The Abiding Place

I’ve been really awful about writing this past week or so. Everything has been really crazy around here with trying to get ready for Bob’s party, the WS/FS Get Together, and our upcoming SCUBA trip. Seriously, I’m about 30 min of hand finishing away from completing my wool jacket and I haven’t done it. And it’s going to have to wait until I finish the commission I’m working on because that takes sewing priority. 

I’ve been reading a book lately called The Unfettered Mind. It’s a collection of writings from a Zen monk, Takuan Soho. At least two of the essays are written to swordsmen (I’m starting the third one now) but where as Musashi’s Book of Five Rings was focused more on fighting philosophy, The Unfettered Mind is focused much more on Zen philosophy and how it can be related to fighting. 

There is a section in the first essay that talks about the abiding place, the place where the mind stops. During the mind’s journey it sometimes get caught in certain places and ceases to be able to move past them in order to continue down it’s path. After reading this passage I realized that I had allowed my own mind to become stuck in its own abiding place with regards to some personal relationships. If I continued to allow my mind to stay stuck, I would never be able to move on. So now I must let go and retrieve my mind so that I can continue on my own journey. 

As Soho discusses in his essay, this can happen with fighting as well. What you want to strive for is a mind that is nowhere and everywhere at once. You need to be able to see the whole fight, not just parts of it. When you allow your mind to become stuck on individual parts of the fight you become more vulnerable to attack. For instance, if you focus just on the position of the sword, you will not be able to defend against it as you opponent continues his attack. Similarly, if you allow your mind to become stuck on your’s stance opponent, you will be able to see the other aspects of his attack that you will need to defend against it. 

Allowing your mind to be nowhere and everywhere at once may sound simple, but as is usually the case, it becomes much more complicated as you try to practice it. Soho discusses allowing you mind to wander free as you practice this skill and he advises that you will need to be mindful of when it gets caught on a particular idea or subject so that you can retrieve it and start over again. 

If this is something you would like to learn to do try practicing. If you’re interested in learning more The Unfettered Mind is available at

You should also check out your local library to see if they have a copy or can get you one through ILL.

I’ve enjoyed the book so far. It’s more philosophical than the The Book of Five Rings but still very interesting. And there is much more to Soho’s essay on the abiding place that I’m sure I’ll be writing about.

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