Yoshizen's Blog

Machine in MUSHIN — Where KAIZEN came from ?

The people who read the previous Post [Zen is DO —- ] feed me back

“It explained the Zen mechanism extremely clear, — then the question is,

you wrote Zen also liberate the mind and the creativity — How a

Machine like mind can have a creative idea in the same time ?”

—– I knew this question would come soon or later. 🙂


A Japanese working practice called [Kaizen] (改善) is now even in the English dictionary

(but not in this spell-check yet. :-)) = It was translated “continuous improvement”which is

widely practiced in the Japanese work-front.

Japanese worker’s almost machine like accuracy, consistency and the

dedication toward their work is notorious to the west. = Their work ethics

is nothing but the traditional  Zen  which forms the basis of the Japanese

psyche.  = Hence, they work like a machine = in Mushin.


But, to have [Kaizen] is yet another feature on their work-front.   [Kaizen] is, to have

better adjustment of the way of production to a modification of the machine, even a

production line’s configuration —– in fact anything, for the sake of better quality,

productivity, or for the safety of the working environment, which was conceived or found

by the workers who has been doing particular job. (Hence knows it best.)

If its adjustment is not too big, it could be done by themselves. Otherwise the modification

may be carried out by the expert engineer, who follows the proposal. (of cause, proposal

should be studied by the senior engineers first, or even management level discussion.

I’ve seen this process in the Honda factory in Suzuka by myself.)

—– So, machine-like worker is still capable to analyse the situation and

able to find the better adjustment or alternative approach.

This is a proof of “Machine-like Mushin” and “Open-minded free thinking”

can exists side by side, in the same time.


As a matter of fact, to create the Samurai Sword, and to push its quality to

a level of the technical limit has been achieved by the endless efforts to work

better, hence make the Sword stronger. —– It’s mean a man-machine with

a hammer, work in Mushin still has the eyes and an active brain to analyse

and find the better approach.


Being in Mushin, hence having no useless thought or a thought anything else

of the work-on-front, mean the mind is completely filled with the subject

—– say, the Sword-Making. = Zen described this

“the Sword Master is in Ichijo (Oneness) with Iron and a Fire”

—– (a western (a bit wrong) translation in “Mindfulness”)

Still, the hands are working exactly like a machine, perfect accuracy and the consistency

thanks to the perfectly programmed Motor-region of the brain.

Superficially, we calls it Mushin because of no conscious thinking is there,

instead we do it without conscious, so, the brain is not blanc or idle, far

from it, unconsciously the brain is working with full conviction.


While walking on a street, we never consciously think how to move each foot.

Because the whole movements and to keep the balance of whole body has been perfectly

controlled by the Motor-region of the brain, like the most advanced self contained machine.

While leaving its walking business to the autonomous machine, we can have a freedom for

watching nice bottom etc or pay attention to traffic, even find a philosophical answer.

Likewise, while Sword-Maser hitting the iron, even if the hands moves

automatic, his eyes can see the minute details of the work-piece. = any

short-coming should be noticed.    As, all the process were handled

subconsciously, this minute detail were observed in the at-most silence of the

perception.  Any noise, useless brain activities would mask this minute sign.

= The matter is, to open this subconscious perception by eliminates the noise.

Lord Buddha called this Clear eyes.


If you take the meaning of Mushin as just [empty the THINKING]  you miss

the part, concentration of your subconsciousness = Mindfulness.

(In fact, Mushin and Mindfulness are not separate notion or psychological phenomenon =

those are just different words.)   Because of subconsciousness is invisible, it is impossible to

objectively manipulate, or discuss in words, let alone to teach others.

(remember, how to learn to ride a Bicycle.  🙂 )

This is the reason why Buddhism, Zen teaches the people by the repeating practice.  Unless

you learn and become able to follow this subconscious mechanism, you can’t learn Zen.

And that is why, talking or reading about Zen is utterly useless. 

Only the way to experience and to learn is by Doing.


Crucial point in Doing is, unlike imagining or having fantasy, to find a way of

improvement, it got to be rational and technically feasible = even an intuitive

idea, it never be mambo-jumbo, but quite scientific.  No body imagining that to

sprinkle a holy water from a church could solve a malfunction of the machine.

Even in the darkness of subconscious, our mind is very rational and sane.

(Well, in most of the case, among most of the people.   😀 )


So, let this subconscious to see, listen and perceive = as this perception is

completely open, therefore, able to see almost invisible, inaudible = we

can see the better solution.    Or conceive the idea, which has been blocked

by the idiosyncratic thinking.   This is the liberation of the Mind, in Zen.

= And this is the mechanism behind the creativity or  [Kaizen].



2 Responses

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  1. jagan said, on April 13, 2013 at 06:56


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