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  • The Unfettered Mind

    Has anyone read the Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho? He was a Zen priest in the 1600's who wrote essay's to Samurai Lords and Daimyo's, his writings are really interesting.

    The actual book of the Samurai- Hagakure really disapointed me ,calling Buddhists "weak cowards" and stating that no Samurai should be involved in art, poetry , religion or other cultural activites and that they shouldnt even read , even that they should at least behead a few people when they were 13 years old..

    The unfettered mind seems much more philosophical and sophisticated , with good descriptions of concepts such as No Mind

  • #2
    Also the Yagyu Family Records.

    Originally posted by [Kensei 剣の聖者]
    Has anyone read the Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho? He was a Zen priest in the 1600's who wrote essay's to Samurai Lords and Daimyo's, his writings are really interesting.

    The actual book of the Samurai- Hagakure really disapointed me ,calling Buddhists "weak cowards" and stating that no Samurai should be involved in art, poetry , religion or other cultural activites and that they shouldnt even read , even that they should at least behead a few people when they were 13 years old..

    The unfettered mind seems much more philosophical and sophisticated , with good descriptions of concepts such as No Mind
    Yes. Along with Takuan's work, I would recommend the Yagyu family works (Takuan and Yagyu Munenori were friends); "The Unfettered Mind" was written to Yagyu:
    • Cleary, Thomas, 1993. "The Book of Five Rings including Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori," Shambhala, Boston. 114 pp.
    • Sato, Hiroaki (tr.), 1985. "The Sword & the Mind," The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY. 133 pp.
    • Yagyu, Munenori, 2003. "The Life-Giving Sword: Secret Teachings from the House of the Shogun," William Scott Wilson (trans.), Kodansha, Tokyo. 191 pp.

    I consider "Hagakure" to be the product of too many years of Samurai administrivia during the "Pax Tokugawa" when the spirit of "life-and-death in one stroke" had atrophied beyond recognition, and do not recommend it to my students.

    People like Yagyu Munemori and Miyamoto Musashi had the experience of "life-and-death in one stroke" on the battlefield and in personal duels. By comparison, the author of "Hagakure" seems to be a "dandy" at best.

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    • #3
      When was Samurai- Hagakure? (what time period)

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      • #4
        yes the Yagyu books are very good too, Hagakure was written around 1700.

        People like Musashi who used to be violent Samurai (he killed his first m an at 13) seem to have grown up and realised a more meaningfull way of practicing Budo, While famous swordsmen like Tsukahara Bokuden turned down challaneges and chose a path of peace it seems like Yamamoto felt that the Samurai were getting to "cowardly" so he decided to make his rules quite tough- although it really doesnt appeal to me.

        I really admire Yagyu's concept of the "life-giving sword" - the notion of controlling an opponent by the spiritual readiness to fight, rather than during the
        fight itself.

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        • #5
          I have only read the Book of Five Rings so I can't relate the others but I took Musashi's work to be a guide to be successfull. I have benifitted from his work compared to the religious teachings of my buddies the Toaist. I love their work but they dont get the job done when conflict is at hand.These other authors do not share similarities to Musashi's beliefs? Granted I think Musashi was around in the early 1500's (Tokugawa's era) I think that is how you spell it.

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          • #6
            Yeah Musashi was a nasty peice of work when the country was in civil war, he pretty much killed everyone he came across , but when the country came to peace under the Tokugawa shogun he retreated to a cave and became "enlightened" , he wrote the book in that cave and spent most his life there.

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            • #7
              i've read it

              Hagakure is imo largely confusionist so if you're into zen or taoism it might go against your philosphy

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              • #8
                somehow i dont think Confucious would have wanted me to chop a beggars head off when I was 13

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                • #9
                  Would it be possible for you to reduce the size of that picture, as it's about 15 times bigger than your posts?

                  Jakob

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                  • #10
                    Hei. I'm Toaist. The world machanically works the way Lao Tzu and the lot say it does. Just don't use their ideas to strive in the economy. (I tried, you end up with average C's)

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                    • #11
                      Japanese samurais back in 15-17 centuries were considered as
                      barbarians . no differences from mongolians..only knows how to kill ppl.
                      Civilized ppl just keep away from these simple minded barbarians..
                      of course they say buddist are weak cowards..
                      cuz they havn't relize how power can a mind done to a person.

                      until the Chinese educated the Japanese..they didn't anything
                      except killing ppl and burning ppl's house down and also robbing
                      merchants ships..

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by [Kensei 剣の聖者]
                        somehow i dont think Confucious would have wanted me to chop a beggars head off when I was 13
                        You misinterpret what I meant. I meant that the philosophy presented in hagakure reminds me much of some of the stories you might hear in the confusionist classics. They talk about loyalty and your place in society and present alot of rules and codes to follow.

                        zen and taoism tends to emphasize nature/the univers more than society.

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                        • #13
                          In defense of hagakure

                          I think some of you underestimate the value of the book. I don't quite remember a single passage where Tsunetomo referred to Buddhists as "weak cowards", but then it has been a while since i've read the book, so I might have forgotten such a statement if it did in fact exist. You also have to remember that after Tsunetomo's master died, he became one of those "weak cowards" so it seems illogical that he would think poorly of buddhists. I think the point he was more trying to get at was that a samurai was born to serve his lord till death, and that the entire life of a samurai was defined by that single loyalty. That is why he says the way of the samurai is found in death. I think he means that a samurai should at all times be completely willing to die for his master without thought for himself. He should live as though his body were already dead. A retainers life should be single minded this way, and his whole existence should focus on this one goal. That's why in my opinion, Tsunetomo warned against retainers studying buddhism and poetry and such. They should only focus on their one duty to their master, without seeing the world through two views.

                          And also, most of the anecdotes and such in that book were the words of someone else, like Tsunetomo's father Jin'emon (I hope that's right).

                          And as for the guy who said samurai were barbarians, I'm sure most of them were, but then that was the time they lived in. You had to be comfortable with killing, so I can maybe understand why 15 year old kids were learning to behead prisoners. If you look at most cultures during feudal periods, most of them if not all of them were filled with barbaric acts. But what strikes me as most interesting is that Japan's warriors had an etiquette for war and violence. And that is to be admired in my opinion. To respect the enemy and to fight with guidelines is admireable.

                          So that's just some 18 year old kid's opinion, but then this whole forum is about sharing those opinions. I would just like to show my respect for even "barbarians" because their spirit is the pride of a nation, its very legacy. And its that very spirit that has been found in kendo, the activity you guys all seem to love so much. So no offense intended to anyone, but I think we should avoid stereotyping classes of people and have our respect, since it was the lives of many brave samurai that help spawn the culture many of us love so very much.

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                          • #14
                            btw I wasn't dissing hagakure, its one of my favorite books. I just called it confusionist

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                            • #15
                              If you want to read an unfettered mind free, I think theres a copy at this url:


                              http://yuusou.blogspot.com/

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