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The Twenty-One Precepts of Miyamoto Musashi: the Dokkodo. Complex and difficult to understand, nonetheless valuable.

2020-05-01

woodblock print courtesy of wikipedia: Miyamoto Musashi using his two-sword technique

If you thought the nine rules were hard, here are Miyamoto Musashi’s 21 precepts– infinitely harder (from Wikipedia):

(I have added in quotes the interpretation of the Dokkodo from Hyoho)

  1. Accept everything just the way it is.

“In no way should one act contrary to the great future that you have before you.”

  1. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.

“Do not try to look for an easy life because in this world there is no such thing.”

  1. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.

“Never harbor prejudice or an attitude about everything.”

  1. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.

“Consider your own superficiality and try to have profound thoughts of others.”

  1. Be detached from desire your whole life long.

“To always be detached from desires or wants.”

  1. Do not regret what you have done.

“Never have regrets about oneself or what you have done.”

  1. Never be jealous.

“There should be no mind of envy or wrongdoing.”

  1. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.

“Never have a mind of envy or attachment to all things.”

  1. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others.

“There should be no thought of bearing a grudge against each other.”

  1. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.

“There is no mind of thinking about a love life.”

  1. In all things have no preferences.

“One should not have likes or dislike for things.”

  1. Be indifferent to where you live.

“Do not have preference for a particular domicile.”

  1. Do not pursue the taste of good food.

“As to the choice delicious food with a relation to society in general.”

  1. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.

“One should never let future generations become attached to old weapons.”

  1. Do not act following customary beliefs.

“One should avoid superstition and taboo.”

  1. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.

“To use equipment that you consider important and not keep that which is of no use.”

  1. Do not fear death.

“Follow your way with preparedness for death.”

  1. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.

“As you get old your gained possessions are of no use.”

  1. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.

“Respect the gods and Buddha but do not count on them.”

  1. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.

“Do not abandon your good name even if it means sacrificing your life.”

  1. Never stray from the Way.

“Do not stray from the path of Hyoho.”

A deeper discussion of the “Dokkodo” by a master of “Hyoho” leads to confusion in English.  Clearly there are subtleties of meaning, but the translation given in Wikipedia (numbered above) is simpler and more sensible.

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