Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Zanshin, or "Remaining mind"

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to an article on Zanshin, or Remaining mind, which is an important concept in the practice of Japanese martial arts. Below is an excerpt.

Zanshin means “the remaining mind” and also “the mind with no remainder.” This is the mind of complete action. It is the moment in kyudo (Zen archery) after releasing the arrow. This is “ Om makurasai sowaka” in oryoki practice and drinking the rinse water. In shodo, it is finishing the brush stroke and the hand and brush moving smoothly off the paper. In taking a step, it is the weight rolling smoothly and the next step arising. In breathing in completely, it is this breath. In breathing out completely, it is this breath. In life, it is this life. Zanshin means complete follow through, leaving no trace. It means each thing, completely, as it is.

When body, breath, speech and mind are broken from each other and scattered in concept and strategy, then no true action can reveal itself. There is only hesitation, or trying to push oneself past hesitation. This is the mind of hope and fear, which arises because one is trying to live in some other moment, instead of in the moment that arises now. One is comparing, planning, or trying to maintain an illusion of control in the midst of a reality which is completely beyond control.

“Beyond control” does not mean “out of control;” it means that the sense of solidity, comfort and predictability that self-image tries to maintain is completely irrelevant to one's actual experiences. You don't even know what this sentence is going to say until you have read it. Once you've read it, the black shapes and letters become words and meanings and then you have the sense that you have read it. It is only after a thought has arisen that you have the illusion that you have thought it.

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