"When I forget my ways, I am in The Way"

Philosophical and experiential notes on Nothingness, with supporting insights from martial arts, quantum physics and Taoism



The 'monastery' is a metaphor, a reminder to carry the values of calmness and stillness into our everyday lives. The monastery is in all of us. 

I have a background in the martial arts. When I was young, I always wondered what was meant by the term that martial arts could become a "way of living." Well, over time the arts taught me how to become, in a sense, 'the calm at the center of the storm'. A place we can live our lives from. 

"If you have too many thoughts, you can't think."

This state of mind has many names. In the martial arts it is called 'mushin'. Another perspective of it is 'zanshin', "a state of awareness, a relaxed state of alertness." Artists and poets sometimes call it the 'inner muse'; musicians refer to it as 'being in the groove.'

I discovered the values of practical practices. And along with it, the confluence that such learning can be both contemplative and non-contemplative. As a non-contemplative, I discovered there are times when we think too much, when it's better to just relax, let go and abide. So, in a sense I learned how to focus on simplicity. Even though I often enjoy complexity.

Mushin (無心; Japanese mushin; English translation "no mind") is a mental state into which very highly trained martial artists are said to enter during combat.They also practice this mental state during everyday activities. The term is shortened from mushin no shin (無心の心), 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 somewhat analogous to flow experienced by artists deeply in a creative process. 

On this site, I occasionally state that "Nothingness is our goal." Nothingness is known by many names: mushin or empty mind, the Tao, Zen, the void, no mind, abiding, being in-the-moment, in the groove, bathing in the essence, channeling the everything, the Inward Teacher, the still small voice, conducting the universal flow, or what some people call a deeper inner connection to the Higher Self. 
“The happiness which comes from long practice, which leads to the end of suffering, which at first is like poison, but at last like nectar - this kind of happiness arises from the serenity of one's own mind.” Bhagavad Gita
I've come to understand that this inner connection improves our relationship to ourselves and the people in our lives, and also improves our relationship to our personal goals and objectives, and the situations we find ourselves in.
Mark Walter, Sensei
Nothingness is not about being lazy, although it's always important to save yourself some time to relax and hang out. It's more like this: whenever you are doing something in your life, anything really, make sure you have some Nothingness sprinkled in - you know, to kind of offset all the I'm-really-Somethingness going on in the world. 

"we are the monks and nuns of everyday life"


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