Sunday, September 21, 2008

Words of Wisdom from Yagyuu Munenori

Today's words of wisdom come from the master swordsman Yagyuu Munenori (1571-1646), a contemporary of Miyamoto Musashi. This passage mirrors the idea of "mushin" (no mind) and "Being the Squirrel". It also predates the idea of declarative vs. procedural knowledge by about 300 years...

From "The Book Of Family Traditions On The Art Of War":

In all things, uncertainty exists because of not knowing. Things stick in your mind because of being in doubt. When the principle is clarified, nothing else sticks in your mind. This is called consummating knowledge and perfecting things. Since there is no longer anything sticking in your mind, all your tasks become easy to do.
For this reason, the practice of all arts is for the purpose of clearing away what is on your mind. In the beginning, you do not know anything, so paradoxically you do not have any questions on your mind and you are obstructed by that. This makes everything difficult to do.
When what you have studied leaves your mind entirely, and practice also disappears, then, when you perform whatever art you are engaged in, you accomplish the techniques easily without being inhibited by concern over what you have learned, and yet without deviating from what you have learned. This is spontaneously conforming to learning without being consciously aware of doing so.
...When you have built up achievement in cultivation of learning and practice, even as your hands, feet, and body act, this does not hang on your mind. You are detached from your learning yet do not deviate from your learning. Whatever you do, your action is free.

--Yagyuu Munenori


Taikei Matsushita said...

I've read 兵法家伝書 over and over.
His Zen master, Takuan soho(沢庵宗彭) wrote a book 不動智神妙録 which looks like a foundation (known to be written for Munenori) of what Munenori wrote.

Interesting part on 無刀取り (sword take away by hands) by Munenori.

Boris said...

I don't think I could ever read a book like that in Japanese - waaay too many kanji for me and I'd just be guessing at the meanings without a clear understanding of what I was reading.

I'm sure I've read something by Takuan Soho, but I can't remember for sure. I'll look him up - thank you.

I don't have my copy of the book here right now, but I'll check out the 無刀取り section tomorrow - thanks.