18 January 2007


Re-reading some of my underlined passages from Hagakure, the Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (from the William Scott Wilson translation).

It is difficult for a fool's habits to change to selflessness. In confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix the four vows in your heart, exclude self interest, and make an effort, you will not go far from your mark.

B...y bringing shame to a person, how can one expect to make him a better man?

...Moreover, a woman should consider her husband first, just as he considers his master first.

...Recently, people who are called "clever" adorn themselves with superficial wisdom and only deceive others. For this reason they are inferior to dull-witted folk. ...

Once there was a certain man who was very clever, but such was his character to always see the negative points of his job. In such a way, one will be useless. ...

... This was an unbecoming thing to say ... It was rather low... Speaking of other people in this way is no different from an exchange between low class spearman. It is vulgar.

... It is a wretched thing that young men of today are so contriving so contriving and so proud of their material possessions. Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty they will have no self-respect.

It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have grasped the basics, then practicing so that they may come to fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime. Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply think, "This is not enough." One should search through his whole life how best to follow the Way. And he should study, setting his mind to work without putting things off. Within this is the Way.

The right and wrong of one' s way of doing things are found in trivial matters.

Those things that are easily understood are rather shallow.

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment. Everyone lets the present moment slip by as though he thought it were somewhere else. No one seems to have noticed this fact. ... When one understands this settling into single-mindedness well, his affairs will thin out. Loyalty is also contained within this single mindedness.

Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction. Other than continuing to exert yourself, enter into nothing else, but go into the extent of living single thought by single thought.

The brave men of old times were for the most part rowdies. As they were of the disposition to be out running amuck, their vitality was strong and they were brave. ... These days rowdiness is nonexistent because man's vitality has weakened. Vitality has fallen behind but man's character has improved.

As Yasuda Ukyo said about offering up the last wine cup, only the end of things is important. One's whole life should be like this. When guests are leaving, the mood of being reluctant to say farwell is essential. ... In all dealings with people it is essetnial to have a fresh approach. One should constantly give the impression that he is doing something exceptional.

At a glance, every individuals own measure of dignity is manifested just as it is. There is dignity in personal appearance. There is dignity in a calm aspect. There is dignity in a paucity of words. There is dignity in flawlessness of manners. There is dignity in solemn behavior. And there is dignity in deep insight and clear perspective. These are all reflected on the srugace. By the end, their foundation is simplicity of thought and tautness of spirit.

Covetousness, anger and foolishness are things to sort out well. When bad things happen in the world... they are not unrelated to these three things. Looking comparatively at the good things, you will see that htey are not excluded from wisdom, humanity, and bravery.