DAVID'S VIEW: CREATIVITY & DHARMAJan 17, 2022
David Nichtern and Michael Kammers connect the lineage traditions of Buddhism and music in a conversation spanning from Maharaj-ji to John Coltrane.
Fundamental Creativity: Discipline & Flow
Swooping in from above with another David’s View episode, David Nichtern and Michael Kammers explore the brimming intersection of two things as close to their hearts as anything could be—Creativity & Dharma. Both skilled live performers and spiritual practitioners in their own right, they shed light on how improvisation, discipline, structure, and intuition fit into music and Buddhism.
“I wanna start with the premise that creativity is actually embedded deeply into the fabric of our being. My perspective is that life itself is creativity, life is creative. Fundamental existence has a big bang quality to it.” – David Nichtern
Dharma: Classical, Improvised, & Pith (9:00)
Jamming on the live music talk, David applies the metaphor of “classical vs improvised” to how the Dharma has been taught, shared, and relayed throughout history—how it’s structure, writings, and practices are classically orchestrated, but it’s initial teachings and commentaries from the Buddha on, are spontaneously improvised. From here, they explore how to digest pith instructions from Realized Beings; before contemplating how to to relay wisdom through music.
“The pith instruction’s there. You can pick it up and go, ‘Well, I’ll just do that.’ But in trying to swallow it, it’s like somebody has put a whole ice cube in your mouth, and you can’t really swallow it, so you have to let it melt a little bit, and then take little swallows – which is called the path, the journey.” –David Nichtern
“As a performer/improviser and as a meditator, you are developing a relationship with space. I see my own fear of space, so my ability to sit in that discomfort and fear of space allows me to communicate better, because I don’t feel like I need to fill it all in.” – Michael Kammers
A Tale of Two Traditions: Buddhism & Music (19:30)
Spelunking further down the depths of two of the oldest, wisest traditions they have been blessed to inherit—music and Buddhism—David and Michael bridge far ranging topics like skillful means, John Coltrane, Tibetan tradition, Mahasiddhas, and jazz’s connection to spirituality. (Hint: Listen to the end of Michael’s outro for a David’s View musical easter-egg.)
“The monastic tradition is like classical music, and the Mahasiddhas are like jazz. They’re both highly disciplined, highly trained, but the manifestation of a Mahasiddha can be anything, take place in any form.” – David Nichtern