I could not begin to explain all that I got out of studying the martial arts. They were…transformative. But I wanted to offer one central philosophical gift, the teachings of Japanese samurai Musashi Miyamoto. Here’s a series of posts from 2005 dealing with this:
Musashi’s Principles andMastery
Trying to communicate something that can’t quite be put into words is an interesting challenge. A path to mastery is, (I honestly believe) revealed in the balance of body, mind, and spirit, as we have defined them on my blog. YES, there are other paths, of course. Possibly better paths. I only comment on this one because I think it’s available to anyone who can accept the three major goal arenas
1) A healthy, primary intimate relationship
2) A healthy, fit body
3) A healthy, prosperous career
If you accept ALL THREE of these, and take responsibility for both past and future results, you are taking the first steps. You understand that as you move toward these goals, there will be massive stress–and this is where the BE BREATHED technique and the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE come in–they take that stress, keep it from becoming strain, and deepen your work in all three arenas.
Another thing that you need is a way to reduce fear. Remember? The Dark Night of the Soul is the gateway to excellence. The way through (according to the Hero’s Journey) is Faith. But note that fear destroys faith. Note also that these stroies often contain violent action sequences, in which fightened PEOPLE are forced to cope, or die. Long action sequences. Long enough to reach second wind…
In other words, many of our greatest, oldest stories contain sequences where people are running, climbing, fighting, carrying, working, or whatever, while under masive emotional stress. The “Fear Removal” technique we have spoken of, therefore, AUTOMATICALLY kicks in! Even though people didn’t know what they were talking about, there was an instinctive understandingof the resources necessary to move from one level of efficiency in your life to the next, and these stories encoded those resources at either the conscious or unconscious levels.
IF you accept all three goals, IF you keep learning and modeling successful BEHAVIORS in all three, IF you have a stress reduction method, and IF you learn to deal with your fear–or better still, have a daily discipline that does this for you automatically (yoga, Tai Chi, Body Flow–all will work if you have a meditation practise that brings up your honest emotions) then you are on your way.
One of the reasons that this method seems to work, is that you are forced to find “wisdom”, not just “knowledge”. In other words, to function in all three arenas, you have to have philosophical positions that do not conflict, and are generative inthe sense that a simple rule can be APPLIED in multiple areas. You look for highly successful people, and see how their principles impact EACH of the Big Three (Body, Mind, Spirit). For instance, one of my favoirites is Musashi Miyamoto.
Arguably the greatest swordsman in Japanese history, Musashi was also an excellent artist. The principles he wrote about in his book “A Book of Five rings” will yield great riches to those who look at their APPLICATIONin non-martial arenas. I’m going to look at these nine principles, and discuss their application in all three arenas.
PRINCIPLE #1: DO NOT THINK DISHONESTLY
Interesting principle for a man who was, in essence, a killing machine. But think about it: how better to get killed quickly than to be dishonest with yourself about your level of ability? How quickly might one become a monster if one lied about motivations or values or intents? In the arena of the physical body, I’ve met a huge number of people who simply aren’t honest about how much or what they eat, or the intensity and frequency of their workouts. Fear of one kind or another stops them from being true to themselves. Or they lie about how much time they have. THIS is why I created the FIVE MINUTE MIRACLE–to have an exercise routine so short that NO ONE can say they don’t have time. Sure, you can spend more time, but if you say you don’ thave five minutes–you are lying to yourself.
What about BUSINESS? Well, my business is writing. I’ve said a thousand times that I don’t believe in talent. I believe in hard work and honesty, over time. but you need to pay damned close attention to those two areas. HARD work. BRUTAL honesty. Most people can’t do those things, so they fall back on “talent”. And if their first few works get rejected, they lie to themselves and say it “means” they can’t do it. Pity. Be honest about what you want to write–it should be about he same as what you enjoy reading. It should thrill YOU, turn YOU on, horrify YOU, make YOU laugh. There is no better way of cutting through the b.s. to get to your true capacities.
What about relationships? There is nothing that kills relationships faster than dishonesty. Lying about money, sex, emotions. Witholding vital information, misleading, misinforming…all of it is horrible. I’ve watched so many relationships die because the partners couldn’t be honest. I’ve watched so many co-dependent friendships fail to nurture either partner because they won’t tell the truth (I just had to deal with yet another sob story about a girl who has been in one bad relationship after another. Why? According to her longtime friend, “because she’s too sweet. Too nice.” Bullcrap. She makes bad choices. She has crappy judgement. And Doesn’t have the clarity to see what people are, the self-respect to demand the best, or the health to offer value for value.) People’s whole lives go down the toilet becauseof lies like this, and I simply won’t collaborate in it any longer.
Anyway–that’s the first principle. We’ll go over the other eight in the next couple of weeks…