Dokkōdō, loosely translated as “The Way of Walking Alone”, is the last work of Miyamoto Musashi. (His grand work is featured in my recommended book selection: https://startupdaemon.net/books.)
Musashi composed Dokkōdō on occasion of giving away his possessions in preparation for death in 1645. He dedicated the 21 principles of Dokkōdō as a last gift to his favorite student – an ultimate Integration of Zen and the Way of the Warrior.
The title itself is suggestive of a Zen koan. It hints that the path of Liberation is one you can tread only on your own.
Here are Musashi’s 21 precepts, with some daemonic commentary.
1. Accept everything just the way it is.
Acceptance does not mean giving up and rolling over in a ditch. It asks us to meet everything without attaching and identifying – without aversion or clinging.
Acceptance is the annihilation of suffering.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
Even when we do not attach and identify, pleasure easily becomes a distraction from our authentic path of Becoming.
Enjoy pleasure but don’t pedestalize it and don’t pursue it for its own sake, but only as a work of Art.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
Do not do anything that you will not do with your entire Being. This is the Noble path of Excellence.
Let temporary feelings go as they come.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
Do not cling to your ego and do not become its slave, but Become power instead and project that power into the world, humbly.
Seek understanding, not control; seek right practice, not absolute truth.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
Nonattachment to desire frees you to amplify and manifest any desire without fear of failure. You are not your desires and they are not you, but they can be your weapons.
Do not serve desire but make it serve you.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
Fear of regret is an obstacle to Right Action; it makes stunted and fake. Regret forces you to relive the past instead of building a better future.
Accept that you are not perfect and that you must Become better.
7. Never be jealous.
Do not covet what is not of yours. Make your own life to make it Authentic. What does not arise from your own Character does not belong in your life.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
Do not let temporary feelings stand in the way of your experience. To experience things to the fullest, let go of them and do not cling.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor for others.
Do not judge if you will not act. Learn to see the best in yourself and others first. Humble yourself to better Yourself.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
To be Authentic, you must lead yourself with your values first, always. This is how you embody your authentic Character.
11. In all things have no preferences.
Meet all things without aversion and clinging. See the world as a coherent whole, not as duality and opposition.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
Determine to embody who you Will to be regardless of circumstances. Embody your Character and values unconditionally.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
Don’t become enslaved by gluttony or status, but put food in your service to empower the mind-body instead.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
Hoarders are slaves. Let go of what does not belong in your life. What you don’t use to embody your Character does not belong in your life.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
Don’t follow the unconscious mass. Don’t become rigid in your thinking, but rather keep open to experience. Don’t cling to beliefs, but allow yourself to evolve and be free.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
Focus on what matters and don’t be distracted by what is possible.
17. Do not fear death.
Cultivate fearlessness and be free of coercion.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
Don’t limit yourself by becoming a miser and a hoarder. Don’t think of retirement as a reward. Act into the world until your last breath.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
Appreciate the fundamental teachings of Zen and the principles of Being. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make your own Great Vehicle. Become your own Maker.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor.
Not even your own body should stand between you and your principles, upon which your authentic Character stands.
21. Never stray from the Way.
Take ultimate responsibility, always and in everything.
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