I was going to name this post The Real Lesson, but somehow that felt a little off base, so I named it after my shakuhachi flute teacher, Yamaguchi Goro. This photo is of him and Aoki Reibo playing a beautiful suizen piece, Shika No Tohne (The Distant Cry of Deer). To see this performance, google [Yamaguchi Goro Shika No Tohne Part 1].
I studied with Mr. Yamaguchi in Japan, learning as much suizen (google [blowing zen one breath one mind]) as I could in a few short years. He taught me well, but it is taking decades to sink in. Indeed, the quest for perfection is unending, eternal… and naturally so.
I was going to name this post “The Real Lesson” because the most important lesson I learned while studying with him had nothing to do with playing the shakuhachi. This is one of numerous times that I have found great learning opportunities where I least expected them.
One day my awareness keenly focused on him replacing the cap on his flute. It appeared like perfection in action, patient, deliberate, and a wonderful example of chapter 63’s, Do without doing (wéi wú wéi 为无为). More over, it was a perfect, spontaneous example of chapter 43’s, Not of words teaching, Without action advantage (不言之教，无为之益).
Interestingly, I also realized that I had no idea if his action was as perfectly Do without doing as it appeared. How could I know either way? Not only is beauty in the eye of the beholder, so also is the lesson seen and learned. Our teachers in life are everywhere, in every-thing and no-thing, at every moment of life. The moments in life we actually suspend desire and belief may be the only genuine opportunities we have to learn the not of words teaching. Only then do we see beyond ourselves.