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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi, translated by Thomas Cleary

This post is not a summary nor a comprehensive review of the book. I merely highlight some of the beliefs and principles from the book, omitting more than I’m putting down in this post.

The Book of Five Rings is an important text on conflict and strategy from the Japanese warrior culture, written in 1643 by Miyamoto Musashi who was an undefeated dueler, a masterless samurai, and an independent teacher. He abandoned ordinary life to exemplify and hand on two essential elements of ancient martial and strategic traditions:

1.Keeping inwardly calm and clear even in the midst of violent chaos.
2. Not forgetting about the possibility of disorder in times of order.

Some of the beliefs and skills described in the book and that I perceive to be well worth reflecting on:
-       Learn to see and use the art of the advantage. For success and excellence: let the teacher be the needle, let the student be the thread, and practice unremittingly.
-       Matters on the mind of the master leaders: efficiency and smooth progress, prudence in all matters, recognizing true courage, recognizing different levels of morale, instilling confidence, and realizing what can and cannot be reasonably expected. What can you improve on?
-       Observe reflectively, with overall awareness of the large picture as well as precise attention to small details. How do you handle this polarity?
-       Rhythm is something that exists in everything. There are rhythms of rising to the office and rhythms of stepping down, there are rhythms of fulfillment and rhythms of disappointment. What rhythm are you in?
-       Harmony and disharmony in rhythm occur in every walk of life at any time. Your attitude guides your approach to whatever occurs. How is your attitude affecting your day?
-       Understand the harm and benefit in everything and become aware of what is not obvious. Are you open-minded and observant enough to see the non-obvious?
-       A specialty of martial arts: to see that which is far away closely and to see that which is nearby from a distance. How well do you climb into that helicopter?
-       Fixation is the way to death, fluidity is the way to life.
-       If you are in a deadlock it’s essential to change your approach, determine how to win by means of a very different tactic. Who have you consulted in times of challenge? People with similar or different beliefs and approaches?
-       There is infection in everything, not just in yawning. What are you infecting others with?
-       The opportunity of the moment, of now, of here. Are you fully present in the moment?
-       Concentrate on seizing the initiative and getting the jump on others.

There is so much more to the book. Go read it for yourself!

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