平常心 Heijōshin: a Heart Like Clear Water

Water Sunset, Tokyo. photo by xxspecialsherylxx
I don't spend a lot of time in front of a mirror. Those of your who know me may think, "that's obvious." But when I do get in front of a mirror, after I get over the shock of my appearance and really look to see what is reflected there, it makes me smile. The smile comes from a recognition of my own spirit reflected back at me. Thankfully, that is a happy reflection.

In training it is said that we are polishing each other's hearts so they are clear like a mirror. If we get this natural clarity we will have 平常心 heijōshin and reflect the hearts of our training partners (or opponents) back to them.

One of the songs of the gokui says,
"If you possess a heart like clear water, the opponent is reflected as though in a mirror." 
This state of mind is like 無念無想明鏡止水 munen muso meikyōshisui,  "Without worldly thoughts, clear and serene as a polished mirror or still water."

This is very powerful advice. Reflecting your opponent's technique, rhythm, and spirit is a strategy that has many rewards. Not just for battle. It works in sports, business negotiations, and your own personal communications.

One of the primary ways to achieve this is through heijōshin. Just like the cat in the Neko No Myōjutsu story who defeats the furious rat by mastering this principle of life and death.

Hatsumi Sensei wrote that:
"Gokui means to live an ordinary life, to possess an "everyday mind" (heijōshin), and it is naturalness epitomized."
A mirror reflects everything because it has no form of its own and is completely clear. So with heijōshin, If your mind is formless and clear, whatever stands before you is reflected. This will allow everything you do to be effortless.

How can we get to this clear state? Well, it is both simple and easy, yet profoundly mysterious. One answer comes from Zen: 渉念無念、渉着無着 Shonen munen, shochaku muchaku - "Use thought to arrive at No-Thought; use attachment to be nonattached." 

Or, as I heard Hatsumi Sensei suggest to us once in 2009, right after he had dropped three guys into a tangled pile on the floor,
"Humans get caught up in thinking. throw that away, release yourself from it. Cultivate this reflection of life (生命反射 seimei hansha) in your taijutsu."
I guess the strange character staring back at me in the mirror is just a reflection of my life... and I have to smile.

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