The state of Mushin

The mind must always be in the state of ‘flowing,’ for when it stops anywhere that means the flow is interrupted and it is this interruption that is injurious to the well-being of the mind. In the case of the swordsman, it means death !”

Zen master Takuan Sōhō

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A few weeks ago I was observing Gibbs, one of our cats. He had spotted a mouse in our garden. Immediately he went into primal mode, his instincts took over ! He was crouching towards it, ready to attack ! After a few seconds he jumped right on top of it and tried to squeeze it with his front paws and then let it go again.

The mouse hid in the long grass and was searching for a save way to escape out of the claws of his vicious attacker ! Its movements however attracted Gibbs’ attention and he was determined to catch it.

As the mouse’s path eventually lead to an ungrown spot in the garden, it found itself face to face with our cat. I was curious…Would it freeze or would it attempt to run away ?

To my amazement the little one all of sudden started jumping around, moving towards the cat, kung fu like, aiming for the cat’s legs, even biting them several times. Gibbs was caught by surprise too !

This tiny animal although confronted with a giant opponent didn’t flee or freeze in fear. What a fierce fellow ! Where did this power and courage come from ?

The ancient tale “the mysterious technique of the cat” crossed my mind, it described exactly what kind of mouse Gibbs was dealing with. Apparently this mouse was in a state of mushin !

“When a rat is cornered it forgets life, forgets desires, forgets winning and losing, forgets safety – it is in a state of ‘mushin’. How to defeat such an opponent with only force?”

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After a while the mouse managed to dive into a large pile of chopped wood. Gibbs was defeated !

Sunday morning Gibbs started to show some weird behaviour, he was sitting in front of a closet in our livingroom, his ears were moving like crazy and he regularly put his head underneath the closet.

I thought he lost one of his toys, so I scanned the whole area for something that could resemble a toy : a rubber, a paper, a pen, but there wasn’t anything to be found. “There’s nothing in here Gibbs”, I told him. He looked at me as if I just told him a big fat lie ! “Yeah right mom !”

So he continued to stare at this spot, in meantime James and Lulu joined the scenery. Whatever was there, the cats had already planned an ambush in case it would make an appearance.

We decided to move the closet a bit, maybe there was something trapped behind it. Suddenly a mouse ran away, but it wasn’t prepared for Gibbs’ hunting skills, in no time he had the animal in his mouth and luckily for us he ran outside to play with it.

This time my partner decided to watch the cat and mouse game that was about to start, and he commented the game, telling us that the mouse wouldn’t have the slightest chance against Gibbs. But then he yelled : “What the f*ck ! That mouse knows kung fu ! The little one is attacking !”

“Mushin mouse is back !” I screamed. I admit I had developed some kind of compassion for this underdog. My partner already rolled his eyes and gave me that look : “Don’t you dare !”  “Dare what ?” “Well catch it and put in a box, I know what you’re planning to do. Let nature decide” he said. 

After half an hour of hide and seek, Gibbs just got tired of this tiny lunatic and aborted his mission, the white flag was up ! Even our other cats didn’t show any interest at all to catch it.

Our domestic cats became lazy as the hunt isn’t necessary anymore for survival, they just like to play with their victims and give you their prey as a gift, dead or alive ! But the moment it asks too much of their effort and energy, they simply give up ! A cat will never tire itself on purpose ! “Mission impossible ? Let’s go back to sleep…”

What I secretly hoped for came true, mini Bruce Lee again survived his endeavour. I wonder what will happen next time when it shows up !

So if you find yourself face to face with a giant opponent or something that seems impossible to defeat…

Remember this story and remind yourself to be mushin my friends ! Be mushin !

                bruce_lee

Phuro! Be inspired!

 

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