January 08, 2012

the normal mind

"if you just duel and shoot with the a normal mind, you should not have no trouble with the bow and you should be able to wield the sword freely. the normal mind, not upset by anything, is good for everything, if you lose the normal mind, your voice will quiver whatever you try to say, if you lose the normal mind, your hand will quiver if you try to write something in front of others.

the normal mind keeps nothing in the heart, but lightly relinquishes the past , so that the heart is empty and therefore is the normal mind..." - miyamoto musashi

so yeah... last christmas, i whined for "the book of five rings" as a christmas gift at the office wishlist and i'm happy that the person who got me bought it together with another book i requested, "the kite runner". thanks, mate. 

according to most translators of miyamoto musashi's "the book of five rings" (sorry guys.. he is not a ninja), the book was exclusively written for martialists and martial artists due to its focus on tactics unlike sun tzu's"the art of war" which focuses on strategy and is more broad and can easily be applied in other disciplines such as business. however after reading the book, i reckon that musashi's teachings, in spite of some translators' claims, can also be applied to one's personal life and how he/she deals with. thus, let me bastardise his work and forcibly apply it in the discipline of mountaineering.

like some very few bookworms i know who have the most obscure ways in reading books, my preference would be reading the table of contents and leafing through the book until i get to the chapter with the most interesting title. as for my case, "the mind is like the moon in water, the body is like an image in the mirror" caught my attention. in this chapter, he said that in the Buddhist thought, the mind, being an instantaneous formless thing reflects in all things. this is similar to us day dreaming we're in japan or thinking that a certain task is easy; while the body as the static form reflects whatever is in the mind. to wit, whatever we are "minding" or "thinking" or "feeling" reflects what our body does - mind and body coordination. in physical activities, we can see this in doing conditioning exercises in such a way that we teach our bodies techniques for countless times and countless hours until such time that the mind and body becomes one. 

of course, aside from teaching the body what to do, the mind should know where to focus. it was also stated in the book that the mind should be a "free mind" or a "normal mind" therefore it should not be attached to a belief or a phenomenon but instead just become aware like "a dead wood watching the birds and the flowers". the wood is there perceiving its surroundings but is not delving neither on the flowers nor the birds. in most cases, we tend to have preconceived notions about a certain thing that we miss out the big picture. in fighting, the tendency would be to just focus on the opponent's hands and have almost forgotten about his/her legs which have the longest reach or, in climbing, thinking too much about the heat and the comforts of home in spite of the beautiful view that awaits the climber. this is what musashi calls "sickness", which are distractions of the mind which hinders the body to move efficiently.

ergo, in physical endeavors, one should have a disciplined mind to teach the body what to do. without a sound and empty mind the body falters and succumbs to weakness. moreover, one should be aware of his/her surroundings for him/her to know the next move but should not be stuck by his/her environment. thus, for a mountaineer with a normal mind reflects climbing.

so what's in your "normal mind"?

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