Tag Archives: quotations

Occam’s Razor for shooters….

The Ockraz Logo
The Ockraz Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

William of Ockham was an influential medieval philosopher who is recalled chiefly for the maxim attributed to him known as Ockham’s razor. Also spelled “Occam’s Razor”. The words attributed to him are, entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem…or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.

I bring this up because I have just read a quote from the Dokkodo, the “The Solitary Path”, which is a short piece written by Miyamoto Musashi shortly before his death:

Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what can be of use to you.

I see a link between the philosophies of these two men and an application to weapon training. I will attempt to explain.

These philosophical issues come to mind because I was recently involved in a friendly conversation debating that “Less Filling. Tastes Great” topic of using the slide release vs “power stroking” the slide on a handgun during an emergency reload.

I have a post here regarding this very issue BTW.

Debate points that always seem to come up when discussing emergency reloads are:

“I use the power stroke because I may be using a weapon I am unfamiliar with and running the slide is fairly universal for all pistols while slide releases may vary.”

and

“I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.”

Being a fairly recent convert to the slide release method, Occam’s and Musashi’s quotes kind of cut me both ways.

I argue that the “It’s universal for all pistols” point either means you own too many pistols or you are saying you are going to be doing a combat pick up of a pistol…or a disarm.

Per Occam/Musashi…if you have so many different pistols that you may/may not be carrying at any one time, you are violating their precepts. I’m not against collecting guns, I’m not against having different pistols/rifles for different applications, but if you worry that you may not be able to “auto pilot” your weapon because you may be carrying something different on any given day, that’s a problem IMO. Pick one and make it a part of your hand.

The combat pick-up/disarm argument doesn’t hold much water for me either. I’m probably not going to disarm an attacker of his weapon and magazines and have to do an emergency reload with them. And the combat pick-up is such a statistically rare issue that I don’t see it as a valid point. Either way, if they worry you then do the power stroke method if that ever happens.

The second point…”I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.” Is a more valid argument when applying Occam (Musashi doesn’t really apply here). Having one way of operating the pistol regardless of reason (malfunction or running dry) is a stronger point IMO and I have much to agree with.

However I would counter that Occam said “…must not be multiplied beyond necessity” he didn’t say “never multiply”. The slide stop method has some things going for it; speed, efficiency, the weapon/hands stay more oriented to the threat, etc. The necessity of multiplying your manual of arms to gain those advantages may be debatable, but I would debate it.

Either way you choose I find Occam and Musashi’s points as interesting ways to analyze our choices when it comes to weaponcraft. What do you think?

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seeking good companions

Muromachi period samurai, 1538
Image via Wikipedia

In light of some recent events, this post came to my mind so I decided to re-publish it.

If one would seek good companions, he will find them among those with whom he studies Learning and calligraphy. Harmful companions to avoid will be found among those who play go, chess and shakuhachi. There is no shame in not knowing these later amusements. Indeed, they are matters to be taken up only in the stead of wasting ones time completely.

A person’s good and evil are dependent on his companions. When three people are together there will always be an exemplary person among them, and one should choose the good person and follow his example. Looking at the bad person, one should correct his own mistakes.

-Hojo Nagauji (1432-1519 A.D.)

Hojo Nagauji was a “Fighting Samurai” and general of the late Muromachi Period. Some of his writings, namely The Twenty-One Precepts (of which this is a quote), are amongst the foundations of what we know as Bushido.

I find this passage interesting. In it he is advising his retainers to really consider who it is they associate with. He tells them to associate with people who are studious and avoid those who want to spend their time gambling, gaming and carousing. Furthermore he suggests looking for the “good example” in every crowd and avoid being like the bad example.

To apply this to our times does not take much re-contexing, as a matter of fact there are numerous sayings from various cultures that state the same:

Be honorable yourself if you wish to associate with honorable people.
-Welsh Proverb

Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company.
George Washington

I think this sentiment echoes a few of my previous posts; namely my “magic self-defense formula” and Col. Grossman’s “screw golf” sentiment.

We (including myself) have all been in those situations where we have been out on the town with our friends and gotten a little too drunk, done something too stupid or just made too much of a spectacle of ourselves in public. I do not want to come off as a prude, but too much of that sort of thing leads to nothing but trouble and does nothing but lead one from “the way”. If you associate with people who lead you into those types of situations it is time to consider the value of those people and its time to consider your own reasons for associating with them. I’m not suggesting that one needs to swear off alcohol or “going out” entirely. Even Hojo Nagauji did not say that. But he did say that “playing” was only to be considered over completely wasting ones time. If one desires to be considered a “professional” or a “warrior” then there are numerous things you could be doing to improve your skills and your survivability (“screw golf”) other than idle drinking. If drinking and partying is occupying more of your heart and mind then “the way” is, then I believe that you are living in a fantasy world where you want to “say you are… rather than BE.”

In the end, what I am suggesting is being “mindful” in everything you do. If you want to go out and enjoy yourself every now and then by all means do so. But do so “intentionally”. Likewise consider the people you associate with; are they examples you wish to emulate? Do you want other people to think of you the way they think of them? Are they worthy of respect? Are you?

In my opinion, if you find yourself getting “wasted” as routine entertainment, if you like to associate with criminals and “loser’s”, or if you are consistently acting in an undignified manner in public, you are debasing yourself, asking for trouble, and are far from the path of a “warrior”.

The Way of George Washington

George Washington
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and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great.

– Thomas Jefferson, about George Washington, 1814

By age sixteen George Washington had copied, by hand, the 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. Based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits, they were most likely copied by a student Washington as part of an exercise in penmanship. A study of Washington’s life will show that the rules, and the environment that fostered these beliefs played a large role in the sort of man that Washington became.

To today’s ears, many, if not all of these rules, may sound somewhat silly. It’s easy to dismiss them as relics of an age gone by, believing that our society has moved past the 18th Century and all that they thought and believed in.

However, if one takes the time to read and ponder on these 110 Rules, they will quickly see that their focus is on other people rather than on our own self-interests. A focus that too many of us seem to subscribe to these days and perhaps a fault that bears reconsideration.

I believe that many martial artists and people interested in martial history become so enamored with exotic philosophies and cultures that they miss the richness of history available in their own countries traditions. I mentioned in a previous post that the M4 rifle and pistol are the equivalent of the Katana and companion sword to todays warrior. Perhaps the Kentucky Rifle and the Tomahawk are the ancient weapons of the American Warrior and Rodgers Rangers Standing Orders and the 110 Rules are our Hagakure and Budoshoshinshu?

THE 110 RULES:

1st Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

2nd When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered.

3rd Show Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.

4th In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

5th If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.

6th Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

7th Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.

8th At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

9th Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.

10th When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.

11th Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

12th Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

13th Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

14th Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.

15th Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Showing any great Concern for them.

16th Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.

17th Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play’d Withal.

18th Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.

19th Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

20th The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.

21st Reproach none for the Infirmities of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

22nd Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

23rd When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender.

24th Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Public Spectacle.

25th Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.

26th In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen & make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.

27th Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it’s due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being asked; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behavior in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.

28th If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.

29th When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.

30th In walking the highest Place in most Countries Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honor: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honorable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.

31st If any one far Surpasses others, either in age, Estate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himself in his own lodging or elsewhere the one ought not to except it, So he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer it above once or twice.

32nd To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the chief Place in your Lodging and he to who ‘is offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

33rd They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Precedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualities, though they have no Public charge.

34th It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak before ourselves especially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin.

35th Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

36th Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honor them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affability & Courtesy, without Arrogance.

37th In speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.

38th In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.

39th In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.

40th Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

41st Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Professes; it Savours of arrogance.

42nd Let thy ceremonies in Courtesy be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou converses for it is absurd to act the same with a Clown and a Prince.

43rd Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.

44th When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

45th Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Show no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness.

46th Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place Soever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time & Place convenient to let him him know it that gave them

47th Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break [n]o Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing thereat yourself.

48th Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

49th Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.

50th Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

51st Wear not your Cloths, foul, ripped or Dusty but See they be Brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.

52nd In your Apparel be Modest and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.

53rd Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking your Arms kick not the earth with your feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

54th Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Decked, if your Shoes fit well if your Stockings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.

55th Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.

56th Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad Company.

57th In walking up and Down in a House, only with One in Company if he be Greater than yourself, at the first give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the first that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you.

58th Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for ‘is a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.

59th Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against the Rules Moral before your inferiors.

60th Be not immodest in urging your Friends to Discover a Secret.

61st Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and Learned Men nor very Difficult Questions or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.

62nd Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.

63rd A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

64th Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, though there Seem to be Some cause.

65th Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.

66th Be not froward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it’s a time to Converse.

67th Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding.

68th Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Asked & when desired do it briefly.

69th If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indifferent be of the Major Side.

70th Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.

71st Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.

72nd Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.

73rd Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

74th When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

75th In the midst of Discourse ask not of what one treateth but if you Perceive any Stop because of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it’s handsome to Repeat what was said before.

76th While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.

77th Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others.

78th Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Virtue, commend not another for the Same.

79th Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

80th Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith.

81st Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.

82nd Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.

83rd When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, however mean the Person be you do it too.

84th When your Superiors talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.

85th In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not til you are asked a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words.

86th In Disputes, be not So Desirous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.

87th Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.

88th Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressions, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.

89th Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

90th Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there’s a Necessity for it.

91st Make no Show of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat.

92nd Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.

93rd Entertaining any one at the table, it is decent to present him with meat; Undertake not to help others undesired by the Master.

94th If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self.

95th Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pie upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.

96th It’s unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.

97th Put not another bit into your mouth till the former be swallowed. Let not your morsels be too big for the jowls.

98th Drink not nor talk with your mouth full; neither gaze about you while you are drinking.

99th Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after drinking, wipe your lips; breath not then or ever with too great a noise, for its uncivil.

100th Cleanse not your teeth with the table cloth napkin, fork, or knife; but if others do it, let it be done without a peep to them.

101st Rinse not your mouth in the presence of others.

102nd It is out of use to call upon the company often to eat; nor need you drink to others every time you drink.

103rd In the company of your betters, be not longer in eating than they are; lay not your arm but only your hand upon the table.

104th It belongs to the chiefest in company to unfold his napkin and fall to meat first, but he ought then to begin in time & to dispatch with dexterity that the slowest may have time allowed him.

105th Be not angry at the table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, show it not; put on a cheerful countenance especially if there be strangers, for good humor makes one dish of meat a feast.

106th Set not yourself at the upper of the table; but if it be your due or that the master of the house will have it so, contend not, least you should trouble the company.

107th If others talk at the table, be attentive but talk not with meat in your mouth.

108th When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

109th Let your recreations be manful not sinful.

110th Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

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be aware of yourself

Zen

“Be aware of yourself and know yourself. No matter how much you have learned and how much you know, if you don’t know yourself you don’t know anything. Indeed, if you don’t know yourself you cannot know anything else. People who don’t know themselves criticize others from the point of view of their own ignorant selves. They consider whatever agrees with them to be good, and hate whatever doesn’t go their way. They become irritated about everything, causing themselves to suffer by themselves, bothering themselves solely because of their own prejudices. If you know that not everyone will be agreeable to you, know that you won’t be agreeable to everyone either. Those who have no prejudices in themselves do not reject people, and therefore people do not reject them.”

— Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655)

favorite quotes

Secretariat's statue at Belmont Park
Image via Wikipedia

Do you give the horse its might?
Do you clothe its neck with mane?
Do you make it leap like the locust?
Its majestic snorting is terrible.
It paws violently, exults mightily;
it goes out to meet the weapons.
It laughs at fear, and is not dismayed;
it does not turn back from the sword.
Upon it rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
With fierceness and rage it swallows the ground;
it cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
When the trumpet sounds, it says “Aha!”
From a distance it smells the battle,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

-Job 39:19

 

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dont be “common”

Worlds Largest American Flag
Image by BlueSun Photography via Flickr

I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon. To seek opportunity to develop whatever talents God gave me – not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any earthly master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations and to face the world boldly and say: `This, with God’s help, I have done.’ All this is what it means to be an American.

– “My Creed”, by Dean Alfange.

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discerning a brave man from a coward

A samurai wielding a naginata.
Image via Wikipedia

One of my interests is Bushido and the Samurai. I found this passage in the Bushidoshoshinshu, a book written by Daidoji Yuzan Taira no Shigesuke. This work was widely read and discussed by warriors of the middle and late Edo period and became one of the sources for bushi thought and behavior throughout the country, along with such books as Hagakure and Tengu Geijutsuron.

These books and others were discussions of what a warrior ought to do and how he should behave in the fulfillment of his duties, a combination of military thought and social etiquette. The core of this passage is the idea that “the worth of a man” is to be found in his day to day behavior, not in the extreme and relatively rare occurrence (even for the Samurai) of actual battle. As in my previous post, the idea is to perform small acts of courage as often as possible to be familiar with the feeling when the “big one” arrives.

When speaking of Bushido, the three qualities considered essential are loyalty, integrity and courage. When these three virtues are perfectly combined in one man, he is called a samurai of the highest quality. It is easy to link these three in one breath, but a weighty matter to understand them in one’s heart and then put them into practice. Thus, it has been said since ancient times that it is rare to find a samurai of the highest quality even among a hundred or a thousand warriors. In this connection it is an easy thing to discern a warrior of loyalty or a man of integrity, as these qualities appear in one’s everyday behavior. But there is some doubt if a man of courage can be distinguished in this uneventful period of peace. Such a doubt, however, is not justified. The reason is that the courage of a warrior is not exhibited for the first time when he dons his armor, takes up spear and halberd, faces the field, and is locked in battle. A man’s ordinary life at peace reflects his courage or cowardice just like a mirror.

Why is this so? A man born with a sense of courage will advance in high spirits all that is good, and avoid in the same way all that is bad. In his dealings with his lord and parents he will make his endeavors with unparalleled loyalty and filial piety. Having the least bit of spare time, he will put his mind to Learning, and not be negligent in his practice of the martial arts. Being careful to avoid extravagance, he will dislike wasting even a penny. One should not think, however, that this is due to a mean or shabby spirit, because for necessary things he will spend without regret sums with which others would not part. As for places or activities forbidden by his lord’s house laws or disliked by his parents, he will not go to them no matter how much he may want to, and will desist in such activities no matter how difficult they may be to stop. In all events he will not turn his back on the desires of his lord or parents. He will protect his health fully and will keep in mind the desire to perform at least once in his life a great meritorious deed. Having such a disposition, he will be deeply mindful of his own constitution and be moderate in his desires for food and drink. He will give wide berth to and be very prudent in matters of sex, that primary deluder of men, and, other than that, will endure anything. All these evidence a man’s courage.

A coward, on the other hand, will respect his lord and parents only on the surface, and in reality will not value them at all. He will give no thought to the house laws of his lord or to the aversions of his parents, but rather will walk about the places he shouldn’t and do things he ought not, putting his self- indulgence before anything else. This man will enjoy sleeping in the morning and sleeping at noon, and will greatly dislike anything connected with Learning. Even in his performance of the martial arts, which are the calling of a warrior, he will be completely lacking in discipline. Practicing a little of this and a little of that, he will speak knowingly of his pride in the arts, regardless of his lack in them. He will waste, without a thought of the future or the past, the little bit of stipend he may receive, spending any amount of money on sumptuous meals or useless and idiotic things. With anything else he will be stingy and tight-fisted. He will not even consider repairing the enameled lattice cords of the old armor he had received from his parents, much less wanting to update or repair the deficiencies in his absolutely necessary armory and saddlery. Such a man gives no consideration to the fact that when becoming ill he would not be able to serve his lord and would cause his parents anxiety and hardships. Thus, he indulges in gluttony and overdrinking, giving himself up to lasciviousness, and chipping away at the fiber of his existence. These all arise from a weak and irresolute mind, a mind unable to endure things for long. One would not be far off the track in judging them to be symptoms of a cowardly, weak-hearted warrior.
Thus, one can distinguish with no confusion the brave man from the coward, even in times of peace and tranquility.

-Bushidoshoshinshu

What I find interesting in this passage is the idea that a persons character can be seen best in his/her day-to-day living and that a person of “everyday character” will most likely “stand fast” and fulfill his/her duty when the time comes.

A man’s ordinary life at peace reflects his courage or cowardice just like a mirror.

Our thoughts and actions are inexorably intertwined. Cultivate “courage” in your everyday life and chances are you will act accordingly during crisis as well.

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what is success?

Image of American philosopher/poet Ralph Waldo...
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To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by
a healthy child, a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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