Integrative Healing

celebrating the depth and breadth of the human experience

Category Archives: Music

“A New Flute”

One of my very favorite stories….

A new flute was invented in China. A Japanese master musician discovered the subtle beauties of its tone and brought it back home, where he gave concerts all around the country. One evening he played with a community of musicians and music lovers who lived in a certain town. At the end of the concert, his name was called. He took out the new flute and played one piece. When he was finished, there was a silence in the room for a long moment. Then the voice of the oldest man was heard from the back of the room: “Like a god!”

The next day, as this master was packing to leave, the musicians approached him and asked how long it would take a skilled player to learn the new flute. “Years,” he said. They asked if he would take a pupil, and he agreed. After he left, they decided among themselves to send a young man, a brilliantly talented flautist, sensitive to beauty, diligent and trustworthy. They gave him money for his living expenses and for the master’s tuition, and sent him on his way to the capital, where the master lived.

The student arrived and was accepted by his teacher, who assigned him a single, simple tune. At first he received systematic instruction, but he easily mastered all the technical problems. Now he arrived for his daily lesson, sat down, and played his tune — and all the master could say was, “Something lacking.” The student exerted himself in every possible way; he practiced for endless hours; yet day after day, week after week, all the master said was, “Something lacking.” He begged the master to change the tune, but the master said no. The daily playing, the daily “something lacking” continued for months on end. The student’s hope of success and fear of failure became ever magnified, and he swung from agitation to despondency. 

Finally the frustration became too much for him. One night he packed his bag and slinked out. He continued to live in the capital city for some time longer, until his money ran dry. He began drinking. Finally, impoverished, he drifted back to his own part of the country. Ashamed to show his face to his former colleagues, he found a hut far out in the countryside. He still possessed his flutes, still played, but found no new inspiration in music. Passing farmers heard him play and sent their children to him for beginner’s lessons. He lived this way for years. 

One morning there was a knock at his door. It was the oldest past-master from his town, along with the youngest student. They told him that tonight they were going to have a concert, and they had all decided it would not take place without him. With some effort they overcame his feelings of fear and shame, and almost in a trance he picked up a flute and went with them. The concert began. As he waited behind the stage, no one intruded on his inner silence. Finally, at the end of the concert, his name was called. He stepped out onto the stage in his rags. He looked down at his hands, and realized that he had chosen the new flute. 

Now he realized that he had nothing to gain and nothing to lose. He sat down and played the same tune he had played so many times for his teacher in the past. When he finished, there was silence for a long moment. Then the voice of the oldest man was heard, speaking softly from the back of the room: “Like a god!” 

-Excerpted from Free Play, by Stephen Nachmanovich. This is cited as a story discovered by Trevor Leggett, in Zen and the Ways, 1978.

 

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

– Aristotle

“The symbols of the self arise in the depths of the body.”

– C.G. Jung

“If you find an intelligent companion,
A fellow traveler,
A sage of good conduct,
You should travel together,
Delighted and mindful.”
– The Dhammapada, translated by Gil Fronsdal

“The sacred is the reality of you. It’s the reality of everything.” – Adyashanti

“The body tells a story. It is, in fact, a living autobiography.”

– Elaine Mayland

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is people who have come alive!” – Howard Thurman

“This sky where we live is no place to lose your wings so love, love, love.” – Hafiz

“Healing is being present with what is, exactly as it is.”

– Rain Elizabeth Stickney

“Meditation is not a technique to master; it is the highest form of prayer, a naked act of love and effortless surrender into the silent abyss beyond all knowing.” – Adyashanti

“When hearts are open and awake, we bring warmth and blessings to our community and the world.” – Jack Kornfield

“The point is to learn from whatever is experienced, whether it’s liked or disliked, beautiful or ugly. Everything will teach us if we let it.” – Ajahn Amaro, Finding the Missing Peace

“We cannot say that there is no past or no future, only that past, present, and future occur in the timeless Now.” – Dorothy Hunt

“If we could untangle the mysteries of life and unravel the energies which run through the world; if we could evaluate correctly the significance of passing events; if we could measure the struggles, dilemmas, and aspirations of mankind, we could find that nothing is born out of time. Everything comes at its appointed moment.” – Joseph R. Sizoo

“Eye contact, gentle touch, warmth in our voices, and caring words are balm for your child’s being.” – Patty Wipfler

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