Sacred Abjection in Zen Shakuhachi by Zachary Wallmark

•January 25, 2014 • 1 Comment

Stumbled across a wonderful article written at the UCLA school of Music of Ethnomusicology on the shakuhachi.

Beyond the historical context and just the fact that it is something about shakuhachi (automatically gets my interest), what I found most interesting was the parallelism between music/noise vs non-spiritual/spiritual.

In my humble opinion, the perceived divide is a delusion and a distinction that creates the Gap.

“If there is a thousandth or a hundredth of a gap, heaven and earth are far apart.” ~ Dogen

Min’yō (民謡)

•January 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I had requested a few months ago of my teacher to learn Yoru no Uta (Song of the Night).  I’ve always loved this song and have tried to self-teach it.  However, the notation was just different enough that I was getting stuck in spots.  My teacher, Jon, was kind enough to spend the time going through the material.  Biggest challenge, (which always in the case) is I’m never low enough (meri) on my tsu’s.

We’ve now been going through several other Min’yo pieces and it’s been really enjoyable.  Especially enjoying Komoro Uta & Hanagasa Odori.




•January 19, 2013 • Leave a Comment


So this past week I was fortunate to become the new owner of a beautiful and powerful Ichijo flute from David Yudo Sawyer.  I have been playing an Advanced Student Shakuhachi from Monty Levenson for about a year and a half.  I’ve also enjoyed the ease of care Shakuhachi Yuu and a wonderfully meditative 2.4 Perry Yung jinashi flute.   However, playing this Ichijo has completely blown my mind.  I worried that it was too much for me, but, the best I can explain it is like driving a high performance sports car.   Granted in many cases people need to decide if they really need such a ‘car’, but pretty much everyone would enjoy driving one.  Having it now, I know I was ready and thankful that such a beautiful instrument found it’s way to me.

Returning to Formal Practice

•December 27, 2012 • 1 Comment

My shakuhachi has not left my side and playing daily continues to be the norm.  However, due to a job change and relocation my formal training had taken an hiatus.  That being said, I officially started practice again last week with Tamuke.  Still with my same teacher (Jon Johnston), but now over Skype.

The medium is mediocre at best, however my teacher has a good methodology.  He plays the phrase, we play the phrase, I play the phrase.  The only part that is a bit wonky is when we play together because it seems that Skype can only send or receive…but not both, at least not well.  Could be in the settings but that’s an action point I need to check.  We may also try Google+ to see if it is any better.

Anyway, I’m glad to be back training and progressing with this beautiful path.  Deep bows to my fellow shaku-family for their continued support and encouragement.


•May 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Smiling, happy, friendly faces
Groomed priest since 10
Managing the family temple
Yet zazen is zazen.


•May 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Gazing out the window
Upon the rice fields of Japan
Buddha’s robe
Born in my eyes

Hikari Shinkansen

•May 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Clouds bloom
Fuji hides her face
The Great Sky is ever clear


•May 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Bells fill my eyes
Flowers fill my nose
Buddha gazes upon Buddha
Greatness is everywhere

Equanimity Achieved

•May 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Been struggling for the past week or two with a barrage of thoughts and anxiety about going to Japan. The home of the religion I have practiced for the past 7 years, birthplace to my musical passion, home to my wife’s family … so much energy built up . So many expectations. Not able to speak or read Japanese, coupled with travelling to places I’ve never been has brought some anxiety with it.

Getting on the plane and sitting down it all melted away. Realizing it is no different from daily life. Just accepting each experience as it comes. The planning phase is over, now it is time to just experience the trip.

So now is a time of not knowing and just experiencing.

“In arriving there is no abode. In departing there is no destination. Ultimately how is it. Here you are, where you have always been.”

– John Daido Loori : Capping verse of Daowu’s Place of No Birth and No Death.



Arriving where I’ve always been.

•May 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Warm greetings from all I meet
Familiar faces warm my heart
Zazen in a distant land
Feels like home