The unfettered mind
IntroTakuan Soho (1573-1645), Zen Master to the Sword Master, was a prelate at the Rinzai Sect of Zen, well-remembered for his strength of character and acerbic wit. He was also a gardener, poet, tea master, prolific author, and a pivotal figure in Zen painting and calligraphy. His religious training began at the age of ten. He entered the Rinzai sect at the age of fourteen and was appointed abbot of the Daitokuji, a major Zen temple in Kyoto, at the age of thirty-five.
After a disagreement on ecclesiastical appointments with the second Tokugawa shogun, he was banished in 1629 to a far northern province. Coming under a general amnesty on the death of the shogun, he returned to society three years later to be, among other things, a confidant of the third Tokugawa Shogun.
Soho’s thoughts on where one puts the mindWe say that:
If one puts his mind in the action of his opponent's body, his mind will be taken by the action of his opponent's body.
If he puts his mind in his opponent's sword, his mind will be taken by that sword.
If he puts his mind in thoughts of his opponent's intention to strike him, his mind will be taken by thoughts of his opponent's intention to strike him.
If he puts his mind in his own sword, his mind will be taken by his own sword.
If he puts his mind in his own intention of not being struck, his mind will be taken by his intention of not being struck.
If he puts his mind in the other man's stance, his mind will be taken by the other man's stance.
What this means is that there is no place to put the mind.
A certain person once said, "No matter where I put my mind, my intentions are held in check in the place where my mind goes, and I lose to my opponent. Because of that, I place my mind just below my navel and do not let it wander. Thus am I able to change according to the actions of my opponent."
This is reasonable. But viewed from the highest standpoint of Buddhism, putting the mind just below the navel and not allowing it to wander is a low level of understanding, not a high one. It is at the level of discipline and training. It is at the level of seriousness. Or of Mencius' saying, "Seek after the lost mind." This is not the highest level either. It has the sense of seriousness. As for the "lost mind," I have written about this elsewhere, and you can take a look at it there.
If you consider putting your mind below your navel and, not letting it wander, your mind will be taken by the mind that thinks of this plan. You will have no ability to move ahead and will be exceptionally unfree.
This leads to the next question, "If putting my mind below my navel leaves me unable to function and without freedom, it is of no use. In what part of my body, then, should I put my mind?"
I answered, "If you put it in your right hand, it will be taken by the right hand and your body will lack its functioning. If you put your mind in the eye, it will be taken by the eye, and your body will lack its functioning. If you put your mind in your right foot, your mind will be taken by the right foot, and your body will lack its functioning.
"No matter where you put it, if you put the mind in one place, the rest of your body will lack its functioning."
"Well, then, where does one put his mind?"
I answered, "If you don't put it anywhere, it will go to all parts of your body and extend throughout its entirety. In this way, when it enters your hand, it will realize the hand's function. When it enters your foot, it will realize the foot's function. When it enters your eye, it will realize the eye's function.
"If you should decide on one place and put the mind there, it will be taken by that place and lose its function. If one thinks, he will be taken by his thoughts.
"Because this is so, leave aside thoughts and discrimination, throw the mind away from the entire body, do not stop it here and there, and when it does visit these various places, it will realize function and action without error."
Putting the mind in one place is called falling into one-sidedness. One-sidedness is said to be biased in one place. Correctness is in moving about anywhere. The Correct Mind shows itself by extending the mind throughout the body. It is not biased in any one place.
When the mind is biased in one place and lacking in another, it is called a one-sided mind. One-sidedness is despicable. To be arrested by anything, no matter what, is falling into one-sidedness and is despised by those traveling the Way.
When a person does not think, "Where shall I put it?" the mind will extend throughout the entire body and move about to any place at all.
Not putting the mind anywhere, can't one use the mind, having it go from place to place, responding to the opponent's movements?
If the mind moves about the entire body, when the hand is called into action, one should use the mind that is in the hand. When the foot is called for, one should use the mind that is in the foot. But if you determine one place in which to put it, when you try to draw it out of that place, there it will stay. It will be without function.
Keeping the mind like a tied-up cat and not allowing it to wander, when you keep it in check within yourself, within yourself will it be detained. Forsaking it within your body, it will go nowhere.
The effort not to stop the mind in just one place--this is discipline. Not stopping the mind is object and essence. Put nowhere, it will be everywhere. Even in moving the mind outside the body, if it is sent in one direction, it will be lacking in nine others. If the mind is not restricted to just one direction, it will be in all ten.