Shakuhachi



禅尺八 真理研究 ホームページ

The Zen Shakuhachi Truth Research Web Pages

Introduction & Critical Guide to the Study of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi History & Ideology in Particular

Torsten Olafsson • 無穴笛オーラフソン トーステンデンマーク • Denmark

 



Introduction

About this Research Project

Realizations & Conclusions

Highlighted Pictures

Highlighted Quotations

Texts, Quotations & Illustrations
A Chronological Overview:

 •  India
 •  China
 •  Japan
 •  The West

To be - or not to be:
     a "Zen Buddhist Priest"?


Errors, Misconceptions & Loose Ends

The Source Collections

The Written Sources

1470?: The Kyōgen Play Rakuami

1505: Kōrin's Shakuhachi Essay

1512: The Taigenshō Music Treatise

The Komosō & Fuke-komosō Sources

1614: The Keichō kemmon-shū

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Evidence

1628: The Kaidō Honsoku Thesis

1640s?: The Hotoke-gotoba Evidence

1646: Isshi Bunshu's Letter
     to the Komusō Sandō Mugetsu


1646 ... The Hottō Kokushi Legend

The Early Komusō Texts

The Kyōto/Kansai Sources

The Edo/Kantō/Tōkyō Sources

1664: Shichiku shoshinshū

1677: The Empō 5, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance


1678: The Empō 5, 12th Month
     Komusō-ha Oboe Memorandum


1687: The Jōkyō 4, 6th Month
     Reihō-ji Ordinance


1694: Engetsu's Honsoku deshi ...

1703 & 1705: The Myōan-ji
     c/o Kōkoku-ji Interrelationship


1732: The Shakuhachi denrai-ki

1735: Myōan-ji's Kyorei-zan engi ...

1740?: Keichō no okitegaki -
     Existing Reprint Versions


1795: Kyotaku denki kokujikai

1816: Miyaji Ikkan's Shakuhachi hikki

1823: Hisamatsu Fūyō's Hitori mondō

1848: Bakufu Government Decree
     re-administrating the "Fuke Sect"


1871: Bakufu Government Decree
     bans & dissolves the "Fuke Sect"


1890 ... The Legacy of Higuchi Taizan

1930s: Uramoto Setchō Credo

1970s: Myōan Taizan-ha Thought & Credos

Honkyoku Music History
     Ascetic Shakuhachi Titles


Miyagawa Nyozan's Honkyoku 'Ajikan'

Myōan Taizan-ha Notation

Literature

Links

Profile / Bio / CV

Contact Info


To be - or not to be: a "Zen Buddhist Priest"?

虚無僧 禅宗

To be - or not to be: a "Zen Buddhist Priest"?

     Were the 'komusō' ever real "Zen monks"?

     Was the "Fuke Sect" ever anything like a "Zen Buddhist sect"?



禅と尺八 - 関係全然無い!

"Speaking about 'Zen' and 'Shakuhachi' - there is absolutely no connection!"

In early 1977 I was introduced to a prominent professor at Kyōto University.
I had just been enrolled as a "foreign special research student" at the university, you see.

Having explained to the professor that I was very interested in studying the possible (at least so claimed) relationship "between Zen and the bamboo flute shakuhachi", the professor plainly replied,

"There is no connection whatsoever!"

In very straight and direct Japanese: Zen to shakuhachi: kankei zenzen nai!

Much surprised, as I was - believe me, I recall to have answered something like,

"Oh, I had better then look a lot more into that problem!"

Which is, in fact, certainly and very much "exactly" what I have been doing very much
- ever since then.


Clarifying Statements

Acc. to Wikipedia, Japan:

虚無僧(こむそう)とは禅宗の一派である普化宗の僧であり、剃髪しない半僧半俗の存在である。

"The socalled komusō were monks of the Fuke Sect, a branch of the Zen Sect; they lived a life as half monks, half lay Buddhist practitioners [han-zō han-zoku] who did not shave their heads [teihatsu shinai]."

     Link: Wikipedia, Japan: 虚無僧


Acc. to Yamato Hōmei, 山戸朋盟:

つまり、虚無僧寺が禅寺で、虚無僧が禅僧だというのでは都合が悪い。
やはり、明暗寺は普化寺で、虚無僧は普化僧であるとしなければ世間に説明できないようなことが沢山あったのです。
早い話が、虚無僧は頭を丸めていません。
また、表向き帯刀はしていないにしても、懐剣や尺八などで武装しています。
その上、普通の禅僧のように朝早くから起きて読経・座禅・禅問答などの修行はしません。
また、普化寺には檀家もなく、だから檀家のための法事もしない。
さらに、仏法を真面目に勉強しているようには見えないし、現に、民衆に説法、つまり布教活動もしない。
それどころか、普化寺の中では、平気で酒を飲んだり博打をしたりしている。
極端な例では、寺の土地や什物を質に入れたりする者さえもいる。
これは虚無僧の立場からすれば当然のことでしょう。
なぜなら彼等は、僧という身分は「一時の隠れ家」で、自分たちは本来は「勇士」だと自覚しているのですから。


" ---
Summing up, to say that "komusō temples were Zen temples" and that "komusō were Zen monks" is inconvenient [lit.: "circumstances are bad"].

Likewise, if one should not [say] that Myōan-ji was a "Fuke temple", and that the komusō were "Fuke monks", there would be a lot which could not be explained to the public.

To cut a long story short, the komusō did not shave their heads [i.e. take the tonsure; become monks].
Also, although they did not wear a sword in public, they were "armed" with a dagger or a shakuhachi.

In addition, they did not engage themselves in the ascetic practices of an ordinary Zen monk, such as rising early in the morning and chanting sutras, doing seated meditation [zazen], performing Zen question-and answers sessions [Zen mondō; Kōan] and the like.

Furthermore, neither did the "Fuke temples" have any patron households [danka], nor did they perform Buddhist funeral services.

Moreover, they do not appear to have been doing any earnest studies - in fact, they did not even preach to the masses, nor did they, basically, live any life of propagating the faith.

On the contrary, within the "Fuke temple" precincts, they both drank alcohol unscrupulously and engaged in gambling.

As an extreme example, there were some [komusō] who even pledged the temple's land or treasures, furniture and utensils.

From the standpoint of the komusō, that might perhaps be expected?

The reason was, as for them, that their social status as monks was [but a] "temporary refuge", and that they were proudly conscious of themselves as being essentially "brave warriors".
- - - "

     Link: Hōmei's Homepage: 朋盟のホームページ


Acc. to the official homepage of Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture:

瀧源寺虚無僧の墓碑

Komusō gravestones at Rōgen-ji


普化宗は、髪を剃らずに袈裟を掛け、天蓋(編笠)に顔を隠し、尺八を吹奏しながら諸国を行脚する虚無僧の宗派で、臨済宗の一派といわれます。
修験宗などとともに普化宗では葬式をしないため、瀧源寺(ろうげんじ)の僧侶は金龍院の檀家となり、金龍院の僧が葬式をしていたようです。
ただし、墓のある場所から、埋葬は瀧源寺の境内にされたことがわかります。


"Komusō gravestones at Rōgen-ji

[The members of] the Fuke Sect, while not having their heads shaved, wore a sacred shoulder scarf [kesa] (over their shoulders) and concealed their faces under braided basket hats [tengai/amigasa].

The sect of the komusō who blew the shakuhachi while travelling (as ascetics) all over the country, are said to have been a branch sect of the Rinzai Sect.

Together with the Shugendō (of the yamabushi) and the like, as the Fuke Sect did not perform funeral ceremonies, the (komusō) monks of Rōgen-ji were patrons [danka] of the Kinryū-in (temple), and it seems that the Buddhist priests of Kinryū-in performed their funeral rites.

However, judging from the location of the graves, we understand that these were placed inside the precincts of the Rōgen-ji (itself)."

     Links: Izu City Official Website & モリリン日記 weblog

     Acc. to Nakatsuka Chikuzen (1979, p. 97),
     Rōgen-ji was a subtemple of Anraku-ji, the
     head temple of which was Reihō-ji near Edo.
     Rōgen-ji was located in the vicinity of Izu City
     on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Tokyo.



Acc. to the weblog of Makihara Ichiro, 牧原一路: 尺八と一休語りの虚無僧一路 , August 10, 2007:

「禅宗には、臨済宗と曹洞宗、黄檗宗、そして普化宗の4 つがあり、 虚無僧は普化宗の僧侶です」と中学の教科書にまで書いてある。

インターネットで関連サイトを見ても、すべてこう書いてある。
「虚無僧は、中国の普化(フケ)という禅僧を祖とする普化宗で、 日本には、鎌倉時代、紀州由良興国寺の法灯国師心地覚心が 伝えた」と。
みな間違い、大嘘だ。
- - -
虚無僧は、剃髪もせず、得度受戒もせず、僧籍も無いのだから、 僧ではない。
「僧であって僧でない」。
まるで禅問答である。


"It is written in Japanese junior high school textbooks that (quotation)
"Within the Zen sect, there are 4 sects, namely the Rinzai Sect and the Sōtō Sect, the Ōbaku Sect, as well as the Fuke Sect;
the komusō are Buddhist priests [sōryo] of the Fuke Sect."

Also, when looking at related internet sites, it generally reads as follows:
"As for the komusō, the founder of the Fuke Sect was the Chinese Zen monk Fuke;
the tradition was transmitted to Japan by Hottō Kokushi Shinchi Kakushin of the Kōkoku Temple in Yura in the Ki Province [present Wakayama Prefecture]."

This is all wrong, a big lie [ō-uso].
- - -
Because the komusō neither shaved their heads [teihatsu mo sezu], were not initiated into Buddhist monastic life receiving the precepts [tokudo jukai mo sezu], nor were members of the Buddhist priesthood [sōseki mo nai], they were not Buddhist priests.
"Being a priest, or not a priest."
That is, in everything, a Zen paradox [Zen mondō]."

     Link: 尺八と一休語りの虚無僧一路


Acc. to the weblog of Makihara Ichiro, 牧原一路, 尺八と一休語りの虚無僧一路 , August 10, 2007:

虚無僧寺は元々浪人の溜り場である。葬儀を執り行うこともせず、墓地もない。

"Originally, the komusō temples were places for masterless samurai to gather [rōnin no tomariba].

They neither conducted funerary services, nor did they have cemeteries [bochi mo nai]."

     Link: 尺八と一休語りの虚無僧一路


Acc. to the weblog of Makihara Ichiro, 牧原一路, 平成の虚無僧一路の日記 , October 24, 2007:

もともと仏教界には普化宗など存在しませんし、虚無僧は出家得度を受けた僧では ありませんので、本物の僧侶ではありません。

"From the outset, the Fuke Sect and the like did not exist within the world of Buddhism [bukkyō-kai ni wa ... sonzai shimasen], and - because the komusō were not monks who had been initiated into Buddhist monastic life receiving the precepts [shukke tokudo o uketa sō de wa arimasen] - they were not real Buddhist priests [hommono no sōryo de wa arimasen]."

     Link: 平成の虚無僧一路の日記


Acc. to Yamaguchi Masayoshi, 2005, p. 187:

普化宗寺院や虚無僧たちの経済的基盤はどのようなものであったのだろうか。
一般の寺院と異なり、経典らしきものもなく檀家もなく従って仏事も行なわない 。


"What, possibly, constituted the financial basis of the Fuke Sect temples and the komusō?

In contrast to the ordinary Buddhist temples, they had nothing similar to Buddhist scriptures [kyōten], nor did they have any patron households [danka] and, therefore, did not perform Buddhist funerals and memorial services [Butsu-ji]."


Acc. to Yamaguchi Masayoshi, 2005, p. 128:

普化宗の虚無僧の特徴は、まず普通の禅僧のように座禅や禅問答、民衆への説法 などは一切行わず、また檀家を持たないので法事などを行うこともなかったこと である。
- - -
つまり禅宗側から 「禅宗の一派」であると積極的に認めた形跡は全く見えず。


"As for the distinctive features of the komusō of the Fuke Sect, they did above everything not at all - like ordinary Zen monks - engage in practices such as seated meditation [zazen], Zen questions and answers [mondō], or preaching (the Dharma) to the populace [seppō].

Furthermore, as they did not have any patron households [danka], they did not perform Buddhist funerals and memorial services [hōji]."
- - -
"In the final analysis, from the viewpoint of the Zen Sect there is not at all to be seen any positively recognizable evidence of (anything like) "a branch of the Zen Sect" [Zenshū no ippa] whatsoever."


Acc. to Dr. phil. Oliver Aumann, www.komuso.de:

"Die Komusō zogen durch ganz Japan und die Tempel, die ihnen Unterkunft gewährten, und ihnen als Ausgangspunkte für ihre Bettelgänge (takuhatsu) dienten, werden heute allgemein Komusō-Tempel (komusō-dera) genannt. Streng genommen handelte es sich dabei jedoch nicht um Tempel im eigentlichen Sinne, denn sie hatten weder eine buddhistische Gemeinde (danka) noch erfüllten sie die Funktion von Familientempeln (bodai-ji), sondern sie unterhielten sich zunächst ausschließlich von den Almosen, die von den Komusō auf ihren Bettelgängen gesammelt wurden. Sie werden in den historischen Quellen als Badeplätze oder Bade-Tempel (furo-ji) bezeichnet. In der Edo-Zeit (1600-1867) dienten diese "Tempel" dann generell als Herbergen und finanzierten sich auch durch diese Einkünfte. Mit unserer heutigen Vorstellung von einem Tempel als Ort religiöser Übungen hatten diese Bade-Plätze nur wenig gemein. "
- - -
"An den Badeplätzen wurden, da die Komusō eine Art Zwischenstatus zwischen Laien- und Mönchsstand (hanzō-hanzoku) einnahmen, keine buddhistischen Zeremonien und auch keine Bestattungen durchgeführt und auch die Komusō selbst wurden nach ihrem Tod nicht dort, sondern in ihren jeweiligen Familientempeln beigesetzt. "

     Links: www.komuso.de & Oliver Aumann




Literature:

Nakatsuka Chikuzen: Kinko-ryū Shakuhachi Shikan
     (A Historical View of Kinko-ryū Shakuhachi).
     Nihon Ongaku-sha, Tokyo, 1979.

Nam-lin Hur: Death and Social Order in Tokugawa Japan:
     Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System.
     Harvard East Asian Monographs 282, Harvard University Asia
     Center, Cambridge, Mass. & London, 2007, 550 pages.

Yamaguchi Masayoshi: Shakuhachi-shi gaisetsu
     (An Outline of Shakuhachi History).
     Shuppan Geijutsu-sha, Tokyo, 2005.




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