I just finished reading a 970 page historical novel. I generally don’t read many novels but I will read anything on the legendary Musashi who roamed feudal Japan in the early 1600s. He was a philosopher, a painter, a sculptor, a strategist, a writer, an architect, a wanderer, a calligrapher, a poet and a ronin…a Samurai without a master. “I practice many arts and abilities- all things with no teacher.” Musashi wrote. Also, “When I apply the principle of Strategy to the ways of different arts and crafts, I no longer have a need for a teacher.” and “ When one has achieved mastery over one thing-it shows in all things.” He was a complex man who never married or settled down. He traveled his whole life to hone his art and pursue enlightenment. “ A week before he died at the age of 61, in the cave where he went to prepare for his death, he wrote the Dokkodo which consists of 21 principles. It expresses a stringent, honest and ascetic view of life. Number 19 made me chuckle.
1. Accept everything just the way it is.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the way.