"Zen Shakuhachi" rekishi-teki shōko no kenkyū hōmupēji
The "Zen Shakuhachi" Historical Evidence Research Web Pages
Introduction & Guide to the Critical Study and Substantiation of Early Ascetic Shakuhachi Culture in Particular:
In the 1974 'Suizen' LP pamphlet, both forewords are illustrated with basically the same picture
of Myōan-ji's now very famous 'Suizen' stone monument, or stele, the so called 'Suizen-hi',
吹禅碑, that was erected on the temple ground in 1966.
For Kishibe Shigeo's text, however, the picture has been somehow psychedelically manipulated, though ...
In their respective forewords for the 1974 'Suizen' LP set pamphlet, neither Tanabe Hisao nor Kishibe Shigeo gave any credit to the personalities at Kyōto Myōan-ji, who actually supported the concept of 'Suizen' there during the early 1950s.
Well, Tanabe did indeed write a little about 'Myōan-dō no Shakuhachi', 明暗道の尺八, "The Myōan Way of Shakuhachi" - a really uncommon expression, in fact - and he mentioned the two Meiji Period personalities, Katsuura Shōzan and Higuchi Taizan, however only in short. That's it.
As for Kishibe, he did not refer to Myōan-ji, at all, but rather focused on discussing the term 'Sui-chiku-zen', 吹竹禅, an idea that has only been in vogue among a few Japanese musicologists, I believe - not among the genuine Myōan Taizan-ha 'Suizen' practitioners, themselves.
Anyway, no matter what: There was no 'Suizen' in existence, nor "in action", in Japan before 1950, simple as that.
Despite the fact that Yoshimura Fuan Sōshin's Taizan-ha 'Suizen' shakuhachi recordings of the late 1970s are titled 'Suizen ichinyo', 吹禅一如,
"Blowing the Shakuhachi & Meditation Are Not Two" [literally: "Are One"],
at the ISS website komuso.com, Yoshimura Sōshin's recordings are registered under the both insufficient and quite misleading headline 'Meianji Shoden Shakuhachi Honkyoku Shū' 1-3,
Links to track lists with short sound samples:
Links to closely related webpages:
1950s ... : The Origin of 'Suizen' at Kyōto Myōan-ji:
Kobayashi Shizan, Tomimori Kyozan,
Tanikita Muchiku, Yasuda Tenzan,
Hirazumi Taizan, Koizumi Ryōan,
Fukumoto Kyoan, Yoshimura Sōshin a.o.
1852: Kyōto Myōan-ji's 32nd 'Kansu' Rodō Genkyō's
Commandments Regarding Komusō Begging Practice
and 'Sui-teki shugyō' - and the Possible Origin
of the Now so Much Favored Term 'Suizen'?
1861 ... : Shakuhachi, Fuke & Komusō Narratives
Authored and Published in Western Languages
1861: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by George Smith
1864 & 1874: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Gustav Adolf SpieÞ
1893: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Francis T. Piggott
1899: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Edmond Papinot
1935 & 1964: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Sir Charles Eliot
1959: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by William P. Malm
1966: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Kishibe Shigeo
1967: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned in the anonymous cover notes
for the Lyrichord LP "Japanese Masterpieces for the Shakuhachi".
1968: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Elliot Weisgarber
1969: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Donald Paul Berger
1969: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Koizumi Fumio
1976: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Daigan Matsunaga & Alicia Matsunaga
1977: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by James H. Sanford
1977: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Tsuge Gen'ichi
1979: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Ingrid Fritsch
1987: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" not mentioned by Torsten Olafsson
1974: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Kamisangō Yūkō
"As an outcome of the establishment of the Fuke Sect
the 'komosō' groups that included beggar monks and lunatics,
be they homeless persons,
(turned into) a religious group of 'rōnin' "wave men",
the membership privilege of whom was limited to persons with samurai rank
who performed 'suizen'
and samurai martial arts, (thus) climbing in status, so to speak ..."
Trsl. by Torsten Olafsson, 2020
Source: Nippon Columbia 'Suizen' LP-set pamphlet, page 17.
1977: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to James H. Sanford:
James H. Sanford did not in his historical Monumenta Nipponica magazine article refer to any Edo Period 'komusō' having ever practiced any Edo Period tradition of so called 'Suizen'.
But, James H. Sanford titled the article of his "Shakuhachi Zen. The Fukeshū and Komusō!"
1979: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Ingrid Fritsch
Actually, Ingrid Fritsch did not present the term 'Suizen' in her pioneering book.
However, when discussing the role of the Edo Period Kyōto Myōan-ji, Fritsch clarified as follows,
"Hier betrieb man die Praxis des Suichiku-Zen ( Zen des Bambus-Blasens ) mit grösster Intensität, wobei die Flöte as Hōki, als religiöses Werkzeug zur Meditation fungierte."
Source: Ingrid Fritsch, 1979, page 14.
1983: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Andreas Gutzwiller
"Das Spielen der shakuhachi in den Tempeln außerhalb religiöser Zeremonien wurde ebenfalls als meditative Übung betrieben, sie als suizen (blasende Meditation) bezeichnet wurde, und die in den verschiedenen Zen-Sekten übliche Form der Meditation, zazen, ergänzte."
Source: Andreas Gutzwiller, 1983, page 20.
1988, 2008: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Christopher Blasdel & Kamisangō Yūkō
"Ritual pieces, begging pieces and even the pieces which seemed like entertainment for the monks were all part of the Zen training called suizen.
The word zazen, familiar in the West, refers to Zen meditation while sitting (za).
Sui means to play or to create a sound on a wind instrument.
Therefore it was literally "blowing Zen."
- - -
"Indeed, it is not surprising that the shakuhachi lends itself to the practice of suizen."
- - -
"If the suizen idea was in its infancy during the times of the komosō, it reached refinement and idealization with the establishment of the Fuke Sect.
The pieces the komusō played, called honkyoku, were all born from the Zen spirit, and the musical characteristics of these pieces have their origins in suizen."
Source: Christopher Blasdel, 2008 (1988), page 106.
"Development of the shakuhachi as a tool for for Zen meditation."
- - -
"Historical inconsistencies aside, the lifestyle of the Fuke monks was extraordinary.
Fuke monks - in other words, komusō monks - made it part of their discipline to beg while playing while playing the shakuhachi on pilgrimages.
Shakuhachi playing, however, was just not a way to beg for alms.
The komusō ardently played the shakuhachi as a way toward enlightenment in what was called suizen or "blowing" Zen meditation.
This took the place of the more traditional zazen, or "sitting" meditation."
Source: Christopher Blasdel, 2008 (1988), page 93.
"The change of nomenclature for the wandering monks from the ignominious komosō (straw mat monks) to Zen-sounding komusō (monks of nothingness) was very important, as it provided an air of mysticism.
The monks began to play the shakuhachi as suizen meditation and traded their instruments from the light hitoyogiri for the heavy, root-end shakuhachi ... "
Source: Christopher Blasdel, 2008 (1988), page 101.
1990: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Takahashi Tone:
" - - - This tradition [the Kinko-ryū], established during the Edo Period in Japan, was associated with the 'komusō' (mendicant priests), who practiced shakuhachi as part of their religious training;
they practiced 'suizen', blowing shakuhachi, instead of 'zazen',
sitting in lotus position (for meditation)."
Source: Takahashi Tone thesis, 1990, pp. 1-2.
1993: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Riley Kelly Lee:
"Throughout the history of the Fuke sect,
there were bonefide practitioners of suizen who were continuing a tradition at least as old as 14th century Ikkyū Zenji.
Source: Riley Kelly Lee Ph.D. thesis, 1993, page 84.
"As stated above (see p.1), for at least the two centuries leading up to the latter 19th century, honkyoku, the oldest and most venerated of all of the genres of shakuhachi music, were played almost exclusively by mendicant priests, who belonged to the Fuke-shū
(普化宗) , a sub-sect of Zen Buddhism.
Even today, though the instrument is largely secularized, many shakuhachi players perform honkyoku
not as an act of making music but as an act of suizen (吹禅, 'blowing Zen'), a practice which has probably existed since well before the sixteenth century (Blasdel 1984:216; Kamisangō 1974:10-11; Ueno 1984:159-162)."
Source: Riley Kelly Lee Ph.D. thesis, 1993, page 4.
"The monks residing in the temples followed a routine similar to that found in other Buddhist sects, with
an additional focus on playing the shakuhachi as suizen.
Kamisangō (1974:17) describes a typical day in a Fuke temple ... ":
Source: Riley Kelly Lee Ph.D. thesis, 1993, page 80.
"The members of the Fuke sect have left us with
very little written material elucidating the philosophy which underlay their playing shakuhachi as suizen, blowing Zen, the honkyoku presumably speaking for themselves.
Kinko I is said to have
verbalized the concept of suizen with short pronouncements such as ichi on jōbutsu (一音成仏, 'one-sound Buddhahood'), chikuzen ichi'nyo (竹禅一如, 'bamboo and Zen are one') (Gutzwiller 1984:241)."
Source: Riley Kelly Lee Ph.D. thesis, 1993, page 82.
"During the Meiji era, the suizen tradition was kept alive, particularly in the Kyōto area, by former Fuke sect members whose activities had centered around the third honzan of the Fuke sect, Myōanji."
Source: Riley Kelly Lee Ph.D. thesis, page 93.
1994: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Tsukitani Tsuneko, Seyama Tōru & Simura Satosi,
translated by Riley Kelly Lee:
"It was not so easy to become a member of the Fuke sect or a komusō.
This was due to the arrangement of the system of rules as determined by the Tokugawa shogunate.
Accordingly, it can be said that the shakuhachi has been handed down to us within a limited, chartered organisation.
That organization maintained an ideology centered around Zen Buddhism.
Moreover, Zen in the Fuke sect was nothing but the playing of the shakuhachi.
This ideology and lifestyle was called suizen ('blowing Zen').
Thus, in terms of suizen, the shakuhachi was not a musical instrument, and naturally pieces performed on it were not considered as being music.
To them, the shakuhachi was a hōki ('religious instrument'), that is to say, a sacred tool for the purpose of spiritual training.
If one were to use the above-mentioned emic viewpoint, within the organisation of the komusō the shakuhachi was not included in 'music', or rather was not allowed to be included."
Source: Tukitani Tuneko, Seyama Tōru, Simura Satosi and Riley Kelly Lee (1994): "The Shakuhachi:
The instrument and its music, change and diversification." In: Contemporary Music Review, 8:2, p. 111.
2000: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Hugh De Ferranti:
" - - - [b]y the seventeenth century the Fuke sect of Zen had institutionalized the practice of suizen - - - "
Source: Hugh De Ferranti. 2000, page 71.
Quoted by Christopher T. Mau, 2014, p. 115.
2002: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Simura Satosi:
"The huke syakuhati developed in the Huke subsect of Rinzai-sect Zen during the Edo period (1600-1867).
It was used in Buddhist services for suizen 'blowing Zen', a meditative activity comparable to zazen 'sitting Zen' (Sanford 1977)."
Source: Simura Satosi in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Vol. 7, Routledge, 2002, p. 702,
Comment: No, James H. Sanford did not refer to "sitting Zen" in his 1977 article.
2005: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Steve Weiss and Kurahashi Kōdō II
Map of 26 "'Suizen' temples" - during the late Tokugawa Period, really?
Compiled by Steve Weiss, 2005, approved by Kurahashi Yoshio.
Comment: There were, of course, no such "'suizen' temples" mentioned anywhere, nor ever, in Edo Period documents, whatsoever.
2005: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Bruno Deschenes
in his online article "The Interest of Westerners in Non-Western Music":
In the abstract:
"In Japan, the shakuhachi developed from
an instrument utilized by the Zen Buddhist priests of the Fuke Shuu (Fuke sect) in a form of meditation known as suizen (blowing Zen)
to an instrument, which is presently used internationally not only for meditation, but also in movie soundtracks, contemporary compositions by Western-trained composers, and even Jazz."
In the article:
"The following are, according to the questionnaire, some of the overall reasons why non-Japanese are playing the shakuhachi:
1) tone color, timbre—mystical/exotic elements—embodiment of the "Zen" sound;
2) spiritual/meditative qualities—concept of suizen—historical connection with Zen Buddhism;
3) simplicity—lack of mechanization; 4) portability/personal quality/intimacy."
In the conclusion:
"Possibly the most common Japanese instrument found outside of Japan (with the possible exception of taiko drums),
the shakuhachi is well known for its history as an instrument of Buddhist meditation.
This spiritual background of the instrument, along with its association with the natural world due to its seemingly "natural" bamboo structure, makes the instrument highly appealing for Western seekers of spirituality through music."
2005: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Steven Casano:
"Just as Japan has been economically and technologically influential worldwide, its artistic and cultural forms have also been influential on a global level.
Over the past thirty years, the shakuhachi, a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute, has steadily grown in popularity throughout the West.
In Japan, the shakuhachi developed from an instrument utilized by the Zen Buddhist priests of the Fuke Shuu (Fuke sect) in a form of meditation known as suizen (blowing Zen)
to an instrument, which is presently used internationally not only for meditation, but also in movie soundtracks, contemporary compositions by Western-trained composers, and even jazz.
Source: Steven Casano article: "From Fuke Shuu to Uduboo:
The Transnational Flow of the Shakuhachi to the West", 2005.
2007: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Max Deeg
"This 'spiritualisation' of an originally historical Zen denomination which had its roots in the late Edo period, 江戸時代, (1603-1868) and early Meiji period, 明治時代, (1868-1912) can be comprehended with the aid of
two concepts, those of "attaining buddhahood through one sound" (ichion-jōbutsu 一音成佛)
and "the Zen of blowing (the flute)" (suizen 吹禪 )."
Source: Max Deeg article: "Komusō and Shakuhachi-Zen", 2007.
2008: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Tsukitani Tsuneko
"The Fuke sect was named after its putative Tang Chinese founder, Pu-hua (Jap. Fuke).
It has no doctrines or scriptures, parishioners or lay believers;
its equivalent to Zen meditation or sutra recitation is the playing of shakuhachi
- what practitioners call suizen (blowing Zen).
No such use is recorded in China."
Source: Tsukitani Tsuneko, 2008, page 150.
2011: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Vladislav Matoušek:
"Within the walls of the Fuke Temples the 'monks of nothingness' observed an everyday routine of discipline similar to that in other Buddhist sects, although there was
greater emphasis on shakuhachi-playing as a means of practising suizen, or 'blowing meditation'."
Source: Vladislav Matoušek, 2011, page 61.
2012: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Zachary Wallmark:
"At the beginning of the Meiji Restoration in the late 1860s, the new, Western-oriented imperial government decided to end such chaos by officially banning the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism.
With this edict came a corresponding, implied musical proscription against using the shakuhachi as a tool for meditation (suizen, "blowing meditation"),
: the flute would be used in secular contexts such as ensemble music (sankyoku) and folk song (minyo), but not tolerated as a solitary implement of Zen self-cultivation, at least not within the Fuke context.
In other words, the Meiji government actively redefined the shakuhachi as a "musical instrument" (gakki) instead of a "spiritual tool" (houki).
The conceptual bifurcation between gakki and houki, music and non-music, is still an ambivalent yet active division today."
Ethnomusicology Review, Volume 17, 2012.
2012: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Gunnar Linder
"This line of spirituality can be seen as a Poietic Process in the notion of sui-zen, often translated as "blowing Zen."
This notion has gained perhaps a greater popularity in the West than in Japan, in line with the 'retransfer' to which Deeg refers, or a reimport.
Kamisangō's text from 1974, reprinted in 1995, carries the original Japanese title "Shakuhachi-gaku ryakushi – suizen no rikai no tame ni," which means "An Abbreviated History of the Shakuhachi Music – For the Understanding of suizen."
The origin of the word sui-zen is to be found in a four-character expression displayed at the temple Myōan-ji in Kyoto, one of the main komusō temples during the Edo period."
Source: Gunnar Linder Ph.D. thesis, 2012, page 225.
2014: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Kiku Day
"Shakuhachi and meditation undoubtedly overlap due to history.
And shakuhachi playing as meditation is often described as suizen (lit. blowing Zen), often as a counterpart to zazen (lit. sitting Zen or the meditation practice performed in Zen Buddhism).
However, I have not seen the word suizen in any historical documents, and nor had prof. Tsukitani Tsuneko (1944–2010), who explained to me, that
the first time the word appeared was when the stone, in which the word is engraved, was erected at the Myōanji temple in Kyoto in the early 20th century (personal conversation 2007).
Source: Kiku Day, "Mindful playing, mindful practice.
The shakuhachi as a modern meditation tool." 2014, p. 13.
"Komusō (虚無僧) lit.: Monks of nothingness.
The monks, of the Fuke sect, who played shakuhachi as a meditation tool."
Source: Kiku Day, 2014, p. 26.
"Suizen (吹禅) : lit.: Blowing Zen or meditation playing shakuhachi.
A word that is engraved in a Stone at Myōanji temple, Kyoto, Japan.
According to ethnomusicologist Tsukitani Tsuneko, it is a word that did not appear before early 20th century.
Source: Kiku Day, 2014, p. 26
Comment: In fact, according to the 41st 'Kansu' Kojima Hōan, the Myōan-ji 'Suizen' stone monument was, actually, first erected in 1966.
Photo by Torsten Olafsson, early Spring, 1977.
2015, or earlier?: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Kiku Day's Facebook group
"Suizen - 吹禅 - Meditation through flute music
I named this group "Suizen" to honor a Honkyoku tradition I am studying with my teachers.
Suizen is a Japanese word and means "Blowing Zen".
This is an ancient tradition of playing Japanese bamboo flute as a form of meditation.
Just another way of being present in the moment.
This is definitely not an entertainment music.
This is not an easy listening New Age style.
So listen at your own risk :-)
We also welcome other form music and sound meditation:
Native American Flute, Didgeridoo, Ney, Bansuri, Crystal Bowls etc."
Source, link to the Facebook group URL:
2015: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Alice Harriet Jones
"History of Suizen (Blowing Zen)
Suizen originates in applying the practice of zazen (sitting Zen) to playing or making sound on a wind instrument (sui).
The principle of ichi'on jōbutsu ("enlightenment through a single note" or "Buddhahood through a single tone"), which can be achieved equally through non-musical experiences as through musical ones,
has a long and prominent history in Japanese Buddhism and the shakuhachi habitus."
" - - - komusō – literally "priests of emptiness and nothingness."
They were monks of the Fuke-shū who played the shakuhachi in order to achieve enlightenment (suizen) during the Edo period (1600-1868)."
Source: Alice Harriet Jones Ph.D. thesis, 2015, p. 224.
2017: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Bruno Deschênes
Zen du souffle. Nom donné à la pratique ascétique par la secte Fuké.
Ils cherchaient à atteindre l'illumination par le son et le souffle."
"Suizen. The breath of Zen. Name given to the ascetic practice of the Fuke Sect.
They were striving to achieve enlightenment by the sound and the breath."
Source: Bruno Deschênes, 2017, note in vocabulary on page 239.
"SHAKUHACHI MEDITATION" a.o. WEBSITES
newly visited as of mid-April, 2021:
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Wikipedia, English language version
"Suizen was traditionally practised by the Komusō ("monks of emptiness"), the Zen Buddhist monks of the Fuke sect of Japan who flourished during the Edo period (1600 to 1868)."
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to WikiWand, English language version
"Suizen ( 吹禅 ) ("blowing Zen") is a Zen practice consisting of playing the traditional Japanese shakuhachi bamboo flute as a means of attaining self-realization.
Suizen was traditionally practiced by the Komusō ("monks of emptiness"), the Zen Buddhist monks of the Fuke sect of Japan who flourished during the Edo period (1600 to 1868)."
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to The European Shakuhachi Society,
"Suizen ( 吹禅) – Lit: Blowing Zen. The act of playing the shakuhachi as an act of meditation.
Although widely used, this word is, according to Tsukitani Tsuneko (conversation, 2007), a post-Edo period creation.
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Carl Abbott:
"The Shakuhachi is an ancient flute that captivates many who cross its path.
Hidden in its simplicity is profound possibility.
The windy, resonant sound of the Shakuhachi brings deep serenity to sympathetic ears.
For the devoted player, it is also a spiritual tool for training the mind and breath.
Zen monks have been using the Shakuhachi for Sui Zen for centuries.
Sui Zen, which means blowing Zen, is meditation using Buddhist music composed for the Shakuhachi."
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Hanzaburō Araki Kodō II
"THE ARAKI LEGACY
The shakuhachi is an end-blown Japanese bamboo flute
associated with the Fuke sect of Zen buddhism in the practice of sui zen.
The Araki Family has been playing and passing down the skills and traditions of Kinko-Ryu shakuhachi since the 19th century."
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to the website Chadō - Der Japanische Teeweg
"Für die Fuke-Wandermönchen war die Shakuhachi nicht mehr als Musikinstrument (gak-ki) im Gebrauch, sondern wurde zu einem religiösen Werkzeug (hō-ki) und bildete den Mittelpunkt von Meditationsübungen.
Das Spiel der Shakuhachi wurde zu einem Zenweg des Erwachens."
- - -
"Für die Komusō ist die Shakuhachi ein Instrument für ihre religiöse Praxis, die als "Atemmeditation" (sui-zen) oder "Atemmeditation mit Bambus" ( 吹竹禅 suichiku-zen) bezeichnet wird, und ein "Gefäß für den dharma" ( 法器 hōki)."
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to the 'Kyotaku' website Meihodo.com
The study of "Zen" using an elongated bamboo flute, or "Kyotaku."
During the Kamakura period, (1185-1333) a Buddhist emissary to China, also known as Hōtōenmei, Hōtō-Kokushi of Kokokuji Temple in Wakayama Prefecture was given a shakuhachi as a part of his Zen practice in China, and accompanied the fourth master of the shakuhachi on his return to Japan.
the shakuhachi became linked to Zen and eventually developed more systematically into "SUIZEN"."
- - -
"In Tang Dynasty (9th century) China, a monk by the name of Puhuà (Fuke in Japanese) used a shakuhachi flute as a meditation tool,
the act of 'blowing Zen' (suizen) as it was known."
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Alcvin Ryūzen Ramos:
"Suizen (kanji: 吹禅; blowing zen, or blowing meditation) is the practice of playing the shakuhachi bamboo flute as a means of attaining self-realization.
The monks of old Japan who practiced suizen were called Komuso, or Monks of Nothingness and Emptiness
(Ko: kanji: 虚 emptiness, mu: kanji: 無 nothingness, so: kanji: 僧 monk or priest).
These monks belonged to a Rinzai Zen Buddhist sect called Fuke-shu, named after the legendary Tang Dynasty Chinese monk (Ch. P'u Hua) who first inspired the use of a bamboo flute as a meditation tool.
These solo pieces on which suizen are based are called hon-kyoku kanji:
本曲, or original pieces.
In the beginning, this term was not used.
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Bruno Deschênes:
"The shakuhachi, an end-blown flute, came from China with Gagaku music. At that time it had 6 holes.
In the 9th century, it was removed from the orchestra.
Around the same time, a monk tried to introduce a 5-hole version which did not attract the attention of musicians.
It was around the 10th century that four Chinese monks were invited to teach the xiao, the ancestor of the shakuhachi, to Japanese monks, and slowly attract their interest.
But it was not until the 13th century that monks of the Fuke sect thought of using it as a way to replace Buddhist sutra chanting.
This new way of chanting the sutras was then called suizen or 'blowing zen'.
Source, undated web article: http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/japan.htm#shakuhachi
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Daniel Paul Schnee:
" - - - the art of suizen.
The ancient art of suizen is a great tool for musical meditation, as well as a great way to train oneself to become more sensitive/intuitive as a musician, especially in improvisation: jazz, rock, blues, free jazz, or any other forms that require sensitivity to collective spontaneity.
In Tang Dynasty (9th century) China, the monk Puhuà (Japan: Fuke) used
a shakuhachi flute as a meditation tool, the act of 'blowing Zen' (suizen) as it was known.
The Fuke branch of Zen Buddhism is purported to derive from the teachings of the Chinese Zen teacher Linji Yixuan (Japan: Rinzai Gigen c. 800–866 CE).
However, the Fuke school counts founder Puhuà, one of Linji's contemporaries, as its shihan (founder).
Fuke-style Zen was eventually brought to Japan by Shinchi Kakushin (1207–1298 CE), also known as Muhon Kakushin
or Hotto Kokushi (posthumously), who had travelled to China for six years and studied with the famous Chan master Wumen of the Linji lineage.
Kakushin became a disciple of Chōsan, a 17th generation teacher of the Fuke sect of China.
It was Fuke's goal to reach enlightenment through meditation on sound, and his particular sect (of Rinzai) Fuke-shu, produced mendicant priests and lay persons known as komuso, literally 'monks of empty nothingness.'"
2021: 'Suizen' & "Shakuhachi meditation" acc. to Myōan-ji Dōshu-kai, Kyōto:
"Hotto established suizen of "Blowing Zen meditation" after realizing that blowing shakuhachi is an excellent means of meditation.
Later on, the Zen Shakuhachi style was called Myoan Shakuhachi.
In this way, Myoan Shakuhachi occupies a completely different dimension from other musical environments."
EPOLOGUE by ELLIOT KANSHIN KALLEN
President of The International Shakuhachi Society
"Honkyoku as meditation
Many documents mention the use of the shakuhachi for religious purposes, but none actually outline how this was done.
We can assume any number of scenarios revolving around the concentration needed to accomplish the difficult manual techniques of playing the honkyoku repertoire and, especially, the control of breathing required, (much like seated Zen meditation), but the fact remains - we can never really know with any certainty how the komusō's meditative practice called Suizen (Blowing Zen) was done.
This, in spite of sayings passed down to us like, "Enlightenment in one sound", or, "Blowing and Zen are one".
It must be noted that, at least to this author, the mastery of a honkyoku and playing it for oneself is, unquestionably, a mind-and-consciousness-altering act.
Perhaps we should simply let the honkyoku speak for themselves."
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