The Komuso were priests of the Fuke-Shu sect of Zen Buddhism who wandered Japan during the Edo period (16?1868). These priests would take the problems and illnesses of people upon themselves, attempting to help them by playing a particular style of shakuhachi flute music called Sui-Zen. They sought to have their ?patients? become completely embraced by their music, allowing them to let go of all distractions, worries, problems, and stresses. The ko in komuso means ?emptiness? or ?nothingness,? and this concept of quieting the mind was the aim of these healing priests. Government reforms lead to abolishing the Fuke sect and abandoning all of its temples. It was only by good fortune that the healing repertoire of the Zen shakuhachi survived. In many ways, Ronnie Nyogetsu Seldin is a modern-day komuso. He has been playing the shakuhachi flute for over 25 years. In 1978, he was awarded the rank of Shi-han (Master) in recognition of his work of spreading the teaching of this instrument in America. In 198, he received his Dai Shi-han, or Grand Master?s license. In 1975, he began his work with an organization called Hospital Audiences that brings music into hospitals and homes for the aged. Since then, he has had the opportunity to use the healing repertoire of the shakuhachi to bring peace and recovery to many troubled people.
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