Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Japanese Philosophy


A good friend of mine lent me this book called The Book Of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. I immediately got into the book on the spot as I started reading it, even though I mainly read fiction.

Miyamoto Musashi (who is shown in the pic) was literally the most well-known and most powerful samurai in Japanese history. His book mainly consists of words of strategy, leadership, and warrior and life philosophy. It sits right up with Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

I found some pieces of advice and philosophies that I'd like to share with all of you. Not only does it apply to martial arts and warrior swordsmanship, but it can also apply to life, in general, even though these are values from several centuries ago.

The Way Of Walking Alone (or The Way of Self-Reliance)

  • Do not turn your back on the various Ways of this World.
  • Do not scheme for physical pleasure.
  • Do not intend to rely on anything.
  • Consider yourself lightly; consider the world deeply.
  • Do not think on acquisitive terms.
  • Do not regret things about your own personal life.
  • Do not envy another's good or evil.
  • Do not lament parting on any road whatsoever.
  • Do not complain or feel bitterly about yourself or others.
  • Have no heart for approaching the path of love.
  • Do not have preferences.
  • Do not harbor hopes for your own personal home.
  • Do not have a liking for delicious food for yourself.
  • Do not carry antiques handed down from generation to generation.
  • Do not fast so that it affects you physically.
  • While it's different with military equipment, do not be fond of material things.
  • While on the Way, do not begrudge death.
  • Do not be intent on possessing valuables or a fief in old age.
  • Respect the gods and Buddhas, but do not depend on them.
  • Though you give up your life, do not give up your honor.
  • Never depart from the Way of Martial Arts.
  • Think without any dishonesty.
  • Forge yourself in the Way.
  • Touch upon all the arts.
  • Know the Ways of all occupations.
  • Know the advantages and disadvantages of everything.
  • Develop a discerning eye in all manners.
  • Understand what cannot be seen by the eye.
  • Pay attention to even small things.
  • Do not involve yourself with the impractical.


Seems like a lot of rules, doesn't it? And it seems like you have to give up a lot of what basically makes us human, right?

Not true. He gave us these rules for a reason. And what do each of these mean, and how can you apply them to your life?

Nope, I won't tell you. I kinda see this as a self-journey, like the title of the list says. So just like I'm doing so, you must know this for yourself, too. I wish you the best on this self-journey. :)

Book source:

Musashi, Miyamoto, and William Scott Wilson. The Book Of Five Rings. Bunkyo-ku: Kodansha International, 2002. Print.

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