The Order of Nothingness

The first monastic order of The Little Creek Monastery

The Monastery has the following Orders:

  • The Monastic Congregation — open to everyone. No vows required.
  • The Order of Nothingness — the monastery’s first monastic Order. Required to take The Six Vows of the Order of Nothingness.
  • The Order of Consciousness — the monastery’s second monastic Order. Required to have taken the preceding Order’s vows, and The Nine Vows of the Order of Consciousness.
  • The Order of Principles — the monastery’s third and highest monastic Order (future). Required to have taken the preceding Order’s vows, and the (future) Vows of this Order.

The Purpose of the Order

The Order of Nothingness was formed to acknowledge a sense we have inside ourselves, which some people call a sense of emptiness, is actually something. Because it seems dark like a black hole we often are repelled by it. But men and women through the ages have discovered many things about it. And in their discovering, they’ve come up with a name for it that transcends cultures, religions and mystical practices: the Nothingness.

“To be calm and relaxed — on behalf of ourselves and all that we affect.”

The Order helps us:

  • To learn how to be calm in the unknown
  • To begin to discover the nature of the Nothingness
  • To discover we can navigate within the unknown
  • To learn that by embracing the unknown we are more fully accepting ourselves and the nature of our Being

The Order of the Orders

You can join one or more Orders. Because there are meditative qualities, commitments and focus points unique to each order, if you wish to join more than one Order we strongly recommend you work your way through each Order, one Order at a time. Average time in each of the first two Orders will typically range from one to three years, particularly if you are seeking certification. Keep in mind that the vows increase through the Orders, as indicated above. Vows are considered a lifelong commitment.


If you want written certification, you must submit an essay for the Order in which you are requesting certification. Once your essay has been successfully reviewed, you will receive a signed and sealed Certificate suitable for display, indicating you are a fully certified member of the Order for which you’ve requested certification.

Certified or not, you can call yourself a member of the Order, once you’ve taken your vows and indicated that to us here.

Once you’ve joined the monastery, in any capacity, you can use our logo. Please provide a link-back to our main site.

For additional information about certification, please contact the abbot.



These vows are entirely voluntary. You can do them all at once, or over a period of time. Monastic Vows are considered a lifelong commitment.

By joining the order, I (state your name) vow to daily do my best:

  1. To become more relaxed
  2. To keep a sense of humor as a top priority
  3. To keep my mind open, flexible, supple and limber
  4. To always want my heart in the right place, even when it’s not
  5. To strive for a higher perspective, even when it seems invisible or difficult to achieve
  6. That in a world that’s gone crazy, I will Abide
Prior of the Order: Briar Mountain, Prior
Model: Komusō — wandering in the humility of subduing the ego and deemed by some to be worthless in her pursuit, the Komusō becomes familiar with the unknown.
Required Reading: Zen Lessons, The Art of Leadership — Translated by Thomas Cleary
Saying: “Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain, but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.” — Ikkyu


The Order of Nothingness figuratively models itself on the Komusō monk.

These zen monks were poor, itinerant beggars. They wore basket-like hats over their heads, implying the losing of the ego and the obscureness of that which is hidden.

They were also known for playing solo pieces on the shakuhachi (a type of Japanese bamboo flute). These pieces, called honkyoku (“original pieces”), were played during a meditative practice called suizen, for alms, as a method of attaining enlightenment, and as a healing modality. — Wikipedia

Life as a contemporary Komusō

We see ourselves as the invisible, behind-the-scenes monks and nuns of everyday life, characteristically with little to no recognition. We fit in, so to speak. And, similar to the traditional poor beggar monks, it should not be surprising if we find ourselves living the kinds of lives which tend to be obscure and ignored. This is the nature of the Komusō way of life.

Komusō monks and nuns strive to improve the world in quiet but effective ways that lie within their modest abilities.

The root derivations of the word Komusō is highly appropriate to one of our Orders:

  • 虚無僧 (komusō) means “priest of nothingness” or “monk of emptiness”
  • 虚無 (kyomu or komu) means “nothingness, emptiness”
  • 虚 (kyo or ko) means “nothing, empty, false”
  • 無 (mu) means “nothing, without”
  • 僧 () means “priest, monk”

Relaxing and taking it a bit slower

Nothingness is not about being lazy, although it’s always important to save yourself some time to relax and hang out. It’s more like this: whenever you are doing something in your life, anything really, make sure you have some Nothingness sprinkled in — you know, to kind of offset all the I’m-really-Somethingness going on in the world.