Review The Unfettered Mind

Kamis, 01 Desember 2011

The Unfettered Mind: Tulisan Kepada Yagyu Munenori, Pesaing Utama Musashi

by Takuan Soho

Semua esai ini bertujuan membantu individu mengenal dirinya serta membantu dirinya menerapkan seni kehidupan.

Gramedia Pustaka Utama 2007

Eric: 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 have more experience. 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.

Joshua: The Unfettered Mind, a scant 100 page document written by a Zen Master to a Master Swordsman about the importance of right mindedness. Soho most likely couldn’t have envisioned his treatise would be poured over after some 400 years had past. Yet, it has been since first writing it. Westerners have devoured his work just as much as Easterners.

A quick search for the Unfettered Mind will net the potential reader many possibilities from different translations as well as many reviews. I do not have the audacity to think mine will be something new, but, after all, it is my perspective.

William Scott Wilson is the translator on my edition; he also translated The Book of Five Rings and Hagakure both of which I suggest reading in addition to The Unfettered Mind. This completes the most common “trilogy” of Japanese thought during the height of their renaissance. There are others of course, but these three are the most accessible to western thought and frankly the easiest to get. The Unfettered Mind is broken into three smaller books or essays: The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom, The Clear Sound of Jewels, and Annals of the Sword Taia. Each of these deal with the right mind in the double context of Buddhism and Swordsmanship. Soho draws on many different aspects of Buddhist thought but basically the thing is and the thing isn’t; for example, “One may explain water, but the mouth will not become wet. One may expound fully on the nature of fire, but the mouth will not become hot.”

Other such jewels of Buddhist wisdom seem to be tailor made for the martial arts. The ideal of no contemplation on the action of cutting down the opponent is taken into consideration in many different places of The Mysterious Record of Immovable Wisdom. In one such place Soho describes being of no mind by quoting an old poem,

To think, “I will not think” This, too, is something in one’s thoughts.Simply do not think
About not thinking at all. Many times Soho uses Buddhism’s mystical nature to bring the reader into the right frame of mind and does so rather effortlessly. This is the nature of the Zen Master, to uncomplicated complicated thought. My hat is off to Takuan Soho. Finally, I will say that I have enjoyed this small book of Immovable Wisdom. I will be giving as gifts to those on the path to right mindedness. It is a piece that should be read then reread a few years down the road. And, finally, reread a decade down the road. I am sure I will come back to it again to find more truth than I did this time.

To all potential readers, take your time, understand that you might not, and above all else, enjoy.

Cem: Zen Budizmi ve savas sanatlari arasindaki zaman zaman urkutucu iliskiy en iyi sekilde anlatan kitaplardan biri Engellenemeyen Zihin. Gunumuzde Zen bariscil bir new age antin kuntini gibi algilaniyor cogunlukla malum L.Cohen bile cikti ya manastira... Halbuki bu ve bunun gibi bir baska muazzam klasik, Yukio Mishima'nin Sun and Steel'i aslinda Zen Budizminin son derece fasizan bir altyapisi oldugunu ve bu yonde kolaylikla kullanilabileceginin bir ornegi. Tabi bu Zen'i fasist yapmiyor sadece praxisinde boyle bir nuve barindiriyor demek istiyorum. Ote yandan, bir batilinin (ve malese bence bizim de) anlayabilecegi sekilde yazilmis en iyi Zen kitabi buyuk ustad Shunryu Suzuki'nin Zen Zihni, Baslangic Zihni ni tavsiye ederim. Hatta lutfen Simdi'nin Gucu'nu bir kenara koyalim ve Zen in gercek metaforlariyla degerini anlatan bu kitaplara takilalim derim ben :)

Michael: Being a (lapsed, due to injury) martial artist myself,I've always had a fascination for how the Japanese, in particular, apply many of the philosophies associated with Zen Buddhism to the martial arts - and in particular kenjutsu (swordsmanship).
This book is the classic of the genre, written by Buddhist monk Takuan Sōhō in the early 17th Century, friend and contemporary of Emperors, daimyos, shoguns, and the famous master swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. It is essentially a treatise comprising three letters to Yagyū Munenori, inheritor to the Yagyū Shinkage-ryū school of swordsmanship.

The fact that it's still read today (and it's not an especially easy read by any means - you really need to stick with it) is testament to its strength and inherent truth. I'm glad I read it.