Saturday, October 30, 2010

forget yourself

The art of the sword consists not in vying for victory, nor in testing strength;

it consists in your not seeing me and my not seeing you.

The swordsman does not see "this' or "that"

and yet knows well what's what.

He now has no sword, no body. But this does not mean

that all has vanished into a state of nothingness,

for there is most decidedly a something

that is moving, acting, and thinking.

The main point is to forget yourself as well as your opponenent

and to let the myo work itself out.

--- D. T. Suzuki


  1. Hi, I found this post and the previous one to be very interesting. Wondering how "Myo" compared to the mental state of "flow", I looked them up at Wikipedia. I didn't find a wiki entry for the Myo as described by Suzuki, but there is a lot on flow.

    I noticed some similarities between myo and flow such as effortless action and being absorbed in the activity. But also some striking differences where flow is about a person concentrating with a goal in mind. Yikes! Instead of "trying to get" in the flow, it's probably better to "forget" oneself and "let the myo work itself out" as Suzuki said.

    Thank you for your posts.

  2. Unless you have somebody coming after with a sword, you probably can afford to ponder these things a bit.

    As I recall from my reading, 'flow' can simply be a state of satisfying engagement resulting from an activity which is neither too difficult nor too easy for us.

    For instance, 'flow' is likely to result from dancing with a group, but not from sitting on the sofa watching TV - both of which may feel effortless and absorbing.

    So, 'myo' is something more Fundamental/Essential. Reading these passages made me think of another fascinating term 'Prajna.' You probably would have more luck researching it than you did with 'myo' which can also be written 'myoyu.'

    BTW, as you find those excerpts interesting. I highly recommend 'Zen and Japanese Culture.' It's my favorite book by DTS - I think you would greatly appreciate it. There are sections on art, poetry, nature, the tea ceremony, and 'what is zen?',etc.

    A beautiful book with many wonderful plates.

  3. Oh yes, all that is fascinating. It is easier to find info on "Prajna" than "myo." I'm sure I will enjoy "Zen and Japanese Culture" immensely, and luckily I found a nice used copy on Thank you for your help and book recommendation.

  4. You're welcome, Diane - thanks for your interest!