Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings is a classic Japanese text of samurai sword strategy. Yet, it is so much more than just a manual on how best to wield a sword. The principles discussed in Miyamoto Musashi’s masterpiece can, in many respects, be applied to life as a whole.
The Wisdom Of Miyamoto Musashi & The Book Of 5 Rings
The Book of Five Rings written in 1645 is about the “Way of Strategy,” which is using certain techniques to take down the enemy. In this book, the great warrior Miyamoto Mushashi, lays down a set of principles for a person who wishes to learn about the way of the warrior. Some of these principles are general like his thoughts on the management of one’s spiritual energy.
The book describes *the way* which is broken down into five separate components:
- Earth (timing)
- Water (balance/flexibility)
- Fire (methods)
- Wind (knowledge of self & opponent)
- Void (the unseen/human nature).
While Mushashi focuses specifically on military strategy, his overall philosophy serves as a useful guideline for other areas of life such as to respect the gods, without relying on their help. It’s best to look past the specifics in order to absorb its broader message.
Musashi places a big emphasis on not getting attached to any particular weapon. Or more generally in any one particular way. It’s important to change approach when the situation calls for it.
To adapt the book to our time, an enemy could be a metaphor for a competitor. The Book Of Five Rings emphasizes the importance of practicing and mastering your art – becoming adept at what you and do not regret what is done.
We can find meaning in Musashi’s text beyond that of just sword fighting because, in both in Japanese and in other cultures, the sword is often used as a comprehensive metaphor for life.
The sword fighting lessons aren’t as useful, naturally, but the underlying strategy and wisdom are fascinating. A great read for strategy or philosophy.