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Excerpts from Hagakure, Chapter 1

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.

Stop Alienating Your Friends

On Huan M. Nguyen

This applies especially for us nerds. If you've ever been called one, identify as one, or the 'label' is in any way relevant to you, consider really taking a good listen.

Being a 'nerd', we're used to being right, and often, it's all we have or have had. I used to suck at sports, at pretty much everything that didn't involve raw brainpower. I found solace in my logic and in being right, and especially in showing off my mental gymnastics.

This isn't good for your self-esteem. When you try to show off like I did, you're training yourself to seek external validation, and therefore, your self-esteem will fluctuate with others' opinions of you. You're literally giving away control of your life and emotions.

This also leads to a lot of arguing. Not always yelling and screaming, but a lot of unnecessary conflict. People like us tend to refute others' points of view that aren't in agreement with our own, or correct people an unnecessarily large amount of time.

In conversation, these kinds of things are really jarring. The very word 'no' evokes a defensive feeling in people. It's not good. It shakes up the vibe, and leaves the person feeling distinctly rejected. There's absolutely no good reason for that.

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