Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen – Right Mind

Frans StieneArticles, English Leave a Comment

by Frans Stiene

Within Okuden Reiki II we find the mantra/symbol Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen 本者是正念. While many Reiki teachers and practitioners think of this as related to “distance” or “remote” healing, literally translated it means: my original nature is right mind.

But what does Right Mind mean from a traditional Japanese perspective?

Let’s look at what the famous Zen Master Takuan Soho, in his book The Unfettered Mind: Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master, has to say about it:

“The Right Mind And The Confused Mind

The Right Mind is the mind that does not remain in one place. It is the mind that stretches throughout the entire body and self. The Confused Mind is the mind that, thinking something over, congeals in one place. When the Right Mind congeals and settles in one place, it becomes what is called the Confused Mind. When the Right Mind is lost, it is lacking in function here and there. For this reason, it is important not to lose it. In not remaining in one place, the Right Mind is like water. The Confused Mind is like ice, and ice is unable to wash hands or head. When ice is melted, it becomes water and flows everywhere, and it can wash the hands, the feet or anything else. If the mind congeals in one place and remains with one thing, it is like frozen water and is unable to be used freely: ice that can wash neither hands nor feet. When the mind is melted and is used like water, extending throughout the body, it can be sent wherever one wants to send it. This is the Right Mind.”

Thus the Right Mind is a mind which is free and does not cling to anything. It doesn’t label, judge and distinguish. There is no attachment, especially no attachment to the false concept of the “I”. To grasp the idea of no clinging, imagine your hand holding tight to something. It becomes a fist; the blood and energy can not flow freely. In the same way, if we hold on tight to certain concepts and labels, then our energy does not flow freely. We are like the frozen water Takuan Soho describes. Therefore Mikao Usui pointed out that we have to lay bare our Right Mind, our original nature, our essence, our great bright light of dai komyo. Because it is in this state that we are free and can embody the precepts in our daily life. When our mind clings/congeals, holding onto all sorts of labels and concepts, we will get angry and worried and we can not be grateful, true to our way and our being and compassionate to ourselves and others.

“The No-Mind is the same as the Right Mind. It neither congeals nor fixes itself in one place. It is called No-Mind when the mind has neither discrimination nor thought but wanders about the entire body and extends throughout the entire self. The No-Mind is placed nowhere. Yet it is not like wood or stone. Where there is no stopping place, it is called No-Mind. When it stops, there is something in the mind. When there is nothing in the mind, it is called the mind of No-Mind. It is also called No-Mind-No-Thought. When this No-Mind has been well developed, the mind does not stop with one thing nor does it lack any one thing. It is like water overflowing and exists within itself. It appears appropriately when facing a time of need. The mind that becomes fixed and stops in one place does not function freely. Similarly, the wheels of a cart go around because they are not rigidly in place. If they were to stick tight, they would not go around. The mind is also something that does not function if it becomes attached to a single situation. If there is some thought within the mind, though you listen to the words spoken by another, you will not really be able to hear him. This is because your mind has stopped with your own thoughts. If your mind leans in the directions of these thoughts, though you listen, you will not hear; and though you look, you will not see. This is because there is something in your mind. What is there is thought. If you are able to remove this thing that is there, your mind will become No-Mind, it will function when needed, and it will be appropriate to its use. The mind that thinks about removing what is within it will by the very act be occupied. If one will not think about it, the mind will remove these thoughts by itself and of itself become No-Mind. If one always approaches his mind in this way, at a later date it will suddenly come to this condition by itself. If one tries to achieve this suddenly, it will never get there.”

Ironically, the above quote gives us a lot to think about – without clinging to any one thought. If in our meditation practices we try too hard not to think, our mind will “…by the very act be occupied.”

An old poem says:

To think, “I will not think”-

This, too, is something in one’s thoughts.

Simply do not think

About not thinking at all.”

As Takuan Soho talks about the mind flowing and not stopping on one thing like a stuck wheel, he is in a way saying the same thing as Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki:

“Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.”

I use that quote often and this is a very important teaching Mikao Usui left us with. But to really embody this, to live a life where our mind and energy flow freely, we need to sit on our butt and do the meditation practices within the system of Reiki so that, over time, we can lay bare our Right Mind.

Takuan Soho continues:

“Right-mindedness is none other than virtue.”

And, what is this virtue of Right Mind/Mindedness within the system of Reiki? The precepts!

Do not anger

Do not worry

Be grateful

Be true to your way and your being

Show compassion to yourself and others

Thus the mantra/symbol hon sha ze sho nen is nothing other than the Reiki precepts. Mikao Usui points us in the direction of the precepts again and again because they are the foundation of the system of Reiki. It is only in this state of Right Mind that we can have peace within ourselves and thus in the world.

“In Sanskrit, the word for “right” is samma. It means “to go along with,” “to go together,” “to turn together.” It originally comes from a term that means “to unite.” So “right” is a state of being in which everything can live together, or turn together, united. Right is a state of human life in which we live in peace and harmony with all other beings. It is right, beyond our ideas of right or wrong, good or bad.” You Have to Say Something: Manifesting Zen Insight by Dainin Katagiri

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