Miyamoto Musashi is remembered as one of the greatest samurai who ever lived. A Japanese Buddhist born in 1584, he taught that there are twenty rules one should follow in order to lead a happy and fulfilled life. He was a famous warrior and expert swordsman, and his wise teachings are still studied today. According to his famous texts Musashi’s Dokkodo (The Way of Walking Alone): Half Crazy, Half Genius – Finding Modern Meaning in the Sword Saint’s Last Words and The Complete Book of Five Rings,
here is a list of the 20 rules he chose to live by that may change your life:
1. Accept Life, As It Is
People tend to often create stress for themselves by wishing that things and circumstances were different than they are. Rather than obsessing on why life should be different, accept it for what it is, accept things as they are. Stress, worries and anxieties are a natural part of life, and rather than attacking your natural feelings, accept them and you will become stronger.
2. Abandon Obsessions To Seek Pleasure
Humans tend to spend a large amount of their time on Earth chasing fleeting pleasures, becoming slaves to their inner desires. Instead, live in the moment, do not chase pleasure but rather appreciate it when it comes naturally.
3. Do Not Act On Impulsive Emotions
Musashi believed that sudden strong feelings should be regulated by reason, before turning into action. When powerful feelings seek to sway decisions, first engage in reason and have your decisions be well thought out, not controlled by random impulses.
4. Don’t Self Obsess
Too much of a focus on how we appear and on our ego causes us to lose sight of what’s truly important in life. Realize that you are deeper than your self, and do not obsess over superficial things.
5. Jealousy Should Not Be Part Of You
Jealousy is a powerful form of hatred, and Miyamoto Musashi taught that if we get stuck in a world of jealousy, we can easily destroy ourselves. Instead, be grateful for what you already have, and you will be blessed with true abundance.
6. Let Go Of Your Desires
By desiring for things which we do not have, we create suffering in ourselves as we begin to feel that we lack something. The great samurai taught to not live wanting more than you have, but rather let go of desire and all good things will come to you.
7. Never Live In Regret
Musashi believed that everything happens for a reason, that everything has a purpose and is part of our life path. The past served a purpose and cannot be changed, so rather than stress over or regret it, learn from it and let it prepare you for your future.
8. Do Not Dwell On Sad Separations
Choosing to constantly think of or dwell on the sad departing of friends and loved ones prevents us from moving forward with our lives. Musashi believed that since there was no way to bring back the dead, stay in the moment and choose to move on.
9. Avoid Complaining
People often end to complain when problems arise, but Musashi’s teaching was that this can damage our mental strength and keep us stuck in the past. Rather than complain, let your troubles pass you by as your mind keeps calm in the moment.
10. Don’t Let Lust Control Your Life
Humans are sexual by nature, but many people spend their lives in a state of constant desire. Musashi believed we should not seek for lust, but rather seek for love and long lasting relationships, as in the long run they are much more beneficial to one’s life.
11. Keep Your Options Open
Do not become narrow minded, and do not become stuck in only one possible future. Stay open minded and allow for life’s possibilities.
12. Don’t Be A Slave To The Material World
While society throughout the ages always teaches that material possessions are the most important things in life, the reality is that we cannot take any of these luxuries with us after our lives have ended. Instead, build up things that truly matter in life; your character, love, and an inner state of tranquility and calm.
13. Do Not Be Gluttonous
Miyamoto Musashi believed that food was fuel for the body, not an object of unnatural cravings or desires. A warrior knows that food is a tool to be utilized, not a pleasure to be abused.
14. Abandon Possessions And Practice Minimalism
We do not need many things to be happy, in fact having less can often make us the happiest as a simple life is stress-free. If you have things you don’t need, get rid of them and travel light.
15. Do Not Believe In Something Just Because You Are Told To
Never believe anything unless it agrees with your own reason and inner knowing. We must learn to form our own opinions and own beliefs. Do not just follow the crowd.
16. Respect The Gods, But Do Not Rely Solely On Their Guidance
Musashi believed that Gods should be praised, but never let that be a cause for your own inaction. A person must forge their own path.
17. Have No Fear Of Dying
If we fear death, we cannot live fully. Live one day at a time, and do not fear the outcome of each action you take. Be free from fear.
18. Only Use Your Weapon When Absolutely Necessary
Miyamoto Musashi was an undefeated samurai who had over 60 duels on record, yet he believed that attacking another for no reason was a sin. Self-defense should be the only reason to use your sword, and it should never be taken lightly.
19. Do Not Focus On Riches
Musashi believed those who live simple lives are to be more admired than those who amass large quantities of wealth for themselves. Living in the moment is the sign of a wise person, and hoarding riches is the sign of someone whose own priorities are not of the heart. Possessions distract from life’s true meaning, so let them go and live simply.
20. Protect Your Honor
Musashi said we must stay true to ourselves and follow our own beliefs. Live with integrity and honor, and do what you believe to be morally right.