The small point that got my attention today was the difference between impulsiveness and spontaneity. Zen by way of Taoism focuses on acting spontaneously and the Hua Hu Ching at one point advises against impulsiveness.
What is the difference? it is a very large difference indeed. Impulsiveness is not so impulsive as you may imagine. Like we say that wisdom is not so great when it arises from a learning experience, it is much greater when it is of the no-mind and comes via direct action. Wisdom that arises off the back of action is a shadow and while useful and character building it is clouding the very next moment with mind-grinding and ego.
Impulsiveness uses the mind, it is a reaction. The thing occurs, it is mapped as emotion and thought, plays off other thoughts and then happens, some time later, seemingly 'impulsively' it is an echo, clouding the now moment and full of error.
Spontaneity is the action of true no-mind wisdom. It acts the moment perfectly well. The person is controlling the moment by being well ahead of it. Never is he reacting or planning his next move, retaliation or attack, but always is he bubbling in that timelessness where now is made.
After all we all know that now is truly the past. We take a while to consign reality and make it into our own delusion/illusion/moment/"reality". That which is sensed has time, our senses take time, our processing of that, our thoughts, impulsive or not, take time and the true now is long gone.
That is how impulsiveness is not spontaneous at all and this is one of many ways a Zen master could check his students understanding of the Tao, he could set up a situation and monitor how the student used the mind. The more the mind was used then the less spontaneous the action, the more the mind was used then the more impulsive or thought the action. In these cases it would be common even after a second or so of time for the master to be seen yawning at the slow response.
Tao does not think, or plan, or act. It does nothing so linear or slow. It operates in the time before now. This is not of course operating in the past! but operating, by our linear perspective, before we notice - And this would be one way to point out the difference between spontaneity and impulsiveness.
Tao Wow | Daily Cup of Tao