Shunryu Suzuki Roshi – Sound vs. Noise, Hear The Beauty in Everything


This short video is Zen master Shunryu Suzuki Roshi explaining the difference between what is noise and what is sound. To summarize he explains that noise is something that you identify with “out there” as opposed to sound you hear it and don’t see it out there somewhere but rather it is in you… you are that which is sound.

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Its a very complex topic but one that I think should be considered and studied with great care and attention. Being someone who aspires to compose great music one day, I reckognize the significance that sound has in ones life. I appreciate every whisper from the wood thrush song to the random sounds of public transpertation.

Lets listen to what Shunryu Suzuki Roshi has to say, any feedback or personal experiences that you want to share are welcome. What is the difference between noise and sound to you?

~ Echo


8 Comments so far
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Sound and Noise,very interesting.Thankyou .I am interested in talking about it if you like .

Comment by philip

Hi Philip!

Yeah I really like that video too, I had to just go back and watch it again. I really like the example he gives with the bluejay. When he says a monk doesn’t hear the bluejay over there but the monk hears the bluejay and knows the bluejay is him. I think that ties in nicely with what Krishnamurti says about the observer is the observed, the thinker is thought.


~ Echo

Comment by casualtyofdesign

Yes ,Suzuki and Krishnamurti might be saying something very similar .The observer is the observed is as you say the monk understanding the bluejay is him.When we hear a sound sometimes it is a sound that we don’t want to hear and this is noise is what Suzuki is saying and as such is percieved as objective .Objective, according to Suzuki it seems, is like a conclusion ,a screen to listening, and to hear the bird is an interpretation “peep peep peep” ,our reaction .

Comment by philip

Wow, Philip I had some understanding myself but now that you’ve written your response I have an even better response… hmm this blogging this just might work out! What you said that took it to the next level is “Objective, according to Suzuki it seems, is like a conclusion”. YES a conclusion is what the brain turns it into. We hear a sound and the electrical impulses in our brains go to work pulling data and formulating a thought which leads to an image and that is our conclusion of course all backed up by previous knowledge.

I myself Philip am a huge fan of music, always have been. I’ve dj’s for several years off and on and have an mp3 music collection that would make your jaw hit the floor. I myself have always had a connection with sound. There is some music that when I hear it I can tell there is something else there on a whole different level. Some music I can listen to and it brings up memories and I can get emotional but aside from that there is music out there having only heard it once and it communicates to me.

I truly believe there are people that have gifts when it comes to producing and composing great music. A lot of the time however great musicians think they are making the music, I on the other hand see it differently. The way I see it, a person that can get in the studio and manifest really beautiful, thought provoking music isn’t making it but rather open to it. The more you’re tuned in with that, the better the music is and the more you can communicate through music.

I love all kinds of music but electronic, minimal music is where I find my messages. I’ve always had the ability to kind of hear more than other people maybe I naturally listen better and am more receptive I don’t know. Music is music when people ask me what kind of music I like… I can’t answer that question, its a silly question actually but I try to play along.

I am the music.

Are you a music fan or musical at all, do you have any special connection with the world of sound?


~ Echo

Comment by casualtyofdesign

I hope you don’t mind me saying so but i am really glad you like music .I am not so fond of it and am experimenting with quiet .That is the openness to the lack of human intervention .How does one do this you might ask .It is really simple.But i want to learn about what you are saying regarding music ,thought provoking or emotionality of it .I agree .Music sometimes music has me riding on it as one might ride on the crest of a wave .And Krishnamurti has said somethings on the subject of music .Ahh ,theres that word ,subjectivity.Anyways peace to you brother .

Comment by philip

If you have a link to a video or text with regard to -K- speaking about music please do forward it on I’m interested in what he had to say.

I can’t really explain my connection with music except that I know its there only I don’t have it figured out yet. One thing I’m very appreciative of is that I really do appreciate and love ALL types of music. I’ll admit… I have a bit of an issue with collecting music. I’ve noticed a level of anxiety that there’s always something I’m not going to hear, something I’m going to miss out on so I’m constantly searching for new artist and sounds. In addition to the feeling of missing out on something when I do find a good track I get a little worried I’m not going to remember it to reference it later. LOL, I don’t know what I think is going to happen in the future, its like I’ve got to make the perfect mix CD for the right person to hear and I’ll need to make sure its just perfect so they hear what they need to hear at that particular time.

The whole creative process that takes place behind the music I find increasingly interesting and fascinating. I know that when I learn the tools and software to create music I’ll be a great composer. I have a connection that is undeniable with “the source” whatever that is, now I just have to manifest the time and tools to begin creating. I suppose my underlying theme composing music will be inspiration, to get in touch with the listeners spirit.

There is no such thing as coincidences everything happens at the perfect place and perfect time… the good, the bad and the ugly. I feel like once I get my music, my sound out there in the world people will hear it at the perfect time they need to hear it and the music will inspire them to do what they need to do at the time… a push in the right direction.

I don’t think this is some gift bestowed upon me or anything like that but rather a calling, I’m an instrument of the universe… the sounds will come through me not from me.

Its funny because I think of Krishnamurti in the same way. He’s pretty much an anonymous figure, just a simple man but the message and energy coming through him is anything but ordinary.

~ Echo

Comment by casualtyofdesign

Sorry, i do not have anything to give you of Krishnamurtis but the memory of it and am happy to share if you like .It’s kind of funny ,but ,what you have said about music is what one ,like myself, might say about what they like .And maybe you have quite tactfuly intended for this to be so,to show the reader the pattern of ones thinking and how alike we all are .Our practise is our prastise ,our brain is our brain .

Comment by philip

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