Quotes on Mushin, Flow and Open-Focus – Part 1

  • Overview
  • Part 1
    • Takuan Soho 1
    • Takuan Soho 2
    • Dr. Les Fehmi and Others on Open Focus and Diffuse Attention
    • Open Monitoring Meditation (related to Open Focus)
    • Ayrton Senna
  • Part 2
  • Part 3 & References


Takuan Soho 1

  • The mind must always be in the state of ‘flowing,’ for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind [Takuan_Wiki].
    • In the case of the swordsman, it means death.  When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy’s sword movements.  He just stands there with his sword which, forgetful of all technique, is ready only to follow the dictates of the subconscious. The man has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in the hand of the man’s subconscious that strikes [Takuan_Wiki].
  • Make it a secret principle in either seeing or hearing not to detain the mind in one place [Takuan, p.14].
  • The Right Mind is the mind that does not remain in one place. It is the mind that stretches throughout the entire body and self.  The Confused Mind is the mind that, thinking something over, congeals in one place [Takuan, p.12].
  • When facing a single tree, if you look at a single one of its red leaves, you will not see all the others. When the eye is not set on one leaf, and you face the tree with nothing at all in mind, any number of leaves are visible to the eye without limit. But if a single leaf holds the eye, it will be as if the remaining leaves were not there [Takuan, p.6].

Takuan Soho 2

  • 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 [Takuan, p.12].
  • If the mind congeals in one place and remains with one thing, it is like frozen water and is unable to be used freely:  ice that can wash neither hands nor feet.  When the mind is melted and is used like water, extending throughout the body, it can be sent wherever one wants to send it [Takuan, p.12].
  • When this No-Mind has been well-developed, the mind does not stop with one thing nor does it lack any one thing.  It is like water overflowing and exists within itself.  It appears appropriately when facing a time of need [Takuan, p.13].
  • The mind that becomes fixed and stops in one place does not function freely.  Similarly, the wheels of a cart go around because they are not rigidly in place.  If they were to stick tight, they would not go around.  The mind is also something that does not function if it becomes attached to a single situation [Takuan, p.13].

Dr. Les Fehmi on Open Focus and Diffuse Attention

Note: A description of Open-Focus and Diffuse Attention can be found in “Open-Focus, Mushin and Kendo.”

  • Dr. Les Fehmi / Jim Robbins:
    • In Open Focus our attention is inclusive – sights, sounds, and other sensory information are all taken in along with space in a broadly interested way; no one sensory signal is focused on to the exclusion of the others [Fehmi, p. 51].
    • Open Focus is not just about taking in peripheral awareness but also involves rendering all objects and space with an equal and simultaneous awareness – a subtle but crucial and unmistakable difference [Fehmi, p. 54].
    • When we pay attention in a rigid, effortful, and thus stressed way, it is a drag on the entire mind-body system:  We are more likely to overreact in ways that are fearful, angry, effortful, rigid, and resistant.   When we pay attention in a flexible way we are more accepting, comfortable, energetic, aware, healthy, productive, and in the flow [Fehmi, p. 12].
    • Seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling, and thinking of space, basking in it – while simultaneously experiencing timelessness – is a powerful way to let go, the most powerful way that I know [Fehmi, p. 37].
    • Diffuse focus is panoramic rather than exclusive or single-pointed; in its most extreme form it is inclusive and three-dimensional, giving equal attention to all internal and external stimuli simultaneously as well as the space, silence, and timelessness in which they occur [Fehmi, p. 48].
    • Walking through the forest and being simultaneously aware of the sound of birds singing, the smell of flowers, the feel of a breeze, the view of the trees, and the space and the silence in which these sensory experiences occur is diffuse focus [Fehmi, p. 49].
  • Others
    • I’m back here open – seeing everything simultaneously without isolating anything.  That’s what we’re going for:  Open Focus.  Because from that vantage point you’re actually seeing holistically.  You can see that you’re in the context.  You’re holding the whole context to see what the parts are doing in relationship to the whole without ever losing the whole. Elizabeth Locke, Artist (at 2:37min).

Open Monitoring Meditation (related to Diffuse Attention in Open Focus)

Note:  Articles on “Open Monitoring (Meditation)” can be found with an online search and in the section “Ways to Meditate” in Resources on Meditation (黙想 mokusou).

  • “Open monitoring” is simply spreading your attention to cover the entirety of your awareness. – abhakakara on a reddit on “Open Monitoring or Focus?”
  • During OMM (Open Monitoring Meditation), the focus of the meditation becomes the monitoring of awareness itself.  In contrast to FAM (Focused Attention Meditation), there is no object or event in the internal or external environment that the meditator has to focus on.  The aim is rather to stay in the monitoring state, remaining attentive to any experience that might arise, without selecting, judging, or focusing on any particular object.  – Domonique Lippelt et al. [Lippelt]
  • Instead of focusing the attention on any one object, we keep it open, monitoring all aspects of our experience, without judgment or attachment. All perceptions, be them internal (thoughts, feelings, memory, etc.) or external (sound, smell, etc.), are recognized and seen for what they are. It is the process of non-reactive monitoring of the content of experience from moment to moment, without going into them. – Giovanni Dienstmann [Dienstmann]

Ayrton Senna *

  • And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously.  I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.  It was like I was in a tunnel.
  • Damon Hill on Senna:  He talked about a state of mind he got into whereby he was there, but not really driving the car.  [Senna_Mind]

* A fitness instructor and friend who used to work with Paul Newman’s Indy Car Racing Team pointed out to me this driver and his comments related to mushin.


Continue to Part 2



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