The RZA’s sounds of one-hand handclaps
There’s a great moment in the Rock the Bells concert documentary where the RZA is talking backstage with promoter Chang Weisberg, who is freaking out because ODB is a last-minute no-show for Weisberg’s planned Wu Tang reunion and just beyond the curtain in the background the crowd is getting increasingly volatile. The RZA suggests that the rest of the group just hit the stage regardless, and if ODB shows up, he shows up, but the show must go on. Though Weisberg is obviously shitting bricks himself, he tries to keep the RZA calm. But the RZA doesn’t need calming. “I roll stress-free nowadays,” he says with a slight smile.
He wasn’t just maintaining repose because the cameras were rolling.
The March issue of Buddhist rag Shambhala Sun features a too-short Q&A with the Wu Tang ringleader about his life-long interest in Eastern philosophy. The RZA has gotten a lot of attention for the more kitschy aspects of his brand, the chess playing and the kung-fu references, but it’s nice to see an authoritative Buddhist publication recognize that his interest in Zen goes beyond just aesthetics or hobbies.
Sometimes I sit with my eyes closed in a meditative position. Sometimes I sit with my eyes open. Sometimes—and I don’t suggest this to others—I smoke my little bit of weed and relax. But the main thing I am doing is calming my heart and body and letting myself speak to myself. That’s one of the main goals of meditation, I think. To have yourself speak to yourself.
There’s an audio clip — clumsily but endearingly titled “The Heart Sutra Ain’t Nuthin ta F Wit” — available at the bottom of the page as well.
No, the interviewer doesn’t question the RZA about the weed comment, but he does ask the rapper/producer if all the cursing he does on wax conflicts with the Buddhist principle of “right speech.” I’m guessing when the RZA answered he was sporting the same knowing smile he once flipped on Weisberg.
[And because it’s great, here’s that clip from Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes with the RZA, the GZA, and the GOAT Bill Murray]