Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hagakure: Moving Inward and Outward

A certain person said the following.

There are two kinds of dispositions, inward and outward, and a person lacking in one or the other is worthless. It is, for example, like the blade of a sword, which one should sharpen well and then put in its scabbard . . .

If a person has his sword out all the time, he is habitually swinging a naked blade, people will not approach him and he will have no allies.

If a sword is always sheathed, it will become rusty, the blade will dull, and people will think as much of its owner.


When you are listening to the stories of accomplished men and the like, you should listen with deep sincerity, even if it's something about which you already know. If in listening to the same thing ten or twenty times it happens that you come to an unexpected understanding, that moment will be very special. Within the tedious talk of old folks are their meritorious deeds.

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, by Yamamoto Tsunetome. Trans. William Scott Wilson.  Kodansha Press, pp. 91-92 and 94.

The first quote seems to have so many applications. The second one is a good reminder that classics can be interpreted over and over again to yield a new solution. At least, that's how this Scholar reads it. Any takers on new or alternate readings?


Bob G. said...

Achieving a true balance in life...seems to be a test of us all.

If we come away from something or someone and have NOT gleaned anything...we must not have been paying attention, no matter how trifling or banal the situation or person might be.

In everything there is knowledge,no matter how miniscule.

ANother very good post.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
You know, very frequently you make my day start with either a laugh or a resolve. I do appreciate it so much.


meleah rebeccah said...

"There are two kinds of dispositions, inward and outward"

All I know is that I am much more OUTWARD than INWARD. However, I am a little bit of both!

The Observer said...

Ann T:
On the first, Bob is right. We need a balance. We will always be more comfortable with one or the other--extrovert/introvert for example--but it never hurts to practice its opposite number as well.

As to new readings, I am always amazed that reading something again almost always yields new stuff. This is particularly true when it comes to the Bible. In addition, it's not just the reader and the text, there's a third party--God!--involved. So when a Spirit filled believer opens the Word of God, it's a little like that proverbial box of chocolates...

The Observer (who couldn't begin to tell you the number of times something brand spanking "new" jumped out of a familiar passage of Scripture.)

Ann T. said...

Dear meleah,
No great writer can just be one or the other! You have to want to go public, but also you have to reflect on life, and study wordcraft. So I agree with you! You're in and out!

Thanks for stopping by,
Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
I have noticed many students of the Bible are great readers, because they do tackle difficult texts and are alive to interpretation.

Hagakure in this blog has brought other religious texts in like clockwork! I am always wondering, given that it has a Buddhist underpinning, what a student of that faith would say about these quotes.

However, so far all the comments I get are working for me,

Thanks for stopping in!
Ann T.