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Old 01-05-2007, 05:14 AM   #27
L. Camejo
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Dojo: Ontario Martial Arts
Location: Mississauga, Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 1,423
Re: How do you train/achieve nothingness?

Iriawan Kamal Thalib wrote:
The process as which is true in any phases of life:
  1. Physical
  2. Mental
  3. Spiritual

Man can't just jump into the next step without facing the previous one. The existence of man is not only one but all of these, therefore all of them must be trained.
This is a little bit of a drift from the main point but may be important for an advanced level of understanding this concept. I agree on the 3-phase principle of training the self, however it appears that you see this as a linear progression, i.e. one needs to understand physical first, then mental, then spiritual. I agree that there is some benefit to this, but human beings do not exist as body, mind and spirit at different times but simultaneously, hence even though one may engage in physical practice, if done properly it will be of benefit to the other levels of being in some form. The reverse is also true. In this sense the progression can be simultaneous on all levels and not necessarily one at a time.
Iriawan Kamal Thalib wrote:
If we are talking about muscle memory, reflexes, instinct, for me this still falls into the physical part, it's a psycho-motoric function. When we touch a pot that is hot, we quickly draw backour hands because we know it's hot. The body affects the mind, as I usually call this first part.
Actually it is debatable whether in the above case body affects mind all the time. We can program ourselves out of the reaction to pull away the hand, regardless of the potential damage and pain to be experienced. We see this a lot with people who walk on hot coals etc. The reflex can be trained by the mind to manifest differently as the mind requires. In this case, mind leads body. This concept is also shared with a lot of Budo as well as Chinese training methods. Where the body meets its limitations the mind can take it further with training, so bodily reflexes can be trained and changed by a strong mind.

The act of entering off-line into the space of an attack in Aikido is counter-intuitive (intuitive is to stand there and raise ones hands to protect critical areas). As such, the application of Mu Shin in a physical Aikido context already involves a mental and physical reprogramming of reflexes, i.e. enter and blend instead of brace for the force of the attack.
Iriawan Kamal Thalib wrote:
You don't intentionally move, you accept the energy that is given to you and move proportionately to that energy, nothing less and nothing more.
I think this is important to the application of Mu Shin from an Aikido perspective.
Iriawan Kamal Thalib wrote:
The practice that I'm referring to here is not ukemi as one would perceive as break-fall or rolling or the sort, but more as a practice to receive energy/force and act accordingly.
Agreed. This applies to both Tori and Uke in both kata practice and to randori and free practice, just in different ways.
Iriawan Kamal Thalib wrote:
This is where the mental part comes in handy, if we do not think of ukemi not as how to fall, but how to feel, we will undertand the principle of acceptance easier. This paradigm, way of thinking, is not easy as I too still struggling with this.
This is another example of mind leading the body. The change in mindset directly affects the change in how one deals with the encounter physically. It means the difference in minuscule levels of resistance that the mind can create within the body's musculature as a result of how one approaches the encounter. Often if we approach something with fear of injury or pain or interpretation of this discomfort (mental) translates physically into very slight changes in muscle tension. As soon as the mind relaxes the muscles also relax. As a Shiatsu practitioner it always amazes me how much involuntary tension can be stored as a result of mindset.
Iriawan Kamal Thalib wrote:
By saying mushin is not exactly complete, the term that is better used is mushin no shin, the mind of no mind, making it a paradox.

As a closing, I would say don't think too much about mushin no shin or try too hard to understand/practice it, because by doing that, you are already straying away.
I take the word Mu Shin directly from the usage of Tomiki Shihan who had a pretty good systematic understanding of the concept in order to setup training methods to develop it. Imho the need to make the concept a paradox is in itself a way of fettering the mind, which is the antithesis of what we are discussing. Saying "mind of no mind" although a paradox of sorts is akin to saying "think of not thinking" the first word the mind encounters is the word "mind" or think" creating the subconscious thought pattern that Mu Shin is a mindset or form of thought. The problem is that Mu Shin moves beyond thought or mind when one really gets into it, so identifying it as "mind of no mind", i.e. as some sort of mindset psychologically moves you away from attaining no-mindedness from the start imho.

Just my 5 cents. I reserve the right to be wrong.

--Mushin Mugamae - No Mind No Posture. He who is possessed by nothing possesses everything.--
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