The Concept of No-Mind

Mushin No Shin is a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of "no-mindness".

The Concept of No-Mind


Application of The Concept Of No-Mind in our daily life

In our daily life, we work for our survival, for entertainment, for fulfilling our dream, for achieving our goal. Nonetheless, we want to feel full. But it is really surprising when someone tells you that to be full, you should be empty. That is in order to realise fullness, our mind should be empty. Now, what is this emptiness, this No-mind? How it can make us full? Is it a practical life philosophy? Let us delve into the concept.

Ignorance of the truth, of our self, is compounded by our imagination & how we project ourselves. Not knowing something is a simple problem, but knowing it wrongly & differently complicates the whole issue, it strengthens the veil. Both this non-apprehension & miss-apprehension is in our mind. In order to eliminate the ignorance about our Self, we have to first learn to stop all baseless imaginations about our self. In order to directly see that which we intellectually believe, the mind has to learn to be quiet. Thereafter that which is not a product of our imagination & mind stands revealed.

The term No-Mind is shortened from Mushin no shin, a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of "no-mindness". That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. It is also called 'Amani-Bhava' in Sanskrit and used in Vedanta.

The ideal state of quiet mind has been called as a state of ''Amani-Bhava' by Sri Gaudapadacharya, the great author of the famed Mandukya Upanishad Karikas. Roughly translated this 'Amani-Bhava' means a thoughtless mind, but it has also to be understood that mere quietening the mind does not bring about this Amanibhava. In his Mandukya Upanishad, Karika Sri Gaudapada says that only when the quietude of mind is brought about by the conviction & wisdom that 'I am Brahman' and 'All that is objectifiable is Mithya' that we attain a state of quietude which is accompanied by thoughtfulness. In such a mind there is no thought about the world, neither is there any possibility of thoughts about our Self. Deep in our unconscious mind too there is quietude. Such a mind is called as a mind in 'Amani-Bhava'. Whoever attains this dynamic, enlightened, & deep state of quietude awakes to his Self, this alone is the door to direct realisation or Aparokshanubhuti.

Mushin is achieved when a person's mind is free from thoughts of anger, fear, or ego during combat or everyday life. There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation and without disturbance from such thoughts. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively. It is not a state of relaxed, near-sleepfulness, however. The mind could be said to be working at a very high speed, but with no intention, plan or direction. It is very similar to Wu-Wei in Tao ie action within inaction. There are two Chinese words – Wu and Kung – which are commonly translated into English as “emptiness.” The former – Wu – holds meaning in alignment with what is most commonly understood to be emptiness, in the context of Taoist practice. The latter – Kung – is more an equivalent to the Sanskrit Shunyata or Tibetan Stong-pa-nyid. When these are translated into English as “emptiness,” it is the emptiness as articulated within Buddhist philosophy and practice.

In Tao also we perceive this emptiness. The return to Tao, the return to the interconnected whole and unity, can only be accomplished if dualistic thoughts are abolished and acts are conducted naturally and spontaneously. Completeness in Taoism is thought of as empty, soft and spontaneous, and likewise should be the action: without the interference or intervention of a dualistic intellect, intuitive and adapting to a situation. The completeness or perfection of any act is detected by intuition as the best way to proceed, and it is considered absurd to put one’s energy into an unfruitful, unsuccessful act just in order to act at all and hence exhaust and diminish one’s energy. Any act should be in accordance with the surroundings, circumstances and means. In this manner, Wu Wei is ‘not interfering’ or ‘action through non-acting’ and can be considered as creative passivity.


Resulting from this attitude of ‘letting it happen’ results consequently as well the approach of non-violence and lack of resistance. The Wu Wei is characterised by an activity undertaken to perceive the Tao within all things and to conform oneself to its "way”.

Mastering the Self leads to freedom from all concepts, and freedom leads to power. The Neomallian logical thinking brain is limited by what it thinks it can do, but in a state of No-Mind, the subconscious has absolutely no limits. In the transcendent dimension, we become less dense and therefore vibrate at higher frequencies. In this state, we cannot be affected by people with a higher density who have not risen above dense manifestations such as jealousy, meanness and other egotistical traits. They have as much chance of affecting us as anyone would have to affect beings in the spiritual realm. In this state, we do not have problems we have situations which we deal with! We must therefore always adhere to the Zen concept of No-Mind where the subconscious controls the logical brain and physical movement and we master the Self. Our intention is to the subconscious what thoughts are to the logical mind(ego). Therefore if our intention is to defeat any attack, the subconscious will instinctively react and direct energy(Chi), which will, in turn, direct the physical to always do the right thing as we become masters of adaptability. Mind, Body and Spirit will work together in unison to deal with any attack with maximum aggression, power, speed, and perfect timing, doing whatever it takes to survive at a No-Mind level.

Portals into No-Mind

We will now take a look at some of the gateways (portals) into consciousness advocated by spiritual teachers not involved in the martial arts:

1. Meditation using the breath

This was a method advocated by Buddha as a portal into a state of No-Mind, which is used by people around the world seeking a Spiritual Awakening. The method takes advantage of the fact that the conscious thinking brain can only think of 'one’ thought at a time, therefore by placing the attention on the breath which happens naturally and does not have to be thought about, we are able to free consciousness trapped by the ego in useless thought, worry and anxiety. As we subdue the ego and attain a state of No-Mind, our consciousness becomes the space for whatever is happening in the present moment where Time and Space are one and whereby all our words and actions are powered from the unlimited potential which underlies and is the source of all things. This is the place where true genius, ultimate fighting ability and even an advanced sense of humour emanates from.

We have to become enlightened so as not to think at all, it is that difficult, but the trick is to allow the thoughts to come and go without attaching ourselves in them, getting lost in them, and allowing them to take us over. We must maintain our focus on the breath as thoughts and feelings come and go, notice them but always bring awareness back to your breath - it is the focal point. Breath is also the doorway between the form and formless, between the in-breath and the out-breath and out and in is the space which is the unmanifested consciousness.

2. Become the witness or watcher


Another method taught by spiritual teachers such as Osho, Eckhart Tolle, Krishnamurti, Ram Krishna Param Hans and many others, to attain a state of No-Mind, is to detach ourselves by becoming the 'WATCHER' of the ego-based thoughts. Only then will all our actions, words, achievements etc arise from a place far deeper than the ego which is limited by what it thinks it can achieve, our potential will be unlimited as we are guided from a place of Conscious Presence, our Soul, which will never steer you wrong.

Becoming the 'Witness' means allowing our true, deeper (higher) self to detach itself from the ego by watching its thoughts as if from a distance. Thoughts are parasites, they do not have their own energy but they steal ours leaving us feeling drained, fearful and insecure, as this is how the ego maintains its control! By realising this and becoming the watcher, we cut off the ego's energy supply, it is as if those thoughts could be someone else's as we distance ourselves from them. Only then will our power be truly unlimited and nothing in life will upset us as we deal with it there and then. We will be in this world but not of this world.

3. Focussing on the Inner Self


God is within and not up there in the heavens somewhere. What can possibly be closer to us than our hands and feet but the life force within us, circulating around our body, much like an electric current, holding our cells together and keeping us alive? This Life Force which we call energy is called Chi by the Chinese, Ki by the Japanese, Prana by the Indians and Pneuma by the Greeks. When we die this 'energy' leaves our body our cells break apart as life leaves our body.

Chi is, in fact, the mediator between the physical and spiritual realms initially situated in the lower Dan Tien, below the naval converted to its refined form of Jing in order to do work, healing and fighting. Jing is stored in the Middle Dan Tien, which is situated near the solar plexus. The process of refinement is greatly facilitated and enhanced through the practice of such internal disciplines as Tai Chi, Wuji, Chi Kung and so on. If practiced correctly, training in these methods will eventually further refine the Chi to Shen (Spirit) as it rises up to the Upper Dan Tien situated between the eyes often referred to as the 3rd eye. When this happens, we have truly reached a stage of No-Mind and are said to have Awakened or become Enlightened.

We can subdue the ego and enter a state of No-Mind in our daily lives and when meditating by placing our attention on this Inner Self. It loves our attention and like a dimmer switch, the light of consciousness expands and transcends the person as we become aware of our awareness. In fact, what we are really saying is that we become the awareness of the present moment and are not lost in psychological thinking, and will have truly gone into No-Mind.

4. No-Mind Meditation           

In meditation, try letting go of every thought that arises. Do not try and push the thoughts away. Rather, stop grabbing hold of them. Stop getting involved with them, identifying with them or even perceiving the content of the thought. Just be aware that a thought is arising and let it go. Or if you already have grabbed hold of the thought, stop holding on to it. Let it go on its own and in this way you can learn to stop grabbing hold of the thoughts in the first place.

By doing this, thoughts will run their course like a spinning wheel that loses its momentum and may even come to a halt. Do not make it a goal for thoughts to come to a halt, rather, keep your attention on allowing the thoughts to come and go without ever grabbing hold of them. This will take you to No-Mind. When you grab hold of thoughts you have a position, you have a fixed point of reference.

These are just a few of the many methods used by spiritual teachers around the world as a means of subduing the ego and allowing the light of Consciousness to transcend the person leading to a state of No-Mind.

For Hui-Neng, the essence of the original mind is not just shown in letting the reality of the world be seen, but primarily in letting it be. “Subjectivity” in Hui-Neng's sense, however, must be understood in a special way, for it is an “emptied subjectivity.” In other words, it is only as an emptied subjectivity that our mind is able to let the world be as it is. Therefore, as an “emptied subjectivity,” the original mind should not be understood as any “subjectivity” in the usual sense. If one sticks to the normal conception of subjectivity, then it should be rather characterised as an “a-subjectivity.” It is precisely for the sake of depicting such a strange status of this “subjectivity” that Hui-Neng introduced the concept of No-Mind. No-Mind refers to an “a-subjectivity.” As a result, in order to witness śūnyatā, he urges us to empty our mind. It is only when our mind is able to witness its own śūnyatā that it can witness śūnyatā of the world.

In No-Mind, when you do not hold on to thoughts at all, when they can arise without you ever touching them, or when they stop on their own, then you have no position. You have no fixed point of reference. In No-Mind, you do not experience yourself as anything. There can be no definition, no perspective. You cannot say you are here you cannot say you are not here. It is freedom beyond all understanding. There is consciousness but there is no one there that can claim to be consciousness or to call it consciousness. It is pure and silent.

And when you enter back into the mind, some of this purity and silence comes back with it and washes through your body and mind. When surrendered into a No-Mind state, you realise that freedom when you come back into a thinking state, and feel that some of that freedom comes back with it. The energy vibration of No-Mind gets carried over. It is full of creativity and open to knowing. It is free of our own perception, any prejudice, any judgement. It becomes a perfect receptacle. And once you get used to remaining in this void of no-mind meditation, you will want to keep coming back to it. You will begin to experience this energy of No-Mind in day to day living.

The most important thing people can do in life, Laozi asserts in the Tao Te Ching and other works attributed to him, is to gain a state of silent awareness — to open the mind to its source:

Become totally empty
Quiet the restlessness of the mind
Only then will you witness everything
unfolding from emptiness
See all things flourish and dance
in endless variation
And once again merge back into perfect emptiness—
Their true repose
Their true nature
Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again
This is the eternal process of return

To know this process brings enlightenment
To miss this process brings disaster



About Author: Arundhati Mukherjee

Arundhati Mukherjee is an engineer by profession but has passion for writing on science & spirituality , mythology and science of story telling. She is an author in Pragyata.She is from Durgapur,West bengal,India.

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