“The Way of Walking Alone” by Miyamoto Musashi

A week before he died, Japanese swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi composed his Dokkōdō or Way of Walking Alone, a series of twenty-one precepts that spell out his philosophy of ascetic, honorable living.

  1. I do not oppose the age-old paths.
  2. I do not plot ways to find pleasure.
  3. I do not bias my heart toward anything.
  4. I think lightly of myself and deeply of the world.
  5. Throughout my life, I feel no greed.
  6. I never regret my deeds.
  7. There is no envy in my heart toward others, good or bad.
  8. I do not mourn the branching of any path.
  9. I neither excuse nor resent myself or others.
  10. I am not drawn to the way of romantic love.
  11. I have no preference for anything.
  12. I feel no yearning for any particular home.
  13. I do not myself crave delicacies.
  14. I possess no item that will in the future become an antique.
  15. I do not myself engage in religious superstition.
  16. Weapons are a special class—I have no weakness for other tools.
  17. I think I will not mind dying upon the way.
  18. I have no desire to hoard mansions and riches in my old age.
  19. Buddhas and gods are valuable, but I beg them for nothing.
  20. I may discard my flesh, but never my honor.
  21. I will never stray from the warrior’s way.

—Translated by David Bowles
April 20, 2014

Original Japanese

一 世々の道をそむく事なし

Yoyo no michi o somuku koto nashi

一 身にたのしみをたくます

Mi ni tanoshimi o takumasu

一 よろすに依枯の心なし

yorozu ni eko no kokoro nashi

一 身をあさく思世をふかく思ふ

mi o asaku omou, yo o fukaku omou.

一 一生の間よくしん思わす

Isshō no ma yokushin omohasu

一 我事におゐて後悔をせす

wagakoto ni oite kōkai o sezu

一 善惡に他をねたむ心なし

zen’aku ni ta o netamu kokoro nashi

一 いずれの道にもわかれをかなします

izure no michi ni mo wakare o kanashimasu

一 自他共にうらみかこつ心なし

jitadomo ni urami kakotsu kokoro nashi

一 れんほの道思ひよるこゝろなし

renbo no michi omoiyoru kokoro nashi

一 物毎にすきこのむ事なし

monogoto ni suki konomu koto nashi

一 私宅におゐてのそむ心なし

shitaku ni oite nosomu kokoro nashi

一 身ひとつに美食をこのます

mi hitotsu ni bishoku o konomasu

一 末々代物なる古き道具を所持せす

suezue shiromono naru furuki dôgu shoji sesu

一 わか身にいたり物いみする事なし

Waga-Mi ni itari Monoimi suru koto nashi

一 兵具は格別よの道具たしなます

Heigu wa kakubetsu yo no dôgu tashinamasu

一 道におゐては死をいとわず思ふ

michi ni oite wa shi o itowasu omou

一 老身に財寳所領もちゆる心なし

rōshin ni saibō-shoryō mochiyoru kokoro nashi

一 佛神は貴し佛神をたのます

busshin wa tattoshi busshin wo tanomasu

一 身を捨ても名利はすてす

Mi o sute mo myōri wa sute su

一 常に兵法の道をはなれす

tsuneni heihō no michi o hanaresu

 

 

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