むしん - Mushin

by mari

Posted on 2020-02-06

otaku image by mari むしん - Mushin

I've been thinking about the centrality of the philosophical concept of "mushin" = mu + shin in relation to martial arts and specifically to judo training, which first detours into the matter of translation. Mushin is often translated as "no-mind", but "shin", the second part of mushin, is not just mind, as in the Cartesian body-mind dualist sense. According to my Japanese dictionary it encompasses heart, spirit, vitality, inner strength, genuineness, seriousness, reliance, truth. So it would be the no-mind, no-heart, no-spirit, etc. that I find myself pondering, strangely. And pondering the no-mind is most likely overthinking, a contradiction or a sort of koan ; ) Japanese-speakers out there, feel free to comment!

#Martial arts  # judo  
wotakuexchange user avatar wota image | WotakuExchange
wota 3
2020-02-08 I know some japanese so I think I am qualified to share some input. well, mushin wirtes as 無心 in japanese kanji and direct translation would be empty heart or spirit. what you want to understand as a basic, the language is NOT literal as english but more "romantic" where you understand with the sense/feeling/imagination of the word. so in this case, rather than you are a heartless person or no spirit that you are dying or anything like that (of course!), instead you stay still without any effect emotionally spiritually as well as mentally. Solid state, certain, straight, stable, balanced like a tree! It's just what I think, but hope it helps :)
wotakuexchange user avatar mari image | WotakuExchange
mari 4
2020-04-05 Thank you for your response, wota. Even though I am an outsider, I appreciate the evocative nature of the Japanese language and can see how your use of the tree is a good metaphor for the stable, solid state meaning of "mushin". I am also thinking of another sense of the concept (maybe a complementary one?) the quality of 'flow', partly through my reading of philosophy, specifically the work of comparative philosopher D.T. Suzuki. For Suzuki, "mushin" is associated with the cosmic unconscious, the pre-conscious natural state of non-attachment. A common source in aesthetics (from fine arts to martial arts performance), "mushin" in this sense has to do with a mental attitude, the non-attaching, responsive mind, a tranquil unconscious state that is both detached and aware, a pre-self-conscious state that flows spontaneously and fills the whole being and can be directed freely as needed. In the fine arts it refers to the infinite source of creative possibilities.
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