Dog at the Gate: Offices of the ‘Grassmat Monks’

Dog at the Gate: Offices of the 'Grassmat Monks'

Tom Hare - Professor of Comparative Literature, Princeton University

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Room 217A, Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) See map
320 York Street
New Haven, CT 6511

Komosô´, “Grassmat Monks,” wandered the roads and market towns of fifteenth century Japan, eking a living from begging and playing the shakuhachi, an end-blown bamboo flute. Within about a century and a half, their name was changed to Komusô, “Emptiness Monks,” capitalizing on the Buddhist associations of sûnyatâ, or “emptiness.” The revision may reflect actual social change for these mendicants, including recognition by the Tokugawa shogunate and official ties to important Zen institutions, but it also certainly reflects a spectrum of beliefs regarding the shakuhachi and its relation to religious practice and ethical value. This talk will explore the late medieval practices of shakuhachi medicants and the reconsideration of their religious and musical practices.