Sunday, August 26, 2012


When Alan and Danny first proposed the Revelation Zen evening as part of the Soundwave Festival, there was a concern that we didn't simply replicate the Bold Italic evening, although from our side of things, that was always going to be our reference point. It was another occasion to open the doors of City Center to people who don't usually come - and I heard several people saying that they lived in the neighbourhood but had never made it through the front door - and to open up our activities in a less formal and forbidding way and in completely different contexts. I was only peripherally involved in terms of organising; this meant I wasn't particularly stressed about Saturday rolling around, but I was busy all afternoon helping carry, fetch and find - tables, extension cords, the usual little things. It was almost a surprise when at 5:30 a steady line of people started flowing through the front door. Even more surprising was how quiet everyone was - at least until the music started.
We had a full Buddha Hall by the time we had got through the introductions, and David led some zazen, which segued into Marielle's performance. She started with the big bell, worked the recordings of the bell in, and then moved onto violin, with harmonies building from the deep bass resonance of the bell. I had tipped Keith off, and he was sitting right next to the bell to get the feel of it, his hands cupped around a blown-up latex glove, which I guess was standing in for a balloon as a vibration detector (just visible in the photo below).
Gretchen led as many people as we could fit into the courtyard in walking meditation, accompanying which Sean ran a whole bank of tapes, creating a wash of sound; we wrapped up with a chanting of the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, during which I could mostly hear Blanche, who was luckily keeping count for me as I played the mokugyo, and as we got to the end of the chant, En came in with some increasingly processed crash cymbal leading into some pretty intense layering of fequencies and harmonies.
I deeply enjoyed all the music, and appreciated how our focus on meditative activities added an extra dimension and attention. I was also musing on the role trance music has played in spiritual activities for many centuries: it occurred to me that while there can often be noise within silence, as our minds start to chatter to fill the disquieting void, within sound, especially unstructured sound which give the brain nothing to cut up and count, there can be a real silence and spaciousness.
After which, there is always the cleaning up. Luckily, since it was past our bedtime, there was a great crew of volunteers, with special mention to Jorge, the Soundwave engineer who was on top of everything all day, and the half-dozen or so YUZ members who descended on anything that needed to be put away, mob-handed and full of energy.

Tova led a couple of tours of the building

Lien offered zazen instruction

Marielle played her violin along with the big bell

Sean acquires a peace bell halo

Sean and kinhin taken from my room

En, with special effect caused by having my hand in front of the lens before taking the picture

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