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Zanshin: The Remaining Mind

White Wind Zen Community: zanshin

Zanshin sounds a lot like the martial arts term David Allen uses in Getting Things Done: “mind like water.”

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.

[Link: Sarah George]

Jeff's picture

Zanshin is actually a different...

Zanshin is actually a different concept than the "mind like water" concept David Allen is talking about. The phrase "complete action" refers to a specific action, and not action in general. As far as I understand, it's about the completion of the action. What Allen refers to in "mind like water" is a mind that is completely undisturbed until action is necessary. Subtle, but different.




An Oblique Strategy:
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