June 14, 2022

Listening to Kunmeido Reiryokoh

There was once a scholar who traveled to visit a Zen Master known for his enlightened teachings. The scholar asked the master to teach him about Zen. During the conversation, it became apparent that the scholar was quite full of his opinions and views, often interrupting the master and interjected his own understandings. As was customary when hosting a guest, tea was served. As the scholar droned on, the master began to pour his guest a cup of tea. But as the cup approached its filling point, the master continued to pour until the cup overflowed. The scholar exclaimed "Stop! The cup is already full!" The master then said, "You mind, too, is already full. I cannot tell you about Zen until you have become like an empty cup." Just as this Zen master, Kunmeido Reiryokoh encourages the listener to empty their mind to experience its true nature, relaxing within its fragrance.

Strongly traditional, Kunmeido’s Reiryokoh is well known due to its use at Daihonzan Eiheiji 永平寺, the “Temple of Eternal Peace,” founded by Zen Master Dōgen in 1244. Kunmeido describes Reiryokoh as a "fragrance that rinses the mind, filling your life with pure peace."Filled with a cornucopia of traditional natural spices such as Clove, Fenugreek, Patchouli, Turmeric, and Borneol in a Sandalwood base, Kunmeido's Reiryokoh is a mixture of sweet, spicy, and traditional with a mellow after-note much sought after for meditation and mindfulness work.

Reiryokoh's stick note is rich, deep, and utterly unique. There is an earthiness to the curry colored stick that feels ancient, wise, and cryptic. Multiple notes that remind of ripened fruit mixed with warm caramel, a semi-sweet tobacco, an earthy sharpness, and a coolness tempers the entire unexpectedness of Reiryokoh's experience. An illusive moisture is present in the stick that presents as richness and age, like the feel of a fine aged cigar, sweet and moist from the humidor. The unlit stick is an enticing enigma of seemingly random mixed notes bounding with active potential, encouraging the listener to get on with lighting the stick and getting down to business.

Alight, Reiryokoh starts with sharp tones filled with a brown caramel like sweetness of the maple syrup fragrance of Fenugreek. A green sweetness develops that reminds of native sweet grass; moist, semi-sweet, and soft. Over time a savory leather note mixes with the sweet grass, juxtaposing an earthy bitter richness with the light semi-sweet grassy caramel tones. Like the petals of a flower, the notes of Reiryokoh fall away to reveal themselves at first in waves, with the caramel giving way to the sweet grass giving way to the leathery earthiness, then cycling again through one's awareness.

It is in this cascade of tones that the true genius of Reiryokoh presents itself, asking the listener to empty the mind and not to grasp at the individual tones, fixing the mind to them rigidly. Instead, by letting go, emptying the mind of the forms of "leather" or "caramel" or "grass" etc. and instead allowing Reiryokoh to fill the senses a new experiences unfolds that is richer and fuller, the sum of the parts creating an entirely new composition that is unique, full, and richly rewarding.

The depth and complexity of Reiryokoh is what makes it intriguing; both rich and sophisticated, while at the same time filled with an ease and lightness. These two together lead to a balance that is peaceful, tranquil, and easily relaxed within. While its tones are energetic and full of motion, when one stops grasping at them Reiryokoh's effect is one of softening, slowing, and relaxing of the mind. There is a clarity here that the mixture of fragrant ingredients is able to bring out of the sum total of the individual parts in a way that provides a deeply enjoyable experience that is restful and rejuvenating.

Reiryokoh's after-note is cool and refreshing. The heaviness of the dark caramel notes vanish leaving behind a clean, earthy tone that is a expansive and clear like a bell ringing. Over time a soft warmth tinged with sweetness returns, leaving the space warmed by the receding fragrance as it softly retreats. The after-note is relaxed and calm, leaving the space softened and receptive.

With a traditional feel and a unique fragrance that is richly rewarding, Kunmeido Reiryokoh provides a wonderful experience to empty our perpetually overflowing minds with, making it an excellent choice for meditation or mindfulness work, or just to enjoy a moment of peaceful clarity.

Yesterday partly sunny
Tomorrow, snow on the daffodils
Spring in Chicago.
Kunmedo Reiryokoh is available in the following sizes: