Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Path of Aloneness

From a Wikipedia article.

The Dokkodo (独行道 Dokkōdō; "The Path of Aloneness" or "The Way to be Followed Alone" or "The Way of Walking Alone") was a work written by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) a week before he died in 1645. It is a short work, consisting of either nineteen or twenty-one precepts; precepts 4 and 20 are omitted from the former version. It was largely composed on the occasion of Musashi giving away his possessions in preparation for death, and was dedicated to his favorite disciple, Terao Magonojo (to whom the earlier Go rin no sho had also been dedicated), who took them to heart. It expresses a stringent, honest, and ascetic view of life.

The precepts

  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.[1]
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the Way.


walt said...

Sheesh. An appreciation of that list would suggest that most all of us have strayed ... pretty far.

It shows me how attached I am, in many ways. Lots of work yet to be done.

Objections to such a list often start with "It's so negative" -- likely referring to all the "do nots". But each denial allows a larger, broader perspective, one that is healthier and more positive, the space it needs to prevail. Funny how that works in so many areas.

The Strongest Karate said...

Great List. I remember reading this some years back and forgot all about it. Now it feels like a sin to have forgotten all that wisdom!

I plan to think about these and perhaps write my own article about my position as a Karateka and a westerner in reference to this.

Thanks for the post!

Rick Matz said...

Here is a link to an online partial translation:

Drew said...

I have a slight problem with #10 - the do not love part. I mean, we're all human here and we'd like to have some company one way or another.

But then I'm sure it helped Miyamoto Musashi was in essence a life long bachelor (or at least we think he was!).

Adam said...

I think some of those are very good and relavent.

Some are odd. Is love really that bad? Is good food that bad?

For some of the others, the world would be a much better place if they were followed. All up, a very interesting little piece.



Rick Matz said...

I think this comes from the idea of non attachment.

"A flower falls even though we love it. A weed grows even though we do not love it." - Dogen

Rick Matz said...

Drew: "I have a slight problem with #10 - the do not love part. I mean, we're all human here and we'd like to have some company one way or another. "

It's entitled The Path of Aloneness.

jc said...

this list is a treasure... i plan to think about it some more....

Zacky Chan said...

It wasn't until long after I read the book of five rings that I found this portion of his writing, and when I first read it I was profoundly affected. By itself, it's a great list ... but taken in context of Musashi's life, and that it was written just before his death, makes it much more powerful. It may seem strict and a bit negative to us moderns, but perhaps it really did fit with his life. Great stuff.

Rick Matz said...

That's right, you have to put it in perspective.

Paul said...

Musashi is a man of, we are all lonely bloggers, though me for one doesn't share the same kind of loneliness as the man. Reality is always harder (or tougher) than my imagination, though I sometimes enjoy my imagination 100%...:):)

Rick Matz said...

Musashi's path of aloneness isn't for everyone.