The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a


The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman [PDF / Epub] ★ The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman By Takuan Soho – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk This classic samurai era text fused Japanese swordsmanship with Zen and influenced the direction that the art has taken ever since Written by the seventeenth century Zen master Takuan Soho , The Unf This classic samurai era text fused Mind: Writings eBook ☆ Japanese swordsmanship with Zen and influenced the direction that the art has taken ever since Written The Unfettered MOBI :Ê by the seventeenth century Zen master Takuan Soho , The Unfettered Mind is a book of advice on swordsmanship and the cultivation of Unfettered Mind: Writings Kindle Ó right mind and intention It was written as a guide for the samurai Yagyu Munenori, who was a great swordsman and rival to the legendary Miyamoto MusashiTakuan was a giant in the history of Zen he was also a gardener, calligrapher, poet, author, adviser to samurai and shoguns, and a pivotal figure in Zen painting He was known for his brilliance and acerbic wit In these succinct and pointed essays, Takuan is concerned primarily with understanding and refining the mind both generally and when faced with conflict The Unfettered Mind was a major influence on the classic manifestos on swordsmanship that came after it, including Miyamoto Musashi s Book of Five Rings and Yagyu Munenori s Life Giving Sword.


10 thoughts on “The Unfettered Mind: Writings from a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman

  1. J.G. Keely J.G. Keely says:

    Universally applicable statements are not instructive They do not inspire thought or care, but enable the continuation of ignorance A man may comment this is the worst review ever and in my experience, probably will , and achieve nothingwith by it than biting his own tongue It is not applicable to any statement or idea, it does not continue any discussion, it is devoid of thought It could be cut and pasted onto any review without gaining any meaning, and without shedding a single st Universally applicable statements are not instructive They do not inspire thought or care, but enable the continuation of ignorance A man may comment this is the worst review ever and in my experience, probably will , and achieve nothingwith by it than biting his own tongue It is not applicable to any statement or idea, it does not continue any discussion, it is devoid of thought It could be cut and pasted onto any review without gaining any meaning, and without shedding a single strand of its foolishness.Statements like this may be fundamentally self serving, but they are bad servants They are sycophantic, fawning on their master, comforting him through his doubts, telling him that all he does is right and good If they speak, it is only to drown out the sound of his uncertainties, and shut the gate to all guests, that he may hear no dissenting voice.So it is troubling that there is a central tenet to many philosophies, both Eastern and Western, which can easily become a lazy servant, which would make its master deaf and blind, subservient to his weaknesses Takuan often intones that a man must act without thought, that he must never doubt, but rely on his sense of rightness without pause.There is danger here It is always tempting for a man to trust in his ignorance, to live not by action, but reaction only, moving from moment to moment without a second thought One can read into this philosophy an invitation to give in to fear and weakness, and to let them rule, banishing all questions We have all seen how desperately the inept will cling to their intuition, no matter how meager it may be, or how often it has failed them.I do not think this is what Takuan intends, for he often avails himself of careful thought and analysis throughout the text He often skewers those who seem to act with honor, and without hesitation, but who act quickly not because they are decisive, but because they lack the self control ever to be still He speaks of those who would die at a moment s notice because it is their proper duty, contrasting them with men who throw their lives away in a quarrel, invoking the name of honor to hide the shame that drives them.It is clear that for Takuan, proper, decisive action and intuition are not things which a man can take for granted, but things which must be treasured, cultivated, and patiently questioned As Socrates said The unexamined life is not worth living.Yet there is a further thing which troubles me despite all the talk about things being proper, about honor and rightness of action, I did not get a sense of just what the basis of this philosophy was There were odd contrasts and contradictions, seeming conflicts which pointed at what may have been a central coherence, but I was unable to define it.Likely Takuan was drawing from his own culture s concepts for these notions, the great tradition of budo, but I would have gottenfrom the work if he had first defined his own view of budo before expanding upon the particulars.If a man is to develop his sense of correctness and then act without doubt or thought, we must agree upon some conceptual basis of what is correct, and why it is correct otherwise we will have a world of men who are all certain of their own correct Way, the Way that they have built up since childhood, but who are in fundamental, incompatible conflict with every other man and his correct Way Of course, some might say that is the very world which we have been gifted.Yet there are those who would try to bridge the gap, to create some coherent baseline of what is fundamental to the life of the individual, and of the society So we sit, and we talk about what is good, and what is better, and what we share Cultivate your awareness so that when a thinker speaks at great length about acting without thought, you know he must be a Zen master, and that you must payattention to what does than what he says


  2. Eric Eric says:

    Great book, but difficult reading from a Westerner s perspective Have to read parts of it several times before I understand what was being said at surface level This is a book to come back to at a later date when I haveexperience.One has to take into consideration that it was written by a Zen master to a sword master, two learned individuals I am way below the experience level of the target audience.The book is nothing about sword fighting It is about clearing your mind, and returnin Great book, but difficult reading from a Westerner s perspective Have to read parts of it several times before I understand what was being said at surface level This is a book to come back to at a later date when I haveexperience.One has to take into consideration that it was written by a Zen master to a sword master, two learned individuals I am way below the experience level of the target audience.The book is nothing about sword fighting It is about clearing your mind, and returning to as you were at the beginning This can only be done successfully with diligent work until you can do an action without any thought If you concentrate on anything during a fight you will become entangled in that aspect, you must concentrate on nothing, and that includes not thinking about doing nothing The only way to do this is to become a master of your actions through hard work and through meditation and other Zen practices This leads to enlightenment, when you reach the point that you are not driven by desires like the desire to strike your opponent , no fear, no nothing The sword master that has been enlightened can strike as lighting from the clouds A defender would have not a hairs breadth to counter a strike The sword master would not strike if it weren t absolutely necessary No desire to strike He She is a master of life and death


  3. Haru Kiyoka Haru Kiyoka says:

    The Unfettered Mind is deceptively simple It takes years of study to unravel it s true depth This is because it s a collection of personal communications from one master to another, at the peak of their given practices There is a lot the book doesn t explain because it didn t need to be explained in a dialog between these two men So it wasn t written as an introduction to Bushido or Zazen or as instruction for the layperson This book isuseful as practical mental instruction for someon The Unfettered Mind is deceptively simple It takes years of study to unravel it s true depth This is because it s a collection of personal communications from one master to another, at the peak of their given practices There is a lot the book doesn t explain because it didn t need to be explained in a dialog between these two men So it wasn t written as an introduction to Bushido or Zazen or as instruction for the layperson This book isuseful as practical mental instruction for someone engaged at a higher level of a challenging or competitive pursuit than as an intellectual or philosophical exercise because this is precisely what Takuan intended in his writing.The section, Water Scorches Heaven, Fire Cleanses Clouds, is different than the others It sa personal letter to Yagyu Munenori, and ends with a Confucian admonishment to him Yagyu was the head of the Yagyu Shinkage school of swordsmanship, who were teachers to two generations of Shoguns.Because Takuan was close with the Emperor, the Shogun, and a very powerful Daimo, this could have been a warning given to Yagyu regarding his and his son s behavior from one of them using Takuan as an intermediary So it shouldn t be viewed in the same context as the other sections of the book I bring this up because while it may be a historically interesting communication between Takuan and Yagyu, it can be confusing to the reader because it s not part of the core instruction he was conveying


  4. David David says:

    This book is a collection of three short works by a 17th century Abbot from northern Japan Each of these works is different the first is a discussion of the right mind required for both enlightenment and perfection of the craft of sword combat, the second is a discussion on the proper mindset for both political ruler and citizen perhaps you could call it a Machiavellian essay for Easterners , and the final portion of the book is a discussion on some old poetry The first part I found incredib This book is a collection of three short works by a 17th century Abbot from northern Japan Each of these works is different the first is a discussion of the right mind required for both enlightenment and perfection of the craft of sword combat, the second is a discussion on the proper mindset for both political ruler and citizen perhaps you could call it a Machiavellian essay for Easterners , and the final portion of the book is a discussion on some old poetry The first part I found incredibly interesting while the latter two I thought were boring This book is my introduction to Zen philosophy so I ll admit I might not have the proper mindset or appreciation of context to successfully approach this genre, but it s just as possible this is either a mediocre English translation or the abbot himself didn t have much interesting to say on politics or much to contribute to poetry with his analyses The poetry the author analyzes in the third work was quite beautiful on its own It s absent of the labyrinths of intellectual cleverness or subtle egotistical arrogance you sometimes find among modern poets of the post Renaissance era This poetry was introspective, yet only lightly subtle, but certainly not needing much analysis or picking apart each line into a this line means thisparagraph There were several of these definitions which weren t remotely related to the stanza and the author doesn t make a convincing argument for some of his proposed definitions Some bits of his commentary were insightful though.The middle work again was of a political nature and perhaps suffered the most from being poorly translated or needingcontext than was provided In fact, the political concepts were thereadable parts of this section of the book This part was written with a strange see saw style that bounced between civic duty and random metaphors It s an exhausting assemblage of metaphor after metaphor, simile after simile, and analogy after analogy, most of which seem randomly inserted between discussions of political concepts I thought they seemed to show up when the political idea was unable to stand convincingly on its own two feet You see this pattern used nowadays from the podium or pulpit whose speaker lacks the strong intellect or sharp rhetoric to convince the listener and must resort instead to juvenile antimetaboles or to analogies that prove themselves and by implication the speaker s idea as well Again, there may be context here I m missing and would have benefited from understanding, however this portion of the book just isn t interesting enough to go seek it out now.The crowning jewel of this book though was the first portion, discussing the nature of an unstopping mind The author does an excellent job of explaining his ideas, anticipating and clearing away potential confusion his readers listeners may fall under When discussing the meditative mind we are used to hearing teachers and authors discuss the obstacle of the racing thoughts and flood of emotion our minds are constantly engaged in, so it might sound odd to hear a Zen Buddhist speak of an unstopping mind However, the type of mind he s discussing is not to be equated with the bewildered mind the Buddhists generally speak of as being an obstacle A mind is able to force its attention onto a resting concept, idea, feeling, thought, etc., and when it does, the author says then the mind has stopped on that thing So the idea then whether in meditation, playing an instrument, participating in athletics or combat is to never let the mind direct itself completely onto and stop on one thing No forced mustering of concentrating effort onto any one idea, concept or event upcoming or current This type of mind is free to be anywhere and nowhere at the same time, embodying a softness yet is at the same time profoundly alert and possessing an almost primal awareness The abbot doesn t let the reader down either by speaking briefly on an esoteric idea and then speeding past it, leaving the gap between master and student evernoticeable Instead his rhetoric is direct and detailed, yet gracefully proves its point I believe this portion of the book is a wonderful contribution to the subject of martial arts


  5. Abhi Abhi says:

    I gained a better understanding of the concepts of Zen as espoused by Monk Takuan because I recently read Old Path White Clouds, a biography of the Buddha While Zen in itself can seem a little daunting to comprehend upfront, having some perspective on its background is really helpful Overall, this is a wonderful book full of short essays in the form of letters which present Buddhist values as perceived in the Zen tradition Despite the added flourish of Mahayana Buddhism of which Zen is a par I gained a better understanding of the concepts of Zen as espoused by Monk Takuan because I recently read Old Path White Clouds, a biography of the Buddha While Zen in itself can seem a little daunting to comprehend upfront, having some perspective on its background is really helpful Overall, this is a wonderful book full of short essays in the form of letters which present Buddhist values as perceived in the Zen tradition Despite the added flourish of Mahayana Buddhism of which Zen is a part , the basic message remains the same be present, be aware.I was introduced to Monk Takuan in an altogether different format through the wonderful manga series called Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue I m glad I landed here


  6. Doc Doc says:

    I consider this to be essential reading For everyone The concepts can be a bit dense, but it s well worth the effort Combined with A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi and The Art of War by Sun Tzu, this is part of a set that I frequently give to people.


  7. Arno Mosikyan Arno Mosikyan says:

    some highlightsSoho illuminates the difference between the right mind and the confused mind, the nature of right mindedness, and what makes life precious.The sword and the spirit have long been closely associated by the Japanese.He seems to have remained unaffected by his fame and popularity, and at the approach of death he instructed his disciples, Bury my body in the mountain behind the temple, cover it with dirt, and go home Read no sutras, hold no ceremony Receive no gifts from either mon some highlightsSoho illuminates the difference between the right mind and the confused mind, the nature of right mindedness, and what makes life precious.The sword and the spirit have long been closely associated by the Japanese.He seems to have remained unaffected by his fame and popularity, and at the approach of death he instructed his disciples, Bury my body in the mountain behind the temple, cover it with dirt, and go home Read no sutras, hold no ceremony Receive no gifts from either monk or laity Let the monks wear their robes, eat their meals and carry on as on normal days At his final moment, he wrote the Chinese character for yume dream , put down the brush, and died.His life may be summed up by his own admonition, If you follow the present day world, you will turn your back on the Way if you would not turn your back on the Way, do not follow the world 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 any 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.The ignorance and afflictions of the beginning, abiding place and the immovable wisdom that comes later become one The function of the intellect disappears, and one ends in a state of No Mind No Thought If one reaches the deepest point, arms, legs, and body remember what to do, but the mind does not enter into this at all.In Zen, if asked, What is the Buddha one should raise a clenched fist If asked, What is the ultimate meaning of the Buddhist Law before the words have died away, one should respond, A single branch of the flowering plum or The cypress in the garden It is not a matter of selecting an answer either good or bad We respect the mind that does not stop The non stopping mind is moved by neither color nor smell.Although the form of this unmoving mind is revered as a god, respected as a Buddha, and called the Mind of Zen or the Ultimate Meaning, if one thinks things through and afterwards speaks, even though he utter golden words and mysterious verses, it will be merely the affliction of the abiding place.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.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.In not remaining in one place, the Right Mind is like water The Confused Mind is like ice, and ice is unable to wash hands or head When ice is melted, it becomes water and flows everywhere, and it can wash the hands, the feet, or anything else.Completely forget about the mind and you will do all things well.SEEK THE LOST MIND This is a saying of Mencius s It means that one should seek out the lost mind and return it to himself.There is nothing dearer to us than life Whether a man be rich or poor, if he does not live out a long life, he will not accomplish his true purpose Even if one had to throw away thousands in wealth and valuables to do so, life is something he should buy.It is said that life is of small account compared with right mindedness.1 In truth, it is right mindedness that is most esteemed While wealth truly pleases our hearts, having life is the greatest wealth of all So when it comes to the moment of reckoning, a man will throw away his wealth to keep his life intact But when you think that a man will not hesitate to throw away the life he so values for the sake of right mindedness, the value of right mindedness is greater than life itself Desire, life, and right mindedness among these three, isn t the latter what man values most I said, Dying because someone is vexed at being insulted resembles right mindedness, but it is not that at all This is forgetting oneself in the anger of the moment It is not right mindedness in the least Its proper name is anger and nothing else Before a person has even been insulted, he has already departed from right mindedness And for this reason, he suffers insult If one s right mindedness is correct when he is associating with others, he will not be insulted by them Being insulted by others, one should realize that he had lost his own right mindedness prior to the offense What is called desire is not simply attaching oneself to wealth, or thinking only about one s fancies for silver and gold When the eye sees colors, this is desire When the ear hears sounds, this is desire When the nose smells fragrances, this is desire When a single thought simply germinates, this is called desire This body has been solidified and produced by desire, and it is in the nature of things that all men have a strong sense of it Although there is a desireless nature confined within this desire firmed and produced body, it is always hidden by hot bloodedness, and its virtue is difficult to sow This nature is not protected easily Because it reacts to the Ten Thousand Things in the external world, it is drawn back by the Six Desires, and submerges beneath them.This body is composed of the Five Skandhas form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness.It is for this reason that the Way of Confucius is said to be that of sincerity and sympathy Sincerity is the same as the core of the mind Sympathy is the same as like mind or oneness If the core of the mind and like mindedness are achieved, not one in ten thousand affairs will ever turn out poorly.Presumably, as a martial artist, I do not fight for gain or loss, am not concerned with strength or weakness, and neither advance a step nor retreat a step The enemy does not see me I do not see the enemy Penetrating to a place where heaven and earth have not yet divided, where Yin and Yang have not yet arrived, I quickly and necessarily gain effect.Not to fight for gain or loss, not to be concerned with strength or weakness means not vying for victory or worrying about defeat, and not being concerned with the functions of strength or weakness.Neither advance a step nor retreat a step means taking neither one step forward nor one step to the rear Victory is gained without stirring from where you are.The me of the enemy does not see me refers to my True Self It does not mean my perceived self People can easily see the perceived self it is rare for them to discern the True Self Thus I say, The enemy does not see me I do not see the enemy Because I do not take the personal view of the perceived self, I do not see the martial art of the enemy s perceived self.2 Although I say, I do not see the enemy, this does not mean I do not see the enemy right before my very eyes To be able to see the one without seeing the other is a singular thing.Well then, the accomplished man uses the sword but does not kill others He uses the sword and gives others life When it is necessary to kill, he kills When it is necessary to give life, he gives life When killing, he kills in complete concentration when giving life, he gives life in complete concentration Without looking at right and wrong, he is able to see right and wrong without attempting to discriminate, he is able to discriminate well Treading on water is just like treading on land, and treading on land is just like treading on water If he is able to gain this freedom, he will not be perplexed by anyone on earth In all things, he will be beyond companions


  8. Aaron Aaron says:

    A good translation of Takuan Soho s classic text on Buddhism The book was written to bring understanding of No Mind to the samurai warrior It s rather dense, and assumes familiarity with Zen Buddhism Chances are you re interested in this because you a read about it in a Japanese history culture book, or b you heard this referenced in a Japanese work of fiction, whether anime, literature, or film It assumes a high amount of understanding of the context and does little to lead you through A good translation of Takuan Soho s classic text on Buddhism The book was written to bring understanding of No Mind to the samurai warrior It s rather dense, and assumes familiarity with Zen Buddhism Chances are you re interested in this because you a read about it in a Japanese history culture book, or b you heard this referenced in a Japanese work of fiction, whether anime, literature, or film It assumes a high amount of understanding of the context and does little to lead you through the ideas It was, after all, written for a specific person at a specific time There are easier places to start Try Secret Tactics for a general introduction, to get oriented


  9. Finbar Finbar says:

    I ve been wanting to read this book for a while and I am glad I did This selection of essays makes the tie between Zen meditation and the practice of the martial arts It is a beautiful exploration of the spiritual side of budo and a must read for anyone who practices its principles.


  10. H H says:

    A frequent reread Practical and spiritual advice from the most renowned Zen master of feudal Japan.


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