Shawn Dokan Edwards – about.me/shards
I became interested in the shakuhachi through an album I had purchased by Stan Kakudo Richardson called Meditation Music. I had been practicing Zen Buddhism since about 2005 and was looking at other areas where I could continue my sitting practice off the zafu. I had tried calligraphy but didn’t feel an affinity for it. So I ventured out to Amazon.com and bought a $20 bamboo shakuhachi. It took me a couple days but I was able to finally make a sound. This thing was atrocious. Looking back now I can see that my desire to learn the instrument was pure because I persisted to seek a teacher, even though my experience with that little flute was painful.
Sometime in July 2011 I discovered that Stan was not only an exceptional artist, but also a teacher! What’s more, is that he is also based in Dallas, Texas. Lady luck began to shine on me. Stan also had a student of his, Jon Jo-ondo Johnston who was a shihan and was teaching even closer to me. I contacted Jon and since August 18, 2011 I have been playing incessantly. Before that first lesson I traded up from that little flute, which by the way sits now nicely nestled in the Buddha’s arms on my altar, to a Yuu. I realized very quickly however that I was in this for life. About two months later I purchased an Advanced Student model from Monty Levenson that has been my main flute since. I have dabbled with some PVC models (1.8s, 2.0s and now a 3.6) and have just recently purchased a 2.3 Earth Model from Perry Yung. But these others are just for me to expand my playing ability. I’ve been steadily progressing and, having the privilege of working from home, practice constantly.
In February I will have a two day intensive retreat with Kurahashi Sensei at Stan’s house. This will comprise an ensemble piece as well as a honkyoku piece. In addition to that, I will also take a couple of private lessons from Kurahashi Sensei. An honour I am very much looking forward to.
In May, I have full intention on attending the World Shakuhachi Festival in Kyoto, Japan with the rest of the Mujuan-dojo. While there, I also hope to visit my Zen teacher, in Osaka, another teacher from my sangha in Tsukuba as well as do a 5 day Zen sesshin at Antaiji in northern Japan. If finances allow, I will bring my wife, daughter and mother-in-law. Her family lives in Hachinohe and it would be a double benefit to the trip!
More to come…