“Mujushinkyoku”

December 13, 2009

“As for the exercise of sitting until one does not hear, at the extreme of quiet stillness, the mind is not drawn into movement by the ears.  One hears only sound, not tone.  This is not hearing”—The Spirit of Tao (trans Thomas Cleary).

Mujushinkyoku

“Brought to life” by Jin Nyodo in 1937, who did not regard this piece as a “composition” but rather a shokyoku (“born piece”)—a sort of transcription of music that emerged naturally by itself.  The title derives from a passage in the Diamond Sutra: “Just at the point when one has no place to dwell (muju), such a spirit (shin) is born.”  The piece, implying “a heart with no abode,” or “an unattached spirit,” is reminiscent of the komuso’s prescribed reply to a question concerning destination: “I have no resting place.”  Jin Nyodo is said to have remarked that this piece conveys the spirit of a person who has lost everything, and in so doing, has found his true self.  Put another way: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

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