Playing the shakuhachi, an end-blown bamboo flute, is one of the recognized paths of Zen meditation called suizen. Zen means meditation and suizen means blowing meditation. The shakuhachi is the only melodic instrument used in Zen Buddhism. With only five holes, the shakuhachi can play up to 83 different notes and create an array of sounds unrivaled by any other acoustic instrument.
Ronnie Nyogetsu Reishin Seldin has been teaching shakuhachi in the United States since 1975 in the traditional Japanese manner. His students mostly desire to learn to play the Zen meditation pieces, these being loved for their timeless, universal qualities. Nyogetsu has the largest number of students outside of Japan. Over twenty have received instructor and master titles from him, and two have received grand master titles. Nyogetsu holds two grand master titles in shakuhachi. The first was given by his teacher, Kurahashi Yodo Sensei. Kurahashi Yodo, a disciple of Jin Nyodo, was one of the greatest teachers and archivists of Zen meditation pieces. Nyogetsu's second grand master title was given by Aoki Reibo, one of Japan's Living National Treasures in Shakuhachi. Shakuhachi lessons can be done in person at seven locations throughout the East Coast as well as via the internet, by which Nyogetsu teaches students in 26 states and six foreign countries.
The repertoire of Zen meditation music is called honkyoku. Until the early 19th century, the pieces in this repertoire were composed by mendicant Zen monks of the Fuke sect for use in their meditation practice. Nyogetsu teaches Zen meditation music of the Fuke-Meian, Kinko, and Neza-Sa-Ha schools. Additionally he teaches Gaikyoku (chamber music), Minyo (folk music), and Shin-Kyoku (new music). Zen meditation pieces date back to the 12th century; the oldest piece known as Kyorei. They were composed and played in meditation to achieve stillness of mind, connection with nature, and for the higher purpose of achieving enlightenment for all sentient beings. If you find the perfect sound, you can create and spread beauty, serenity, enlightenment. Every time you play the shakuhachi, you are helping to engender world peace.