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17 Essential Rules of Life Written By A Japanese Samurai 400 Years Ago


Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, and writer. He was born in 1584 and became renowned through many stories about his double-bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in 61 duels.

But the reason why I am writing about him is that this man was more than just a remarkable samurai. He was also the writer of two inspirational books. The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書 Go Rin No Sho), and Dokkōdō (The Path of Aloneness). These documents were given to one of Musashi’s most important students, 7 days before his death.

His teachings are still studied today and Dokkōdō (The Path of Aloneness) will always remain a summary of Musashi’s life, as well as his will and his greatest philosophy about life.

These are 17 rules of life according to the Japanese Samurai Miyamoto Musashi:

1. Try to accept everything just the way it is. For the sake of your wellbeing, your mental and emotional growth and for the sake of your happiness. Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Accepting this truth will make you stronger and much wiser.

2. Do not allow yourself to rely on an impulsive emotion. When everyone is telling you to follow your heart, make sure to follow what you know for sure without allowing the impulse to get you carried away.

3. Let go of your obsessions to achieve pleasure at any cost. Musashi’s secret is simple. Live simply in the moment. Don’t be obsesses with achieving pleasure at any cost. Enjoy life as it comes to you.

4. Don’t ever regret your actions. Stay true to who you are, no matter what. Your mistakes define you as much as your achievements do. Own up to them.

5. Think lightly of yourself. Self-obsession will be the death of you. While it is something that is very common amongst people, our egos are also the reason for our own silent destruction.

6. Don’t ever let jealousy take over your heart and rule with your mind. Envy is a form of hatred that will eat you up from the inside. Musashi claimed that holding onto these toxic thoughts would eventually ruin you.

7. Detach yourself from desire. His belief is that desire is only making us want the things that we can never gain. Because according to him, desire makes us greedy and hungry for more than what we already have.

8. Never let yourself be shattered by a separation. Believe it or not, everything in your life is happening for a reason. And it’s true what they say. When one door shuts, another one opens.

9. Don’t let yourself be blinded by lust. Instead of wasting your life on lustful thoughts, focus on preserving love and strengthening your relationships.

10. Complaining will not help you and it won’t help others. That is why it should not have any place in your life. If many find comfort in complaining by dwelling on what went wrong, you don’t have to do the same. Accept life and let things be.

11. Detach yourself from your material surroundings. Having a home may feel like the most important thing in your life, but it’s really not. Health, love, and life itself are segments that will always be above everything else.

12. Understand that it is always good to have your options open. Accepting this will allow you to gain a better perspective of your potential opportunities.

13. Don’t let gluttony make you its slave. According to him, we shouldn’t take much pleasure in eating. Musashi believed that food should be filling not tasty.

14. Do not hold on to possessions you don’t need. Do not collect weapons or practice with weaponry unless you need it. Even though Musashi was a renowned swordsman, he believed that weapons should only be used to defend yourself.

15. Do not be afraid of dying. For the fear of death only prevents us from experiencing the present moment the way we should. Instead of being afraid of “what if”, stop fearing your actions and start living your life to the fullest.

16. Respect the gods but do not follow them blindly. Allow them to be your guidance in your darkest hours, but make sure to find your own path in life.

17. Make sure to always preserve your honor. Even after your soul have entirely left your body. Following your own beliefs regardless of how different and unacceptable they may be is the only way you can be your true self.

Stephanie Reeds