Essays From The Master

Archive for May, 2014

The Why of the Komuso or “Monk of the Void”

In my beginning with the Silent Way I had one goal and one aim to meet that goal, the goal no longer matters, because it was a foe I only thought was a foe, and the means was power in two forms the means to move in stealth and control of life and death. When I found the lore of Komuso Nin Do and my way to the Komuso Ryu my initial goal had already been put away but my initial aim remained a craving. Any craving that is out of balance is as much suffering as craving nothing taken to an extreme can leave one with an empty existence which is not actually a life. Movement “in stealth” is not making no noise or somehow not being seen because to move is to make noise and to live is to be seen by someone or something. Movement in stealth is moving in life so as to not attract attention or focus at will or to create an impression that is false and accepted as truth for as long as one wills. Power over life and death is really the understanding of how fragile life is and how to destroy the lives of others, usually but not always, to preserve one’s own life. Komuso can be translated as “monk of the void”, “monk of emptiness”, “wandering monk” or “vagabond monk.” All four of these readings say something as to the truths of the ryu or school named for it. The Void is a metaphysical and philosophical conceptual reality in which all things can be found and yet is no single thing in and of its self. Emptiness is a state of being in which one realizes that the self is undefined and can be as one wills filling that emptiness at will or choose to be empty and embody lack because they will not to be aware of the resources that they have to fill that emptiness.

To wander is to travel evoking the ideas of exploration and not allowing one’s self to get trapped by one’s own expectations or the expectations of others but rather to experiment and grow from the experience, not even allowing one’s own ideals to be a trap. To be a vagabond is to not have or not use a set place for one’s home or base of operations and thus to find these things within one’s self, making one’s inner being a sanctum that is always within reach. The Void is perceived as being in the outer world and is balanced by the state of Emptiness in the inner world. To wander or explore is a thing of both the inner and the outer worlds that is balanced by the inner sanctum or inward dwelling sense of “home” embodied in the vagabond. The idea of the vagabond also includes the idea of having or having access to many skill sets which the individual arranges into a single skill set that is like no other taking care to build a broad base around a central core of enduring through stealth in the case of the Komuso. Stealth and power over life and death are both examples of self control expressed through many skills some martial and some not, indeed anything that has a martial application often if not always has an application that is not martial. The knowledge to cause harm to others can also lead to the knowledge of how to heal one’s self and thus others showing how the way of the warrior, even the assassin points to the preservation of and thus the value of all life. The knowledge of stealth is ultimately about being able to exist in harmony or stand out at will in whatever way one wills points to the power of self definition of that self and all that is not a part of that self.

The meaning of “why” for the Komuso is freedom, freedom in the void to fill that emptiness by exploration, and experience holding to one’s inner sanctum. To feint, block, strike, hold and throw is not part of the why of Komuso Nin Do. or any martial art, but are examples of how which can be readily applied to the mind, emotions, will, body and life force of one’s self and others. To prevail is more than to survive though survival is a step, to prevail is to survive and thrive.