Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MUSASHI's Precepts

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) (1584–1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke, or by his Buddhist name Niten Dōraku, famous for his duels and distinctive style. He was the founder of the Niten Ichi ryū style of swordsmanship (at the origin of Yoshukai Karate Iaido moves) and the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪書 Go Rin No Sho).

Musashi was also an artist and has left us some very powerful paintings. 

He also practiced Zen under Master Takuan Soho (see my other post on this matter) who also trained Musashi's the other famous swordsman Yagyu Munenori. 

By the end of his life Musashi formulated a series of precepts he recorded under the title "Following the Solitary Path"

These precepts are fitted to the life of Ronin devoted to forging his mind and body. 

The emphasis on not being attached to possessions, ideas and persons is evident.

It is not possible to know whether Musashi was influenced by Buddhism in his formulation of his precepts, or if Zen was simply a perfect practice for someone who lived according to these precepts.

It is easy to understand however, how Zen with its emphasis on non attachment, perfectly fitted the Samurai way of life and why it was so quickly accepted by the ruling class of Japan.

MUSASHI's Precepts

1. Do not violate the laws of Society (Accept everything just the way it is)
2. Do not seek comfort for yourself.
3. Do not have preferences (be free of bias).
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply about the affairs of the world.
5. Be detached from your desires throughout your whole life
6. Have no regrets regarding personal matters.
7. Never be jealous or envious of others.
8. Do not grieve over a separation from something or someone.
9. Do not hold grudges over yourself or others.
10. Do not let yourself be fooled by lust or love.
11. Do not get infatuated over physical objects
12. Do not wish to settle down.
13. Do not seek the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to the things you have.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not become obsessed with having splendid weapons.
17. Do not fear death.

Horse by Myamoto Musashi

18. Do not seek to accumulate money or possessions for your old age.
19. Venerate Buddhas and the gods but do not rely on them.
20. Abandon self interest, do not seek fame or fortune.
21. Never stray from the Way.

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