The Spirit to Play and Physical Intelligence

Yesterday there was an announcement about a concert that’s going to take place on the opening day of the Olympics in London . . . and our spirits swiftly sank.   (+ comments)

Duran Duran are to play a concert in London’s Hyde Park to mark the start of the Olympic Games.

The gig will feature headline acts from all four nations of the UK, with Duran Duran representing England and Snow Patrol appearing for Northern Ireland.

Stereophonics will represent Wales and Paolo Nutini will play for Scotland.

The concert on 27 July will coincide with the Olympics opening ceremony, which will be broadcast on big screens in the park between performances.

“Performing to so many people on the most exciting day in sport for Great Britain will be one of the highlights of the last decade for us,” said Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon.

“We have been invited to represent England for this Team GB show, and we couldn’t be more proud. Seeing the torch being lit on the big screens before hitting the stage in this iconic location will be a great experience… We simply can’t wait.”

Lawks. Where to begin with this? We’re big enthusiasts for live music, but it’s probably best to ignore this concert and refrain from commenting on it since we don’t want to offend any readers who might be fans of these distinctly drab bands. Oops. There – said it now. So what the hell are we doing putting these bands forward as the best of British? Who knew that Duran Duran still existed? Did they ever exist? Why did/do they exist? 3Di hereby disassociates itself completely from this terrible and shocking business.

The thing is, though, we shouldn’t be hyper-critical when it comes to art, since all art is a matter of taste. What’s more, most of these musicians are probably very pleasant, hard working and likeable people. So why do these bands come across as dull, superficial, dreary, repetitive and totally lacking in soul and authenticity? (We say this having tried to listen to them on Spotify this morning.)


So where were we now with learning Zen Guitar?

Oh yes – Freeing the Spirit and Rocking the World.

These next extracts are from a chapter called ‘Spirit‘.

“Yeaaaah,” he says, fingering the valves. “When she gets broken in, a few weeks down the road, this is going to be a nice horn.”
“Sounds like she blows real easy, Diz.”
He fixes me with a stagey stare. “Sheeeeeet. Ain’t none of them blows easy.”
– Chip Stern, relating a conversation with Dizzy Gillespie

Guitar playing is a physical activity that demands training. The body must acquire an intelligence of its own. The muscles must learn to move in new and disciplined ways.

[Wikipedia says
Kinesthesia is a key component in muscle memory and hand-eye coordination, and training can improve this sense (see blind contour drawing). The ability to swing a golf club or to catch a ball requires a finely tuned sense of the position of the joints. This sense needs to become automatic through training to enable a person to concentrate on other aspects of performance, such as maintaining motivation or seeing where other people are.]

These are all aspects of what 3Di calls physical intelligence. It’s partly something we’re born with, and partly something that needs nurturing, and educating.

Physical challenges force the mind to confront obstacles: pain, fatigue, self-doubt. You cannot make progress on the path without developing some kind of mental strength. Use your training here to build a strong spirit.

When the body engages in something new, it forces the mind to pay attention – to acquire focus, direction, and resolve.

Frustration results when the body will not perform as the mind directs, or the mind becomes confused about what it wants the body to do. These confrontations between mind and body are an integral part of training. They bring us face to face with our motivations and limitations: Why are we putting in all these hours of practice? Why do we desire what we desire? Are we willing to make the sacrifice necessary to progress? Are we asking more of our body than it can do? How we answer these questions determines our progress along the path of Zen Guitar.

Your spirit here must be one of total resolution: as martial artists like to say, “Tighten your mind.” You may arrive here like a wild colt, scattered and unfocused. Through training, learn to harness your raw energy and charge like a racehorse. Other beginners arrive with the spirit of a tired nag. Through training, they learn to build up their energy the way one strengthens a little-used muscle.

Here are three adages from the samurai on the spirit required to know the Way.

1. Don’t ask, practice.

The only route to understanding the Way is through your own experience.

2. Seven times down, eight times up.

If you slip in your training, get up.

3. The only opponent is within.

What matters on the path of Zen Guitar is not the obstacles we face but how we respond to them. Master your reaction to the unforseen and unfortunate circumstance, and you will master the Way of Zen Guitar.

When you are focused on the Way, every physical task becomes the object of mental training, no matter how small. Washing the dishes, making the bed, mowing the lawn – at every opportunity, keep your mind from laziness and wandering. Pay attention to the task in hand and it will carry over into everything you do. This is the spirit required . . .

And this is what 3Di calls the continuum of intelligence from physical intelligence to spiritual intelligence . . . and back again.

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Spirit to Play and Physical Intelligence

  1. 3D Eye says:

    Thanks for this comment, Matt. Loved the mad video of 7273 Polish guitarists jamming to Hey Joe that you featured on your blog yesterday! I agree with you completely that Zen Guitar is worth dipping into every day, and that it’s worth reminding ourselves frequently that it’s the journey not the destination that is important. Mindfulness and meditation . . . in the bathroom, the dojo, and all along the watchtower.


  2. Matt Fleming says:

    I keep my copy of Zen Guitar in the bathroom. If I follow my doctor’s orders and eat my fiber I get to read it everyday. You quoted one of my favorite sections, focus on the task at hand. That small bit of wisdom should be reread upon waking everyday. Reminds me that it’s the journey not the destination that is important.


  3. Master Philip Toshio Sudo was a great great teacher. To see you quoting him here gives me a happy heart inside! When I went to the Robben Ford guitar players Seminar he used this book as a great tool, much more than the dots on the page or any harmony and analyses he could have injected our minds with. It’s funny, but every time I buy a copy of this book I usually give it away before the end of the year to someone.


    • 3D Eye says:

      Many thanks for your comment, ZM, and for re-blogging this post. I really like your ‘About’, and the fact that you cite James Marshall Hendrix and Master Philip Toshio Sudo as your inspirations. I can’t speak highly enough of Philip’s book – for both content and style. I know what you mean about giving the book away and buying another one! My copy was given to me by my musically & philosophically intelligent 3Di partner Clare, and I will certainly gift it to others. The only other book I regularly pass on to others is ‘The Shock Doctrine’ by Naomi Klein, but that’s another story . . .


Please leave a comment - and tell others about 3Di!

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

You are commenting using your 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