There’s a place for me where thoughts flow freely. The raucous noise of the outside world is shut out. The clock stops and I can feel myself breathe. I swing lazily in the hammock of undisciplined thinking, swaying in rhythm with a whimsical breeze.
Many times that place is at the kitchen sink, with me staring out the window as I pretend to wash dishes. Or maybe it’s out in the yard, keeping pace with me as I wander aimlessly across the lawn in my bare feet. But sometimes I fall into that place while I sit reading, late at night or into the early hours of morning. The words on the page lose focus, the incessant ringing in my ears finally goes quiet, and I’m there.
I was in that place just last night, in that foggy time between being awake and sleeping. My mind drifted away to a book I own… “The Unfettered Mind”.
In “The Unfettered Mind”, Takuan Soho attempts to rectify the spirit of Zen with the spirit of the katana. He writes about “The Affliction of Abiding in Ignorance”, explaining that thought must not become stagnant. The mind, Takuan says, should be like a ball thrown into a swift current, never coming to rest against a stone. He calls a stopped mind biased or one-sided, the unrestricted mind “The Right Mind”.
It’s the kind of esoteric thinking that appeals to me, that somehow manages to slip through the calluses and tickle something deep inside. Soot is scraped away from the charred ends of burnt synapses. Sparks fly in luminous blue arcs as long dormant thoughts rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
Now where was I?
Oh yeah. I was in my own mental refuge, with Takuan’s words floating through my consciousness. I thought of the passage… “The Right Mind and The Confused Mind”… and my mind bumped up against a stone.
The Right Mind.
My thoughts slowed, then stopped. The vision of the ball bouncing down the clear mountain stream faded, and all I could see was Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke.
Good old Luke.
He was leaning against the door of a country church, his blue eyes sparkling in the glare of a spotlight. Hell, when he grinned at me, I couldn’t help but grin back and give him a thumbs up. He turned his grin out the door, to a system that he would never give in to, lifted his chin and raised his voice.
“What we got heeyah…”
And there I went.
“The Unfettered Mind”, bouncing from thought to thought and never coming to rest.