A Bolt of Lightning

Hideo Nishiyama sees a bolt of lightning.
Q. Roshi, I am confused. Some people say that No-Mind is impossible to attain. They say that the mind is always thinking and it is crazy to try to stop your mind from thinking, since thinking is the fundamental way that we human beings process reality.

A. [Laughs loudly.] I disagree! If you are looking at this Douglas fir tree, fresh green and budding now in the spring, it enters your eyes and your awareness instantly -- as do the white clouds, the sudden bark of a dog and the quiet buzzing of bees as they fly from blossom to blossom on the rhododendron bush. Likewise, the sound of my voice enters your ears instantly -- you don't have to think about it. Do you?

If a bolt of lightning were to strike nearby right this instant, you would leap up and overturn your bowl of tea without any thinking going on at any level whatever. Your nervous system and your whole body and your whole mind would just react to the lightning bolt without having to process it, or entertain any concept or idea about it, or decide whether it might be a good or a bad thing.

This instantaneous response to the world before any thinking is what the Japanese called Mushin, or No-Mind, and it is the whole basis of Zen.

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