Cady Goldfield wrote:
I'd say (from personal experience) that in combat, there are two separate - but connected - factors involved: a state of hyper-readiness and aggression (a controlled form of "fight-or-flight" instinct), and complete in-the-moment focus.
The former provides adrenaline, which causes the perception that time and movement have slowed down, and that objects in your immediate area seem larger and more looming.
The latter is the state of "flow" or "groove" we discussed, which puts you in utter focus and concentration on the task at hand. In tandem, these factors permit the coordinated actions of combat (or simulated combat).
I think Cady made some good points above.
From my experience I think the "aikido" expression of Mushin may be along the lines of your first example, except that the aggression response tends to be balanced a bit where the correct response (i.e. degree of aggression/receptivity) is used to restore balance to the situation, allowing one to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict where possible and if not possible, do what is necessary to put an end to the aggression.
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Aikido I think is much in line with this. It can be a form of physical meditation, we can enhance our ability to read people honestly and truthfully, but we must also read and understand ourselves. It also gives us skills theorectically to deal with the physical manifestation of conflict as well.
Nothing mystical or magical.
Kevin has a good point here imho. I think the Mu Shin state allows one to correctly read the situation such that any physical movement required to deal with the situation is best achieved from a state of Mu Gamae. Like Cady alluded to, it is a state of hyper-readiness in mind and body. Many get caught up in pondering about Mu Shin without realizing that it cannot be physically manifested without Mu Gamae.
I personally don't think that there is necessarily anything mystical to this in its manifest (physical) expression, though one can pretty easily extrapolate the basic physical concept towards a more macrocosmic manifestation.
The word "instinctive" comes to mind since imho the signals read or detected in the Mu Shin state do not arrive at the cerebrum to be processed and mulled over but tend to stay within instinctive, natural or conditioned nervous system respones to certain stimuli since the response required is often instantaneous, not allowing for the luxury of deep analysis by the cerebrum. I think however that the acts that are possible within the Mu Shin Mu Gamae state are set firmly within the realm of physical and mental human capacity and is not attributable in any direct way to the work of any "force" per se, except as perceived or manifested by the mind of the individual.
Now there are aspects in different methods of meditation where one surrenders oneself to the actions/promptings/signals/guidance of a different/higher cosmic "force" and tunes into the "cosmic flow" so to speak but this to me is really something entirely different and separate from the concept of Mushin as expressed in Japanese Budo. Often, especially when information is limited, we attribute to external forces that which can be explained by well coordinated internal forces imho. Honestly if one needed to believe in God to achieve Mushin then one of my own Sensei would never have been able to achive it with the regularity and quality that he does. I think it is important to define
things based on what they are
and not what they can possibly be as a result of extrapolation and interpolation.
Getting back ot the main topic question, i.e. training, I think it is even more important to be very critical as to how the concept of "nothingness/oneness" is defined for the student and for their training, else for the Instructors among us, we do our students a great disservice by creating possible confusion where we should be creating clarity having "gone before". Attainment of Mu Shin does not require one to believe in mysticism, however it may stimulate that part of ourselves which does delve deeply into mystical concepts, hence the confusion of one with the other.
Kevin's mention of the "truth" is also important since the achievement of Mu Shin is directly related to realizing the truth within our own selves and what is capable when we have mind and body working in Aiki and what can be manifested as a result. Mu Shin to me is one of those things that are possible when we get mind and body working properly together towards a particular result. It can be a "state of being" but the mind/body must first be taught how to achieve the state, sort of like flicking a switch imho.
Just some thoughts.