Yoshizen's Blog

Machine in MUSHIN — Where KAIZEN came from ?

The people who read the previous Post [Zen is DO —- ] feed me back

“It explained the Zen mechanism extremely clear, — then the question is,

you wrote Zen also liberate the mind and the creativity — How a

Machine like mind can have a creative idea in the same time ?”

—– I knew this question would come soon or later. 🙂


A Japanese working practice called [Kaizen] (改善) is now even in the English dictionary

(but not in this spell-check yet. :-)) = It was translated “continuous improvement”which is

widely practiced in the Japanese work-front.

Japanese worker’s almost machine like accuracy, consistency and the

dedication toward their work is notorious to the west. = Their work ethics

is nothing but the traditional  Zen  which forms the basis of the Japanese

psyche.  = Hence, they work like a machine = in Mushin.


But, to have [Kaizen] is yet another feature on their work-front.   [Kaizen] is, to have

better adjustment of the way of production to a modification of the machine, even a

production line’s configuration —– in fact anything, for the sake of better quality,

productivity, or for the safety of the working environment, which was conceived or found

by the workers who has been doing particular job. (Hence knows it best.)

If its adjustment is not too big, it could be done by themselves. Otherwise the modification

may be carried out by the expert engineer, who follows the proposal. (of cause, proposal

should be studied by the senior engineers first, or even management level discussion.

I’ve seen this process in the Honda factory in Suzuka by myself.)

—– So, machine-like worker is still capable to analyse the situation and

able to find the better adjustment or alternative approach.

This is a proof of “Machine-like Mushin” and “Open-minded free thinking”

can exists side by side, in the same time.


As a matter of fact, to create the Samurai Sword, and to push its quality to

a level of the technical limit has been achieved by the endless efforts to work

better, hence make the Sword stronger. —– It’s mean a man-machine with

a hammer, work in Mushin still has the eyes and an active brain to analyse

and find the better approach.


Being in Mushin, hence having no useless thought or a thought anything else

of the work-on-front, mean the mind is completely filled with the subject

—– say, the Sword-Making. = Zen described this

“the Sword Master is in Ichijo (Oneness) with Iron and a Fire”

—– (a western (a bit wrong) translation in “Mindfulness”)

Still, the hands are working exactly like a machine, perfect accuracy and the consistency

thanks to the perfectly programmed Motor-region of the brain.

Superficially, we calls it Mushin because of no conscious thinking is there,

instead we do it without conscious, so, the brain is not blanc or idle, far

from it, unconsciously the brain is working with full conviction.


While walking on a street, we never consciously think how to move each foot.

Because the whole movements and to keep the balance of whole body has been perfectly

controlled by the Motor-region of the brain, like the most advanced self contained machine.

While leaving its walking business to the autonomous machine, we can have a freedom for

watching nice bottom etc or pay attention to traffic, even find a philosophical answer.

Likewise, while Sword-Maser hitting the iron, even if the hands moves

automatic, his eyes can see the minute details of the work-piece. = any

short-coming should be noticed.    As, all the process were handled

subconsciously, this minute detail were observed in the at-most silence of the

perception.  Any noise, useless brain activities would mask this minute sign.

= The matter is, to open this subconscious perception by eliminates the noise.

Lord Buddha called this Clear eyes.


If you take the meaning of Mushin as just [empty the THINKING]  you miss

the part, concentration of your subconsciousness = Mindfulness.

(In fact, Mushin and Mindfulness are not separate notion or psychological phenomenon =

those are just different words.)   Because of subconsciousness is invisible, it is impossible to

objectively manipulate, or discuss in words, let alone to teach others.

(remember, how to learn to ride a Bicycle.  🙂 )

This is the reason why Buddhism, Zen teaches the people by the repeating practice.  Unless

you learn and become able to follow this subconscious mechanism, you can’t learn Zen.

And that is why, talking or reading about Zen is utterly useless. 

Only the way to experience and to learn is by Doing.


Crucial point in Doing is, unlike imagining or having fantasy, to find a way of

improvement, it got to be rational and technically feasible = even an intuitive

idea, it never be mambo-jumbo, but quite scientific.  No body imagining that to

sprinkle a holy water from a church could solve a malfunction of the machine.

Even in the darkness of subconscious, our mind is very rational and sane.

(Well, in most of the case, among most of the people.   😀 )


So, let this subconscious to see, listen and perceive = as this perception is

completely open, therefore, able to see almost invisible, inaudible = we

can see the better solution.    Or conceive the idea, which has been blocked

by the idiosyncratic thinking.   This is the liberation of the Mind, in Zen.

= And this is the mechanism behind the creativity or  [Kaizen].



Win win – Musashi the Sword Master

There was the most strange quote of Sword Master Musashi Miyamoto.

When he was asked what is a secret to keep winning the fight, he replied,

Never fight with a man stronger than me” —– !

( I wasn’t there to hear this myself, so I’m not sure whether this quote is true or not though,

from the level of Zen he reached, this word sound quite likely his own word. )


Enlightenment in Zen liberates one’s mind = Liberate mean, free one’s mind from

all the restriction and the bondage of the ideas.

Free from pretence, rules, stereotypical beliefs even one’s own Ego.

So that, here is a contradiction, why Musashi needed to win ?

Why he needed to avoid to fight stronger opponent ?

But, before that, there was a preceding condition, why needs to fight ?

To seek a fight is driven by an intention from the Ego, Greed for the fame etc etc,

but once he reached to the level of the Enlightenment, he no longer had an impetus to fight.

( But Sword Mastery is not came from the will, but instinctive body reaction = if it

was needed to react in the situation, he could have done without having a will to fight

= it was not him fight, but the Dharma does ).

So that, once Musashi reached to this level, even the other sword master as good as him dear to

challenge him because even if challenge was successful, fight would cost a limb or two = a life of

sword mastery would be lost for ever = no point to challenge Musashi — and it never happened.


Still the remaining question is, why Musashi uttered such words to spoil the game.   😀

It was because, what the Zen and its natural choice = Middle Way was.

Once enlightened, to cling the idea of Zen disappeared too.

(Conscious idea doesn’t need to be there because everything were controlled unconsciously).

So that, on the occasion, chattering with young novice, what situation required (= a task on front

of Musashi, on that moment ) was to have a good, cheerful conversation.

Why needs to be so serious.  He just took a Mickey out of serious novice.

(To his eyes the people in Sword Mastery or Zen seemed more like a caricature figure then)

Go, Middle way.   So that, the life can have much more fun. 😀

Relax !


Is MUSHIN same as Thoughtless ?

Well, it is not about a Justice / Punishment from the heaven but about the mind-set.


These days our topics were often related to the Riot, and there was an interesting question.

“Wasn’t the mind-set of [senseless] [thoughtless] behaviour, same to the Zen

Buddhist’s [Mushin]. —– What makes the difference between them ? ? ? “

—– in fact, someone who put a comment to the previous post had the same thinking.

And this question has so many implication and the facets.

—– Once, Pablo Picasso said “ Keep drawing like a child is the hardest things in the Art”

—– Then, “what is the difference between [Innocence] or [Ignorance] to the [Mushin] ?  “

May be the easiest answer to this question is, just whack the person shouting “Idiot” —– really ?


There was an interesting story among the legend of the Sword Masters.

In the Samurai era, top sword-man was roving around the country seeking the contest-match

against each other, in order to achieve the record / reputation. ( And the winner was invited to

give a lesson to the local Lord receiving good reward)

Then, someone got an idea of plank, dressed up an ignorant peasant as a respectable

samurai, claiming that this is the supreme sword-master, and challenging top local


On the match, the peasant was just standing facing real master just having his sword down.

As the peasant had a slightest idea of what the sword-mastery is, he was just standing still.

The challenged was the master who knows everything —– but as the opponent seemed to

standing utterly defenceless —– almost like an idiot (in fact he was an idiot) it made the master

utterly confused.  —– no such things could happen here.   Otherwise it must be a ploy to make

the master wrong-foot = this man must be a real sword-master and able to kill him instant.

—– it was what the master felt.  (To his eyes, the peasant’s utter ignorant appearance, not even

recognize him was seen as the ultimate Mushin only possessed by a supream sword-master  😀 )

Then, the master throw his sword away, and kneel down for begging his life.


The pair prankster succeeded all the contest-match in the same way.

But, after a while, the peasant started to wonder why those famous masters just give up and

kneel down to him.   And interested in to use the sword, as he mistook that he is in deed a

strong sword-master and able to kill the opponent.

So that, on the next match, peasant break a stillness and showed a slight sign of intention.

Then, the challenged sword-master instantly reacted to this sign, sway the body to other

direction and cut the peasant into two pieces.    (The End   😀  )


It is true, even a Zen Master has used a metaphor of the mind of small child

to describe the Mushin and a state of mind of Jizai.

And in the Buddhist’s arguments about the universality / inclusiveness of the Mahayana stance,

this matter —– What is the distinction between [Innocence, Ignorance, Senseless,

Thoughtless] to the [Mushin] is some time mixed-up.

As a matter of fact, when it is convenient, this kind of metaphor has been often used though,

[The Mushin] is a very specific, peculiar state of the mind, nothing similar to any of

those mind.  Not just the matter of inclusiveness of the Mahayana, but also the confusion of the

[ What is the Buddhist’s mind] ( before this, What is the Buddhist ? —– there are all sorts of the

Buddhist exists —– Such as to enjoy the life having the eyes to appreciate peaceful nature which

gave a feeling of the liberated mind = could be perfectly the life and the mind of a Buddhist)

—– it has been left out of strict argument.


But in strict term, the Mushin is the state of the mind, which only occurs when our

brain ceased to operate to categorising and reconfiguring the notion. —– yet

able to react to incoming stimulant.

—– In practice, this state of mind can be reached only through the long long repeated

practice which wear out those active, intentional activities of the brain

= thinking process.

And very similar to the treatment of an allergy, those practice also wear out the basic

desire and the emotional reaction = So that, the state of the Mind [ Mind of No-Mind]

= [Mushin] is only strict to [Purely the state of No-Thinking and No-Emotion]

= Dispassionate.

(but not akin to senseless or thoughtless —– because in those cases,  senseless / thoughtless

mind is, in fact occupied by another sorts of mind = such as an anger, greed or

overwhelming fanaticism = ideology or madness)


=== this definition must have cleared the confusion.

=== the mind of childish, senseless, thoughtless Rioters were definitely, utterly

no way near to the Buddhist’s Mushin.

[ If it was done in Mushin,  it got to bring the GOOD outcome.  This is what the

Karma mean. And if it brought bad outcome — because,  it has done not in Mushin]

—– You may say this is out of rational logic and say ” Why”,  but this is what I found and true.

And this must be the reason why the Buddhism is existing.   🙂



Lost and Found

In many occasions,  we suddenly realized,  Wait a moment where that Thing has gone ?

In my life style, it wouldn’t happen if it is for the daily use.  The item, the thing goes back to exactly

the same position whether it may not necessary be the most ideal place.

Away from the ordinary tool box, strangely a glue-gun and a hair dryer is hanging next to the kitchen

utensils under my kitchen shelf. ——- When I moved in this unfurnished flat, it was before I moved my

possessions from a warehouse storage, I needed to fix something.  So, I brought some tools from the

tool box in the storage.  Unlike hammer or pliers those glue-gun and hair dryer (by the way, this one is not

for my hair but to heat-up or drying the material, and those ladles are to bend the aluminium with its carve

—– they are the  tools for me  🙂 )  having an electric cable,  hence it is easy to hang —– so, they found

a place to hang, and it became their permanent place.

Since, same hardware / tools or materials are in the same

place, the way to do the things, is more or less identical

—— hence it became a routine. —– Its mean I don’t

need to think about each action and only need to

pay attention to a part which is new or different.

You may see on the photo, the cable of the glue-gun or

hair dryer is twisted round its own body —— and the

way to twist round the cable was though out for its

best way round ( —- in fully minded manner  🙂 ),

therefore it is always the same and the plug will come to the most secure exact position.

This practice, place the item always exactly the same position said to be started in the Zen temple

and kept as a Samurai tradition.    Hence a  Samurai was able to respond to a sudden attack, able to

grubb his sward instantly in the total darkness.—— So, it was the iron rules in my family as well.

I was allowed to use my father’s tool, provided me to put it back exactly  the same place, same condition,

and it trained me to memorize where the original position and the conditions were, down to

the minute detail. ( —– Otherwise the teaching would come with a fist  😀  )

—– My photographic memory might have originated from here.


You may realized now, what I’m talking about is.  This is the Zen.  And the Buddhism. —– in real life.

Zen is not only for a fancy movement of the sword master or incomprehensible  Mondo —– but

in every minute details of the daily life —– to maximize the efficiency and ease of the life.

Then, — Zen ? —– the trouble is not the item in the same place.

Quite often, I buy something strange or fancy, —– might be useful-one-day kind of, such as cheap

Chinese things, toy etc.  As it is not very important and not necessary having  well-defined place ( that is

why it is strange ) I just stashed away somewhere. —— then year later, something bright idea came up,

” Aha, I got That Chinese Toy —– I can use that part of mechanism for this idea ” —— but, where is it ?

Since it didn’t belong to the defined category, it is not in the likely place of its function —– but it might

be placed in the similarity of the shape —– ? ? ?

When we try to think / seek the answer or to find a strange toy (in this case) —– our mind are caught up

to “Likely” direction,  where so-called logical ( but own logic ) thinking is leading.

But in real life, not everything follow the logic.    And not necessary having in the same guise which

I remembered or so-I believed.

The toy might have just dropped behind the box, from where I left it.

Or it may be in a bag, half disassembled.

When we look for something, our eyes (or mind ) is chasing the pattern as our cognitive function works.

The harder we try, we are even deeper caught up with same pattern. —— this is the moment we need

to have open mind.—– NOT concentrate, stop gazing at but take aback, and just to be passive.

Here the paradox again.  The more you looking into, you can not see —– because what you are

looking is what you want to see / your imagined pattern. —– (But how do you know You know it.)

——- Then what I found was, on the corner of my desk, something poking out of a milk-cartoon  was

that Chinese toy upside-down.  Only I didn’t know,  what it looks like the bottom of it upside-down  😀

We need to open our eyes with open mind.  Detached mind can see the world better.   😀


Peace in a Battle field

There was a funny conversation in Email exchange ——–

” Hey  Yoshizen, could you pay the cost through Paypal please”

” Sorry, I’ve been black listed by the debt recovery company,

so that, I can’t use money transfer.  I only can give you in cash.”

” Oooooh, you are such a trouble maker 🙂 “

(Among the Anarchist group,  Trouble-maker is the honourable title  😀 )

” Oh yah, so far I’ve made the enemies,  whole Judiciary here, Japanese Embassy,

Police, Local Council, British Telecom, Virgin Media, Three G, T-Mobile and

barely having a truce with Talktalk.

So that, the Motto of the Zen is the PEACE,—— how to find a Peace / Calm Mind

while shooting  😀 “

——– When we are in the battle field, we need to have unmoved,  focused mind

and the clear eyes —- therefore the Zen is the most effective way to deal with the situation.

Dealing with the photography / how to capture the subjects, or even dancing on the rhythm, it is

the battle facing with the situation while sensing all the signals, then instant judgement and the response.

Because of the gushing torrent of the information is coming in, to put them in the clear space

in order to give detached  bird’s-eye view and make instant intuitive judgement

with appropriate priority, become crucial.


This is the reason why,  the sword-masters,  martial-artists even the throat-cutting  share-dealers

needed to learn the Zen —– they are not chasing Nirvana or Enlightenment (too late any way  🙂 )

but needed to have ultimate efficiency managing their mind,

hence able to maximize their achievement in the life.

Do nothing, just sitting peacefully —— needs no more.

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