Mushin Applied To Daily Life – Part 2: The Myth Of Bodhidharma

27 Dec

*** NOTE: For part one of the series on the Mushin state of mind, please see the bottom of this page and click on the category: “Martial ideology extended to daily life” & then click on the “Previous Entries” on the bottom of the page*** 

Martial arts and Mushin is connected to the journey of a unique figure in history known as Bodhidharma, or Dharma for short. In Sanskrit, “Bodhi” means “enlightened” and “Dharma” means “righteous duty“. Thus, Bodhidharma means “enlightened righteous duty“.

Since Dharma lived before written records, his pedigree and historical account comes to us from oral history, traditional tales and mythology. Based upon this foundation, it is known that Dharma was the son of the Indian King Kancheepuram of Tamil Nadu. Dharma was a Buddhist monk. He traveled to the Far East in and around 522 to 527 A.D. During that time period, Dharma arrived in the court of the Chinese Emperor, Liang Nuti, of the Sixth Dynasty. The Emperor granted him an audience and gave him travel documents to walk to the Kingdom of Wei (now Hunan Province, at the foot of the Han-Shan mountains). Dharma arrived at a Buddhist Monastery called the Temple of Shaolin. Upon arrival at the temple, Dharma is said to have been disappointed with the meditation habits of the monks that resided at the Temple. He found that the monks lacked the physical stamina necessary for prolonged meditation. To overcome the lack of physical stamina, Dharma introduced various physical exercises. These exercises were derived from Dharma’s training in Pranayama and his martial training in the Art of Kalaripayat (and its component art of Marama-Adi, or bare-handed combat). Kalaripayat literally means “(The) Way of the Battlefield” it is the indigenous martial art of India. Kalaripayat is still practiced in Kerala, India today. The martial curriculum of Kalaripayat included formal exercises called “Suvasus“. The Suvasus combined combat techniques, and the breathing of Pranayama with a focused warrior spirit.

There is an interesting myth regarding Dharma that may shed some further light on the Mushin state of mind. Mythology states that Dharma went into a cave located near the Shaolin Temple and sat in meditation for nine years. Dharma is said to have sat in seated meditation for so long that his image was burned into the wall by the sunlight that penetrated the cave. Varying versions of the myth have Dharma entering the cave either to prove his meditative skills to the Shaolin Monks (who were said to have referred to Dharma as “The blue-eyed barbarian”) or as a subjective means of furthering his meditative powers after having been accepted as a Bodhi, or enlightened one, by the Shaolin Monks. There are wild variations of the myth that attempt to account for Dharma’s ability to remain in seated mediation for such a prolonged period. One such variant states that Dharma had tired and fallen asleep during mediation. Dharma became angry with himself and sought to preclude that from happening again. As a preventive measure, Dharma cut off his own eyelids so that his eyes would remain open. The wild myth continues to state that Dharma threw his eyelids to the ground. At the point where Dharma’s eyelids hit the ground, a bush sprouted and grew. The bush subsequently produced a medicinal tea with restorative powers similar to modern metabolic and neurological stimulants.

I submit that Dharma was able to maintain prolonged mediation because he did not engage in traditional mediation as has been submitted in the oral myths. I believe that Dharma neither sought to quiet his mind by thinking of nothing, nor, sought to focus his mind on an object or sutra. Again, the organic brain that gives rise to the higher mind is always in a natural state of activity. To either quiet the mind or focus it utilizes energy so as to maintain the brain, and therefore, the mind, in a unnatural state. Clearly, such expansion of energy would have been counter productive to Dharma’s goal of prolonged meditation. It is my hypothesis that Dharma was able to maintain such prolonged mediation because he enabled the mind to expand and envelope its natural state of perception by maintaining a constant, prolonged state of Mushin. As such, Dharma’s mind was naturally able to perceive, absorb and accept all sensory inputs around him so as to achieve a heightened, relaxed state.

Sufficient practice and development of the Mushin state of mind through the Sanchin Rite, (evolved from the Sanchin Kata of Karate) and the other rites of Jiriki Kata-Do dynamic meditation would seem to lend credence to my theory of how Dharma was able to maintain such prolonged meditation. From my own personal experience, this theory is more plausible and more readily capable of subjective experience than the cutting off of one’s eyelids. Through sufficient practice of Sanchin, one is able to maintain the Mushin state of mind continuously during life. Mushin is no longer, therefore, a state of mind TO BE ENTERED INTO. Dr. Deepak Chopra often talks of having a “default” state of mind. I submit that the state of mind of Mushin is the ultimate default state of mind and perception.

In the next article, I will illustrate how Mushin is applied to daily life. Future submissions will discuss:

1. Examples of how Mushin is incorporated into daily life;

2. Mushin as a sacrament to spirituality.

For additional information, please feel free to visit my website at WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

An expanded discussion of Mushin may also be found in my new book The Dynamic Meditation Rite Of Sanchin: Gateway To The Three Battles To The Plateau Of Human Serenity.

You may also find additional information on Jiriki Kata-Do, by reading my article herein dated December 15 , 2009. Entitled “Kata evolves into a methodology and ideology …” 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: