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Old 08-02-2007, 09:00 PM   #15
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,616
Re: Mechanics of mushin

Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Erick, I'm not sure if I can get behind that totally. Fear is a slightly different issue. When I was a bike messenger, I was under a near constant threat of personal injury. That experience taught me a few lessons about fear.

First, simply being exposed to risk hardens one to fear. After a while, you simply stop having emotional reactions to dangerous situations. You kinda grow apathetic.

But more significantly, as one grows in skill, you also gain a greater awareness of one's limits. With this sensitivity, you can push yourself more and more. One's limits are often much greater than a beginner thinks. A beginner may see an expert, and think they're doing really risky stuff. But the expert knows it's nothing they can't handle.
Good contribution and the point about fear actually addresses part of his original question about emotion. Personally I do not think that mushin is emotionless or apathetic, as you rightly suggest one common result of habituation to increased risk may be. Mushin is not that at all. Mushin is a state so completely engaged emotionally, intellectually sensually, that there is no mind left over to pay attention to the mind as it is paying attention. There is only mirror reflecting reality -- not the optical illusion of the mirror reflecting the mirror.

But what I said was actually not fear but "threat." Fear is a common, but not universal response to threat. Sociopaths and psychpaths often do not react to threat with fear. Those two pathological types may differ in their specific emotional responses, Sociopaths often do not react emotionally at all. Psychopaths often react in anger or rage vice fear. Threat from a loved one also involves intense emotional response, but not typically fear either, which seems to me to also be part of what O Sensei was talking about when he said true budo is love.
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
Anyway, I could continue to rant, but that's not the point here. My point is that Mushin and managing fear, in and of themselves, are seperate skills. In "standard" Aikido practice, without sparring, I think it's possible to achieve Mushin without ever really learning to deal with fear, since practitioners are never really in actual danger. Likewise, I think you can learn to manage fear without ever really entering into a state of Mushin.
In this I disagree, slightly. The old saw about courage is doing things despite being afraid, is applicable, and you seem to touch on that. Mushin, to my way of thinking is an operative condition, but not conditioned on the sense of safety or lack of fear, but rather on love of the action and the object of it. Note that this has no moral gradient, psychopaths in control of their anger who genuinely enjoy hurting people are just as capable of mushin as loving warriors of O Sensei's true budo who are able to overcome their fear.

Mushin is not a product of sense of skilled invulerability nor will it create an invulnerable level of skill. It does relate to action using such skills becoming less conscious, and there fore less vulnerable to internal disturbance from emoitons that get in the way of absorption in the moment. However, there is no reason to believe that the proverbial "last stand" and a knowing death undertaken willingly meant that mushin was lost thereby.


Erick Mead
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