Yoshizen's Blog

Bowl of Water Zen

When I was talking about Zen practice with others, someone mentioned a BBC news which

showed a group of Chinese Zen monks are walking while carrying a bowl of water

as their Zen practice. —– “ Oh, what a good idea. It’s a good practice to learn Zen Mind “

( It’s easy to try this.  Fill the water to the top of bowl about 8″  big and holding it to your chest high and walk.

By doing this,  you can observe your state of the mind,  how steady and calm your mind is.

Strangely you may find,  the more you concentrate and gaze the water the more it shakes  😀

—– when your mind is almost detouched from the water or whole action,  then the water become still and

make no drip while you are walking —- then you can fill even more water reaching to the edge.  It’s a fun !)


In this blog, I’ve been talking that any action could be a Zen practice, hence in one post I talked about

[Lemon Zen] and the other post, [Walking Zen] in fact I also mentioned about the effects of even riding

a bicycle or typing —– any repeating action could have the same effect to reach

a state of the Mind of No-Mind or Mushin.


In fact everybody is doing the action of walking in Mushin = nobody is thinking when and how to move

the right leg after left leg has moved. —– It’s all done unconsciously.

So that, the practice of Mushin ( and the Mindfulness of cause — if a part of the brain is not fully engaged

for the walking, we can not automatically adjust the leg movement following the slight change of a condition

of the road surface) is not necessary an exotic funny action.


Then inevitable question arose —– if the walking is the practice of Mushin which everybody is doing,

why not everybody is an accomplished  Zen Master.

Here is a funny but fundamental paradox of the Zen Buddhism.   When the Mushin in walking is the

Zen, it is the Zen. —– but otherwise it is just an unconscious action of walking.


Buddha didn’t perform any fancy or peculiar action. It was just a simple ordinary daily life, yet

as it was repeated every day, each action was almost identical every time.

This simplified and fixed way of each practice is the requisite condition of [the Life in Mushin].

Buddha’s life style was the text-book and the disciples were learned and copied those action, and in the process,

disciples learned the Mushin ( or the state of the No-Mind  was developed  in them).


Because of the state of the mind can not be learned by the word, but only by the practice ( like any

emotion,  unless a person has experienced it,  the description of feeling couldn’t make any sense )

and this is the reason why non of the ancient scripture was actually talking about No-Mind, but only No-Self.

( No-Self = No-Mind —– still able to live as a person is because there is the enough program in our

Subconsciousness which is invisible —– like what I am talking here, is a new interpretation after Freud invented

a notion of  Subconscious = which was not exists in the ancient time )


And there is yet another paradox in the Buddhism.

To live the Life in Mushin is what all about the Buddhism though, no-mind, no thinking, BUT unless it

was  understood as the Buddhism,  it wouldn’t become the Buddhism.

Anybody can carry a full of water in a bowl, and time to time the one may need to do it.   Just carry a cup of tea

happen to be full to the edge, from kitchen to a table —– some may succeed it while making no single drip, yet

some may make a mess.  What makes a difference ?

Calm mind, hence a steady hand is the crucial point here = a kind of thought “ Oh, I’ve put

too much. I’m silly. I would spill a mess on the floor. etc. “ would make a hand even more

wobbly and the tea would drip here and there   😀


A person can practice this and acquire better coordination on the hand, so that it will be programmed into

the motor legion of the brain and may become a routine movement.   But, that all.

BUT, if a person practised this, under a file name of the Zen Buddhism, the file become

accessible in any moment when it need to have a calm mind in your life.

Carrying a full of water as Zen, it become the Zen with its effects.

Once a person acquired this file with the attachment of the notion of Zen and its spiritual implication,

the file would be applied to any action and any situation in the Life, hence, walking is the Zen, cutting a lemon

is the Zen, and even facing Tsunami Wave could be handled in a calm mind and able to act in the best way

or see the fate with calm clear eyes.   (Sorry to the victims of Tsunami)

With this Paradox ( has to live without thoughts, preconception etc, still needs to organize its notion of

Mushin as the practice of Zen Buddhism) Buddha has asserted “ There is the way, which is to be

pursued as the way of Buddhism “ since in his earliest teachings as one of the Four Noble Truth.


This notion makes the difference between Mushin to just to be an ignorant thoughtless.

Though, the notion itself is nothing complicated = just to be aware [to carry a bowl of water is for Zen]

—– with this awareness, just Do It and keep doing it —– then suddenly you will find that you can do it without

spilling a single drip of water, and realized while doing it you didn’t need to think anything = Just Did It !


Then observe yourself, while doing even other things, are you just doing it as well, without having any

useless thought ? (You may achieve this in few weeks or may be taking few years. Just carry on. —– then you

might be noticed, you have been having no upheaval in your life and strangely, quite unexpected

or too good to be true kind of coincidences has been happening, yet no one can tell why

—– Just carry on with your LIFE without questioning. ) —–This is a Zen Buddhist’s LIFE.



When the Buddhism was introduced to the west, Buddhism  was seen as another alternative to

the bankrupting western philosophy, not as a religion. —– It was a novel, fancy, rather mythical idea to

the intellectuals then.

Anyhow, the Christianity is losing the attraction hence the philosophy based on it was loosing their

credibility as well.  People could see the trouble of the world, political, economical or anything

general are seemingly not caused or related to the God’s act. —— evil communism, capitalism,

dreadful germ etc  has to be dealt with nuclear defence, political movement or science etc etc.

Definitely not with the religion. The poverty etc, the personal trouble has been dealt with social

welfare and for even more personal mental problem, there is the psychiatrist etc etc.

Otherwise just buy Prozac. ( was that ?   I don’t remember, that kind 😀  )

So, the Buddhism was received by the people as yet another intellectual interest, rather like

a party talking piece.

Therefore to sell the product, the same capitalist’s popularism approach was needed.

It was the same market situation, like to sell a freezer to an Alaskan Eskimo. —– smooth tongue

and fancy dream, added value to the life = to be a superior noble existence.

Hence one of the fundamental condition,  a step of the  Self Denial became a burden to sell Buddhism.


Only in one or two century, the life and the situation or environment of the mankind has been changed

so much. —- superficially to the good but fundamentally to the worse.

Until only a century or so ago, humankind was in the hand of element or in the hand of God.

Very few people had their life intact.  If not Dickensian, it might have dreadful grief stricken etc.

( These days, if anybody was lucky enough to have such experience, it would be well entitled to claim a

compensation on  No win No pay based proceedings —– Call now !  😀  )

So that, the people has been living their life embracing big void of grief, loss, failure, regret and quite

few are having even heavy guilty conscience  etc etc.  ( Having had Self Denial done )

—– so the rhetoric of ” It’s because of your original sin ”  did work, and people needed to have a God.


When I wrote the previous post, the reason why I used a word Burden and wrote, it may not

appropriate was, for you to think about.

If you thought, it’s a Burden —– you don’t need a religion or Buddhism, other than an intellectual fancy.

If you felt, or no, no more please —– you haven’t faced your trouble in seriously deep enough.

If you found yourself, familiar with the subject.  Go for walk.  And see the sky, tree etc let the

scenery  passing in your peripheral vision.  And nothing on the street took your attention in

10 minutes.  Back home and do this tomorrow again.

( But don’t hit by a car —– I wouldn’t take responsibility  for your car accident  😀  —– State of Mushin is

not a Trance at all.  All the subconscious is fully receptive, hence automatic body movement as well )

Have a nice day.  Spring is coming.


Life to be Artists

I’ve received a question from a keen reader of this blog / Jaganathan, who is

creating / developing  fancy program of creating even fancier sound, out of computer.


anyway id like your thoughts or a blog post 🙂 Why do many artists end

up depressed, do drugs, kill themselves.  And how to keep doing good

work irrespective of whether it is a success or failure.  How do

continue doing sincere work even if nobody gives a sit.


In anyone’s life,  to see what is the success, having many facets —— Financial ?, Social recognition ?,

Historical importance ?, Personal Pride and Confidence ?, Made people happy and became local Hero ?

All those may satisfy the ego.  But in reality, before think about success, most acute needs are to survive.


When I finished hi-school and chose the direction and Uni’, I hated to go to science and technology side

as I didn’t want to be enslaved by the technology —– I’ve applied to Art College.  Though I was told by

the member of  Alpine Club in that College  “Want to become Sculptor ?  Oh no, even studied in here,

its impossible to live on the sculpture.  You may end-up an art teacher in a junior school or a craftsman

making dummy for the shop” —– What a hopeless situation. I gave up and next year I went to a Uni’

where we don’t need to fix the direction / Faculty / Major  for the first year —– then end up to take

Sociology by accident.  Before apply the Art College, an art teacher told me ” The success rate of

top Art College ( Where I wanted to go) is about 50%, and the other would be less than 10% ”  here

success mean, able to live / survive on the skill or the art which was studied in the college.

This was the time, Art was the traditional Art, long before such as Conceptual  Art became main stream.

Art is a very subjective commodity.   Commodity mean, the objects which can be sold and owned.

Though, when the type of art, and the educational direction has changed to the Pure Art and a theory

of Conceptual Art, sellable art became the dirty word as it is Commercial / Crafty, to live on

the Art become even harder. Who want to buy a pile of dung / (said to be) conceptual art installation. 😀

——- So, the question of Jaganathan is a little bit out of time or not a kind of the matter to rise a question.

Depressed, infested by Drug, kill oneself or even kill others —– may not be anything unusual.  😀

Even worse, as the art education is aiming to the concept, not the skill, actually no skilled useless persons

were flooded to the labour market ( it include the Media study as well).

Under such situation, if any artist want to have satisfying life should better take Buddhist’s paradox.

Forget success, forget recognition, forget financial reward and just make own art —– but perfect one.

Perfect Art would hit the guts feeling of the others. It impress the people and make their mouth shut.

——- so-called success will follow. ( But, as long as the one is hoping and expecting the day will come, with

ego and greed there will be no perfect art or success. —— in this aspects, Dharma is very harsh )

So that, so-called  Positive thinking, or Keep your hope live etc etc are all but just the sweet words.

The Buddhist Mushin is the very strict term, if not perfect, it would be all in vain.

If Jaganathan is developing new program, if it is exciting enough, he could be absorbed into its work,

he couldn’t be disturbed by useless thought —— its mean, he needs to make his work interesting,

important enough —– here, crucial inspiration, key idea which he may get it in the Blank Space

may become decisive factor.  So, to see its new idea, in complete open mind / Mushin holding the key.

( Here, chicken and the egg,  Exciting project absorbs person’s mind and make him into Mushin, though

to get exciting idea need to have Mushin —– shut up, just start.    Ha ha ha. 😀 )

——- So, how about, take a walk, —— Do a Walking Zen and get Mushin first  🙂



Four-Leaf Clover

I know, everybody have a memory, once (or many times) looked for the four-leaf clover when we

saw the patch of ground covered by the clover.  Of cause I have, and in deed I found few of them in my life.

Yet, I don’t think it brought me any better luck —— and I’m not talking about the good luck here.

( Still, this post deserve to have a title of  Four-leave Clover —– you will find it  🙂  )


When you were looking for the clover, do you remember what you were thinking ?   Kind of play to the God ?

“Oh my Load, please give me a Four-Leaf Clover” —— I don’t think so.  😀

(May be you were thinking of your girl friend or boy friend —- to present the precious findings. How sweet ! )

When you are scanning the field with your eyes, I don’t think any thought was in the brain.

Eyes were just scanning and just concentrating for the task.  In fact any thought would be a distraction.

And, do you believe the concentrated effort, will power would help to find it ?   I don’t think so neither  😀

And if you lucky to find one, was it in the center of your eyes ?  —— it doesn’t necessary so.

Quite often we find the intended object somewhere periphery of our vision.

We read the small letters in the center of our eyes, other than the center, we can’t read and understand

what was written there.  So that,  when we need to find a file name in the list, we have to concentrate

and pick the pattern of the word in the file name.  It need to have a will to read.

In comparison  we can detect the pattern which we know already in the periphery of eye field.

But this vision were controlled by our subconscious,  not by our conscious  will.  When  noticed

it’s there,  we move eye-ball and capture it in the center of vision,  then confirm it,  Gotcha !


When I was in my Uni’ I was asked to join the research expedition to the remote corner of Japan or pacific

islands, to help the botanist.  ( As I was a member of Alpine Club, specialized in yet traced area or jungle

kind of terrain and doing botanical photography as well —– despite of I was a student of Sociology.  🙂  )

Strangely, in those occasions,  many times I was the first or only one to find out the specific plant, while

going through the field or jungle.  I have enough knowledge of botany but, professors knows a similar type

and so on far better,  and the information I had,  was only a line drawing of the plant from the botanical book,

encyclopedia etc otherwise 70-year-old dry specimen, of which the plant haven’t been seen 50 years,

kind of rare species.   Everybody was amazed  ” How you could see this.  You must got very good eyes ”

( Though, I’m heavily short eye-sighted )  “No no, I just noticed, it looked different ”  ” In 10m away ? ”

Of cause, the plant didn’t come on front of us.  I had to catch it in my peripheral view.

——- In deed,  our eyes or cognitive function of our brain is possessing remarkable ability.

Just learned  from 2″ size line drawing to distinguish real plant ( which is not necessary having flower to

stand out )  might be akin to a Policeman to apprehend a suspect, from a vague photo-fit.

It must have a very intuitive creative work to fill a gap.


But before work out to reconstruct the image,  we need to catch it in the first place.

So,  how our eyes can catch the Four Leaf Clover in distance,  even by the peripheral vision.

In fact, the answer lies in this peripheral vision, and its subconscious process.

It’s all came down to the same paradox ” When you want to see, you can’t.  When you abandon  to

search, you start to see”.  And here, the same Blanc Space in the Mind is playing the role. (Refer the Post)

If you don’t know about the Zen, you might think this is contradictive though,  this is how our brain works.

Expose the perception in open-minded way,  which Zenist call  Mushin (Mind of no mind),  the brain can

receive far more information / visual signal,  and able to process them far more efficient way.

( Many years ago,  I met a man who is working as a railway station staff told me “How to find a railway pass

cheat” saying ” Standing and checking the passes one by one by reading the date on the pass is impossible.

So, we just standing watching the incoming passengers.  Then anyone caught eyes,  we look at his / her

pass and read the date.  We are reading the behavior and the mind of the passengers.  Standing and just

seeing the flow of the people, still we can distinguish who is cheating, far more accurate” —– Well said  :-))

——- This is why I wrote in the earliest post,  ” Just walking the street. Just looking forward without focusing

any point or taking any notice of street scene,  open and spread your vision from the side to side.

This is the Zen ” ( in easiest way —- called Walking  Zen   😀 —– The advantage in Walking Zen is, you

can observe your state of mind from your Peripheral Vision  (able to notice, both end of images are keep

moving while you walk) —– though, tricky part is, you only have to feel them without the conscious mind.

Still it is easier than to observe the state of mind of  Sitting / Meditating without Thinking —–

Thinking the state of Not Thinking is pretty hard to achieve —— Make your subconscious to observe

your conscious mind which supposed  to be not thinking = This is the nut-shell of  Zen training —- Training

because the aim is to achieve Let the subconscious to think and deal with the life —– Because of the

subconscious is thinking but you do not notice it = Hence you are not consciously Thinking.

—– Most important point to remember is, All the thinking process was actually done

subconsciously, then, conscious consideration such as tactical maneuver, social pretence  etc

intervene and mess-up the decision-making and push the life into unnecessary trouble.

Buddha’s suggestion was simple, Be straight and simple, don’t make a life complicated by

being messed up by unnecessary thought.  This is what the Buddhism all about.)

So, why not try your Zenist eyes by looking for the four-leaved Clover.  (Provided, if it’s there at all.  😀

Zen can not create something out of nothing.  Zen can only help you to see it )   Good luck !



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