Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook — Thomas Cleary

Finished Pastrami on Rye much earlier than I had expected last week so I picked up this book that I bought and began reading over a year ago now. I can’t remember why I put it down exactly but it wasn’t because it was boring or uninteresting.

The book is a collection of writings by samurai throughout history. Westerners who read books about eastern ideas often conjure stereotypes of new age ideas or people longing to be something other than they are.

I do not feel like I belong to those stereotypes.

A quality collection of historical texts in translation, much of the wisdom of men who had no idea of what Modernity would bring can still be applied today.

For example, this lovely passage on civic duty:

The root of the land is in the nation, the root of the nation is in the home, the root of the home is in the person. Therefore those who would peacefully govern the land, the nation, and the home first cultivate themselves. When you are personally cultivated, then your whole household is influenced by this; if this is extended, the whole nation is orderly. If one nation is orderly, the whole land will go along with it.

This sobering reminder about the transitory nature of life:

When you die anew every morning and every night, becoming permanently dead while alive, you attain freedom in the warrior’s way and can do your professional work successfully without blundering the rest of your life.

Or maybe you’d like something more traditionally encouraging?

Order is potential chaos, plenty is potential paucity, life is potential death. Is it far off? Everything around you is potential.

Maybe Zen is your thing?

Wind and rain can be shut out, but cold and heat cannot be controlled, because they have no form.