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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]

Steve's picture

Similar to Zanshin is Mushin...

Similar to Zanshin is Mushin (though still not quite what DA meant by "mind like water"). The word mushin is made from the characters "negation" and "heart", usually translated as "no mind". It is another concept that is central to martial arts, an egoless state similar in function as described in Flow (Csikszentmihalyi). Action spontaeously occurs, without waiting for the mind to direct it.

Concept and History of Mushin Mushin in Aikido Philosophy




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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