THE ESOTERIC CONCEPT OF NO MIND AND THE MARTIAL ARTS
By Athos Antoniades
Athos explains what is the 'No-Mind' state and how it can be used in Martial Arts.
As well as looking at the Zen concept of No Mind, known as Wu Wei in Chinese, in relation to the Martial Arts, we will also take an in depth look into what this concept actually means.
We will then, look at Portals into No Mind the crux to which is Internal Stillness, which is the equivalent to Silence in the Physical realm. When Ramana Maharshi, a much respected Indian Spiritual teacher was asked how we can measure the degree to which we had attained a state of No Mind, he replied that it is the degree to which we had managed to silence the noise-box inside our heads from incessant useless thought.
No Mind can therefore be interpreted as no thought! It can either be below thinking such as when we are in Reptilian brain mode ,or in the case of humans, it can also be above thinking. This is a state of 'Being’, where we are said to have 'mastered self 'by subduing the ego and allowing the light of consciousness to transcend the person taking us backs to the source of all things, known as Wuji, and making us one with everything. The reptilian brain is the doorway into the subconscious which in time, with meditation and training in Internal Methods such as Tai Chi, Wuji and Chi Kung and practice in other gateways to Awakening will lead us to the Superconscious, our unconditioned, unmanifested inner self ,a state of No Mind above thinking. When we finally achieve this, as well as the natural aggression of the Reptilian Brain at a subconscious reflex level our reaction to an attack will arise from an unconditioned conscious presence, led by our soul which will never steer us wrong. I suppose this is a new angle to the fact that God will always take care of us, as he will be doing our fighting for us ! As we have looked at a state of No Mind below thinking, in the form of the Reptilian Brain in previous articles we will now concentrate on No Mind above thinking, in relation to the Martial Arts in this feature .No Mind does not mean that we can't use the mind but rather, that it cannot use us. All our actions will be from a state of conscious presence, led by our soul and not our ego. Our consciousness will not be trapped in useless thought, emotions and perceptions but will instead awaken to the awareness of what is happening Here and Now ,becoming the space for the present moment. This space referred to by the Buddhists as emptiness will take the life form ,and deal with whatever is happening Here and Now. In the Martial Arts, No Mind, the crux to which is Internal Stillness, will enable us to stay calm in all circumstances. If attacked we will be violently aggressive on the outside but calm within.
Our mind will always be free from all concepts, including the concept of non violence, therefore if the situation warrants it ,sudden violence will become spontaneous subconscious reflex action. We will never resist any situation, but adapt accordingly, as any resistance will cut us off from 'being’, the only place of true power .RESISTANCE IS WEAKNESS AND FEAR MASQUERADING AS STRENGTH .
Moving from a point of Internal Stillness will further enhance our fighting efficiency by enabling the body to move in an integrated and connected manner maximising power and speed .As the subconscious will be directing the logical mind and the body ,we would have Mastered self. Mastering self leads to freedom from all concepts, and freedom leads to power. The Neomallian logical thinking brain is limited by what it thinks it can do, but in a state of No Mind, the subconscious has absolutely no limits.
Martial Arts which attempt to formalise fighting by using logical pre arranged techniques, which is the foray of the Neomallian, instead of being in a state of No Mind, will not be effective in a real street brawl, as we cannot apply logic to an illogical situation ,and fighting and Self Defence are most definitely illogical. Logical pre arranged techniques would also deprive us of the ability to react, and reflexively adapt to what the attacker is doing to us ,attempting instead to apply our pre arranged techniques to deal with an attack. This will always prove to be futile in a real fight. We must eliminate thinking and fight at a No Mind subconscious reflex level, for if we stop to think, something which we do not have the luxury of in a real fight, chances are we will get hit and probably find ourselves meditating in a horizontal position!
In the transcendent dimension we become less dense and therefore vibrate at higher frequencies. In this state we cannot be affected by people with a higher density who have not risen above dense manifestations such as Jealousy, meanness and other egotistical traits. They have as much chance of affecting us as anyone would have to affect beings in the spiritual realm. In this state we do not have problems we have situations which we deal with! We must therefore always adhere to the Zen concept of No Mind where the subconscious controls the logical brain and physical movement and we master self. Our intention is to the subconscious what thoughts are to the logical mind(ego).Therefore if our intention is to defeat any attack the subconscious will instinctively react and direct energy(Chi) ,which will in turn direct the physical to always do the right thing as we become masters of adaptability .Mind ,Body and Spirit will work together in unison to deal with any attack with maximum aggression, power, speed, and perfect timing, doing whatever it takes to survive at a No Mind level.
Kenpo Taiji and other internal Martial Arts use the physical to gain the internal and the internal will then direct the physical.
We will now take a brief look at some of these Physical methods used to train the INTERNAL and then, also take a look at methods taught by spiritual teachers not involved in the Martial Arts as portals into Consciousness and therefore No Mind.
In my humble opinion if Tai Chi is taught correctly ,and that's a big if(!), it is the ultimate physical training method for gaining Internal Stillness and therefore No Mind. The Yang Lu Chan long form which has almost 300 postures is the most balanced form as it incorporates both slow and explosive energy releasing Fa Jing movements. Unfortunately due to its length and intricacy not many instructors are teaching or even know it. Yang Cheng Fu simplified this form by reducing the number of postures to around 150.Although the form is too Yin and more geared towards health than spirituality ,diligent ,correct and consistent practice in it could still achieve the state of No Mind. However, for the sake of simplicity and commercial gain others followed Yang Cheng Fu's example ,but reduced the number of postures to the degree where Tai Chi has become a purely physical exercise! Some even reducing it to as little as 24 postures! I even saw an advert claiming to teach you Tai Chi in 9 weeks-one lifetime is not enough to master it completely. There is certainly nothing internal about such a form and may even be harmful to our health ,as when practicing the Tai Chi form, energy should follow the natural Chi flow of a 24 hour cycle. We have 12 main meridians mostly attached to our bodies main organs such as heart , lung, liver, bladder and so on. The Chi, our Life Force Energy, starts off at the lung meridian at 3am,and in a 24 hour cycle circulates throughout the whole body nourishing the bodies organs and keeping them healthy. It therefore stands to reason that if we reduce the number of postures to 24 the Chi will be jumping all over the place missing out whole meridians , evidently not ideal for the bodies well being. Each time we practice the Yang Lu Chan form we actually repeat the body's natural 24 hour Chi energy cycle 3 times. It is therefore evident why this form achieves so much.
Wuji is a powerful 800 year old Taoist practice. It`s graceful movements resemble Tai Chi but are much easier to learn and are designed to generate spiritual rather than martial power. This fifteen minute form gathers Chi (life force) from the five sacred directions in three beautiful spirals. One spiral gathers the 12 channels of Earthly light, another the 10 celestial rays of Heaven, while the third blends them together in our "primal womb". Wuji offers us a joyful, healing and empowering movement ceremony that returns us to the vital and uncorrupted energy of our original state, a state of No Mind above thinking.
One of the best ways to gain good health, internal power, mental development and Internal Stillness leading to No Mind is the practice of Chi Kung. It was practiced by ancient native civilisations and was known by different names. The Indians talk of Prana, Nadis, Chakras, and Kundalini, the Japanese of Ki, the Chinese of Chi and both the Japanese and Chinese talk of channels and meridians through which the Chi/Ki flows. Although in the past the knowledge of Chi Kung was a jealously guarded secret, taught only to the selected few, masters now sincerely wish to spread the knowledge and understanding for the good of all humanity.
As recently as the 1980’s when I started on my internal journey I found it difficult to find a class. I eventually came across a Chinese master who would only teach me on a one-to-one basis and only after he studied my energy field through my aura.
As well as encouraging a healthy flow of Chi through the body’s meridians and channels which is imperative for health and daily living, Chi Kung masters have contributed much to spiritual development, bringing some practical and effective ways to realise mankind’s greatest achievement, that of Spiritual Development through Internal Stillness and a state of No Mind.
An excellent Chi Kung exercise is known as ‘Three Circle Standing Chi Kung’, also known as ‘Embracing the Tree’. This is the ‘King’ of all Chi Kung exercises and as well as Self-Healing it will teach us more about Spiritual Awareness, and the gaining of No Mind than any other Chi Kung exercise. Proper practice as described below will re-align all dimensions of our consciousness.
Three Circle Standing Chi Kung
Three Circle Standing Chi Kung (3CSCK) works by gathering Chi into the Dan Tien, refining it to Jing and getting it to rise to the Gall Bladder 20 acupuncture point (GB20), nourishing the organs and helping to achieve perfect health. GB20 is the doorway to the Reptilian Brain which will take us into survival mode, which itself is the doorway to the subconscious allowing us to fight at a subconscious reflex level. The subconscious is directly connected to the super-conscious which is our Higher (Inner) Self. We can therefore see why it is known as the King of Chi Kung exercises. It helps us to achieve not only perfect health and martial ability, but also leads to spiritual awareness and No Mind.
When we are practicing 3CSCK we must be in a state of ‘sung’ in which the body is loose-heavy, relaxed, allowing the vertebrae which are charged with Chi to fall on top of each other and then combining their respective energies. It will also cause the legs to sink and root firmly into the ground at the centre of gravity point of the foot, just forward of the heels, activating the Kidney 1 point and drawing in a substantial amount of Earth Chi into the Dan Tien.60% of all human energy is gained from earth through the Kidney 1 point (Kd1).
Being ‘sung’ will further allow these energies to combine with energies stored in each joint/sinew/tendon and ligament thus creating a greatly increased flow of energy throughout the whole body, opening up and clearing the blockage in the meridians and organs. To further enhance rooting into the ground, which is imperative, the knees must be bent until they are over the toes. The feet must be parallel and shoulders width apart. Whilst sinking into the posture, the mind should be on the heels and the ground below them, but once in the posture, we should think of nothing, or more precisely do not attach ourselves to thoughts, as only then will things start to happen in any internal exercise, effectively subduing the ego.
Also, subconsciously feeling the breath going in and out past Governing Vessel 26 will align all energy centres and activate the Dan Tien. Deep slow breathing is essential to relax the mind and body, thus ridding the body of any external tension which would impede Chi flow. The combined Chi from all sources would then gather into the Dan Tien. However, gathering Chi into the Dan Tien and just leaving it there would be of little use, much like placing water in a bowl. If heat is applied to the water it will convert into steam generating tremendous power, steam for instance can drive and drive a steam engine.
Similarly, if heat is applied to Chi in the Dan Tien, it will refine it to Jing which rises up throughout the body nourishing all organs and so on. Jing can also generate explosive penetrating power (Fa Jing) as made famous by Bruce Lee in the 1’’ punch. In 3CSCK we create the heat by bending the knees until they are over the toes. The heat created in the legs will then convert the Chi which has gathered in the Dan Tien to Jing.
Abdominal breathing as opposed to chest breathing will add fuel to the fire created by bending the knees, by drawing air down to the abdomen where the Dan Tien is situated, also adding universal Chi to the process. However, for Chi to sink to the Dan Tien and rise as Jing we must have a vertical spine. This is achieved by tucking the coccyx under (which also helps to sink), tucking the chin in and raising the back of the head, and also going in at the waist. Simply by placing our weight on the Sweet Spot will take us into this posture as long as everything else we have discussed is complied with.
Also, scrunching the toes under opens up the Foot Kwa, further activating Kidney 1 and giving us a Yin shaped foot attracting aggressive Yang energy which will in turn be attracted by our Yin shaped back as we round our shoulders and concave the chest, rising up to the base of the skull and the GB20 points and therefore entering the Reptilian Brain and so on.
Holding our arms in front of us as shown in the photo will open up the Arm Kwa increasing the rate at which the Jing will flow. The index finger should initially be at a level just below the nose but it would be OK to drop the hand down to chest level as we advance.
The feet should be parallel and shoulder-width apart and the tongue should be pressed on the hard palate where we say ‘L’. The 3CSCK posture will also activate 3 internal Chi pumps (sacral, adrenal, cranial) further forcing the Jing up the back.
In Kenpo Taiji we further enhance our ability to fight at a No Mind Subconscious reflex level by training in the following 2-man Training Methods:
- Push Hands(Single and Double)
- Small San Sau
- Large San Sau(also done solo)
- Penge/Hinge -Lon Har Cuan(Dragon Prawn Boxing )
- Da Lu
All these training methods are based on Natural Body Movement, which is one way of programming the Subconscious, or are Abstract Training Methods not understood by logical thinking brain and therefore filter through to the subconscious programming it to fight at a No Mind subconscious reflex level, totally eliminating the need for thought. It is as if the body has its own mind in a fight.
PORTALS INTO NO MIND:
We will now take a look at some of the gateways (portals) into consciousness advocated by Spiritual teachers not involved in the Martial arts:
1. MEDITATION USING THE BREATH
This was a method advocated by the Buddha as a Portal into a state of No Mind, which is used by people around the world seeking a Spiritual Awakening.
The method takes advantage of the fact that the conscious thinking brain can only think of 'one’ thought at a time, therefore by placing the attention on the breath which happens naturally and does not have to be thought about, we are able to free consciousness trapped by the ego in useless thought, worry and anxiety .As we subdue the ego and attain a state of No Mind our consciousness becomes the space for what ever is happening in the present moment where Time and Space are one and whereby all our words and actions are powered from the unlimited potential which underlies and is the source of all things. This is the place where true genius, ultimate fighting ability and even an advance sense of humour emanates from.
If we have an over active mind and find it difficult to stay focused on our breath, we can initially, count from 1 to 9 on the in-breath, and 9 down to 1 on the out breath as we begin to gain Internal Stillness we can reduce this down to 7 ,then down to 5 and eventually there will be no need to count at all.
We have to become enlightened so as not to think at all, it is that difficult, but the trick is to allow the thoughts to come and go without attaching ourselves in them, getting lost in them, and allowing them to take us over. We must maintain our focus on the breath as thoughts and feelings come and go, notice them but always bring awareness back to your breath- it is the focal point.
Breath is also the doorway between form and formless, between the in breath and the out breath and out and in, is the space which is the umma infested consciousness.
2.BECOME THE WATCHER
Another method taught by Spiritual teachers such as Osho, Eckhart Tolle, Krishnamurti and many others to attain a state of No Mind, is to detach ourselves by becoming the 'WATCHER' of the ego based thoughts. Only then will all our actions, words, achievements etc arise from a place far deeper than the ego which is limited by what it things it can achieve, our potential will be unlimited as we are guided from a place of Conscious Presence, our Soul, which will never steer you wrong.
Becoming the 'Watcher' means allowing our true, deeper (higher) self to detach itself from the ego by watching its thoughts as if from a distance. For you see, thoughts are parasites they do not have their own energy they steal ours leaving us feeling drained, fearful and insecure, as this is how the ego maintains its control! By realising this and becoming the watcher we cut off the egos energy supply, it is as if those thoughts could be someone else's as we distance ourselves from them. Only then will our power be truly unlimited and nothing in life will phase us-we deal with it there and then. We will be in this world but not of this world.
3.FOCUSING ON THE INNER SELF
Almost all religions teach that the kingdom of God is within and not up there in the heavens somewhere. It has also been said that God is closer to us than our hands and feet. What can possibly be closer to us than our hands and feet but the life force within us, circulating around our body, much like an electric current, holding our cells together and keeping us alive. This Life Force which we call energy, is called Chi by the Chinese, Ki by the Japanese, Prana by the Indians and Pneuma by the Greeks. When we die this 'energy' leaves our body our cells break apart as life leaves our body.
Chi is in fact the mediator between the Physical and Spiritual realms initially situated in the lower Dan Tien 3"below the naval converted to its refined form of Jing in order to do work, healing and fighting. Jing is stored in the Middle Dan Tien, which is situated by the Solar Plexus. The process of refinement is greatly facilitated and enhanced through the practice of such Internal disciplines as Tai Chi, Wuji, Chi Kung and so on. If practiced correctly, training in these methods will eventually further refine the Chi to Shen (Spirit) as it rises up to the Upper Dan Tien situated between the eyes often referred to as the 3rd eye. When this happens we have truly reached a stage of No Mind and are said to have Awakened or become Enlightened.
We can subdue the ego and enter a state of No Mind in our daily lives and when meditating by placing our attention on this Inner Self. It loves our attention and like a dimmer switch the light of consciousness expands and transcends the person as we become aware of our awareness. In fact what we are really saying is that we become the awareness of the present moment and are not lost in psychological thinking, and will have truly gone into No Mind.
These are just a few of the many methods used by Spiritual leaders around the world as a means of subduing the ego and allowing the light of Consciousness to transcend the person leading to a state of No Mind.