Miyamoto on Buddha, gods and independence

Japan, the land of the rising sun, has a strong faith culture but also an impressive work ethic. The following quote from the 17th century addresses both of these aspects:

"Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help."

- Miyamoto Muashi

What did the legendary Samurati want to express with these words?

Muashi pointed out with these words that man should not render himself incapable of action by relying on the gods. He emphasized the importance of honoring Buddha and the gods, but not obligatorily considering them as problem solvers.

If we look deeper into the elements of this quote, it becomes clear that what is being criticized is the human tendency to reject responsibility for events. Instead of admitting one's role in events, excuses are often sought that are beyond one's control. In our view, therefore, there was nothing we could have done.

This condition is now discussed in various reference books (for example, in "7 Habits Of Highly Efficient People" by Steven R. Covey).

The problem is that, in the worst case, a lack of willingness to take responsibility leads to lethargy or at least a lack of action. In the best case, however, one behaves reactively and usually just manages to get things done by the skin of one's teeth.

The key, however, is to be proactive. However, this is only possible if you are aware of your own role and possibilities.

This, coupled with good powers of observation and trained analytical thinking, promises undreamed-of possibilities and impressive successes. Musashi therefore puts in his samurai school and his book "Gorin no Sho" (t. Dt. The Book of Five Rings) also an extremely strong emphasis on, the perception.

In another article I wrote for you, you can learn more about about the importance of looking at things as a whole - something we often neglect to do. Sometimes with serious consequences.

Respect for the divine, while maintaining self-reliance - one of many components of Musashi's teachings (the image is from the Manga adaptation).

How you can benefit from this quote

Whether you believe in God or gods is not decisive to be able to profit from this quote. In essence, it is only important that you show initiative yourself and do not rely on help from outside - or even above.

The examples we often use as excuses are endless, but here are a few common ones:

  • "I couldn't win in that competition, the others were just better."
  • "I desperately needed a walk, but unfortunately the sun hadn't shone and the rain hadn't stopped either.
  • "If I should have gotten the job, then the other applicants will automatically do worse on the tests."
  • "If it had been the right decision, I'm sure there would have been a sign."

As you can see, in all the examples there are explanations why something is beyond one's control. This is a very convenient way to see things. But unfortunately also one that will always limit you in your own possibilities.

Instead, you can reframe things in your mind and realize that you can influence things:

  • "I didn't win the competition because my skills are still below those of the other participants. I am grateful for this challenge and will continue to train."
  • "The weather was not particularly inviting, but I went for a walk anyway. In fact, I found that there was a lot of beauty and peace in walking through the deserted old town while the pouring rain beat down on the hood of my rain jacket."
  • "I can't rely on God/the universe to send me fellow applicants for the job interview who are less prepared than I am. I will prepare well."
  • "I don't need signs to know it's the right decision."

As you can see, in all the examples, the goals come within reach simply because you are willing to take responsibility and show initiative.

Of course, that doesn't mean you'll achieve everything, let alone that it will be easy. But you will often succeed and you will grow. Perhaps most valuable, though, is that you don't let yourself down by making excuses. Don't underestimate how much you will improve your well-being through this.

Historical approaches to this statement Musashi's

Incidentally, the quote does not reject the influence of the superhuman and divine, but it does indicate a self-determination. This is understandable because Musashi lived in an extremely difficult time of feudal Japan, and life for almost the entire population was difficult and often marked by violence.

At that time, the common perception was that the gods did not have a particularly strong interest in people's troubles and intervened only rarely and lightly.

He also spent a large part of his life alone, as a Rōnin. He wandered solitarily through the country without belonging to a clan and fought battles. And even in later life, when he had become calmer, he withdrew again and again and spent, for example, two years isolated from other people, in a cave to perfect the teachings of his sword school.

His specially chosen mission in life, to follow the path of a samurai reinforced the importance of dedicating himself to things. Completely and without compromise. Only through hard discipline and ambitious pursuit of perfection in swordsmanship brought Muashi, the success that made his legend immortal - and far beyond the borders of his homeland.

If you are looking for more quotes from Miyamoto Musashi and attempts to explain their meanings:

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