“Hagakure is the essential book of the Samurai. Written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, who was a Samurai in the early 1700s, it is a book that combines the teachings of both Zen and Confucianism. These philosophies are centered on loyalty, devotion, purity and selflessness, and Yamamoto places a strong emphasis on the notion of living in the present moment with a strong and clear mind.”
Not being too familiar with Japanese writings I hadn’t come across this book before, but it was brought to my attention by a quote I stumbled across that I really liked:
“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
The book seems to be full of pithy, simple, wisdom like that.
I’m not familiar with which translation is the best – probably one you can buy on Amazon since that’s usually the way things work – but there’s certainly a free version of the book you can read here.
Writing for Jetli.com is taking up more of my free time, so I haven’t posted too much original content here, but I guess I’m waiting for the muse to find me before I do.
In the meantime, here’s my latest article for Jetli.com
How Wushu and TaiJi Serve As a Path to Mindfulness to Heal Anxiety and Stress
There are so many technical aspects to Taijiquan, that it’s easy to forget to simply breathe and enjoy the practice, keeping that awareness of the breath as you go.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
And if you are at peace you are living in the present.”
– Lao Tzu.
I’ll admit to being a big fan of Charlotte Joko Beck’s 1993 book Nothing Special. Her first book is good too, but the second really hits the spot for me. It’s about Zen living, but is very light on the ‘Zen’ and very heavy on the ‘living’. What I like is her approach to practice, because I think it relates to Tai Chi practice.
There are so many similarities between the two. Aside from the fact that they’re both meditative in nature, if you want to get anywhere in Tai Chi you need to practice pretty much every day, even when you don’t feel like it, in much the same was as you have to sit and meditate every day to get anywhere in Zen, even when you don’t feel like it. Not that there is anywhere to get in Zen, since you are already right here. In fact, from a Zen point of view it would be better to say that you have to meditate every day just to get back to where you are already, and nowhere else.
Some of my favourite quotes from her work (which I’m not getting just right, but hey, they are close enough):
“When nothing is special, then everything can be.”
“On the withered tree the flower blooms.”
“Stop thinking, stop dreaming and there is nothing that you cannot know”.
Anyway, I’d recommend Nothing Special, the book, and watching the following YouTube documentary about her work.
Charlotte Joko Beck – Ordinary Living-documentary: