Musashi's "Dokkodo": A Paraphrase

Detail of a statue at Musashi's gravesite:
The face of Musashi?
Miyamoto Musashi, author of The Book of Five Rings, wrote several shorter works as well. These pithy, early examples of "listicles" are more useful (to my mind) than the weighty and obscure Five Rings.

However, since they have been translated only fairly recently, it's hard to find copyright-free versions on line.

So I took several examples of one of them, the "Dokkodo" or "Way of Walking Alone," and formed my own paraphrase.

Meditating on each item is likely to bring some benefit. (Note that numbers 4 and 20 are omitted from some ancient copies.)

A copy of the "Dokkodo" in the
Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art
  1. Accept things as they are, and act accordingly.
  2. Do not be distracted by seeking pleasure.
  3. Approach everything and everyone with impartiality.
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously; but be serious about others, and the world.
  5. Do not be attached to your desires.
  6. Have no regrets.
  7. Do not be jealous.
  8. Do not dwell on those you cannot be with.
  9. Do not bear grudges or be resentful.
  10. Do not be a fool for love.
  11. Do not judge or make choices based on attraction or repulsion.
  12. Do not dwell on places you cannot be; "wherever you go, there you are."
  13. Do not make choices based on the taste of food; eat to live.
  14. Do not cling to things that are no longer useful to you.
  15. Do not be bound by custom or tradition; act as your own reason and conscience dictate.
  16. Do not waste time or resources acquiring goods or knowledge that are not useful to you.
  17. Do not let fear of death prevent you from living.
  18. Do not store up treasures against your old age; live now.
  19. Respect the gods, but do not depend on them.
  20. Protect your reputation; "death before dishonor."
  21. Never stray from what you know is right.

For more on Musashi and his Book of Five Rings, see the Listing.

Created Sep. 25, 2017

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