Monks of Nothingness and their music

Komusō  use bamboo flutes called ‘Shakuhachi’  which is their voice and it comes beneath, from their heart and soul. 

komusō_the monks of nothingness
Komusō_Image source:Wikimedia(Akiyoshi Matsuoka)

The Komusō  or Komus known from the 17 th century they are class of itinerant monks. Their legacy is their haunting mediation melody sounds. Komus monks, in appearance, they always wear woven baskets over their head. And they use bamboo flutes which is their voice and it comes beneath, from their heart and soul. ‘Shakuhachi‘ is the name of their long bamboo flutes. And according to historians and experts, the shakuhachi in the the history was used only for meditation or for alms. And never with other instruments, so that listeners can focus solely on the sound of the flute.

Komusō practiced suizen. It is meditation through the meditative blowing of a shakuhachi, as opposed to zazen. And it is meditation through quiet sitting as practiced by most Zen followers. They were given the rare privilege of being allowed to cross borders freely during Japan’s feudal era. So this enabled them to reach other far-off temples. So it led to the development of other regional musical pieces.

As mentioned, the komusō also adopted their distinctive woven wicker hat or mask, called a tengai. So that looks like an overturned basket with slits for the monks to see out of. And wearing one traditionally symbolized a dismissal of ego or self. Though the masks also hid the identity of the wearer. Many of the komusō were ronin, or wandering samurai. And looking to start a new life with the anonymity the attire provided.

A Buddhist monk begging as a komusō_Image source:Wikipedia(Tarourashima)

A quick reference in the video, enjoy!!!

Mayesh Babu