The Way of Walking Alone by Shinmen Musashi

I have been studying martial arts for almost three years now. One of the most important things I have learned is it is not simply a self-defense study, but a life philosophy as well. If done right, one learns a deep respect for self and life along with gaining the strength to question the self, life, and everything it entails.

This path has been so instrumental to me in my quest to undo multiple layers of dysfunction, discover my true self, and carve out a life for myself that is filled with my truths and self-reliance. The below is an excerpt from Shinmen Musashi’s book The Book of Five Rings. Upcoming posts will include a short discussion of how each have affected me and my views on life. For now, I leave you with his words to ponder as I have done many times myself…


The Way of Walking Alone (or The Way of Self-Reliance)

  • Do not turn your back on the various Ways of this world.
  • Do not scheme for physical pleasure.
  • Do not intend to rely on anything.
  • Consider yourself lightly; consider the world deeply.
  • Do not ever think in inquisitive terms.
  • Do not regret things about your own personal life.
  • Do not envy another’s good or evil.
  • Do not lament parting on any road whatsoever.
  • Do not complain or feel bitterly about yourself or others.
  • Have no heart for approaching the path of love.
  • Do not have preferences.
  • Do not harbor hopes for your own personal home.
  • Do not have a liking for delicious food for yourself.
  • Do not carry antiques handed down from generation to generation.
  • Do not fast so that it affects you physically.
  • While it’s different with military equipment, do not be fond of material things.
  • While on the Way, do not begrudge death.
  • Do not be intent on possessing valuables or a fief on old age.
  • Respect the gods and Buddhas, but do not depend on them.
  • Though you give up your life, do not give up your honor.
  • Never depart from the Way of the Martial Arts.

-Second Day of the Fifth Month, Second Year of Shoho (1645)

Shinmen Musashi, as printed in The Book of Five Rings


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