Quotes by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

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There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment. more...

Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams. more...

Tether even a roasted chicken. more...

There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything. more...

It is said that what is called "the spirit of an age" is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world's coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today's world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation. more...

Nothing is impossible in this world. Firm determination, it is said, can move heaven and earth. Things appear far beyond one's power, because one cannot set his heart on any arduous project due to want of strong will. more...

One's appearance bespeaks dignity corresponding to the depth of his character. One's concentrated effort, serene attitude, taciturn air, courteous disposition, thoroughly polite bearing, gritted teeth with a piercing look - each of these reveals dignity. Such outward appearance, in short, comes from constant attentiveness and seriousness. more...

All of us want to live, and that is absolutely natural. However, we should learn from childhood on to choose our best way to die. If we don't do that, we end up spending our days like a dog, only in search of harbour, food and expressing a blind loyalty to his owner in return. That isn't enough to make our lives have a meaning. more...

Human life is truly a short affair. It is better to live doing the things that you like. more...

When confronted with two alternatives, life and death, one is to choose death without hesitation. more...

One must know the so-called 'lesson of a downpour.' A man, caught in a sudden rain en route, dashes along the road not to get wet or drenched. Once one takes it for granted that in rain he naturally gets wet, he can be in a tranquil frame of mind even when soaked to the skin. This lesson applies to everything. more...

When meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely and with joy. more...

Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day one should meditate on being carried away by surging waves, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease. more...

Every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. There is a saying of the elders that goes, 'Step from under the eaves and you're a dead man. Leave the gate and the enemy is waiting.' This is not a matter of being careful. It is to consider oneself as dead beforehand. more...

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment. more...

Death seems to be a long way off. Is this not shallow thinking? It is worthless and is only a joke within a dream. It will not do to think in such a way and be negligent. Insofar as death is always at one's door, one should make sufficient effort and act quickly. more...

Whether people be of high or low birth, rich or poor, old or young, enlightened or confused, they are all alike in that they will one day die. more...

It is difficult for a fool's habits to change to selflessness. more...

By being impatient, matters are damaged and great works cannot be done more...

Our bodies are given life from the midst of nothingness. Existing where there is nothing is the meaning of the phrase, "Form is emptiness." That all things are provided for by nothingness is the meaning of the phrase, "Emptiness is form." One should not think that these are two seperate things. more...

Singlemindedness is all-powerful. more...

Continue to spur a running horse. more...

The deepest love is often hidden. more...

Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction. Other than continuing to exert yourself, enter into nothing else, but go to the extent of living single thought by single thought. more...

There is nothing we should be quite so grateful for as the last line of the poem that goes, 'When your own heart asks. more...

This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai: if by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. his whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling. more...

It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own. more...

Not to borrow the strength of another, nor to rely on one's own strength; to cut off past and future thoughts, and not to live within the everyday mind... then the Great Way is right before your eyes. more...

The end is important in all things. more...

A samurai will use a toothpick even though he has not eaten. Inside the skin of a dog, outside the hide of a tiger. more...

It is better not to become acquainted with men about whom you have formerly had doubts. No matter what you do, they will be people by whom you will be tripped up or taken in. more...

When someone is giving you his opinion, you should receive it with deep gratitude even though it is worthless. If you don't, he will not tell you the things that he has seen and heard about you again. more...

A person who is discreet in speaking will be useful during the good times and will avoid punishment during the bad. more...

One should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. more...

If one thinks only of winning, a sordid victory will be worse than a defeat. For the most part, it becomes a squalid defeat. more...

When something out of the ordinary happens, it is ridiculous to say that it is a mystery or a portent of something to come... the mystery is created in (their) minds, and by waiting for disaster, it is from their very minds that it occurs. more...

By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man? more...

As everything in this world is but a sham. Death is the only sincerity. more...

Even if one's head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty. more...

The basic meaning of etiquette is to be quick at both the beginning and end and tranquil in the middle. more...

It is said that one should not hesitate to correct himself when he has made a mistake. If he corrects himself without the least bit of delay, his mistakes will disappear. more...

An affected laugh shows lack of self-respect in a man and lewdness in a woman. It is carelessness to go about with one's hands inside the slits in the sides of his hakama. more...

As long as people overlook matters, then inferiors can, without any fear, lead an easy and peaceful life. more...

In the eyes of mercy, no one should have hateful thoughts. Feel pity for the man who is even more at fault. The area and size of mercy is limitless. more...

When delivering something like an important letter or other written materials, grasp it firmly in your hand as you go and do not release it once, but hand it over directly to the recipient. more...

By inconsistency and frivolity we stray from the Way and show ourselves to be beginners. In this we do much harm. more...

You cannot tell whether a person is good or bad by his vicissitudes in life. Good and bad fortune are matters of fate. more...

There is one transcending level, and this is the most excellent of all. This person is aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way and never thinks of himself as having finished. more...

One should be wary of talking on end about such subjects as learning, morality or folklore in front of elders or people of rank. It is disagreeable to listen to. more...

The saying 'the arts aid the body' is for samurai of other regions. For samurai of the Nabeshima clan the arts bring ruin to the body. more...

Covetousness, anger and foolishness are things to sort out well. When bad things happen in the world, if you look at them comparatively, they are not unrelated to these three things. more...

The person who practices an art is an artist, not a samurai, and one should have the intention of being called a samurai. more...

Go ahead and gamble a lie. A person who will not tell you seven lies within a hundred yards is useless as a man. more...

A warrior should not say something fainthearted, even casually. He should set his mind to this beforehand. Even in trifling matters the depths of one's heart can be seen. more...

Looking comparatively at the good things, you will see that they are not excluded from wisdom, humanity and bravery. more...

The Four Oaths: Never be late with respect to the way of the warrior; be useful to the lord; be respectful to your parents; get beyond love and grief: exist for the good of man. more...

It is better to have some unhappiness while one is still young, for if a person does not experience some bitterness, his disposition will not settle down. more...

There is not a man who does not get senile by the time he reaches sixty. And when one thinks that he will not be senile, he is already so. more...

If you are slain in battle, you should be resolved to have your corpse facing the enemy. more...

I have found that the Way of the samurai is death. This means that when you are compelled to choose between life and death, you must quickly choose death. more...

A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. more...

Matters of small concern should be treated seriously. more...

Sincerity does not only complete the self; it is the means by which all things are completed. As the self is completed, there is human-heartedness; as things are completed, there is wisdom. This is the virtue of one's character, and the Way of joining the internal and external. Thus, when we use this, everything is correct. more...

Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead more...

To desire with one's very soul every second of every day to accomplish one's aim. more...

Having only wisdom and talent is the lowest tier of usefulness. more...

It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this. more...

Purity is something that cannot be attained except by piling effort upon effort. more...

One must know the so-called 'lesson of a downpour. A man, caught in a sudden rain en route, dashes along the road not to get wet or drenched. Once one takes it for granted that in rain he naturally gets wet, he can be in a tranquil frame of mind even when soaked to the skin. This lesson applies to everything. more...

All of man's work is a bloody business. That fact, today, is considered foolish, affairs are finished cleverly with words alone, and jobs that require effort are avoided. I would like young men to have some understanding of this. more...

Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it as though he thought it were somewhere else. more...

A warrior is worthless unless he rises above others and stands strong in the midst of a storm. more...

The way of the Samurai is found in death. more...

If a retainer will just think about what he is to do for the day at hand, he will be able to do anything. If it is a single day's work, one should be able to put up with it. Tomorrow, too is but a single day. more...

There are few people who will make mistakes with fire after having once been burned. more...

It is a principle of the art of war that one should simply lay down his life and strike. If one's opponent also does the same, it is a even match. Defeating one's opponent is then a matter of faith and destiny. more...

When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about going at it in a long roundabout way. One's heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by and large there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. more...

The heart of a virtuous person has settled down and he does not rush about at things. A person of little merit is not at peace but walks about making trouble and is in conflict with all. more...

Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it as though he thought it was somewhere else. No one seems to have noticed this fact. But grasping this firmly, one must pile experience upon experience. And once one has come to this understanding he will be a different person from that point on, though he may not always bare it in mind. When one understands this settling into single-mindedness well, his affairs will thin out. more...

It is not good to settle into a set of opinions. It is a mistake to put forth effort and obtain some understanding and then stop at that. At first putting forth great effort to be sure that you have grasped the basics, then practicing so that they may come to fruition is something that will never stop for your whole lifetime. Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply think, "This is not enough." more...

In China there was once a man who liked pictures of dragons, and his clothing and furnishings were all designed accordingly. His deep affection for dragons was brought to the attention of the dragon god, and onde day a real dragon appeared before his window. It is said that he died of fright. He was probably a man who always spoke big words but acted differently when facing the real thing. more...

What is called generosity is really compassion. In the Shin'ei it is written "Seen from the eye of compassion, there is noone to be disliked. One who has sinned is to be pitied all the more." There is no limit to the breadth and depth of ones heart. There is room enough for all. That we still worship the sages of the three ancient kingdoms is because their compassion reaches us yet today. more...

If one is but secure at the foundation, he will not be pained by departure from minor details or affairs that are contrary to expectation. But in the end, the details of a matter are important. The right and wrong of one's way of doing things are found in trivial matters. more...

It is a wretched thing that the young men of today are so contriving and so proud of their material posessions. Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty, they will have no self-respect. more...

If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of no use whatsoever. The saying that "All abilities come from one mind" sounds as though it has to do with sentient matters, but it is in fact a matter of being unattached to life and death. With such non-attachment one can accomplish any feat. more...

Bushido is realized in the presence of death. This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death. There is no other reasoning. more...

There was once a man in China who liked pictures of dragons. His clothing and his furniture were therefore accordingly adorned with dragons. This deep affection for their kind was brought to the attention of the Dragon Lord, who one day sent a real dragon to stand outside the man's window. It is said that he probably died of fright. more...

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. more...

In the Kamigata area, they have a sort of tiered lunchbox they use for a single day when flower viewing. Upon returning, they throw them away, trampling them underfoot. The end is important in all things. more...

To give a person an opinion one must first judge well whether that person is of the disposition to receive it or not. more...

When one is writing a letter, he should think that the recipient will make it into a hanging scroll. more...

Calculating people are contemptable. The reason for this is that calculation deals with loss and gain, and the loss and gain mind never stops. Death is considered loss and life is considered gain. Thus, death is something that such a person does not care for, and he is contemptable. Furthermore, scholars and their like are men who with wit and speech hide their own true cowardice and greed. People often misjudge this. more...

Light matters should be dealt with seriously. Serious matters should be dealt with lightly. more...

Sincerity does not only complete the self; it is the means by which all things are completed. As the self is completed, there is human-heartedness; as things are completed, there is wisdom. This is the virtue of one's character, and the Way of joining the internal and external. Thus, when we use this, everything is correct. more...

Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead more...

To desire with one's very soul every second of every day to accomplish one's aim. more...

All of man's work is a bloody business. That fact, today, is considered foolish, affairs are finished cleverly with words alone, and jobs that require effort are avoided. I would like young men to have some understanding of this. more...

All abilities come from one mind more...


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