Mushin is achieved when a person's mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear, or ego during combat or everyday life. There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation and without disturbance from such thoughts. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is their trained natural reaction (or instinct) or what is felt intuitively. It is not a state of relaxed, near-sleepfulness, however. The mind could be said to be working at a very high speed, but with no intention, plan or direction. Some masters believe that mushin is the state where a person finally understands the uselessness of techniques and becomes truly free to move. In fact, those people will no longer even consider themselves as "fighters" but merely living beings moving through space.And a quote from Zen master, Takuan Sōhō:
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.Contrary to what many people believe, thinking clouds your judgement. Thinking turns to overthinking, which turns to paralysis. You don't act when you overthink. You relive scenarios which never materialize over and over again until the opportunity to act has passed. You create only anxiety and inner turmoil.
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.
Realizing the limitations of the thinking mind is not the same as ignorance. Ignorance is when you believe the current content of your conscious mind is all you ever need. Ignorance is when you believe your understanding of life and yourself constitutes absolute reality. Ignorance is the act of "ignoring." You ignore the other planes of consciousness available to you at every moment of your life.
Do you know what the difference is between humans and all other animals? We're aware of our vulnerability. We're aware of our mortality. And we do everything in our power to stave off the inevitable death we all face. We use our limited intellect to assess the various ways to navigate any situation to cause us the least amount of harm. Most of the time, it's our own minds which hurt us the most. Overthinking makes us stressed and anxious, making every possible decision look as hellish as the next.
Mushin can be thought of when people say, "in the zone." Mushin is a state of hyper-awareness. Mushin is when you are fully aware yet detached from the thinking process which hinders you. You are fully present, fully capable of destroying obstacles and opponents, and your mind is free from fear of death.
Accepting death is freedom. You're truly alive when you live as though you are already dead. Inability to accept death is where fear takes over, and robs you of life.
You achieve mushin through awareness. You become aware that you are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, you are not your personality, and you're not your vices. You become aware that you are pure consciousness, unattached to earthly trappings. You are aware that you will one day die, but you don't fear it, because when it is your time, you will know. Mushin is when your entire focus is on the action you need to take.
When Miyamoto Musashi was asked how he defeated 60 samurai in 60 duels, and many more in battles he fought, he replied:
Think only of cutting.Martial artists meditate and practice their movements with full attention to attain Mushin. Through practice, they are able to flawlessly perform movements both in practice and in combat.
The stress of combat and everyday life hinders people from preparing themselves and using their greatest gifts to their advantage. Rather than being aware, they're see through a haze of anxiety and endless thinking.
Mushin is the way to free yourself. It requires practice and discipline, but it leads to you becoming victorious over life's obstacles.
Cultivate Mushin and get everything you've ever wanted.