What is No-Mind (Wuxin)?

No-mind is a huge part of Zen practice, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention in most mass paperbacks.

Wuxin literally means no-mind, but we can also translate it as “Unintentional.” If we wanted to have some fun, we could call intention “Aboutness,” in this context.

The busy, divided mind is always going on about something to the point that we could call it the Great Abouter rather than the mind. When we think, we’re always thinking about something. Each feeling is a feeling about something. Our actions, words, desires, even our sense of self are all brimming with abouting.

No-mind is mind without abouts. Thinking, feeling, doing, perceiving, everything’s just as it is now, but none of it seems stuck to anything.

To all appearances, I’m writing about things right now, but to me, I’m just writing. The words plop from my fingers without leaving any signs of their passage.

A few minutes ago, I was just sitting in the bathtub and felt like I was in love. Not with anyone in particular, not for any discernible reason, I was just in love.

The aboutless mind doesn’t need reasons, and it doesn’t make excuses. It can’t be shaken up by things, it can’t be influenced or controlled, and it doesn’t get in its own way. It’s because of abouting that we experience so much suffering and turbulence in life.

Without abouts, we can just adapt to whatever comes our way, it doesn’t matter what it is. Without abouts, we can be ourselves.

Abouting accommodates fear. “I’m worried about something.” It accommodates greed. “I’m thinking about how nice it’d be to steal my neighbor’s trampoline.” And it is confusion.

Without abouts, thoughts and feelings have no origin and no destination. They don’t come from us, and reach out and latch onto the things we experience. They’re just so.

And something like desire, the Buddhist bogeyman, is just desire. Without being latched onto something in particular, desire is energizing and vitalizing. It’s like a summer wind carrying the fragrance of fresh lavender in all directions. It’s like the sound of cool water laughing across smooth stones. Sensual in its entirety, but light and unbound.

Mind and no-mind aren’t two different things. No-mind is just this mind without grasping at things. Not even grasping at enlightenment.

It’s the, “No biggie,” mind. The, “Come what may,” mind. The, “It don’t mind,” mind. And it encompasses everything without being hindered by anything.

It’s what all Zennists should have on their radar in lieu of confused agendas and kissing the roshi’s ass.

Everything softens, and the echoes of self-obsessed madness fade into space. Words are empty, which makes them harder to choke on, and interruptions are always welcome.

Just for one moment, don’t grasp at anything, and you’ll embody it completely.

3 thoughts on “What is No-Mind (Wuxin)?

    1. No-mind is definitely refreshing and encouraging, but it’s one of the most subtle teachings and meditations. It both changes with the changes, but also stays exactly the same lol. Mind is like the contents of our experience, no-mind is the context. The content is always changing, but context is always the same.

      Approaching it directly, the advice is to think not-thinking, and do not-doing haha. Which basically means, not grasping at thoughts and actions, instead letting everything come and go naturally without fixating on anything—not even a meditation method. It’s like the mind goes from being a leaf caught in the breeze, to being the breeze itself and the bright space it blows through.

      The advice I gave myself which seemed to help, was, “Think non-grasping. You don’t have to set anything down or let anything go, just don’t pick anything up.” Whenever I notice attention fixating on something, I just remember non-grasping, and get back to no-mind.

      That notion kind of changes my mental atmosphere, makes it more open, less turbulent, and then I just go with it. Everything seems to flow, and all the extra crap we burden ourselves with, seems to sink out of sight.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Sounds healthier than a typical wheelbarrow full of each moment’s thoughts. Once this brain hits about 2 pm, it gets lost in time and space. So trying not to pick up—be not sticky—is a gift! 🎁

    Liked by 1 person

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