Sunday, May 19, 2013


So many of our problems arise---and stick---because we get stuck in the moment and refuse to move on. But things can be different. We can change.

The Reverend Manora (Manorhita), was the twenty-second Zen patriarch in India. He is perhaps most famous for having written this gem of wisdom:

Mind turns along with myriad situations;
Its turning point is truly recondite.
When you recognize nature and accord with its flow,
There is no more elation,
And no more sorrow.

The first line may, to some of you, suggest the exact opposite of what you might think to be the ‘way to go.’ Why let your mind ‘turn along with myriad situations’?

Well, a mind that is truly aware, that is focused on the action of each moment as it quickly becomes the next moment, and then the next, and then the next, is a mind that moves with that action. It does not get stuck in the moment, unable to move on to the next. Such a mind-set does not even start to analyse, criticise, react to, or recoil from, the action of the moment. That, my friends, is the way to go.

In The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War, by Yagyū Munenori (pictured left), we get this helpful interpretation of Manora’s advice:

In the context of martial arts, 'myriad conditions' means all the actions of adversaries; the mind turns with each and every action. For example, when an opponent raises his sword, your mind turns to the sword. If he whirls to the right, your mind turns to the right; if he whirls to the left, your mind turns to the left. This is called 'turning along with myriad situations.'

‘The turning point is truly recondite.’ This is the eye of martial arts. When the mind does not leave any traces in any particular place, but turns to what lies ahead, with the past dying out like the wake of a boat, not lingering at all, this should be understood as the turning point being truly recondite.

To be recondite is to be subtle and imperceptible; this means the mind not lingering on any particular point. If your mind stops and stays somewhere, you will be defeated in martial arts. If you linger where you turn, you will be crushed.

Needless to say, this is not just good advice as respects the martial arts. Whether we engage in the martial arts or not doesn’t matter---although there is much to be gained from such an involvement. The way to ‘ride the waves,’ and respond to one’s inner ‘adversaries,’ is to let---note that word ‘let’---the mind turn with each and every action, whether that action be internal (eg in the form of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, etc) or external. Let your mind turn to whatever be the action of the moment, and then turn to the action of the next moment, and so on, but don’t let the mind ‘stop,’ so to speak, let alone ‘cling.’ Instead, turn along with myriad situations.  

That’s not the end of the matter. We are to let the turning point be ‘truly recondite.’ The turning point is ‘recondite’---that word means, among other things, hidden from sight or virtually imperceptible---when the mind leaves no ‘traces’ in any particular place. We leave no ‘traces’ when there is a soft focus sort of awareness, when we refuse to analyse or judge the content of any action or occurrence. We note, and immediately move on. We turn to ‘what lies ahead, with the past dying out like the wake of a boat.’ We do not linger at all---not at any particular point. If we let the mind ‘stop’ and ‘stay somewhere,’ we will be  defeated, even crushed, by life in the sense that events will overtake and overwhelm us.

It’s all about mastery, especially mastery of self, but true inner mastery occurs when we let things unfold as they will, when we resist not, when we cling not and linger not, when we go with the flow.

That is the way to go.


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