(Book) The Unfettered Mind

This book is resonating with me, this time around that I picked it up.

  • Ignorance = absence of enlightenment = delusion. Abiding place = place where the mind stops. The mind is detained by some matter. [Action without thinking, planning, noticing, etc. ahead of time.] Don’t place your mind here or there. Don’t brace – only a beginner does this. Your mind stopping anywhere, you become an empty shell.
  • Unmoving mind and unvacillating (not detained by anything) body. Unmoving: when the mind stops at something, it is filled with various judgments, thinking, movements; therefore, when those movements cease, the stopping mind moves, and is then unmoving mind.
  • There is such a thing as training in principle, and such a thing as training in technique. … If you do not train in technique, but only fill your breast with principle, your body and your hands will not function. … Even though you know principle, you must make yourself perfectly free in the use of technique.
  • The absence of interval. I.e. the gap. E.g. clapping, thinking about yelling, then yelling. A mistake to understand this as celerity.
  • Example: ‘I place my mind just below my navel and do not let it wander.’ But this is a low level of understanding. It is at the level of discipline and training. It is at the level of seriousness. If you consider putting your mind below your navel, your mind will be taken by the mind that thinks of this plan; you will be unfree. ‘So, where, then, does one put his mind?’ If you don’t put is anywhere, it will go to all parts of your body and extend throughout its entirety.
    Putting the mind in one place is called falling into one-sidedness, a bias. Correct mind shows itself by extending the mind throughout the body.
  • The effort not to stop the mind in just one place – this is discipline. Not stopping the mind is object and essence.
  • When the Right Mind congeals and settles in one place, it becomes Confused Mind. Existent Mind is the same as Confused Mind – it is the mind that thinks in one direction, regardless of subject; when there is an object of thought in the mind, discrimination and thoughts arise. No-Mind is the same as Right Mind – it wanders throughout the body and extends throughout the entire self. When this No-Mind has been well-developed, the mind does not stop with one thing nor does it lack any one thing; it is like water overflowing.
  • Engender the mind with no place to abide.
  • The word seriousness is elaborated: ‘One aim with no distractions.’ The  mind is settled in one place and is not allowed anywhere. Pay attention to seriousness, especially in such matters as receiving commands from your lord. The mentality of seriousness is not the deepest level; grasping one’s mind and not letting it become confused is the discipline of the novice just beginning to learn. Seriousness = holding the mind in check and not sending it off somewhere, thinking that if one did let it go, it would become confused. At this level, there is a tightening up of the mind and no negligence is allowed.
  • Mencius said, ‘Seek the lost mind.’ If a cat has escaped and run off, one will go look for it and bring it back – this is reasonable. Shao K’ang-chieh said, ‘It is essential to lose the mind.’ When the mind is tied down, it tires and cannot function as it should. The effect of tightening up on the mind is to make it unfree. Bringing the mind under control is a thing done only in the beginning.
  • Leadership. Employ men who are good and bind them to you, … and put men who are not good at a distance. In this way, good men will advance daily, and those who are not will naturally be influenced when they see their lord loving the good. … Knowing what is evail but not refraining from it is a sickness of one’s desires. … Then, even if a good man were present, his good wouldn’t be put to use if it didn’t strike one’s fancy. To be pleased with an ignorant man, to take a liking to him, and to give him an appointment while not using the good man that is there, is the same as having no good men at all.
  • Right-mindedness (gi). “There are many people who cannot abide being insulted and will quickly throw their lives away in a fight. this is dying for right-mindedness.” “Dying because one is vexed at being insulted resembles right-mindedness, but it is not that at all. This is forgetting oneself in the anger of the moment. Before that person has ever been insulted, he has already departed from right-mindedness. And for this reason, he suffers insult. … Right-mindedness is considered to be the substance devoid of perversity that is at the core of the human mind. Disregarding this core and dying because of desire is not a right-minded death. … To think that I can perpetrate some unpleasantness on a mand and avoid his verbal abuse – this is nothing but a manifestation of desire.
  • This body is composed of the Five Skandhas:
    Form is the carnal body.
    Feeling is the carnal body’s sensing of good and evil, right and wrong, pain and pleasure.
    Conception means predilections; it is hating evil, desireing good, fleeing from sorrow, avoiding pain.
    Volition means operating the body on the basis of feeling and perception; this means hating pain and so obtaining pleasure, or hating evil and so doing things that are good for oneself.
    Consciousness is discriminating between good and evil,right and wrong, pain and pleasure. Through consciousness, good is known to be good, pain to be pain.
    Because consciousness discriminates and forms prejudices, it adheres to the beautiful, and the carnal body moves.
    Consciousness is desire. The entire body is solidified by desire.

Reading the Japanese version…

  • There are some things that unavoidably must be processed by the individual. That is, they cannot be processed and given to the individual by those who came before, such as teachers or the “ancestors” in one’s lineage. For example, learning through forms and where to “put” one’s mind or consciousness; also, what it means to be mobile and free, while being “immovable” or unshakable. Another idea is “fullness” and “emptiness”. I’ve recently (and serendipitously) come across some more specific terms on different occasions and context: full = ‘michiru’ and empty = ‘nukeru’. In Ellis Amdur’s book, he writes on the association between aiki skill and cultivating the ability to ‘be full’. For the longest time I’ve heard Endo sensei talk about relaxing, or in a more direct translation of Japanese, “to empty oneself, one’s shoulders, etc. of strength”. Endo sensei also uses the word “nuku” in the context of using “atari”, e.g., disengaging or lessening the engagement by “emptying” one’s hand, arm, etc. of activity. I saw that Inoue sensei, former head of the Yoshinkan, has made a video and presumably a study of “emptying”. From the previews I’ve seen of the video, he seems to be using it similarly to Endo sensei in the context of “atari”.
    Now, as I read the Japanese version of ‘Unfettered Mind’, I’ve come across some use of the word “nukeru”. The uses are nuanced, but informative.

    • (Rough translation – p28) Regardless of your sword, your opponent’s sword, your striking first, your opponent striking first, the intensity, the rhythm – if your mind stops anywhere, the immediate use (of yourself) becomes empty and you will be cut. “Empty” here means to space out, “no one’s home”, etc.
      If you put your mind on adjusting to rhythm, your mind is captured by the adjusting to rhythm. If you put your mind on your sword, your mind is captured by your sword. These are all cases of stopping, and consequently becoming an empty husk. “Nukegara” has the connotation of being lifeless, like that of a dead insect.
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