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“You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain”

“You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain”

Miyamoto Musashi fighting Tsukahara Bokuden, painted by Yoshitoshi (1839–1892), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

Miyamoto Musashi
BornMimasaka Province, Japan
DiedJune 13, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was an expert Japanese swordsman and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū or Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書 Go Rin No Sho), a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today.

“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.”

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

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world”

“You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain”

“Do nothing that is of no use”

“The ultimate aim of martial arts is not having to use them”

“If you wish to control others you must first control yourself”

“from one thing, know ten thousand things”

“You can only fight the way you practice”

“Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye.”

“It is difficult to understand the universe if you only study one planet”

“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.”

“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.”

Do not regret what you have done”

“Get beyond love and grief: exist for the good of Man.”

“In battle, if you you make your opponent flinch, you have already won.”

“All man are the same except for their belief in their own selves, regardless of what others may think of them”

“If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you”

“Do not sleep under a roof. Carry no money or food. Go alone to places frightening to the common brand of men. Become a criminal of purpose. Be put in jail, and extricate yourself by your own wisdom.”

“You should not have any special fondness for a particular weapon, or anything else, for that matter. Too much is the same as not enough. Without imitating anyone else, you should have as much weaponry as suits you.”

“Under the sword lifted high, There is hell making you tremble. But go ahead, And you have the land of bliss.”

“There is no one way to salvation, whatever the manner in which a man may proceed. All forms and variations are governed by the eternal intelligence of the Universe that enables a man to approach perfection. It may be in the arts of music and painting or it may be in commerce, law, or medicine. It may be in the study of war or the study of peace. Each is as important as any other. Spiritual enlightenment through religious meditation such as Zen or in any other way is as viable and functional as any “Way.”… A person should study as they see fit.”

“I dreamt of worldly success once.”

“It is said the warrior’s is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability he can be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way.”

“Never stray from the Way.”

“Step by step walk the thousand-mile road.”

“Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast.”

“When your opponent is hurrying recklessly, you must act contrarily and keep calm. You must not be influenced by the opponent.”

“Become acquainted with every art.”

“In the construction of houses, choice of woods is made. Straight un-knotted timber of good appearance is used for the revealed pillars, straight timber with small defects is used for the inner pillars. Timbers of the finest appearance, even if a little weak, is used for the thresholds, lintels, doors, and sliding doors, and so on. Good strong timber, though it be gnarled and knotted, can always be used discreetly in construction.”

“Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.”

“Why would you want to appear as one thing and be another? If you are a warrior then you are a warrior and if you are not a warrior then you are not a warrior. The Way of the warrior is the Way of the warrior. To be a warrior, look like a warrior and stand like a warrior. Do not be false to yourself.”

“When you attack the enemy, your spirit must go to the extent of pulling the stakes out of a wall and using them as spears and halberds.”

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“A bullet from a gun does not make a distinction between practice and combat. You are training to be one and the same way in your life”

“Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased. Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken. Do not let your spirit be influenced by your body, or your body be influenced by your spirit.”

“When in a fight to the death, one wants to employ all one’s weapons to the utmost. I must say that to die with one’s sword still sheathed is most regrettable.”

“It is difficult to realize the true Way just through sword-fencing. Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things.”

“When you decide to attack, keep calm and dash in quickly, forestalling the enemy…attack with a feeling of constantly crushing the enemy, from first to last.”

“Know your enemy, know his sword.”

“No man is invincible, and therefore no man can fully understand that which would make him invincible”

“Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the ways of different arts one by one.”

“The important thing is to polish wisdom and the mind in great detail. If you sharpen wisdom, you will understand what is just and unjust in society and also the good and the evil of this world; then you will come to know all kinds of arts and you will tread different ways. In this manner, no one in this world will succeed in deceiving you. It is after this stage that you will arrive at the wisdom of strategy. The wisdom of strategy is entirely distinct. Even right in the middle of a battle where everything is in rapid movement, it is necessary to attain the most profound principle of strategy, which assures you an immovable mind. You must examine this well.”

“Teaching people a large number of sword techniques254 is turning the way into a business of selling goods, making beginners believe that there is something profound in their training by impressing them with a variety of techniques. This attitude toward strategy must be avoided, because thinking that there is a variety of ways of cutting a man down is evidence of a disturbed mind. In the world, different ways of cutting a man down do not exist.”

“In the strategy of my school, keep your body and mind straight and make your opponent go through contortions and twist about. The essence is to defeat him in the moment when, in his mind, he is pivoting and twisting. You should examine this well.”

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

“Though you give up your life, do not give up your honor.”

“Then you will come to see things in an all-encompassing sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.

In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom exists, principle exists, the way exists. Spirit is Void.”

― Miyamoto Musashi

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