Japanese Zen master Shido Munan was born in 1603 and died in 1676. Munan was highly venerated by Zen master Hakuin Zenji (1685–1768) who was the teacher of Hakuin’s teacher, Shoju Etan. Of all the Japanese Zen masters, Munan had an extraordinary grasp of Mind. It stands to reason because he spent a long time on the path not being merely content following form, or words and letters, but understanding that seeing Mind and cultivating it is of the greatest importance. Like all of the best Zennists, Munan fully understood the importance of Mind in Buddhism (not to be confused with mind which is in a constant state of disturbance owing to the perturbations of carnal existence).
For Munan, in a nutshell, Mind is Buddha in which one fully awakens (bodhi) to their fundamental or original Mind (the primordial undisturbed Mind) which verifies itself as only it can. Thus, one goes from a state of corporeal sleep to awakening to Mind upon which all things are based.
Munan understood that real practice meant getting rid of the obstructions that prevent us from knowing the original Mind in its own natural state, undisturbed. He also realized that even after we have attained an initial glimpse of Mind (satori), we still have to practice, continually, removing as much of the remaining obstructions as possible. Accordingly, Munan said:
“If you can really get to see your original Mind, you must regard it as if you were raising an infant. In whatever you do such as walking, standing, sitting, lying down, be aware of Mind so that everything is illuminated by it, so that nothing of the seven consciousnesses (vijnana) soils it. If you can keep him [the new born Mind] clear and distinct, it is like an infant growing up becoming equal with the father.”
Raising this special infant means paying attention to it more and more—not the desires of the body. Munan regarded the body as the cause of delusion, and satori as seeing the Mind as being fundamentally free of the body. We may draw from this that the more we practice, correctly, the more the original Mind should become outshining so that the body becomes less and less of a burden for us. In this way, we see the truth of birth and death which only affect the body—never the original Mind. Indeed, the original Mind is empty, unborn, and bodiless.