Aphorisms from the Hagakure

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with teh choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim. We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice.

Thought by thought we see our own mistakes.

At the time when there was a council concerning the promotion of a certain man, the council members were at the point of deciding that promotion was useless because of the fact that the man had previous been involved in a drunken brawl. But someone said, “If we were to cast aside every man who had made a mistake once, useful men could probably not be come by. A man who makes a mistake once will be considerably more prudent and useful because of his repentance. I feel that he should be promoted.”
Someone then asked, “Will you guarantee him?”
The man replied, “Of course I will.”
The others asked, “By what will you guarantee him?”
And he replied, “I can guarantee him by the fact that he is a man who has erred once. A man who has never once erred is dangerous.”
This said, the man was promoted.

Above all, the Way of the Samurai should be in being aware that you do not know what is going to happen next. Victory and defeat are matters of the temporary force of circumstances. The way of avoiding shame is different. It is simply death. Even if it seems certain you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.

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 will get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.

The Way of the Samurai is in desperateness. Ten men or more cannot kill such a man. Common sense will not accomplish great things. Simply become insane and desperate. Loyalty and devotion are of themselves within desperation.

It is bad when one thing becomes two. It is the same for anything that is called a Way.

Categories: Death, Hagakure, quotes, Samurai, Wisdom

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