The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War - The Normal Mind
Type of Spiritual Experience
There are two levels at which this can be read but if I list all the symbolism the main point will be missed.
A description of the experience
The Normal Mind
A monk asked an ancient worthy, "What is the Way?"
He replied, "The normal mind is the Way''.
The story contains a principle that applies to all the arts. Asked what the Way is, the ancient worthy replied that the normal mind is the Way. This is truly the ultimate. This is the state where the sicknesses of mind are all gone and one has become normal in mind, free from sickness even when in the midst of the sickness.
To apply this to worldly matters, suppose you are shooting with a bow and you think you are shooting while you are shooting; then the aim of your bow will be inconsistent and unsteady. When you wield a sword, if you are conscious of wielding a sword, your
offense will be unstable. When you are writing, if you are conscious of writing, your pen will be unsteady.
Even when you play the harp, if you are conscious of playing, the tune will be off.
When an archer forgets consciousness of shooting and shoots in a normal frame of mind, as if unoccupied, the bow will be steady. When using a sword or riding a horse as well, you do not "wield a sword" or "ride a horse." And you do not "write," you do not
"play music." When you do everything in the normal state of mind, as it is when totally unoccupied, then everything goes smoothly and easily.
Whatever you do as your Way, if you are obsessed with it, or think that this alone is of importance to you, then it is not the Way. It is when you have nothing in your chest that you are on the Way. Whatever you do, if you do it with nothing in your chest, it works out easily.
This is like the way everything reflects clearly in a mirror precisely because of the formless clarity of the mirror's reflectiveness. The heart of those on the Way is like a mirror, empty and clear, being mindless and yet not failing to accomplish anything.
This is the "normal mind." Someone who does everything with this normal mind is called an adept.
Whatever you do, if you keep the idea of doing it before you and do it with singleminded concentration, you will be uncoordinated. You will do it well once, and
then, when you think that is fine, you will do it badly. Or you may do it well twice, then do it badly again. If you are glad you did it well twice and badly only once, then you will do it badly again. There is no consistency at all, because of doing it with the thought of doing it well.
When the effects of exercise build up unawares and practice accumulates, thoughts of wishing to quickly develop skill disappear quietly, and whatever you do, you spontaneously become free from conscious thoughts. At this time, you do not even know yourself; when your body feet, and hands act without your doing anything in your mind, you make no misses, ten times out of ten.
Even then, if it gets on your mind, you will miss.
When you are not consciously mindful, you will succeed every time. Not being consciously mindful does not, however, mean total mindlessness it just means a