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Rejoicing Is What Appears When You Emptied Yourself Completely

Shin Young-tae / Korean traditional musician

Shin Youngtae is a Korean traditional musician. He appeared in the closing performance of the 2001 Beijing Universidad, the opening performance of the 2002 FIFA Korea-Japan World Cup, and the 2012 MBC drama Maeui. He took charge of such big performances and succeeded, but he could no longer find any fun or reward as a Korean traditional musician. Why am I doing this? He met this meditation while suffering and now realizes the original reason of traditional Korean music, and he regained his reputation on the stage. Here is Shin Young-tae’s story of removing his false mind.

I was depressed after I gave up being a singer, I was fascinated by traditional Korean music

Dung Dung~ Dung Dung~ Dung Dung “This is the sound of the drum long ago. People in those days would eat animals and make leather garments and drums to release the beast’s soul. “The sound of a drum is similar to the sound of a human heart. In a way, the human heart is playing throughout our whole life like an instrument. Sometimes it beats hard and other times it beats slowly. While you are enjoying my show, please think about this.”

Whenever I do a performance, I open with these words above. It is good if people enjoy the performance while listening to the sound of their own heart. Fortunately, it is most rewarding when the audience says, “That they were frustrated before they came, but their heart was opened after they listened to the show.”

Actually, I originally dreamed of becoming a singer. I liked singing my heart out. However, due to family difficulties, I couldn’t even dream of taking music lessons. I went to Maritime University where I received a scholarship. I woke up in the morning to a reveille and attended school in uniform, so it was like being in the military. Then, by chance, I came across our traditional music while attending a club meeting in Seoul. Friends of my age were playing Pansori and folk songs, and it was quite shocking to me. From then on, I started learning Pansori, folk songs, and traditional Korean music. I was immersed while playing, I gradually became fascinated by traditional Korean music.

As traditional Korean music was losing its identity, I was finding my own appreciation playing the drum.

I began my career as a traditional Korean musician when I joined an art group created by a teacher in 1999. From that time on, I started playing assorted drums, and was invited to play at the opening performance of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. This still remains in my memory. Thrilling applause and shouts from the crowd when I glided down a wire and hit the drum. At that moment, the thrill came. After the World Cup, people lined up for the performances, but in one way my mind wasn’t happy.

I started out with a sense of mission and pride in Korean music, but the reality was no different from a show business event. I felt a sense of disparity and conflict in the difference between ideal and reality. People around me were envious, saying that, “It would be nice to be well known and have steady performances.” As time went by, I couldn’t find any purpose and identity in the music. Whenever I would stand on stage, I wanted to avoid the audience’s gaze and I was afraid. At that time, I started practicing this meditation that my wife recommended.

During my meditation I realized that I was wrong to think that my relationship to others was okay. As I became a professional at some point in my career and purely fond of Korean music, I struggled to reach out to good teachers, and constantly learned to satisfy my inferiority as not a major player. Instead of worrying about how to convey the tune to the audience, the images of pursuing money and honor were in my mind. Through meditation when I abandoned those minds one by one, at some point I realized that the universe is the original me, a feeling of excitement rose from deep in my heart. The original space of the universe is so full of rejoicing! Eventually, I came to realize that rejoicing is a feeling that arises spontaneously when living with a true heart.

The joy of music is to shake off anxieties and worries and become one with the music

The reason I play the drum at the opening of the performance is to open up the mind so that the audience can focus more and to gather the sound of their hearts with the beat of the drum in that moment, whether it be a small or a large beat. I learned after all; the real rejoicing was possible when I completely emptied myself. Only then can the original power and sound of Korean traditional music be exposed as it is. As I freed my mind, I realized where the sense of vanity came from when I came down from the stage. It was because the more I tried to do well for myself, the more I kept moving away from the original meaning of traditional music and drums. Since then, my attitude to music has changed little by little. Rather than doing well for myself, I put more importance on harmonizing with the whole.

Originally, Korean traditional music is “bright music that makes everybody become one.” So, when talking about Korean traditional music, instead of saying, “well done,” they say “it is deep.” The original rejoicing of music is to shake off people’s worries and make them lose themselves in the oneness of the music.

I think that way these days. When I play on stage, I can feel the hearts of people who are difficult and hurt, but in the end what I do is soften the hearts of those people. The meaning of Korean traditional music is an object that creates a wind. It arouses the energy of sound, creates a beautiful melody, and becomes a rain of flowers, inspiring people to let go of negative feelings and worry. I am very happy nowadays even when I play, because I have been able to understand exactly the reason for playing.

In the future, I want to make the sound of the drums resonate all over the world, to comfort people and excite the spirit of everyone. Just as the sound of drums announced victory at the end of war, I hope that you, too, will win the fight against yourself to give up your false mind and restore your true mind, and have a true victory. Doodong~!.

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