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#1 2006-01-12 23:55:08

From: San Diego
Registered: 2005-11-30
Posts: 108

Fuke and his bell

Hi everybody,

What we know from different sources, "Fuke ... , did not play shakuhachi, but rang a rei (hand-bell) instead."
What kind of bell was it? Is it being used now or is it already history? Are there any pictures of it on the Internet?

Thanks a lot,



#2 2006-01-13 07:56:23

From: Columbus, OH
Registered: 2005-10-10
Posts: 58

Re: Fuke and his bell

I thought the "bell" was just slang for the shakuhachi.



#3 2006-01-13 12:08:24

From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Fuke and his bell

'Twas indeed a bell, just a bell...not particularly exotic or mysterious.

It's a legend which probably has actual historical elements. In short:

    In China during the Tang Dynasty [7th century AD], there lived a highly educated, eccentric Zen monk named Fuke. Fuke was prone to wandering about the streets ringing a bell, preaching the Dharma and chanting sutras. A young flute maker named Zhang Bo followed Fuke around the streets listening to his Zen doctrine. Zhang Bo longed to be Fuke's disciple but Fuke would not accede.

    Rejected by Fuke, Zhang Bo decided to craft a flute from a thick piece of bamboo and tuned it to imitate the sounds of Fuke's bell. He called the instrument his hollow bell.

The Fuke sect arose out of this legend much later, more like the 16th century (from Chris Blasdel):

Attaining Enlightenment
Through One Tone

The shakuhachi, of all Japan’s musical instruments (besides the voice itself), has the longest connection with spiritual seeking.
A popular epithet among shakuhachi players,Ichi on jobutsu(“attaining enlightenment through a single tone”), suggests the depth
that can be attained through simply playing and concentrating on the single tone. The idea of tone as spiritual salvation is
central to the theme of the Kyotaku Denki Kokuji Kai, a shakuhachi-related document published in Edo (present-day Tokyo) at the
end of the eighteenth century.This document outlines the putative origins of the Fuke shakuhachi sect, which flourished during
the Edo period (1603–1868). The document begins with the story of an actual Zen monk, Fuke, who lived in China in the seventh century.

The eccentric Fuke walked about, ringing his bell and speaking such bewildering sentences as “If attacked from the light, I will strike back
in light, if attacked from the dark, I will strike back in the dark, if attacked from all four quarters, I will strike back as the whirlwind.
If attacked from emptiness, I will lash out like a flail.”

The purpose of Fuke’s cryptic words, along with the sound of the bell, is much like the present-day koan used in Zen meditation,
in which a series of sounds and nonlogical ideas act to jog the quotidian consciousnessenough to let the reality of another, more
spiritual dimension enter.
The document continues with the story of the novice monk Chohaku, who tried to persuade master Fuke to teach him the secrets
of bell ringing. Fuke refused, so Chohaku fashioned a flute and named it Kyotaku (literally, “that which is not a bell”). His idea was to
imitate the bell’s ringing with the flute. Various shakuhachi pieces extant today with the name “Kyorei”or “Reibo”suggest the shakuhachi’s
imitation of Fuke’s bell.

See also:

If you want more, Google "fuke and the bell"

Google is our friend. Use it.


Last edited by edosan (2006-01-13 12:08:59)

Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?



#4 2006-02-14 20:07:52

Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402

Re: Fuke and his bell

I got my bell rung once (in high school football) and walked around speaking bewildering sentences.

Michael Chikuzen Gould



#5 2006-02-14 20:10:36

Tairaku 太楽
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3226

Re: Fuke and his bell

chikuzen wrote:

I got my bell rung once (in high school football) and walked around speaking bewildering sentences.

I went to Taco Bell and tried to play my shakuhachi but they kicked me out.

'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari



#6 2006-02-14 22:23:31

From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: Fuke and his bell

In general I think shakuhachi players should become much more aggressive in performing in public - and especially where we are not supposed to be.   I think people eating at Taco Bell could benefit from a bit of honkyoku in their lives.



#7 2006-02-20 14:41:25

From: Portland, ME
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 613

Re: Fuke and his bell

chikuzen wrote:

I got my bell rung once (in high school football) and walked around speaking bewildering sentences.

You still do.



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