Ishin-denshin (以心伝心) is a Japanese idiom which denotes a form of interpersonal communication through unspoken mutual understanding. This four-character compound (or yojijukugo) literally translates as "what the mind thinks, the heart transmits". Sometimes translated into English as "telepathy" or "sympathy", ishin-denshin is also commonly rendered as "heart-to-heart communication" or "tacit understanding".
Although silent understanding is generally recognized as a universal human phenomenon, the term ishin-denshin is often used to convey a style of nonverbal communication between two people that is felt by some Japanese to be characteristic of Japanese culture. Whereas the Japanese concept of haragei denotes a deliberate form of nonverbal communication, ishin-denshin refers to a passive form of shared understanding. Ishin-denshin is traditionally perceived by the Japanese as sincere, silent communication via the heart or belly (i.e. symbolically from the inside, uchi), as distinct from overt communication via the face and mouth (the outside, soto), which is seen as being more susceptible to insincerities. The introduction of this concept to Japan (via China) is related to the traditions of Zen Buddhism, where the term ishin-denshin refers to direct mind transmission. Zen Buddhism tradition, in turn, draws the concept of ishin-denshin from the first Dharma transmission between Gautama Buddha and Mahākāśyapa in the Flower Sermon.
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