Students in a state of non-thought during standing Zen

The concept and practice of “wu nian”, which leads to “wu xin”, are very important in Zen. Literally “wu nian” and “wu xin” mean “no thought” and “no heart”. To many people, especially those educated in Western traditions, “no thought” and “no heart” can be quite frightening. What? No thought? Will one become a moron if he does not think? No heart? He must be very cruel!

The mis-understanding is due much to a difference in language and culture. The concepts of “no thought” and “no heart” do not have any of the implications above that some Western educated persons may connate. In fact, when one is skillful in attaining “non thought”, he attains mental clarity. This is one main reason why our Shaolin Wahnam members are clear in their thinking, as is evident in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum, because much of our training involves “non-thought”.

The “heart” in “no heart” refers to the spiritual heart, which is “mind” in Western terms. “No heart” means “no mind”, which in Zen terms means that a cultivator has dissolved his personal mind and attained Universal Mind.. For this highest attainment, or even a glimpse of it which is a satori or spiritual awakening, attaining “non-thought”, which is clearing away all intellectualization, is necessary because it is thought that starts the transformation of Cosmic Reality into our phenomenal world.

It is meaningful that a most important lesson on “non-thought” occured at the Introductory Shaolin Kungfu Course in Japan, which has contributed tremendously in spreading the wonders of Zen, first developed in India and China, to the West and the world.

Grandmaster Wong discovered that although the course participants had the two required ingredients, namely right technique and chi flow, some of them were still unable to release a grip on their arm by a strong opponent. The reason was that they tried to think of how to perform the technique. Their thought affected their chi kung state of mind, which in turn affected their energy flow. Grandmaster Wong took the opportunity to explain the concept and demonstrate the application of “non-thought”. The effect was instantaneous. All the participants were successful in releasing the arm grip.

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This article is reproduced from Crystallization of Past Masters -- Part 10


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