In martial arts training, concentration is a virtue. A student brings his or her attention to one point in the body such as the center of the lower belly or the hand. By doing this, the mind is more focused and less likely to be taken by an opponent.
In the advanced stage, however, putting the mind in one place is dangerous. The mind is somewhat like a mouse hiding and showing up wherever and whenever he feels safe. An experienced opponent may, without difficulty, find out where you have placed your mind. When the the hideout is struck, the mind startles and becomes absent.
The other side of one mind is the mind’s broad nature. Instead of hiding out, the mind stays in open fields, watching over the entire surroundings. Instead of being driven by the opponent, you monitor where the opponent moves and strike or let him be as you wish.
Now, since you don’t put your mind in any particular place, you can put your mind everywhere. This is the attainment of “the mind of no mind”. Broadly speaking, no mind describes the true nature of one mind because no mind is an absence of the mind in a particular place and one mind is the presence of the mind in all places. They constitute opposite terms but reveal the same condition. A paradox.
In other words, if one mind is the visible side of the mind, no mind may be the invisible side. They are shadows of each other. One mind means to put your attention entirely on one thing wholeheartedly. No mind means to put your attention on nothing particular.
I have always been fascinated by the practice of intense concentration in martial arts training. After class, everyone walks out of dojo or dojang with happy smiles and lightness. It’s paradoxical that such disciplined training can bring out such liberated joy.
This type of paradox illuminates truth in conflicting ways. Paradox reveals presence by absence and absence by presence, pointing new and unexpected paths to growth.