Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hagakure: Constant Refinement

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 thnk, "This is not enough."

One should search throughout 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.


When meeting calamities or difficult situations, it is not enough to say that one is not at all flustered. When meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely and with joy. It is the crossing of a single barrier and is like the saying "The more the water, the higher the boat."

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Trans. William Scott Wilson. Kodansha Press, p. 37 and then page 51.

I have to think through this second one in particular. It sounds on the one hand foolhardy, and on the other hand like a kind of prayer or attitude adjustment. Anyone have a reaction to this?

The print is by Hokusai, Tametomo against the smallpox. As part of the cure, people looked at depictions of heroes, summoning the strength to get well.


Bob G. said...

I think many times that becoming flustered often leads to motivation.
I know that I even back off for a spell to "rethink" my particular approach to a situation or project.

It takes a lot for me to up and quit something...just not in my nature, I guess.

And the times you find yourself in over your head should be a lot more rare than you imagine.

You can't win by giving up...that's for sure, and any victory you achieve in life will be determined by YOUR terms and conditions that YOU set for yourself.

Like that poem says:
"Rest if you must...but never quit".

I'm liking Hagakure more with every post you type.

Good stuff.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:12-14 NIV--most of ch 3 of Philippians talks on spiritual formation and is well worth reading.)

It is so interesting to me that there are many parallels between passages of the Bible and these writings.

I think the message is clear: In all areas of life, maintaining a lively interest in learning new things is essential to continued living. Stagnate--and risk dying right there where you stopped.

Thanks for your work on this continuing series!

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
As you say, it is motivating if/when I figure out some different approach and sail back in.

And I am also enjoying these posts, especially the comments and additions I've received. What a springboard for discussion!

I'm so lucky.
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I also have found parallels to the "never quit learning" in other sources--I think many great minds DO think alike, or we come to the strange new thoughts and can track them back to the verities.

This is turning out to be Such a great set of discussions. I guess again next Tuesday, yes???

Thanks to you!
Ann T.