Wikipedia and the Like: Serious Misinformation
regarding 'Komusō', 'Fuke-shū', 'Suizen' et cetera
Web page last updated on December 2, 2023:
GOOD NEWS: Repeated critical monitoring of WikiPedia and WikiWand web pages has shown
that at least a couple of these have been notably edited, revised and improved
since last they were visited and inspected.
Observed developments on Wikipedia as of December 2, 2023:
The English language webpage titled "Honkyoku" and "Shakuhachi" have been notably improved with information that is more in accordance with the actual existing
historical documentary evidence:
The identity of the contributing editor(s) - not myself, you should know - is only partly known by me.
Cheers - Torsten Olafsson, December 2, 2023
Previous updates as of 2022 and before:
Selected examples of incorrect statements and serious misinformation are highlighted here:
printed in red italic letters.
"It was used by the monks of the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhism in the practice of
suizen (吹禅, blowing meditation)."
Correction: No, the historical shakuhachi players known as 'komusō' were as a whole not genuine "Zen monks",
the so called "Fuke sect" was in no way any full fledged Buddhist sect,
and the term and practice of 'suizen' did not at all exist until only shortly after the Second World War.
No evidence can be produced to confirm such however widespread popular claims.
"During the medieval period, shakuhachi were most notable for their role in the Fuke sect of Zen Buddhist monks,
known as komusō ("priests of nothingness," or "emptiness monks"
虚無僧), who used the shakuhachi as a spiritual tool."
Correction: No, the historical term the "medieval period" of Japan covers the 13th through the 16th centuries, the Kamakura and Muromachi eras.
'Komusō' did not emerge in Japan before the middle of the 17th century: The early Edo Period.
We know of hardly any written evidence of the use of the shakuhachi as a "spiritual tool" during the first several formative decades
of the 'Komusō' brotherhood's existence.
"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)."
No, 'suizen' was certainly not practised by the 'Komusō' of the Edo Period, 1600-1868.
The introduction of that term is being credited to the first genuine abbot of the Kyōto Myōan Temple,
Yasuda Tenzan, 1909-1994, who served in that capacity from 1950 to 1952.
"In 1823 Hisamatsu Fūyō (Hisamatsu Masagoro Suga no Sandaharu – c. 1790s to c. 1880s) published his short treatise
on suizen practice, Hitori Mondō ("self-questioning")."
No, Hisamatsu did of course not write about 'suizen' 200 centuries ago.
"Fuke Zen came to Japan in the 13th century.
Komusō belonged to the Fuke sect of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
Fuke Zen comes from the teachings of Linji Yixuan, a Zen teacher from China in the 9th century.
Fuke, however, is the Japanese name for Puhua, one of Linji's peers and co-founders of his sect.
- - -
Komusō practiced suizen, which is meditation through the meditative blowing of a shakuhachi, as opposed to zazen,
which is meditation through quiet sitting as practiced by most Zen followers.
- - -
As Fuke Zen increased in popularity through the Sengoku Period, groups of basket-headed komusō playing for hours on street corners
or wandering the roadways on pilgrimages became a common sight."
No, "Fuke Zen" did not come to Japan in the 13th century.
No, "Fuke Zen" was not a branch of Japanese Zen Buddhism.
"Fuke Zen" was not a "school" of Chinese Zen Buddhism - Fuke was only a contemporary of Linji Yixuan during the early 9th century before
Linji's "school" of Zen ever had formed.
- - -
No, 'Komusō' did not practise suizen.
- - -
No, nothing like "Fuke Zen" existed and was taking place place during the Sengoku Period, the "Age of Warring States", c. 1467–c. 1600,
and there were definitely no "groups of basket-headed komusō playing for hours on street corners or wandering the roadways
on pilgrimages" during that period.
"Travel around Japan was heavily restricted by the Ashikaga shogunate during this rebellious era, but the Fuke sect managed
to wrangle a rare exemption from the Shōgun ...
- - -
When the Tokugawa Shogunate came into power over a unified Japan at the beginning of the 17th century, the komusō came under official government criticism for the first time. Because many new komusō had formerly been samurai disenfranchised during the Sengoku (Warring States) period (16th century) who were now lay clergy, the potential for trouble was obvious. Because many of the monks were former samurai, and had become rōnin when their masters were defeated—most likely by the Shogunate and their allies—the komusō (now greater in numbers than ever) were seen as untrustworthy and destabilizing to the new shogunate."
No, again: there were definitely no "basket-headed komusō" during the Ashikaga Period, 1336-1573, and a shogunate that oversaw any traveling "Fuke".
- - -
No, no, no! Just do ignore this entire last paragraph as it is simply complete nonsense, no less - all mixed up.
First of all: There were no 'Komusō' in Japan during the earliest decades of the 17th century!
That Wikipedia article about 'Komusō' appears to have been authored by US Tennesseean
David Michael Weber
Fuke sect) or Fuke Zen was a distinct and ephemeral derivative school of Japanese Zen Buddhism which originated as an offshoot of the Rinzai school during the nation's feudal era, lasting from the 13th century until the late 19th century."
No, once more: There was absolutely no "Fuke activity" in Japan as early as in the 13th century.
"Temple of Light and Darkness") is a Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, Japan."
"Myōan-ji is a sub-temple of Tōfuku-ji, and contained within the larger Tōfuku-ji temple complex,
located in Higashiyama ward."
"It is the former headquarters and the premier pilgrimage site of the Fuke sect of Rinzai Zen."
- - -
Oh, no! Very little, if anything at all of this is, in fact, in any way "true"!
The present Kyōto Myōan Temple contained within the precincts of Tōfuku-ji is not "the former headquarters and the premier pilgrimage site" ... of itself!
Furthermore, the real "former" Myōan Temple of the Edo Period, located elsewhere in Kyōto, was not originally regarding itself as any "Fuke Sect" temple at all.
While at the same time, effective from 1705, that same temple in Kyōto was the only 'Komusō' temple that really succeeded in establishing some degree of a closer "link" to the well established Rinzai Zen institution, when the temple became a subtemple to Kōkoku-ji in Yura in present Wakayama Prefecture south of Kyōto and Nara in Central Japan.
Kōkoku-ji was itself a subtemple of the prominent Rinzai Zen temple Myōshin-ji in Kyōto, founded in 1342.
- - -
"The temple was founded by the komusō and Zen master Kichiku (known honorarily as Kyochiku Zenji) — in whose remembrance there is a small shrine contained within."
- - -
No, so certainly not!
First of all, the former, original Edo Period Kyōto Myōan Temple - located both north of the Tōfuku-ji and also
north of the Sanjūsangendō Temple hall in the E. Higashiyama Area - was established sometime during the second half of the 17th century,
not anytime before.
The name of the temple's true and actual founder was, most certainly, 'Engetsu Ryōgen Zenji'
who died in 1695 acc. to preserved My⡝an-ji records.
'Kichiku' is the constructed name of a completely fabricated, legendary person who never lived.
In consequence, of course, neither could "he" have been a living 'komusō. Simple as that!
His name was changed to 'Kyochiku Ryōen Zenji',
sometime after the turn of the 18th century, i.e. at the dawn of the 18th century, however certainly before the year 1735 when the new name was highlighted in an important official
Kyōto Myōan-ji letter brought to the Myōshin-ji.
"Komusō played honkyoku for enlightenment and alms as early as the 13th century."
No, that is absolutely false. There were no 'Komusō' in 13th century Japan and the term and evidence of the practise of 'honkyoku'
first appears in a Kyōto Myōan Temple document dated 1694. 'Komusō' first emerged in the mid-17th century.
Extra case added on February 8, 2022:
"At the age of nineteen Rinzō Nakao was initiated as a komusō, a Buddhist monk and practitioner of suizen,
at Tōfuku-ji temple in Kyōto."
No, of course that is absolutely impossible: Nakao Tozan, 1876-1956, could certainly not have been a "practitioner of suizen"
while he was acting as a Myōan Kyōkai 'komusō' during the mid-1890s.
'Suizen', both as a term/concept and a shakuhachi practice, did not exist before 1950. Period!
Read more here:
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.