Immovable Mind

I watched a movie, ‘Ninja‘ Wednesday, where the Sensei was trying to teach two promonate successors the supreme lesson, (Fushosin) ‘The Immovable Mind,’ so that they could one day take over his role as ‘Soke’ or head of the martial arts school.

He described one student as being like that of a Tiger, strong and feirce. Then described the other student as being like that of the wind, he came in as a small breeze and has grown into a strong wind. That each needed to learn from the other’s traits to become the Soke.

Fudoshin (immovable mind and heart) is a Japanese term that describes a state of equanimity or imperturbability literally and metaphorically.  It is a philosophical or mental dimension attributed to a (usually Japanese) martial art which adds to the effectiveness of the more advanced practitioner.


Fudoshin and its Continuing Relevance

By Stephen Fabian


Sparkling crystal clinked with seasonal good cheer as the revelers toasted each other. Garbed in gowns, suits, and other formal evening wear, the foreign ministers, diplomats, and general VIPs and their spouses basked in the light and warmth of fellowship and bounty at the gala event. Suddenly an explosion shook the assemblage, bursting the dreamlike party image and replacing it with a nightmare, like the twisted plot of a cinematic thriller. Gunfire erupted stark and loud and was met by shouts and screams, and the mass of nearly 400 people milled about confusedly. Doors burst open and shots cracked over their heads, sending the guests headlong to the floor. Armed and masked guerrillas swarmed through the official residence. 

“Everyone down,” came the snarled command, “and don’t raise your heads unless you wish them blown off!” Screams were nearing hysteria. “Silence!”   

The shots and shouts subsided, replaced by an electrified quiet punctuated with stifled sobs. Fatigue-clad men glared ominously over the inert horde, and then leveled their weapons at an unexpected sight: one VIP remained standing, visibly unshaken by the violent infiltration.

 A rebel moved closer, shoving the still-warm barrel of his gun towards his face. “Who are you?”   

The man faced gun-barrel and glare without flinching. “I am Morihisa Aoki, ambassador of Japan.” His voice was forceful and unwavering. “These are my guests, and they are unarmed. You will respect them and cause them no harm.”   

Awed, the guerrillas’ eyes widened, and for a brief moment fingers tensed on triggers. But bold themselves, the guerrillas could admire grudgingly the courage of their captive. The rebel leader nodded. “All right. No one will be harmed.” Guns were lowered, and an audible sigh spread among the hostages. 

Fudoshin. This is a Japanese expression based on the Buddhist guardian figure Fudo Myo O, who is unflinching in his defense against wickedness. Figuratively translated, fudoshin means “unmoving mind/heart”or “immovable mind,” and connotes the imperturbability as well as courage of the truly mastered self. It is the mind/heart from which have been purged all impurities and weaknesses in the resolute process of forging artistic and self-mastery. While historical examples of the demonstration of fudoshin in Japanese monks and warriors are not uncommon, the above scenario is not from Japan’s feudal and relatively isolated past, but from its contemporary and international present. 

The scene described is based on newspaper reports of the takeover in Peru of the Japanese ambassador’s residence by Tupac Amaru guerrillas during an evening Christmas party on December 17, 1996. Although I know nothing of the Japanese ambassador’s past or training, it is clear that he is a man who has learned to govern his thoughts, words, feelings and actions. He has discovered self-mastery, and has applied it strategically and intelligently to help bring an explosive and potentially deadly situation under level-headed control.         

(read more here!)

Then, no thoughts of past failures or future problems will exist in the mind, and a truly positive mental state will result—fudoshin, the “immovable mind.”

Immovable Mind

‘May your mind be immovable’