Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apart from Mind There is No Art of Combat!

Bankei was a Zen Master in the early 1600's. As a son of Ronin, he was also fiercely independent and challenged the overly ceremonial Zen of his time. Bankei was well known for simply telling people to trust in their innate Unborn Buddha Mind.

Today's post I am going to put in a response to a letter he received from a Martial Artist regarding the art of combat. Some of this will make total sense to you...other stuff you might be scratching your head and wondering what he is really saying. This is the stuff you are to explore, meditate upon and hopefully realize in your practice of the arts...and of life.

Here's Bankei:

"In performing a movement, if you act with no-mind, the action will spring forth of itself. When your ki changes your physical form changes along with it. When you are carried away by force, that is relying on "self." To have ulterior thoughts is not in accordance with the natural.

When you act upon deliberation, you are tied to thought. The opponent can then tell the direction of your ki. If you try to steady yourself by deliberate effort, you ki becomes diffuse, and you may grow careless. When you act deliberately, your intuitive response is blocked; and if your intuitive response is blocked, how can the mirror mind appear?

When without thinking and without acting deliberately, you manifest the Unborn (my insert: Unborn can mean Emptiness) you won't have any fixed form. When you are without fixed form, no opponent will exist for you in the whole land. Not holding on to anything, there is no "you" and no "enemy." Whatever comes, you just respond, with no traces left behind.

Heaven and earth are vast, but outside mind there is nothing to seek. Become deluded, however, and instead this mind becomes your opponent. Apart from mind, there is no art of combat."

Hands palm to palm,

translation from 'Bankei Zen' by Peter Haskell


  1. Cooooooooooooooooooooooolll...

    *Drools :p~

  2. Brilliant line: "but outside mind there is nothing to seek"

    and follow up: "this mind becomes your opponent"

    Like it ツ

  3. Hi Shinzen, another cracking post my friend and although I am no Martial Artist I do enjoy the deeper message within your words.

    In sport it is much the same. I played sports all my life and I have found that when one masters a sport one then has to let go and let the sport play through oneself.

    Take tennis as an example. As a beginner I had to learn the strokes and how to maneuver my body around the court both effectively and efficiently . . but once I'd mastered those aspects I then had to let go of my thinking mind and let my body take over; no mind . . . . . . Just 'I'(intelligence), the still mind, and a body in existence. In this most natural state of Presence, or Being in the moment, I found myself able to perform better, and I was no longer concerned with winning or losing either, no, I was simply centered in 'no mind' and every movement, every shot I played unfolded from there.

    It is also the seat or place of real enjoyment :-)

  4. Bankei was brilliant and had phenomenal insight...thanks for the comments.

  5. "Become deluded, however, and instead this mind becomes your opponent. " Wow - and how true! Thanks for the insight :-)

  6. Thanks Felicia...when I read those words they, too, hit me like a ton of bricks. I could see how true they were as well.

  7. Blah, Blah, Blah... Silly Zen masters, Kicks are for trids.
    If you see Bankei by the road, hit him with a shovel. ;)