In Budo, we can walk on two legs. These legs are our physical and mental development. If one of these legs is missing, the distance we can proceed will be limited. Unfortunately, nowadays, I observe that mental studies are neglected and focused on practical studies (physical exercises).
Therefore, in this article, I will briefly explain the mental concepts that the warrior should possess. In the near future, I will prepare new articles that explain each concept in more detail.
The mental states mentioned in this article are not independent of each other but complement each other. These mental states can be acquired through long-term different mental and physical studies and become part of one’s character. For this reason, it is not only limited to the dojo but also takes place in every area of one’s life.
The wisdom of a person who masters in any art is reflected in his every attitude.
Shoshin (Beginners Mind)
Shoshin state models the mind structure of beginner. The mind of a beginner is immaculate and open to processing. Every new knowledge acquired is valuable because beginner has no or little prior knowledge. The mind is hungry for information and receives the information as it is (without applying any filter). In this state of mind, the learning process is most active. In short, Shoshin can be defined as a desire to learn new knowledge, regardless of one’s experience in that field.
Mushin (Empty Mind)
Mushin is a state of mind free of all emotions and thoughts. In this state, the mind is clear and ready. During the training, Mushin ensures that new information is obtained quickly and without getting stuck. On the battlefield, Mushin allows the immediate application of combat techniques without the influence of any thought. The Mushin situation is often described by the still water metaphor. Our reflection on still water is instant and error-free. However, a ripple (thought) in water will eliminate this smoothness.
Fudoshin (Immovable Mind)
Fudoshin models the mind of Fudo Myo-o, the war god in Japanese Buddhism. The Fudoshin situation represents the highest level of focus. In the case of Fudoshin, the mind is not affected by any external factors and cannot be stopped on the way to its destination. The person is completely confident and has no fear in his soul.
Zanshin (Remaining Mind)
Zanshin is the state of continuous awareness of the mind. In this state of mind, the warrior is constantly aware of everything before, during and after the war. Continuity is a vital point of Zanshin. As soon as the continuity is interrupted (an instant gap), you become vulnerable. Especially the relief coming with the post-war victory is a good example of this interruption.
The moment you feel the strongest is when you’re most vulnerable.
Murat Cihan Sorkun