Monday, November 8, 2010

The Mind Barrier

We need to get out of our own way.
This is a quick summary of philosopher Alan Watts’ discourse on the Tao Te Ching.
He compares this concept to the sense of hearing. When one hears well, he suggests, the listener does not notice a ringing inside his/her ears. When one is aware of such a sound, however, the ears themselves have impacted the individual’s ability to hear.
The mind, too, can be a barrier to itself.
He adds:
“On the deepest level, a person as a whole can get in the way of his own existence by becoming too aware of himself.”
The Tao Te Ching, he claims, can be used as a manual to fix this. He explains to his audience the concept of No-Mind, a recurring characteristic of ancient Eastern Thought and, of course, traditional martial arts.
“Being somehow vacant was the secret of the thing. The highest kind of knowledge is not Know-How, but No-How… It means that (one’s) psychic centre doesn’t get in its own way… it operates as if it wasn’t there.”
Again, a prevalent concept in martial training.
Age-old wisdom says that if we have to look for the right technique, we don’t have it. Mind-chatter is equal to hesitation.
Says the oft-quoted Morihei Ueshiba:
“Ultimately, you must forget about technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path.”


  1. Nice post,

    I've had similar thoughts on the debilitating capacity of self-consciousness - and the associated negative inner monologue/mind chatter.

  2. Great post. What I find most interesting is that when occasionally I do manage to react without thinking, I'm often surprised with which technique I end up going to. It is often not one of the techniques I would think of as one of my 'go to's'. It makes me wonder which lessons imprint themselves on my subconscious.