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Zen Guitar (1 of 5): As was John the Baptist to Jesus… so was Philip Toshio Sudo to Carulli for me.

zen guitar 1To get started, let’s talk about scripture for a moment first.  It is my true belief that writing, reading, being inspired and moved by, yes led by scripture in one’s real life is one of the great purposes of mankind, of being a human.

No, I don’t believe in the literal existence of a deity who created us; rather, I believe it is definitive of mankind that we – whether we wish to or not – create deities, ourselves.  I believe this is true of us as communities and peoples, and I believe it is true of us as individuals.  If you would know a man, you must know what he worships, and all men worship something, and that something is, for that man, his god.

Thus, I adore scriptures.  I believe that in scriptures we find the greatest greatness of man.

Further, I love stories.  And a hero of mine, an incredible intellectual by the name of Heinrich Zimmer, in his wonderful book The King and the Corpse, taught me how to read stories, and most especially the stories of scripture.  His principle is that every element of a story, from its setting to its plot, its props and places, it characters and their relationships, every single element of the story is a symbol for something in my own life and person.  Each story is, for Zimmer, a way of coming to know oneself.

With Zimmer’s blessing, therefore, I am going to really introduce you to the prophet who led me to Carulli’s feet, precisely as John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of Christ in the New Testament.  Christ was the world’s redeemer.  Carulli and his method have saved my guitar dream.  Carulli is, therefore, a type of messiah for my guitar playing dream, and his prophet was…

Philip Toshio Sudo, author of Zen Guitar.

I’m not going to share my story in this little series of essays, though.  I’m going to honor my master’s prophet by sharing with you the content of just 13 pages, from 23 – 36, of the book Zen Guitar.  I’ll only transcribe a couple of paragraphs from page 25.  After that I’ll comment and elucidate the meaning that Sudo explains himself in the following 10 pages.  I urge you, go buy the book right now.  If I have to recommend just one book for any aspiring guitar player, this is that book.  I turn now in conclusion for today to Sudo’s four Zen Rules for guitar playing, on page 25:

“Now, if you are ready to proceed, all you ever need to do on the path of Zen Guitar is this:

1. Wear the white belt.
2. Pick up your guitar.
3. Tune.
4. Play.

“Dedicate yourself to understanding the true meaning of these four steps and you are sure to find the Way of Zen Guitar.  Go down the path as far as you can, but never lose sight of the beginning.  In the end, the purity and openness of the white belt is where you want to return.

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