Lies, Damn Lies & Marketing Part IV: Is That So?

Hakuin Ekaku - the sound of one hand not caring what people think...

The sound of one hand not caring what the other hand thinks and just getting on with it…

File this one under personal attitude, because we’re not going to be diving knee-deep into tritone-infested waters here. More of a generalised New Year type reflection, really.

We’re all prey from time to time to concerns about how we’re perceived by others – band members, other musicians, management, audience, the press, the world, the dog… It’s natural.

I’d like to introduce you to Hakuin Ekaku. A very influential figure in Zen Buddhism and a distinctive artist well ahead of his time, but he’s probably best known for the following little incident…

[GRAMS: bamboo flutes, that sort of thing, to get you in the mood…]

There was once a monk living in the hills above a fishing village in Japan. He was kind and wise and helpful and friendly and fun, and just generally cool. The villagers would approach him and tell him how wonderful he was, and his response was always the same: “Is that so?”

Then a young girl, who had been observed spending some time with Ekaku, fell pregnant and there was scandal. Everyone assumed the monk had been up to no good. They rounded on him and accused him of corrupting an innocent girl. His response: “Is that so?”

When the child was born, they gave it to him and he took care of it. The villagers shunned him and all agreed that he was not cool at all.

Then a fisherman came forward and confessed to having fathered the child. The girl’s parents went up the hill to see Ekaku and apologised fulsomely. He simply smiled and gave the child back to its family. Everyone praised the monk, telling him he was so patient and kind and forgiving and wise, and just generally cool (again). His response: “Is that so?”

[GRAMS: record scratch.]


Yeah, I know. As I’ve remarked before, you’ve got to do some bragging about yourself or you’ll die of hypothermia before anyone’s even heard what you do. It is possible to die of modesty (and you can be so philosophically detached you become practically unhinged).

Buddhist monks don’t tend to sell out stadiums, well except warrior ones, perhaps. And sometimes in life you’ll have to go all “Tiger Claw!” about things. But I honestly believe that the “Is That So” philosophy is a great personal baseline that will keep your self-belief safe and honest in any number of situations. It’s a good defence when people are ripping you in reviews and on social media. And it’s an especially good defence against those bits of yourself that can often, shall we say, trip you up. You know, when you get too big for your sandals…

English translation: Is that so?; Oh really?; You don’t say?; Wotevs…
Tagged with: , ,
Posted in c) Musicianship, d) The Dark Art of Marketing, e) Rants & Ramblings
2 comments on “Lies, Damn Lies & Marketing Part IV: Is That So?
  1. Toni Linder says:

    I get a “nothing found” message, that’s all!


    • Jason says:

      Hi Toni.
      Right, it’s all rather Zen, really. First of all, I’m responding to you from the past – I tried in your then present, but apparently WordPress allows comments in the future, but not responses until the future has become the present.
      My apologies. I originally scheduled this post for January – which is now for us (for the moment) but was the future then – and got my years confused. Then changed them.
      Sorry you’ve had to wait until this now to read what I’m writing in my now in response to what you wrote yesterday (or what was yesterday for both of us then – but which of course is last year now, but the future for me as I write). And when you’ll get this response is pretty much anyone’s guess.
      It’s a bit like a typically convoluted episode of Dr Who, really.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Books for Sale
...appetising young books for sale... Pents book is recommended reading on Gary Burton's Berklee course.

This blog will always be free. But if you've found it particularly useful please consider making a small donation

%d bloggers like this: