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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

That didn't take long. I...

That didn't take long. I found another reference to "mind like water" in a book I'm reading for my kung fu class. The book, "Zen in the Martial Arts" discusses Multiple Options(p.126-127):

When asked about the source of his tranquility, Oyama's answer is oblique, as are many of the answers given by Zen masters: "Karate is not a game. It is not a sport. It is not even a system of self-defense. Karate is half physical exercise and half spiritual. The karateist who has given the necessary years of exercise and meditation is a tranquil person. He is unafraid. He can be calm in a burning building. ... The American karate master, Ed Parker, likens this state of tranquility to having "a mind like still water" (miso no koro).

How does one achieve "a mind like still water?" One learns to go with the flow of life, the current of existence. When an untoward event occurs in your life, react to it without haste or or passion. Realize that in almost every instance you probably have more alternatives than you think you have. Hold still a moment before acting or reacting and consider the alternatives. Then, having decided upon a course of action, proceed calmly.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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