Om Prakash shares the first track of his album ‘Pilgrimage’ where he plays the kyo taku, a Japanese flute.
I called this piece ‘The Great Eastern Sun’ as a reference to the light in which we will all dissolve, the cosmic sound which is the essence of our lives.
The flute which is played on this recording is a Japanese flute called kyo taku, which means ’empty bell’. It is similar to the more known shakuhachi flute.
In Zen tradition the flutes have been used to bring awareness to our breath, as breath exercises, and were never considered to be musical instruments. The focus is mainly on deepening our breath. Exercising, and playing ancient pieces of this music allows the player, and the listener, to experience the pause between the notes.
The flutes were played solo in mountain Zen monasteries or on the streets of ancient Japan by beggar monks called komuso, meaning ‘Monks of Emptiness and Nothingness’. (It is of interest to note that on their begging bowls there is an inscription which says: ‘Never born, never died’…) Playing the flute was part of the monks’ daily meditation practise called sui zen, which means ‘blowing Zen’. They also say that this flute makes a ‘sound which makes the mind empty’.
Normally one would play a set of pieces which are called honkyoku. These are written down and can be played in a group – it is a mind blowing experience because of all the overtones…. However, this musical piece, ‘The Great Eastern Sun’, was spontaneously played without notation and recorded in a music studio. A new sound was created by using a kalimba as a rhythmical base, then the huge Tibetan bells played in the background by my friend Dyan, which blend in with the sound of this ancient flute. I think it is the combination of these three which works so well.
How did I come to know this flute? In the early days of Pune 1 I was lucky enough to meet one of these Japanese komuso. He also became a sannyasin later on and the name Osho gave him was Agar. Prashantam (a proficient kyo taku player as well as a group leader) had invited Agar to come to Pune. Later I heard Agar play the kyo taku in one of the many places we used to live and he became my teacher and friend. Both, Agar and Prashantam, had a master called Koku Nishimura who later also became my master. He had sent us some exercising flutes to Pune so that we could start practising. That’s how it all started.
Om Prakash (Friedhelm Hellenkamp) grew up in Germany and lived many years in Berlin where he also took sannyas, in 1975. In one of his first meetings with the master, Osho promised him to help him discover his creativity. Six month before he took sannyas, he had a dream about the name Osho later gave him: Om Prakash, meaning ‘cosmic sound and light’. He is also a Zen gardener and works and lives in Icking, Bavaria. inspiredbynature.de – japanese-inspired-gardens.de