Mushin No Shin

March 01, 2016

Mushin No Shin

I decided to put this 無心の心 in my blog title. This phrase 'mushin no shin' is Japanese for 'mind no mind' or 'mind without mind' - a Zen concept I've heard called "flow" lately (last 5 years) in the business press or being 'in the zone' in sports. It is where you are operating at a level where the mind is not fixed on thoughts or emotions - things seem automatic and almost mechancial, and you are operating purely in the moment. This means that instead of thinking about reactions, you are purely reacting.

My most sincere hope I can achieve no-mindedness in programming more regularly.

I was fascinated to see that Japanese warriors practiced their kata to achieve a flawless execution of a series of moves. Kata () means "form" and are choreographed movements. Kata appear throughout Japanese culture in various ritualized ceremonies. The idea is not to merely memorize, but to make these sequences of moves reflex-like. A practitioner would have simple, smooth movements that look effortless because, in a sense, they were - the person is ideally on autopilot. I can see how they would be a way to acheive mushin no shin, as well as why CodeWars would call their programming exercises 'kata'.

I have always been fascinated by martial arts and Japan specifically so have few intellectual defenses against adopting these ideas. They seem to make sense, and are dovetailing with my interests in habits, rituals and productivity as I try to wring more out of the time I have.