What is Mushotoku?
In Zen, the concept of Mushotoku represents a state of mind where the spirit does not seek to obtain anything.
This is the attitude of a mind that do not get attached to objects and that seeks no personal profit.
Without this state of mind, meditation (zazen) is not authentic. Universal wisdom is rooted in Mushotoku, and it transcends dualities and limitations created by our egos. When you are mushotoku, even if you lose you are always free, always happy.
This concept of acting without wanting to achieve a result, and giving without wanting something in return is one of the most challenging ideas for Westerners to understand as we tend to think in terms of profit: “If I give him this maybe he’ll give me that in return”.
We must not practice Zen meditation, or Zazen, with a hope to personally profit. Do not practice for Zazen for fame or profit; do not practice it to obtain a reward; do not practice it to obtain esoteric powers.
Do not practice for Zazen for fame or profit; do not practice it to obtain a reward (…).
Do not practice Zazen for yourself; only practice Zazen for Zazen. Zazen has no object and no subject; it is simply the union of the absolute Self with the Cosmos. In the martial arts, too, one must be mushotoku, without any goal or desire for profit.
In daily life, man always wants to obtain what he does not have, and he is afraid of losing what he already has. Some people are constantly thinking of profit, wondering what they can get in return for what they give. Or course, in everyday life you must sometimes make a profit to survive.
For example, a man working in finance has to make a profit – that is the nature of his work. However, this attitude that focuses only on profit must be completely divested from an authentic Zazen practice.
In Zen, Mushotoku means getting rid of attachment on a mental level, that is, becoming unattached to personal profit in all forms. Letting go of profit means letting go of the inner self. In the end, giving up the self is the greatest achievement you can reach. Mushotoku is you, me and the entire Universe in pure sincerity.
Mushotoku, this state of mind in which you act without wanting to achieve a result, and give without wanting something in return is the key attitude characterizing the way of the Buddha and the way of Zen.