Immovable Mind

To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace. – Morihei Ueshiba

A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind. – Morihei Ueshiba

I always admired the heroes in old Westerns. The townsfolk are under threat and the sheriff, gunfighter, farmer has every reason to ride away. But something galvanizes him to action. Instead of running, he stands, fearlessly facing death. And he fights the lawless, the greedy. He stands straight and fights from his conviction.

Fudoshin translates as immovable mind or steadfast mind. I think it relates to the English word “conviction.” An immovable mind isn’t stubborn, but tenacious. It isn’t calcified, it is oriented. Fudoshin may be best understood by what it protects the warrior from. Fudoshin protects from the four sicknesses of the mind: anger, doubt, fear, and surprise (zen-buddhism.net).

I find it interesting that the “sicknesses” are all reactionary emotions. When a dog snarls and I am startled and become afraid, I lose my composure. When someone is angry at me and I respond in anger, usually my reactions are off center and focus on attacking the person rather than moving toward an outcome.

Mushin (empty mind) and Fudoshin go hand-in-hand. I do not just empty my mind of conscious thought, but also anger, doubt, fear, and surprise. Empty all that out, and then explore how much easier it is to observe. How much easier it becomes to move without doubt or fear.

When I started aikido, others taught me how to stand, how to step, how to slide, how to lift my arm. I was confused. I doubted myself. I got irritated . I got worried I looked foolish. I probably did. My balance was easy to disturb. My mind moved all over.

Now I’m becoming more aware of how my mental state affects my posture and movement. Often tenseness, leaning, and imbalance reflect my state of mind.

I have been reflecting on fudoshin and conviction for over a month (which is why this post is so late). I still haven’t reached any conclusions on what my conviction ought to be in regards to violence, what principle I will not move from. But the question itself is valuable. And, by degrees, doubts and fears fade.

 

Quotes from https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Morihei_Ueshiba

Image from Nate Brush

About NateB

Nate has been training in aikido since 2013 and is currently ranked 1st kyu.