Tag Archives: hagakure

The Modern Day Samurai

Eastern philosophy and religion has always been something that interests me. The first book I read related to this way back when was the Tao of Pooh. At the time, I think I was in high school, I had no idea what the hell I was reading. It was really the first thing I had read that was phrased in a different way and wasn’t straight forward about the point trying to be proven. The best part was that there wasn’t only one point that a reader could take from any given lesson, it was up to the reader to take what they wanted.

I found that a lot of books about Eastern philosophy and religion were presented in a similar way. After the Tao of Pooh, I read the Tao Te Ching, which was even deeper. I’m sure I don’t understand even half of what’s going on in the book, but I do know that I was able to take some valuable lessons from it. Every time I go back and read some more, I feel like I take something new from it.

This book led me to the Art of War by Sun Tzu. I thought I didn’t understand these other books, but now I was really lost. I had no military experience, no real experience fighting of any kind. So to be honest, this one was lost on me for a while. I was looking for the lessons, but I was thinking way too literal and I just couldn’t’ find the application in my own life. Then, one day it slowly started to make sense to me. No, I was not a general planning for battle. But I was a student studying for a test. I was a college graduate prepping for an interview. I was a young professional working late to get ahead…for all intents and purposes, I was a general planning for battle.

Once this clicked in my head, I started to find a way to apply all of these war and battle references to my own life, to some degree. I started to think of myself as a sort of general, or samurai even. This is a way of thinking that has stuck with me for some time now, finding similarities between my life and that of a samurai. In some respects, I am the furthest thing from a samurai. When I look past some of the literal meaning – I’m not planning on cutting off anyone’s head or riding into battle on my horse anytime soon – I’ve found that I tend to live my life, and want to live my life, with the focus and determination like that of a modern day samurai. I eventually made my way to Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. There are some great lessons in this book when broken down and applied to your life and your situation. I will no doubt be inspired many a time and reference this book in this blog in the future.

In short, when you are looking for lessons in your life, don’t take things too literal. Look past the literal meaning of things. Use your imagination and creativity to find a way to compare things to your own life. When you start to open your mind, who knows what you’re going to find.

Sharpen your sword and get ready for battle.


Approach

Education is one of the most important things that we can seek in this world. An educated person will be well equipped for success in all areas of their personal and professional lives. As you become more educated, however, you are going to become more aware of the mistakes that people in your life are making. This may be something so trivial as the incorrect pronunciation of a word or something a bit more substantial, such as making a financial or professional decision that will likely lead to unwanted results.

It is natural to want to pass on some advice that you’ve learned from your own life experiences, but in order for your advice to be trusted and followed, it is essential that you find a proper way of educating someone without insulting or embarrassing them.

“By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?” (Hagakure)

If you take a direct approach and call out someone who is making a mistake, they will almost definitely take offense to your correction. Even worse, this approach taken in front of others will certainly embarrass the person. By finding an indirect way of providing the correct information, you will help the person realize the mistake they have already, or were about to, make. This lesson was one that Marcus Aurelius learned from the literary critic Alexander…

“Not to be constantly correcting people, and in particular not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question or add another example, or debate the issue itself (not their phrasing), or make some other contribution to the discussion – and insert the right expression, unobtrusively.” (Meditations)

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Life is all about your approach. Your ability to be trusted by your peers and seen as a true teacher, and leader, is no different.