains some text from the Kali & Raktabija story.

"...This forced her to shed her fierce form; Kali became Gauri,
the radiant mother, bestower of life, golden."

~ visit page

I attended a talk by Rev. Juko Nakano, Sotoshu Specially Dispatched Teacher, Head Priest of Chorakuji Temple, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. The page I created about this, Dharma talk - What is “kind speech?", contains an excellent message from Head Priest of the Sotoshu, Omichi Kosen Zenji. I also include a bit about zen on the page.

Dogen Zenji taught,
“While we are living our present life, we should happily practice kind speech.”

~ read more

(Also: I have added a bit about Dharma to my Dharma Wheel artwork page)

Latest photo posted to what it is photo blog

~ visit page

I attended Sonoma Mountain Zen Center First Annual Mandala Bazaar 2010, a benefit for the Center's Mandala Project.

Kyudo "The Way of the Bow" demonstraion

Tea Ceremony demonstraion

~ visit page

Click here for or more information on MANDALA PROJECT

Kwong-Roshi has long envisioned creating a Mandala of buildings on Sonoma Mountain to continue Suzuki-roshi’s lineage and support authentic practice, dedicated to the protection and awakening of all beings, for the next three hundred years.

I was privileged to attend mid-morning zazen for the last three days of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center Summer Ango, and to participate in the closing ceremony. Demian Nyoze Kwong (center) served as shuso (head monk) during the time I attended.


Ango is a Japanese term for a period of intense training for students of Zen Buddhism, lasting anywhere from {30} to 100 days. The practice during ango consists of meditation (zazen), study, and work (samu).


Zazen is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting, "opening the hand of thought." Once the mind is able to be unhindered by its many layers, one will then be able to realize one's true Buddha nature. In Zen Buddhism, zazen (literally "seated meditation") is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment.

Satori is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment that literally means "understanding". In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment, and is considered a "first step" or embarkation toward nirvana. Satori is typically juxtaposed with the related term kensho, which translates as "seeing one's nature". Kensho experiences tend to be briefer glimpses, while satori is considered to be a deeper spiritual experience.


Nirvāna is a central concept in Indian religions - the state of being free from suffering. The word literally means "blowing out" — referring, in the Buddhist context, to the blowing out of the fires of greed, hatred, and delusion.


Kenshō is a Japanese term for enlightenment experiences. It is most commonly used within the confines of Zen Buddhism.
Literally it means "seeing one's nature" or "true self." It generally "refers to the realization of nonduality of subject and object." Frequently used in juxtaposition with satori (or, "catching on"), there is sometimes a distinction made between the two in that some consider satori to be qualitatively deeper. Kenshō itself has been said to be "...a blissful realization where a person's inner nature, the originally pure mind, is directly known as an illuminating emptiness, a thusness which is dynamic and immanent in the world." Kenshō experiences are tiered, in that they escalate from initial glimpses into the nature of mind, on to an experience of emptiness, and then perhaps on to Buddhahood.


Shikantaza is a Japanese term for zazen introduced by Rujing and associated most with the Soto school of Zen Buddhism, but which also is "the base of all Zen disciplines." According to Dōgen Zenji, shikantaza i.e. resting in a state of brightly alert attention that is free of thoughts, directed to no object, and attached to no particular content—is the highest or purest form of Zazen, zazen as it was practiced by all the buddhas of the past.

My Buddha artwork from April

The posture of zazen is seated, with folded legs and hands, and an erect but settled spine. The legs are folded in one of the standard sitting styles. The hands are folded together into a simple mudra over the belly. In many practices, one breathes from the hara (the center of gravity in the belly) and the eyelids are half-lowered, the eyes being neither fully open nor shut so that the practitioner is not distracted by outside objects but at the same time is kept awake. Long periods of zazen, usually performed in groups at a zendo (meditation hall), may alternate with periods of kinhin (walking meditation). The beginning of a zazen period is traditionally announced by ringing a bell three times, and the end of a round by ringing the bell once. Before and after sitting, Zen practitioners perform a gassho bow to their seat, to fellow practitioners and to the teacher/guru.

Samu: Work service, meditation in work; refers to work that is done to promote mindfulness, such as chopping wood or sweeping floors. Samu is popular in Zen monasteries. Mindfulness means accepting reality just as it is. Samu is a means of finding Buddha-nature in everyday life, that reality has ever been pure from the very beginning, which was the central idea behind a popular movement in Japan, where Zen is commonly practiced today, called, 'Primordial Enlightenment'*

Samu, the cultivation of work as spiritual practice, is one of the four principal components of Zen practice along with zazen, teisho, and dokusan. It is essential that we learn to enter into work as an act of self-purification and realization. Samu includes the practice of dana (giving or generosity), mindfulness, and devotion - training sessions are crucial as they provide a way of taking one's practice off the mat into one's daily life. Samu practice is not a substitute for sitting meditation but is rather the extension of meditation to its function. Samu and sitting meditation are therefore highly interrelated and interdependent - (from Zen Center of Denver website page on training).

*(the enlightened state, i.e. the Sugatagarbha all sentient beings already possess - the way things really are, the way things really exist from the very beginning - called primordial enlightenment, because this state is always there and never was not, (and) as we, sentient beings, have apparently wandered from the knowledge, which is already there as our true mode of existence; (and) therefore, we have to be re-enlightened, i.e. come to recognize the primordial enlightened state already present in us, and through practice become established in it - from Byoma Kusuma Buddhadharma Sangh, Enlightenment: Buddhism Vis-à-Vis Hinduism")


I have also added a bit more about Zen and Buddhism to my page "Master of the Sakuhachi."


Sonoma Mountain Zen Center
Jakusho Kwong-Roshi | Suzuki-roshi | Dogen Zenji
Sonoma Mountain Zen Center Mandala Project
Ango | Zazen | Satori | Nirvāna | Kenshō | Samu

Pandit Laxmi Ganesh Tewari & a bit about North Indian Classical Music

My "Dharma Wheel" artwork page and a bit about Dharma

Master of the Shakuhachi
and about Zen & Buddhism

Gauri artwork update

Dharma talk - What is “kind speech?"

what it is photo blog

SMZC Mandala Benefit

My Buddha artwork from April

Saturday, November 13, 2010

North Indian vocalist Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari

I went to hear Tewariji sing tonight. It was great to see him after a long time!


I was privileged to study with him during the late seventies/early eighties.

Laxmi G. Tewari performing, February 2007, photograph by Linnea Mullins

Pandit Laxmi Ganesh Tewari is a renowned Hindustani vocalist from India. He is an exponent of the Gwalior gharana (tradition) of vocal music. After studying with Dr. Lalmani Misra at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, he pursued education and teaching opportunities in America. At Sonoma State University since 1974, his career has combined performance, scholarship and teaching. (click for more at Wikipedia)
Click for a video of him performing in the Classical Style several years ago - a really nice intro to the depth of his practice >> Rāga Bilaskhani Todi

Tewari has been on the faculty of Sonoma State University in California since 1974. Today he is one of the leading ethnomusicologists with an exemplary body of work on Indian, Buddhist, Arabian and Gamelan music. He has also made numerous recordings of his music; chief amongst them is his rendering of Sameshwari, a Raga created by Dr. Lalmani Misra to preserve the notes of Samagana of Sama Veda period. He has conducted field research in India, Turkey, Trinidad & Tobago, Thailand, Fiji, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. In addition to his books and recordings, Tewari's articles have appeared in South Asia Research, South Asia Journal, and Asian Folklore Studies.

हिन्दुस्तानी शास्त्रीय संगीत

Hindustani classical music (Hindi: हिन्दुस्तानी शास्त्रीय संगीत, (Urdu: شاستریہ سنگیت ہندوستانی) is the Hindustani or erstwhile North Indian style of Indian classical music. It is a tradition that originated in Vedic ritual chants and has been evolving from the 12th century AD, in what are now northern India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, and also Nepal and Afghanistan, and is today one of the two parts of Indian classical music, with the other one being Carnatic music, which represents the music of South India.

Pani Bina (Kabir Bhajan) - (bhajans are devotional songs; Pandit Tewari sings this in light classical style)

• The Gwalior Gharana is one of the oldest Khayal Gharanas and one to which most classical Indian musicians can trace the origin of their style. The rise of the Gwalior Gharana started with the reign of the great Mughal emperor Akbar (1542–1605). The favorite singers of this patron of the arts, such as Miyan Tansen, first amongst the vocalists at the court, came from the town of Gwalior.
Khayal (or Khayal, Hindi: ख़्याल, Urdu: خیال) is the modern genre of classical singing in North India. Its name comes from an Arabic word meaning "imagination." Like all Indian classical music, khyal is modal, with a single melodic line and no harmonic parts. The modes are called raga, and each raga is a complicated framework of melodic rules.

The origins of Indian classical music can be found in the Vedas, which are the oldest scriptures in the Hindu tradition. Indian classical music has also been significantly influenced by, or syncretized with, Indian folk music and Persian music. The Samaveda, one of the four Vedas, describes music at length. The Samaveda was derived from the Rigveda in order that its hymns could be sung as Samagana; this style evolved into jatis and eventually into ragas. Bharat's Natyashastra was the first treatise laying down fundamental principles of dance, music and drama.

Indian classical music is both elaborate and expressive. Like Western classical music, it divides the octave into 12 semitones of which the 7 basic notes are, in ascending tonal order, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa, similar to Western music's Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do. However, Indian music uses the just intonation tuning, unlike most modern Western classical music, which uses the equal-temperament tuning system.

Indian classical music is monophonic in nature and based around a single melody line, which is played over a fixed drone. The performance is based melodically on particular ragas and rhythmically on talas. Because of the focus on exploring the raga, performances have traditionally been solo endeavors, but duets are gaining in popularity.

Indian Classical Music Core Concepts:
Shruti · Swara · Rāga · Tāla

The shruti (Sanskrit "thing heard", "sound"; also written as śruti) is the smallest interval of the tuning system in Indian classical music.

The seven notes of the scale (swaras), in Indian music are named shadja, rishabh, gandhar, madhyam, pancham, dhaivat and nishad, usually shortened to Sa, Ri (Carnatic) or Re (Hindustani), Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, and Ni and written S, R, G, M, P, D, N. Collectively these notes are known as the sargam (the word is an acronym of the consonants of the first four swaras). Sargam is the Indian equivalent to solfege, a technique for the teaching of sight-singing. Sargam is practiced against a drone. The tone Sa is not associated with any particular pitch. As in Western moveable-Do solfège, Sa refers to the tonic of a piece or scale rather than to any particular pitch.

A raga (Sanskrit rāga राग, literally "colour, hue" but also "beauty, harmony, melody"; also spelled raag, rag, ragam) is one of the melodic modes used in Indian classical music.
It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is made. In the Indian musical tradition, rāgas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons. Indian classical music is always set in a rāga. Non-classical music such as popular Indian film songs or ghazals sometimes use rāgas in their compositions. The two streams of Indian classical music, Carnatic music and Hindustani music, have independent sets of rāgas.
The Sanskrit noun rāga is derived from the verbal root rañj "to colour, to dye". It is used in the literal sense of "the act of dyeing", and also "colour, hue, tint", especially "red colour" in the Sanskrit epics. A figurative sense "passion, love, desire, delight" is also found in the Mahabharata. The specialized sense of "loveliness, beauty", especially of voice or song, emerges in Classical Sanskrit.

The term raga was defined by Joep Bor of the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music as "tonal framework for composition and improvisation." Nazir Jairazbhoy, chairman of UCLA's department of ethnomusicology, characterized ragas as separated by scale, line of ascent and descent, transilience, emphasized notes and register, and intonation and ornaments.

Although notes are an important part of rāga practice, they alone do not make the rāga. A rāga is more than a scale, and many rāgas share the same scale. The mood of the rāga and the way the notes are approached and used are more important than the notes it uses.
Many Hindustani (North Indian) rāgas are prescribed for the particular time of a day or a season. When performed at the suggested time, the rāga has its maximum effect. During the monsoon, for example, many of the Malhar group of rāgas, which are associated with the monsoon and ascribed the magical power to bring rain, are performed.

Tāla or Taal (Sanskrit tālà, literally a "clap", also transliterated as "tala") is the term used in Indian classical music for the rhythmic pattern of any composition and for the entire subject of rhythm, roughly corresponding to metre in Western music, though closer conceptual equivalents are to be found in other Asian classical systems such as the notion of usul in the theory of Ottoman/Turkish music.

The most common instrument for keeping rhythm in Hindustani music is the tabla, while in Carnatic music, it is the mridangam (which is also transliterated as mridang).

Watch "Ravi Shankar, Alla Rakha - Tabla Solo in Jhaptal" video at youtube for an exciting intro to Tabla by Ustad Alla Rakha playing a ten beat cycle (Jhaptal), introduced and counted by the legendary sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar

Rhythm in Indian music performs the function of a time counter. A taal is a rhythmic cycle of beats with an ebb and flow of various types of intonations resounded on a percussive instrument. Each such pattern has its own name. Indian classical music has complex, all-embracing rules for the elaboration of possible patterns, though in practice a few taals are very common while others are rare. The most common taal in Hindustani classical music is Teental, a cycle of four measures of four beats each.

A taal does not have a fixed tempo and can be played at different speeds. In Hindustani classical music a typical recital of a raga falls into two or three parts categorized by the tempo of the music - Vilambit laya (Slow tempo), Madhya laya (Medium tempo) and Drut laya (Fast tempo). In Carnatic Music, there are five categories of tempo namely - Chauka (1 stroke per beat), Vilamba (2 strokes per beat), Madhyama(4 beats per beat), Dhuridha(8 strokes per beat), Adi-Dhuridha(16 strokes per beat). But, although the tempo changes, the fundamental rhythm does not.
Each repeated cycle of a taal is called an avartan. A tala is generally divided into sections (vibhaags), not all of which may have the same number of beats.

Taals have a vocalised and therefore recordable form wherein individual beats are expressed as phonetic representations of various strokes played upon the tabla. The first beat of any taal, called sam (pronounced as the English word 'sum' and meaning even or equal, archaically meaning nil) is denoted with an 'X'. The first beat is always the most important and heavily emphasised. It is also the point of resolution in the rhythm. A soloist has to sound an important note of the raag there, and the percussionist's and soloist's phrases culminate at that point. A North Indian classical dance composition must end on the sam.

Indian Music (Hindustani Classical) playlist at Robert Cherwink's Channel on YouTube

Ethnomusicology is a branch of musicology defined as "the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts.
Coined by Jaap Kunst from the Greek words ἔθνος ethnos (nation) and μουσική mousike (music), it is often considered the anthropology or ethnography of music. Jeff Todd Titon has called it the study of "people making music." Although it is often thought of as a study of non-Western musics, ethnomusicology also includes the study of Western music from an anthropological or sociological perspective.

>>> links >

Pandit Laxmi Ganesh Tewari

(Rāga) Bilaskhani Todi - Dr. Laxmi Ganesh Tewari
Pani Bina (Kabir Bhajan) - Pt. Lakshmiganesh Tewari

Hindustani Classical Music | Khayal | Gwalior Gharana

Rāga | Tāla | tabla

"Ravi Shankar, Alla Rakha - Tabla Solo in Jhaptal" video at youtube

Ustad Alla Rakha | Ravi Shankar