Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:16 pm

Many things attributed to Zen seem to be Taoist in origin.

My first question is "Is the concept of mushin really part of Zen Buddhism?"

"The mind must always be in the state of 'flowing,' for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death. When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy's sword movements. He just stands there with his sword which, forgetful of all technique, is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man's subconscious that strikes."
--Takuan Soho
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushin

If this is a Zen Buddhist concept, then it seems very similar to the concept of intuitive mastery present in the "Dextrous Butcher" chapter of the Chuang Tzu:

"Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now — now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and following things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint."

http://www.bopsecrets.org/gateway/passa ... ng-tzu.htm
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:22 pm

Mushin, that is, no-mind is a Zen term for prajnaparamita, and means non-abiding in any phenomenon, what is seeing their emptiness. And yes, it is the central idea of Zen, just as Mahayana.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:37 pm

Astus wrote:Mushin, that is, no-mind is a Zen term for prajnaparamita, and means non-abiding in any phenomenon, what is seeing their emptiness. And yes, it is the central idea of Zen, just as Mahayana.

Okay, then do you think mushin is the same as the concept which is being expressed in this passage from the Chuang Tzu?
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:49 pm

Not exactly. Zhangzi talks about following the natural appearance of things without contrivance. Zen talks about not attaching to ideas, seeing things clearly and acting compassionately. In Zen there is no natural order to follow or submit to.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Luke » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:53 pm

Astus wrote:Not exactly. Zhangzi talks about following the natural appearance of things without contrivance. Zen talks about not attaching to ideas, seeing things clearly and acting compassionately. In Zen there is no natural order to follow or submit to.


But the application of Chuang Tzu's concept here to butchery sounds exactly the same as the application of mushin to sword fighting!

But then again, the idea of using religious concepts to improve one's ability at ordinary tasks probably occurs in many world religions...
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Astus » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:57 pm

It does indeed. And it shows how mushin in matial arts is not Zen.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Cloudrider » Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:43 am

Speaking of Martial Arts, the above reminds me of a quote from the movie, Ying Xiong (Hero)

King of Qin wrote: I have just come to a realization! This scroll by Broken Sword contains no secrets of his swordsmanship. What this reveals is his highest ideal. In the first state, man and sword become one and each other. Here, even a blade of grass can be used as a lethal weapon. In the next stage, the sword resides not in the hand but in the heart. Even without a weapon, the warrior can slay his enemy from a hundred paces. But the ultimate ideal is when the sword disappears altogether. The warrior embraces all around him. The desire to kill no longer exists. Only peace remains.



I'm not sure if the same thing is being spoken of in terms of the mind or perhaps the consciousness being in a constant flow but the latter description of the mind, like a constant stream of consciousness seems to be related to an awareness of the processes of nature and remaining unaffected? At least from a purely objective, analytical standpoint. Not sure what it means from a Zen Buddhist or Taoistic view. :?:
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby oushi » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:45 am

There cannot be two different "no minds" ;) , but there are many methods to realize it. Here we have equanimity approach.
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Luke » Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:06 pm

Astus wrote:It does indeed. And it shows how mushin in matial arts is not Zen.


Then do you think that the quote by Takuan Soho which I posted in my OP is also "not Zen"?

I guess the first question in my OP really should have been "Is using the state of mind of mushin to improve one's performance of a martial art or another skill a Zen Buddhist idea or not?"
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Astus » Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:29 pm

Luke wrote:
Astus wrote:It does indeed. And it shows how mushin in matial arts is not Zen.


Then do you think that the quote by Takuan Soho which I posted in my OP is also "not Zen"?

I guess the first question in my OP really should have been "Is using the state of mind of mushin to improve one's performance of a martial art or another skill a Zen Buddhist idea or not?"


When it says, "is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious", either it's a bad translation or a very non-Buddhist idea. Using Zen to be a proficient killer, that's a perversion of the teachings. Zen is about becoming a buddha, it is about the perfection of bodhisattva action. Thinking that Zen is good for learning this or that skill is lacking the correct motivation, bodhicitta. It is mistaking Zen for some technique or therapeutic method. Zen is direct insight into the nature of mind. No insight, no Zen. One can use a calm mind to be more efficient in many things, yes. But that's just a calm mind, not Zen.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Matt J » Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:22 am

I would say that if you see them the same, they are the same, and if you see them as different, they are different. Personally, I see them as the same.

If you see them as the same, it doesn't mean one comes from the other. If the truth is the truth, then it would make sense that different teachings would come to the same conclusion.
The Great Way is not difficult
If only there is no picking or choosing
--- Xin Xin Ming

http://nondualism.org/
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Meido » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:53 am

Astus wrote:When it says, "is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious", either it's a bad translation or a very non-Buddhist idea. Using Zen to be a proficient killer, that's a perversion of the teachings. Zen is about becoming a buddha, it is about the perfection of bodhisattva action. Thinking that Zen is good for learning this or that skill is lacking the correct motivation, bodhicitta. It is mistaking Zen for some technique or therapeutic method. Zen is direct insight into the nature of mind. No insight, no Zen. One can use a calm mind to be more efficient in many things, yes. But that's just a calm mind, not Zen.


The quote is a less than ideal translation of that passage.

Takuan's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku from which it comes does not present Zen as a means to become proficient at killing or any other skill. It is a collection of letters written by him to Yagyu Munenori, a highly placed feudal lord and government official who was also a famous master of swordsmanship. As such, it describes aspects of Zen practice by appealing to experiences that would be familiar to such a person.

For example: in the cited passage Takuan describes the mind's habit to "stop" or "stick" to things. After describing how a skilled swordsman of course does not let his mind "stop" on things like his opponent's sword or movement, his own intention to attack, the rhythm or distance and so on, he concludes: "This I believe is all very well known to you. I only call your attention to it from the Buddhist point of view. In Buddhism, this "stopping mind" is called mayoi [delusion], hence [the title of this chapter] "The Dwelling Place of Ignorance [Mumyo i.e. Avidya] and Its Affective Disturbance [Bonno i.e. Klesa].

The subject of the work that follows is exactly direct insight into the nature of mind. It does not discuss cultivation of a "calm" mind. It does discuss original mind [honshin] and deluded mind [moshin]. Its thrust is essentially how someone trained as a warrior - in other words, Yagyu and the entire ruling class of Japan then in the early 17th century - could use that background to approach the fundamentals of Zen practice.

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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Astus » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:39 am

Meido, thanks. I've enjoyed Takuan's work, a lucid presentation indeed, but the quote is very misleading.
"There is no such thing as the real mind. Ridding yourself of delusion: that's the real mind."
(Sheng-yen: Getting the Buddha Mind, p 73)

"Neither cultivation nor seated meditation — this is the pure Chan of Tathagata."
(Mazu Daoyi, X1321p3b23; tr. Jinhua Jia)

“Don’t rashly seek the true Buddha;
True Buddha can’t be found.
Does marvelous nature and spirit
Need tempering or refinement?
Mind is this mind carefree;
This face, the face at birth."

(Nanyue Mingzan: Enjoying the Way, tr. Jeff Shore; T2076p461b24-26)
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Meido » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:52 pm

You're welcome, sir.

There certainly is quite a bit of the nonsensical "Zen and martial arts" or "Zen and [insert activity here] stuff being peddled out there. I think your reminder is important: that Zen as therapy, as stress-relief, as a method to gain useful skills or advantage in some activity, etc. all miss the mark of Zen's essential intent.

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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Luke » Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:26 pm

Meido wrote:The quote is a less than ideal translation of that passage.

Takuan's Fudochi Shimmyo Roku from which it comes does not present Zen as a means to become proficient at killing or any other skill. It is a collection of letters written by him to Yagyu Munenori, a highly placed feudal lord and government official who was also a famous master of swordsmanship. As such, it describes aspects of Zen practice by appealing to experiences that would be familiar to such a person.

For example: in the cited passage Takuan describes the mind's habit to "stop" or "stick" to things. After describing how a skilled swordsman of course does not let his mind "stop" on things like his opponent's sword or movement, his own intention to attack, the rhythm or distance and so on, he concludes: "This I believe is all very well known to you. I only call your attention to it from the Buddhist point of view. In Buddhism, this "stopping mind" is called mayoi [delusion], hence [the title of this chapter] "The Dwelling Place of Ignorance [Mumyo i.e. Avidya] and Its Affective Disturbance [Bonno i.e. Klesa].

The subject of the work that follows is exactly direct insight into the nature of mind. It does not discuss cultivation of a "calm" mind. It does discuss original mind [honshin] and deluded mind [moshin]. Its thrust is essentially how someone trained as a warrior - in other words, Yagyu and the entire ruling class of Japan then in the early 17th century - could use that background to approach the fundamentals of Zen practice.

Thanks for explaining the real context of that quote, Meido! You sound quite knowledgeable. It's a good thing that we have you around! Perhaps one day, the Zen subforum here will become more active...

Although to be fair, I want to add that that chapter from the Chuang Tzu is not just about mastering ordinary tasks either. The last line of that chapter is "Lord Wen-hui said, 'That’s good, indeed! Ting the cook has shown me how to find the Way to nurture life.'" What this means exactly is up to interpretation, but I admit that it doesn't sound as profound as "original mind."
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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Meido » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:38 pm

Luke wrote:Thanks for explaining the real context of that quote, Meido! You sound quite knowledgeable. It's a good thing that we have you around! Perhaps one day, the Zen subforum here will become more active...

Although to be fair, I want to add that that chapter from the Chuang Tzu is not just about mastering ordinary tasks either. The last line of that chapter is "Lord Wen-hui said, 'That’s good, indeed! Ting the cook has shown me how to find the Way to nurture life.'" What this means exactly is up to interpretation, but I admit that it doesn't sound as profound as "original mind."


Thanks for the kind words, Luke. I'm just ok with some niche things. Reading posts from folks here who have great breadth and depth of knowledge has therefore been very helpful to me. I agree, would love to see the Zen subforum become more active.

RE the ox passage: from a Zen standpoint at least, this could read to me as a description of kan (intuitive perception) as the wondrous (myo) functioning of wisdom within activity. Of course if we seek such excellent functioning as a benefit in and of itself, rather than as something manifesting naturally from integrating the recognition of the true self, then it would not be Zen. Which, I think, returns to the point Astus made.

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Re: Mushin and Chuang Tzu

Postby Luke » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:44 pm

Meido wrote:RE the ox passage: from a Zen standpoint at least, this could read to me as a description of kan (intuitive perception) as the wondrous (myo) functioning of wisdom within activity. Of course if we seek such excellent functioning as a benefit in and of itself, rather than as something manifesting naturally from integrating the recognition of the true self, then it would not be Zen. Which, I think, returns to the point Astus made.

Awesome! That perfectly answers my question. Thanks again. :anjali:
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