The best thing to do is just to play
I found a copy of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind last night. Shunryu Suzuki. It’s a great book. Because it is a book about sitting. Just sitting. And I reckon any book on such a noble subject is a great book.
So our practice is very simple, embarrassingly simple. It is just to sit in this way, up straight, and breathing, and paying attention to our life. There is nothing more to it than that, and yet everything is contained in this one practice. In a way, this is a rather odd idea.
Of course there are lots of theories about how to sit. What to do when you’re sitting. What to think about. What to feel. What not to think about. Who to think about. How to sit. How to hold your head, your hands, your feet…
If humans can make sitting that complex imagine how complex they can make something like playing guitar.
It gets awfully complex. How to hold your hands. How to play musical phrases. How to pluck the string. How to sit. How to hold the guitar. If you copy this picture of Segovia in just the right way…suddenly the music of the spheres will issue forth…all sorts of nonsense.
Thankfully we have come a long way since we thought that if everyone copied Segovia (or Williams or or) they would be fine. But we still think we can think about how to play and find answers.
But Shunryu has the best advice. The best thing to do is just to sit.
If you follow that advice things become embarrassingly simple. Imagine. No plan. No theory. No technique. No self judgement. No bullshit.
The best thing to do is just to play.
I have come to realise that every bit of technical and theoretical advice I have ever been given is a waste of time. And so we need a new way to proceed. A new way to teach.
Could we teach if teaching was “embarrassingly simple”?
Could we play guitar if playing was “embarrassingly simple”?
Or do we need it to be complex so that we can feel we’re doing something great?
But what’s not great about something as embarrassingly simple as just playing?
Dedicated to the late Robert Cran. Who was uniquely himself.