I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -
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. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.
A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.
It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.
On Greyscale Colors
Yesterday, at 5:35 am, I finished my fourth book of 2014. It was Robert Greene's 'The 48 laws of power'. In this blogpost, I will explain why I push myself to read, why it's so important to me, and why I'm (sort of) glad that most people don't read.
Over the past couple of years, self-development has become really important to me. I realised at one point that if I don't work on improving myself in skills, physique, intelligence, personality and way of thinking, I would end up with a really shitty life. So I started reading books in order to grow. What makes books so important? I'm a very practical person. I'm hands-on and more comfortable with doing things than talking or thinking about them. Books help me improve my weak side, the theoretical side of life, the abstract. (i.e. marketing, PR, social psychology, story telling, politics, boedhism,...) I exercise both my art skills and my physique, but I need brains in order to put that into good use. And the brain can be trained by reading and studying books.
Books give me a better sense of my lifes purpose. I can build or improve my own character and insights from the insights and stories from various books. For example, Seneca's 'Letters from a Stoic' has had a profound impact on the way I look at wealth, audience and morals. Here's one of his quotes:
'“A cheerful poverty is an honourable state” - Epicurus.- But if it is cheerful it is not poverty at all. It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the one who hankers after more.'- Seneca