Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thoughts on the Void Book of Musashi's the Book of 5 Rings

For some time I have been thinking about the relationship of Musashi’s book “The Book of Five Rings” interpreted for general karate (Not style specific). So I used Bing to find a version at I know there are many other translations ( and I believe I still have some somewhere ) but this is a good a starting place as anywhere. I have but added a few thoughts at this time.
The Book of Five Rings
Miyamoto, Musashi 

Chapter  5
The Ni To Ichi Way of Strategy  is recorded in this the Book of the Void.
What  is called  the spirit  of the void  is where there  is nothing. It is not included in  man's   knowledge. Of  course   the  void  is  nothingness. By knowing things  that  exist, you can know  that  which  does  not exist. That is the void.
People  in  this  world look  at  things  mistakenly, and  think  that  what they  do not understand must  be the void.  This is not the true  void.  It is bewilderment.
In the  Way  of Strategy, also,  those  who  study as warriors think  that whatever they cannot  understand in their  craft is the void. This is not the true void.
To attain  the Way of Strategy  as a warrior you  must  study fully other martial arts  and  not  deviate even  a little  from  the  Way  of the  warrior. With  your  spirit  settled, accumulate practice  day  by  day,  and  hour  by hour.  Polish  the twofold spirit  heart  and  mind,  and  sharpen the twofold gaze  perception and  sight.  When  your  spirit  is not  in the  least  clouded, when the clouds  of bewilderment clear away,  there  is the true void.
Until  you  realize  the  true  Way,  whether in Buddhism or in common sense, you may think  that things  are correct  and  in order. However, if we look  at things  objectively,  from  the  viewpoint of laws  of the  world, we see various doctrines departing from the true Way. Know well this spirit, and  with  forthrightness as the foundation and  the true  spirit  as the Way. Enact strategy broadly, correctly and openly.
Then you  will come to think  of things  in a wide  sense  and,  taking  the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.
In the void  is virtue, and  no evil. Wisdom has existence,  principle has existence,  the Way has existence,  spirit  is nothingness.
There is some similarity to Karate here in any case. One translation I have seen is Kara meaning Empty and the vast emptiness of Space. So Space Hand as a different translation for karate. It was in an article by Patrick McCarthy where I saw this. I realize this is not what most people think of as the standard meaning, but I sort of liked Karate as being defined as the Infinate (Empty) Hand.
In any case we end this look at Musashi’s writings with the Void.


1 comment:

Victor Smith said...

I have taken the time to actually read everything I have written about on my blog.

Those words have given me much to think about. Not that I have accepted everything I have read.

Books often are built on earlier written works, which in time have been proven false, making the derivative works questionable.

But even understanding what is false, and learning how that drives other practices yields things too.

Pushing oneself continually is one way to keep growing.