While Go Rin No Sho is the most acclaimed, he also wrote another short book a week before he died in 1645. This book consisted of only 21 precepts or commands for living life. It was written in preparation of his own passing, during a time he was giving away all his possessions, he also wished to give away his knowledge. These are the 21 precepts found in Dokkōdō.
1. Accept everything just the way it is.
Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You are better off accepting the world around you and focusing on what you can do within it.
2. Do not seek pleasure for it’s own sake.
When you seek pleasure, it should be from something lasting and present, not something fleeting and detrimental. We all seek pleasure, but we would be wise to focus on the pleasures that last for lifetimes.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
Making half-hearted decisions is essentially making the worse decision. When you act, you are better off being certain of what you are doing, not wavering or full of doubt. If things are not crystal clear then wait for them to become so.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
Don’t take yourself too seriously and be humble by knowing that the world is so much more than yourself. Pay attention to what’s around you and seek wisdom from everywhere. Being focused on yourself alone, is not the path to wisdom.
5. Be detached from desire your whole lifelong.
This precept has a stoic feel to it. The point should not be to chase your dreams, but to live your life as it unfolds. Goals are great, but don’t let them determine your happiness. Dwelling on what-ifs and questioning your decisions only diminish the time you have on this world.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
Life should not be about regrets. It can be easy to look back and think of things you should have done or decisions you could have made, but the past is gone. Regretting it gets you nowhere. After all, we don’t know what the future holds and this journey you’re on my be exactly what takes you where you truly wish to go.
7. Never be jealous.
Comparison is the thief of joy. There’s no point in being jealous of other individuals and getting down on yourself. Instead, spend your energy on things that you can control and let the rest take care of itself.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
Death is part of life and many people you love will come and go. You can’t let this get you down, because it is not the distance that matters. If you keep them close to your heart, they will always be near you.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
Complaining about things or hating people is counter-productive. You get nothing out of it and it only turns you into a more cynical person. Instead be neutral, let things be, and move forward.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
It can be easy to act from a place of lust or love, but that is not always the best decision. Treat yourself with respect. Love is important, but don’t put yourself in positions that you wouldn’t wish for yourself.
11. In all things have no preferences.
You can have favorites, but what you shouldn’t have is a closed mind. Be open to new experience and trying new things. If you don’t experience the new, then what’s the point of living.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
It doesn’t matter where you are, living is living. You can move if you don’t like where you are, but eventually you’ll realize it’s all the same. Whether it’s a small studio apartment or a mansion on the beach, other things matter more.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
We should eat for our health and nutrition, not for the taste of food. While it is OK to indulge occasionally, we must all be wary of getting addicted to good food and forget our health.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
Things don’t matter, especially those that are of no value to you. Take the advice of the minimalist and get rid of the clutter. Only keep what you truly need, because it leads to a freer life.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
It’s easy to act like a sheep and follow the herd, but we would all be better off if we thought and acted for ourselves. Don’t listen to the noise. Instead try to form your own opinion on what is happening and let them guide you.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
Being a samurai, this piece of wisdom makes more sense. But outside the world of being a warrior, the advice is to master what you need and not distract yourself with unnecessary tools and gadgets.
17. Do not fear death.
We can all die at any moment. There’s no rhyme or reason in the world, which means that death will happen when it happens. Being afraid of it accomplishes nothing.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
What good are valuable possessions when you’re gone? They are for this life, but nothing more. Collecting them, fantasizing about them, is a waste of time. There are much better things you can be doing than lusting after objects.
19. Respect Buddha and the Gods without counting on their help.
Believing in God and expecting things from God are two different things. Life is in your control, don’t count on luck to make things happen. Instead, be humble, work hard, acknowledge there is something greater than you, and show gratitude for the time you have.
20. You may abandon your own body, but you must preserve your honor.
Your time on this world is short, but your legacy and what that means will far outlast you. Be sure to act with this thought in mind. Don’t do things that you can’t live with. The actions make the man.
21. Never stray from The Way.
There is a path you are on and you should either follow it exactly or toss it aside and find a new one. Either way, you choose a path and follow it with all you have, for it is a symbol of the choices you have made and the beliefs you have accepted.
Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.Miyamoto Musashi
These are 21 precepts that Miyamoto Musashi wanted to share with the world, just days before he passed.
I’m sure we can all see the wisdom in his words. Now we just need to live by them and realize that they are for ourselves, the individual, to guide us on our own Way.