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In Blowing Zen, the author's reflections on his remarkable adventures in Japan are filled with insight as well as inspiration. This is the story of a modern-day komuso ("wandering monk"), whose path to enlightenment is global in scope and whose drive to awaken is amplified only by the sound of the Zen bamboo flute, the shakuhachi.
The origins of the shakuhachi can be traced back to antiquity. From ancient Egypt, this woodwind instrument presumably traveled through Mesopotamia to India and then China, before crossing the Sea of Japan in the sixth century. Like Buddhism itself, the spiritual foundation upon which its practice is based, this unique musical instrument moved from West to East. Now we witness the shakuhachi crossing the Pacific to find fertile ground in the hearts of a new generation in the West.
Ray Brooks has served as one vehicle of this odyssey. Having emerged from the maelstrom of the 1960s to question the very core of his being, Ray discovered some very old answers to some very new questions. With his gaze directed steadily inward, Ray's quest for solutions led him to a doorway that opened to the ancient wisdom of the East. In the pages that follow, an incredible journey unfolds. It is the voyage of one man's self-discovery through the conduit of the shakuhachi. This rustic five-hole flute made from the root of a bamboo became a portal through which the author came face-to-face with a wider view of his life and his place in the cosmos.
As a maker of shakuhachi flutes since 1970, at the hub of the informational wheel of this unique tradition, I have been privy to several amazing stories of folks who have encountered shakuhachi completely outside of its traditional context. Many recognized its potential and opened to its special gift. Few, however, have taken the call as earnestly, passionately and unabashedly as Ray Brooks, who follows its sweet melodic intensity to the ends of the earth in search of a rendezvous with his true self.
From the Foreword by Monty H. Levenson
288 pages. BK-11
"A genuine spiritual journey, Finding
Zen, music, and one's own true self. A lovely spirit blows through
- Jack Kornfield, author of a Path with Heart
"Ray Brooks' unique and captivating
book provides an insightful view of the heart and spirit of the
Japanese culture and the musician's journey. In sharing his quest,
he has enriched my life, and may inspire many others on the path
of music, the ways of Zen"
- Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Everyday Enlightenment
A native of England, Ray Brooks, is a writer whose musical life has included composing, recording performing and teaching. He is internationally known in the world of shakuhachi, and has studied for many years with Japanese masters Akikazu Nakamura and Yokoyama Katsuya. He frequently performs solo concerts throughout Japan, North America and Europe.
While living in India, he learned circular breathing from Tibetan monks and practiced bansuri flute and tabla with Indian masters. An avid traveler, he has explored the globe extensively, trekked through large areas of the Himalayan range, including the highest valley in the world, and worked in the movie industry on location in China and Hong Kong. Ray continues to travel; he speaks and gives seminars, utilizing his own experiences and understanding of life and he remains on a path of direct experience and effortless living.
Presently, Ray resides in Victoria, British Columbia with his wife Dianne.
|Recorded Music by Ray Brooks|
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