Zen: What is No Mind? (Takuan)

This teaching is taken from “Immovable Wisdom” written by Takuan, the Japanese Zen Buddhist Master. Takuan Soho (1573-1645) was a master of calligraphy, painting, gardening, martial arts, and the teacher of the Shogun Iemitsu, Yagyu Tajima-no-Kami (founder of Japan’s greatest swordsmanship school) and Miyamoto Musashi (author of The Book of Five Rings).

Transcript:


“Where should we put our mind?

If you put your mind on the enemy movement, your mind will be taken by the enemy movement.

If you put your mind on the enemy sword, your mind will be taken by the enemy sword.

If you put your mind on trying to cut the enemy, your mind will be taken by trying to cut.

If you put your mind on your sword, your mind will be taken by your sword.

If you put your mind on trying not to be cut, your mind will be taken by trying not to be cut.

If you put your mind on the posture, your mind will be taken by the posture.

There is no place to put your mind on.”

Even in our daily life, when we meet a beautiful woman or a handsome man, our mind is taken by them. When we see delicious foods, our mind is taken by them. When we encounter chances to get a lot of money, our mind is taken by them. These things are our natural instinct.

Takuan says, “even if your mind seems to be moved, do not let your mind be taken.”

Takuan did not want to insist on stoicism. While Takuan admitted the mind is inconstant, he insisted you should keep your mind not taken by anything.

Buddha is often expressed by the appearance to sit on a lotus. A lotus puts the root in mud, and makes a beautiful flower bloom on mud. The unperturbed mind–even in case of being in mud–that is “no mind.”

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