Arm Chair Travel\u00a0\nThe Distance between point A and point B may be reduced by either one of them moving to the other.\nSince it is not possible to move myself to all the points I\u2019d like to explore, it is acceptable to bring the points closer to me through media that shatter the boundaries of human capabilities. And so I travel to places that I will most likely never visit (especially since some of these require time travel as well) through TV, through You tube and through photographs.\nOne chance exposure is all it takes for the journey to begin \u2013 and the mind travels to that place through a single thought. Until more inputs are available the travel is stalled but can be continued at any time \u2013 seamlessly.\nAnd so began my journey to explore the Komusa monks of Japan.\nTwo years ago, I was selecting music for my photography website and in searching for soothing Buddhist music \u2013 I came upon the Shakuhachi flute.\u00a0 The sounds drew me in and are among the nicest I have heard. They maintain their presence, creating a positive aura in the atmosphere without intruding into my mind or distracting me from thinking.\nIn the end I did not use the music and that marked the end of that exposure.\nToday I came upon a photograph on Facebook titled : The Komuso playing the Shakuhachi \u2013 the old sepia print scanned was not stunning photographically \u2013 but its content was stunning \u2013 it made me stop and look and come back again for a re-look.\nWho were the Komusa? Why are they doing what they are doing \u2013 wearing baskets on their heads? Were these the original players of the beautiful Shakuhachi?\nLiving in the luxury of an information rich world \u2013 thanks to Larry Page and Sergey Brin \u2013 I had the answers within the next few minutes.\nIn the 13th century, a Buddhist monk from Japan went to China and learnt the doctrines of a branch of the Zen sect founded by Fuke-Zenji. There, he also learnt the art of playing the long flute \u2013 the Shakuhachi.\nAfter he returned to Japan he traveled through the country preaching and playing the flute. One of his successors \u2013 Komu did the same and the name Komusa, became the generic name for the traveling monks with Shakuhachis\nTheir costume is as unique as their flute music \u2013 with\u00a0 bee-baskets or rice baskets made of reed, covering their faces completely.\nBut the most impressive aspect of the life of the monk wanderers is their philosophy : \u201cEmptiness\u201d or \u201cAbsence of Ego\u201d.\nThis is taught by the Gita as well \u2013 the core text of Hindu philosophy. The similarity is not a surprise since Buddha himself came from the land of the Gita.\nWhat is surprising to me though, is the breadth of geography that Buddhist philosophy conquered. From Bamiyan in Afghanistan to Japan the breadth of latitudes covered is impressive.\nAnd much more so considering that conquest of minds occurred without the use of force : no holy wars,\u00a0 no declarations of \u2018axis of evil\u2019, no crusades. No force or aggression at all. It was a triumph of \u201cthought\u201d \u2013 not of \u201cmuscle\u201d!\nComing back to the concept of \u201cAbsence of Ego\u201d \u2013 I have tried it in an era when I was trying to explore spirituality over a decade ago. To follow this high philosophy took too much out of me, living in a world with attachments and among people who don\u2019t do exactly the same. Following this philosophy alone \u2013 all by yourself when no one else around does it,\u00a0 is like becoming the pigeon in a world of hawks (this reference is well elucidated in \u201d The Selfish Gene\u201d by Richard Dawkins).\nAnyway \u2013 coming back to the Komusa \u2013 the monks being pilgrims were allowed to roam freely without border restrictions in olden day Japan \u2013 a privilege that very few had. Seeing opportunity in this freedom, spies began to use the monk garb as a disguise and eventually this abuse led to a tarnished reputation for the Komusa.\nA government ban on the practice of this sect of Fuke Zen led to its demise.\nThe flute music however has been preserved in its original form \u2013 thanks to an enlightened 18th century Komusa\u00a0 named Kinko Kurosawa and is presented here in the following youtube link:\n\nLone Shakuhachi players are still seen in the busy streets of large cities such as Nagoya & Vancouver. Whether they practice the doctrines I do not know but they certainly sow the seeds of curiosity amongst the passers-by about the Komusa \u2013 the wandering monks.\njm\nFeb 2012\nThe post The Komusa Wandering Monks & their Shakuhachi flutes appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.