From the 1st Chapter
Although it stands to reason that a samurai should be
mindful of the Way of the Samurai, it would seem that we
are all negligent. Consequently, if someone were to ask,
"What is the true meaning of the Way of the Samurai?"
the person who would be able to answer promptly is rare.
This is because it has not been established in one's mind
beforehand. From this, one's unmindfulness of the Way
can be known.
The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes
to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is
not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To
say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's
death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed
with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain
A man is a good retainer to the extent that he earnestly places importance in his master. This is the highest sort of retainer. If one is born into a prominent family that goes back for generations, it is sufficient to deeply consider the matter of obligation to one's ancestors, to lay down one's body and mind, and to earnestly esteem one's master. It is further good fortune if, more than this, one has wisdom and talent and can use them appropriately. But even a person who is good for nothing and exceedingly clumsy will be a reliable retainer if only he has the determination to think earnestly of his master. Having only wisdom and talent is the lowest tier of usefulness.
According to their nature, there are both people who
have quick intelligence, and those who must withdraw and
take time to think things over. Looking into this thoroughly,
if one thinks selflessly and adheres to the four vows of the
Nabeshima samurai, surprising wisdom will occur regardless
of the high or low points of one's nature.'
It is difficult for a fool's habits to change to selflessness. In confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix the four vows in your heart, exclude self-interest, and make an effort, you will not go far from your mark.
Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things do not turn out well. As seen by other people this is sordid, weak, narrow and inefficient. When one is not capable of true intelligence, it is good to consult with someone of good sense. An advisor will fulfill the Way when he makes a decision by selfless and frank intelligence because he is not personally involved. This way of doing things will certainly be seen by others as being strongly rooted. It is, for example, like a large tree with many roots. One man's intelligence is like a tree that has been simply stuck in the ground.
We learn about the sayings and deeds of the men of old
in order to entrust ourselves to their wisdom and prevent
selfishness. When we throw off our own bias, follow the
sayings of the ancients, and confer with other people,
matters should go well and without mishap. Lord Katsushige
borrowed from the wisdom of Lord Naoshige. This is
mentioned in the Ohanashikikigaki. We should be grateful
for his concern.
Sagara Kyuma was completely at one with his master and
served him as though his own body were already dead. He
was one man in a thousand.
Being a retainer is nothing other than hemp a supporter
of one's lord, entrusting matters of good and evil to him, and
renouncing self-interest. If there are but two or three men
of this type, the fief will be secure.
To give a person one's opinion and correct his faults is
an important thing. It is compassionate and comes first in
matters of service. But the way of doing this is extremely
difficult. To discover the good and bad points of a person
is an easy thing, and to give an opinion concerning them is
easy, too. For the most part, people think that they are
being kind by saying the things that others find distasteful
or difficult to say. But if it is not received well, they think
that there is nothing more to be done. This is completely
worthless. It is the same as brining shame to a person by
slandering him. It is nothing more than getting it off one's
It is bad taste to yawn in front of people. When one unexpectedly has to yawn, if he rubs his forehead in an upward direction , the sensation will stop . If that does not work, he can lick his lips while keeping his mouth closed, or simply hide it with his hand or his sleeve in such a way that no one will know what he is doing. It is the same with sneezing. One will appear foolish. There are other things besides these about which a person should use care and training.
When a certain person was saying that present matters of economy should be detailed, someone replied that this is not good at all.
It is a fact that ash will not live where the water is too clear. But if there is duckweed or something, the fish will hide under its shadow and thrive. Thus, the lower classes will live in tranquillity if certain matters are a bit overlooked or left unheard. This fact should be understood with regard to people's conduct.
Once when Lord Mitsushige was a little boy and was supposed to recite from a copybook for the priest Kaion, he called the other children and acolytes and said, "Please come here and listen. It's difficult to read if there are hardly any people listening." The priest was impressed and said to the acolytes, "That's the spirit in which to do everything."
Every morning one should first do reverence to his master
and parents and then to his patron deities and guardian
Buddhas. If he will only make his master first in importance,
his parents will rejoice and the gods and Buddhas will give
their assent. For a warrior there is nothing other than thinking
of his master . If one creates this resolution within himself,
he will always be mindful of the master's person and
will not depart from him even for a moment.
According to a certain person, a number of years ago Matsuguma
Kyoan told this story :
The priest Tannen used to say, ''People come to no understanding
because priests teach only the doctrine of 'No
Mind.' What is called 'No Mind' is a mind that is pure and
lacks complication .' This is interesting.
There is nothing that we should be quite so grateful for as
the last line of the poem that goes, "When your own heart
asks." It can probably be thought of in the same way as the
Nembutsu, and previously it was on the lips of many people.
The word gen means "illusion" or "apparition." In India, a man who uses conjury is called a genjutsushi ["a master of illusion technique"]. Everything in this world is but a marionette show. Thus we use the word gen.
To hate injustice and stand on righteousness is a difficult thing. Furthermore, to think that being righteous is the best one can do and to do one's utmost to be righteous will, on the contrary, brig many mistakes. The Way is in a higher place then righteousness. This is very difficult to discover, but it is the highest wisdom. When seen from this standpoint, things like righteousness are rather shallow. If one does not understand this on his own, it cannot be known. There is a method of getting to this Way, however, even if one cannot discover it by himself. This is found in consultation with others. Even a person who has not attained this Way sees others front the side. It is like the saying from the game of go: "He who sees from the side has eight eyes." The saying, "Thought by thought we see our own mistakes," also means that the highest Way is in discussion with others. Listening to the old stories and reading books are for the purpose of sloughing off one's own discrimination and attaching oneself to that of the ancients.
A certain swordsman in his declining years said the following:
Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall there was this one: ''Matters of' great concern should be treated lightly.'' Master lttei commented, "Matters of small concern should be treated seriously." Among one's affairs there should not be more than two or three matters of what one could call great concern. If these are deliberated upon during ordinary times, they can be understood. Thinking about things previously and then handling them lightly when the time comes is what this is all about. To face an event anew solve it lightly is difficult if you are not resolved beforehand, and there will always be uncertainty in hitting your mark. However, if the foundation is laid previously, you can think of the saying, "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly," as your own basis for action.
A certain person spent several years of service in Osaka
and then returned home. When he made his appearance at
the local bureau, everyone was put out and he was made a
laughingstock because he spoke in the Kamigata dialect.
Seen in this light, when one spends a long time in ado or the
Kamigata area, he had better use his native dialect even more
At the time when there was a council concerning the promotion
of a certain man, the council members were at the
point of deciding that promotion was useless because of the
fact that the man had previously been involved in a drunken
brawl. But someone said, "If we were to cast aside every
man who had made a mistake once, useful men could prob-
ably not be come by. A man who makes a mistake once will
be considerably more prudent and useful because of his repentance.
I feet that he should be promoted.''
At the time of a deliberation concerning criminals, Nakane Kazuma proposed making the punishment one degree lighter than what would be appropriate. This is a treasury of wisdom that only he was the possessor of. At that time, though there were several men in attendance, if it had not been for Kazuma alone, no one would have opened his mouth. For this reason he is called Master Commencement and Master Twenty-five Days.
A certain person was brought to shame because he did not
take revenge. The way of revenge lies in simply forcing one's
way into a place and being cut down. There is no shame in
this. By thinking that you must complete the job you will
run out of time. By considering things like how many men
the enemy has, time piles up; in the end you will give up.
No matter if the enemy has thousands of men, there is
fulfillment in simply standing them off and being determined
to cut them all down, starting from one end. You will finish
the greater part of it.
There are two things that will blemish a retainer, and
these are riches and honor. If one but remains in strained
circumstances, he will not be marred.
There was a man who said, "Such and such a person has a violent disposition, but this is what I said right to his face... This was an unbecoming thing to say, and it was said simply because he wanted to be known as a rough fellow. It was rather low, and it can be seen that he was still rather immature. It is because a samurai has correct manners that he is admired. Speaking of other people in this way is no different from an exchange between low class spearmen. It is vulgar.
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 bastes, 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."
These are from the recorded sayings of Yamamoto Jin'-emon:
How should a person respond when he is asked, "As a
human being, what is essential in terms of purpose and
discipline?" First, let us say, "It is to become of the mind that
is right now pure and lacking complications." People in
general all seem to be dejected. When one has a pure and
uncomplicated mind, his expression will be lively. When
one is attending to matters, there is one thing that comes
forth from his heart. That is, in terms of one's lord, loyalty;
in terms of one's parents, filial piety; in martial affairs,
bravery ; and apart from that, something that can be used by
all the world.
Every morning, the samurai of fifty or sixty years ago
would bathe, shave their foreheads, put lotion in their hair,
cut their fingernails and toenails rubbing them with pumice
and then with wood sorrel, and without fail pay attention to
their personal appearance . It goes without saying that their
armor in general was kept free from rust, that it was dusted,
shined, and arranged.
According to Master lttei, even a poor penman will become
substantial in the art of calligraphy if he studies by
imitating a good model and puts forth effort. A retainer
should be able to become substantial too, if he takes a good
retainer as his model.
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 .
A retainer is a man who remains consistently undistracted twenty-four hours a day, whether he is in the presence of his master or in public. If one is careless during his rest period, the public will see him as being only careless.
Regardless of class, a person who does something beyond his social standing will at some point commit mean or cowardly acts. In the lower classes there are even people who will run away. One should be careful with menials and the like .
There are many people who, by being attached to a martial art and taking apprentices, believe that they have arrived at the full stature of a warrior. But it is a regrettable thing to put forth much effort and in the end become an "artist." In artistic technique it is good to learn to the extent that you will not be lacking. In general, a person who is versatile in many things is considered to be vulgar and to have only a broad knowledge of matters of importance.
When something is said to you by the master, whether it is
for your good or bad fortune, to withdraw in silence shows
perplexity. You should have some appropriate response.
It is important to have resolution beforehand.
Learning is a good thing, but more often it leads to mistakes. It is like the admonition of the priest Konan. It is worthwhile just looking at the deeds of accomplished persons for the purpose of knowing our own insufficiencies. But often this does not happen. For the most part, we admire our own opinions and become fond of arguing.
Last year at a great conference there was a certain man who explained his dissenting opinion and said that he was resolved to kill the conference leader if it was not accepted. His motion was passed. After the procedures were over the man said, "Their assent came quickly. I think that they are too weak and unreliable to be counselors to the master."
When an official place is extremely busy and someone comes in thoughtlessly with some business or other, often there are people who will treat him coldly and become angry. This is not good at all. At such times, the etiquette of a samurai is to calm himself and deal with the person in a good manner. To treat a person harshly is the way of middle class lackeys.
According to the situation, there are times when you must rely on a person for something or other. If this is done repeatedly, it becomes a matter of importuning that person and can be rather rude. If there is something that must be done, it is better not to rely on others.
There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to pet 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 still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.
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 one 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.
There was a certain person who was a master of the spear.
When he was dying, he called his best disciple and spoke his
last injunctions :
Although the Mean is the standard for all things, in military affairs a man must always strive to outstrip others. According to archery instructions the right and left hands are supposed to be level, but the right hand has a tendency to go higher. They will become level if one will lower the right hand a bit when shooting. In the stories of the elder warriors it is said that on the battlefield if one wills himself to outstrip warriors of accomplishment, and day and night hopes to strike down a powerful enemy, he will grow indefatigable and fierce of heart and will manifest courage. One should use this principle in everyday affairs too.
There is a way of bringing up the child of a samurai. From the time of infancy one should encourage bravery and avoid trivially frightening or teasing the child. If a person is affected by cowardice as a child, it remains a lifetime scar. It is a mistake for parents to thoughtlessly make their children dread lightning, or to have them not go into dark places, or to tell them frightening things in order to stop them from crying .
Furthermore, a child will become timid if he is scolded
You will be tripped up by people when your resolution is
lax. Moreover, if at a meeting you are distracted while an-
other person is speaking, by your carelessness you may think
that he is of your opinion and you will follow along saying,
"Of course, of course," even though he is saying something
that is contrary to your own feelings, and others will think
that you are in agreement with him. Because of this, you
should never be distracted even for an instant when meeting
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. In all cases, the person who practices
an art is an artist, not a samurai, and one should have the
intention of being called a samurai.
Ordinarily, looking into the mirror and grooming oneself
is sufficient for the upkeep of one's personal appearance.
This is very important. Most people's personal appearance
is poor because they do not look into the mirror well
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 quickly disappear. But when he tries to cover up a mistake, it will become all the more unbecoming and painful. When words that one should not use slip out, if one will speak his mind quickly and clearly, those words will have no effect and he will not be obstructed by worry. If there is, however, someone who blames a person for such a thing, one should be prepared to say something like, "I have explained the reason for my careless speech. There is nothing else to be done if you will not listen to reason. Since I said it unwittingly, it should be the same as if you didn't hear it. No one can evade blame." And one should never talk about people or secret matters. Furthermore, one should only speak according to how he judges his listener's feelings.
The proper manner of calligraphy is nothing other than not being careless, but in this way one's writing will simply be sluggish and stiff. One should go beyond this and depart from the norm. This principle applies to all things.
It is said, "When you would see into a person's heart,
become ill." When you are sick or in difficulties, many of
those who were friendly or close to you in daily life will
become cowards. Whenever anyone is in unhappy circumstances,
you should above all inquire after them by visiting
or sending some gift. And you should never in your whole
life be negligent toward someone from whom you have received a
You cannot tell whether a person is good or bad by his vicissitudes in life. Good and bad fortune are matters of fate. Good and bad actions are Man's Way. Retribution of good and evil is taught simply as a moral lesson.
Because of some business, Morooka Hikoemon was called upon to swear before the gods concerning the truth of a certain matter. But he said, "A samurai's word is harder than metal. Since I have impressed this fact upon myself, what more can the gods and Buddhas do?" and the swearing was cancelled. This happened when he was twenty-six.
Master lttei said, "Whatever one prays for will be granted. Long ago there were no matsutake mushrooms in our province. Some men who saw them in the Kamigata area prayed that they might grow here, and nowadays they are growing all over Kitagama. In the future I would like to have Japanese cypress grow in our province. As this is something that everyone desires, I predict it for the future. This being so, everyone should pray for it."
When something out of the ordinary happens, it is ridiculous to say that it is a mystery or a portent of something to come. Eclipses of the sun and moon, comets, clouds that flutter like flags, snow in the fifth month, lightning in the twelfth month, and so on, are all things that occur every fifty or one hundred years. They occur according to the evolution of Yin and Yang. The fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west would be a mystery, too, if it were not an everyday occurrence. It is not dissimilar. Furthermore, the fact that something bad always happens in the world when strange phenomena occur is due to people seeing something like fluttering clouds and thinking that something is going to happen. The mystery is created in their minds, and by waiting for the disaster, it is from their very minds that it occurs. The occurrence of mysteries is always by word of mouth.
Calculating people are contemptible. The reason for this
is that calculation deals with loss and pain, 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 contemptible.
Lord Naoshige said, "The Way of the Samurai is in
desperateness. Ten men or more cannot kill such a man. Common
sense will not accomplish great things. Simply become
insane and desperate.'
The saying of Shida Kichinosuke, "When there is a choice of either living or dying, as long as there remains nothing behind to blemish one's reputation, it is better to live," is a paradox. He also said, "When there is a choice of either going or not going, it is better not to go." A corollary to this would he, "When there is a choice of either eating or not eating, it is better not to eat. When there is a choice of either dying or not dying, it is better to die.''
When meeting calamities or difficult situations, it is not enough to simply say that one is not at all flustered. When meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely and with joy. It is the crossing of a single barrier and is like the saying, "The more the water, the higher the boat."
It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain to that which
you have seen and heard the masters attain. The masters are
men. You are also a man. If you think that you will be inferior
in doing something, you will be on that road very
A warrior should be careful in all things and should dislike to be the least bit worsted. Above all, if he is not careful in his choice of words he may say things like, "I'm a coward," or "At that time I'd probably run," or "How frightening," or "How painful." These are words that should not be said even in jest, on a whim, or when talking in one's sleep. If a person with understanding hears such things, he will see to the bottom of the speaker's heart. This is something that should be carefully thought about beforehand .
When one's own attitude on courage is fixed in his heart, and when his resolution is devoid of doubt, then when the time comes he will of necessity be able to choose the right move. This will be manifested by one's conduct and speech according to the occasion. One's word is especially important. It is not for exposing the depths of one's heart. This is something that people will know by one's everyday affairs.
After I took up the attitude of a retainer, I never sat sloppily whether at home or in some other place. Neither did I speak, but if there was something that could not be done properly without words, I made an effort to settle things by putting ten words into one. Yamazaki Kurando was like this .
It is said that even after one's head has been cut off, he can still perform some function. This fact can be known from the examples of Nitta Yoshisada and Ono Doken. How shall one man be inferior to another? Mitani Jokyu said, "Even if a man be sick to death, he can bear up for two or three days .''
In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions
within the space of seven breaths. Lord Takanobu said,
"If discrimination is long, it will spoil. " Lord Naoshige said,
"When matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will
turn out badly. A warrior is a person who does things
In admonishing the master, if one is not of the proper rank
to do so, it shows great loyalty to have someone who is of
that rank speak and have the master correct his mistakes.
To be on a footing to do this one must be on cordial terms
with everyone. If one does this for his own sake, it is simply
flattery. One does this, rather, in his concern to support the
clan on his own.
Bad relations between retired and present rulers, father and son, and elder and younger brothers develop from selfish motives. The proof of this is that there are no such bad rela- tions between master and retainer.
It is unthinkable to be disturbed at something like being
ordered to become a ronin. People at the time of Lord Katsushige
used to say, ''If one has not been a ronin at least seven
times, he will not be a true retainer. Seven times down,
eight times up."
Illnesses and the like become serious because of one's feelings.
I was born when my father was seventy-one years old
and was hence a rather sickly child. But because I have had
the great desire to be of use even in old age, when the chance
came I improved my health and haven't been sick since.
And I have abstained from sex and have consistently taken
moxa cautery. There are things that I feel have definitely had
Yamamoto Jin'emon once said that it is best for a samurai to have good retainers. Military affairs are not matters for one person alone, regardless of how useful he tries to be. Money is something that one can borrow from people, but a good man cannot suddenly be come by. One should sustain a man kindly and well from the first. And in having retainers it will not do to nourish oneself alone. If you divide what you have and feed your lower ranks, you will be able to hold good men.
A person with a bit of wisdom is one who will criticize the times. This is the basis of disaster. A person who is discreet in speaking will be useful during the good times and will avoid punishment during the bad.
Being superior to others is nothing other than having people talk about your affairs and listening to their opinions. The general run of people settle for their own opinions and thus never excel. Having a discussion with a person is one step in excelling him, A certain person discussed with me the written materials at the clan office. He is better than someone like me in writing and researching. In seeking correction from others, you excel them.
It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything that is called a Way. Therefore, it is inconsistent to hear something of the Way of Confucius or the Way of the Buddha, and say that this is 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.
For a samurai, a simple word is important no matter where he may be. By just one single word martial valor can be made apparent. In peaceful times words show one's bravery. In troubled times, too, one knows that by a single word his strength or cowardice can be seen. This single word is the flower of one's heart. It is not something said simply with one's mouth.
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.
No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done. If one manifests the determination, he can move heaven and earth as he pleases. But because man is pluckless, he cannot set his mind to it. Moving heaven and earth without putting forth effort is simply a matter of concentration.
A person who is said to be proficient at the arts is like a fool. Because of his foolishness in concerning himself with just one thing, he thinks of nothing else and thus becomes proficient. He is a worthless person.
Until the age of forty it is best to gather strength. It is appropriate to have settled clown by the age of fifty.
When discussing things with someone, it is best to speak appropriately about whatever the subject may be. No matter how good what you are saying might be, it will dampen the conversation if it is irrelevant.
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. It is best to both give and receive opinions in a friendly way.
There is a saying that great genius matures late. If something is not brought to fruition over a period of twenty to thirty years, it will not be of great merit. When a retainer is of a mind to do his work hurriedly, he will intrude upon the work of others and will be said to be young but able. He will become over-enthusiastic and will be considered rather rude. He will put on the airs of someone who has done great works, will become a flatterer and insincere, and will be talked about behind his back. In the pursuit of one's development, if he does not make great effort and is not supported by others in his advancement in the world, he will be of no use.
When one is involved in the affairs of a warrior such as being a kaishaku or making an arrest within one's own clan or group, people will notice when the time comes if he has resolved beforehand that no one can take his place. One should always take the attitude of standing above others in martial valor, always feel that he is inferior to no one, and always cultivate his courage.
When on the battlefield, if you try not to let others take the lead and have the sole intention of breaking into the enemy lines, then you will not fall behind others, your mind will become fierce, and you will manifest martial valor. This fact has been passed down by the elders. Furthermore, if you are slain in battle, you should be resolved to have your corpse facing the enemy.
If everyone were in accord and left things to Providence,
their hearts would be at ease. If they are not in accord,
though they would do acts of righteousness, they lack
loyalty. To be at odds with one's companions, to be prone
to miss even infrequent meetings, to speak only cantankerous
words---a1 come from a shallow foolishness of mind. But
thinking of the moment of truth, even though it be unpleasant,
one should fix it in his mind to meet people cordially
at all times and without distraction, and in a way in which
one will not seem bored. Moreover, in this world of
uncertainties one is not even sure of the present. It would be
worthless to die while being thought ill of by people. Lies
and insincerity are unbecoming. This is because they are for
There is a certain priest who is said to be able to get everything accomplished by means of his cleverness. There is not a monk in japan today who can oppose him. This is not the least bit strange. There is simply no one who sees through to the foundation of things.
Senility is when one goes about doing only that towards which he is most inclined. One is able to suppress and hide this while his vigor is still strong, but when he weakens, the essential strong points of his nature appear and are a shame to him. This manifests itself in several forms, but 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, It can be thought that Master lttei had a senility of argumentation. As if to show that he alone could support the House of Nabeshima, he went about with a senile appearance to prominent people's houses and chatted amiably with them. At the time, everybody thought that it was reasonable, but thinking about it now, it was senility. For myself, with that good example and the feeling that dotage was overtaking me, I declined to participate at the temple on the thirteenth anniversary of Lord Mitsushige's death, and I have decided to stay more and more indoors. One must get a clear view of what lies ahead.
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.
According to a story at the Ryutaiji, there was a master of the Book of Changes in the Kamigata area who said that even if a man is a priest, it is useless to give him rank while he is under the ape of forty. This is because he will make many mistakes. Confucius was not the only man to become unperplexed after reaching the age of forty. Upon reaching the age of forty, both wise and foolish have gone through an appropriate amount of experience and will no longer be perplexed .
Concerning martial valor, merit lies more in dying for one's master than in striking down the enemy. This can be understood from the devotion of Sate Tsugunobu.
When I was young, I kept a "Dairy of Regret" and tried to record my mistakes day by day, but there was never a day when I didn't have twenty or thirty entries. As there was no end to it, I gave up. Even today, when I think about the day's affairs after going to bed, there is never a day when I do not make some blunder in speaking or in some activity. Living without mistakes is truly impossible. But this is something that people who live by cleverness have no inclination to think about.
When reading something aloud, it is best to read from the belly. Reading from one's mouth, one's voice will not endure. This is Nakano Shikibu's teaching.
During happy times, pride and extravagance are dangerous. If one is not prudent in ordinary times, he will not be able to catch up. A person who advances during good times will falter during the bad.
Master lttei said, "In calligraphy it is progress when the paper, brush and ink are in harmony." Yet they are so wont to be disjointed!
The master took a book from its box. When he opened it there was the smell of drying clovebuds.
What is called generosity is really compassion. In the
Shin'ei it is written, "Seen from the eye of compassion, there
is no one to be disliked. One who has sinned is to be pitied
all the more." There is no limit to the breadth and depth
of one's 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.
The priest Tannen said, "A clever retainer will not advance. However, there are no cases of stupid people coming up in the world either."
This was Nakano Shikibu's opinion.
Hoshino Ryotetsu was the progenitor of homosexuality
in our province, and although it can be said that his disciples
were many, he instructed each one individually. Edayoshi
Saburozaemon was a man who understood the foundation of
homosexuality. Once, when accompanying his master to
ado, Ryotetsu asked Saburozaemon, "What have you understood
Master lttei said, ' 'If one were to say what it is to do good, in a single word it would be to endure suffering. Not enduring is bad without exception."
Until one reaches the ape of forty it is better to put off wisdom and discrimination and excel in vitality. According to the person and the rank, though a person has passed the age of forty, if he has no vitality, he will pet no response from others.
Recently, a certain person on his way to Edo sent home a detailed letter from the first night's inn. Though he was a person who neglected such things when he was busy, he excelled other people in being as attentive as this.
In the judgment of the elders, a samurai's obstinacy should be excessive. A thing done with moderation may later be judged to be insufficient. I have heard that when one thinks he has gone too far, he will not have erred. This sort of rule should not be forgotten.
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.
When a certain man was going to the sutra readings at the
Jissoin in Kawakami, one of his pages got drunk on the ferryboat
and began to pester one of the sailors. When they landed on
the other side, as the page had drawn his sword, the
sailor took a pole and struck him on the head. At that time
the other sailors all ran up together carrying oars and were
at the point of striking the page down. However, as the
master passed by with an air of not knowing what was
happening, one of the other pages ran back and apologized to the
sailors. Then, pacifying his comrade, he accompanied him
home. That night the page who had been drunk learned that
his sword was being taken away from him.
The resolution of the men of former times was deep. Those between the ages of thirteen and sixty went to the front lines. For this reason men of advanced years hid their age.
For serious affairs that bear directly on oneself, if one does not take care of things by making his own judgment his foundation and breaking through headlong, matters will not be brought to a close. In conferring with people about matters of importance, there may be many cases when your affair is thought lightly of, or when people will not speak of the real circumstances. At such times one must use his own judgment. At any rate, it is sufficient to become a fanatic and choose to throw away one's life. At such a time, if one thinks about doing things well, confusion will soon arise and he will blunder. In many cases one's downfall may be brought about by an ally who is trying to do something for one's benefit, or one may be killed by his friend's kindness. It is the same as when one requests permission to become a monk.
Lord Naoshige said, "An ancestor's good or evil can be determined by the conduct of his descendants .'' A descendant should act in a way that will manifest the good in his ancestor and not the bad. This is filial piety.
It is a wretched thing that one's family lineage be thrown into confusion with an adoption based on money alone. Such a thing is immoral from the beginning, but it is extreme wickedness to be thus immoral with the excuse that without doing so one will be unable to afford even today's rice.
When Nakano Shogen committed seppuku, the members of his group gathered at Oki Hyobu's place and said various bad things about him. Hyobu said, "One does not speak bad things about a person after his death. And especially since a person who has received some censure is to be pitied, it is the obligation of a samurai to speak something good of him, no matter how little. There is no doubt that in twenty years Shogen will have the reputation of a faithful retainer." These were truly the words of a seasoned man .
To place one's armor out splendidly is a fine discipline, but it is sufficient if it is simply all accounted for. Fukabori Inosuke 's armor is a good example. Men of high rank and with many retainers will also need such things as money to set aside for campaign use. It is said that Okabe Kunai made bags equaling the number of men in his ;group, affixed a name to each, and put in the appropriate amount of money for a campaign. This sort of discipline is profound. As for men of low rank, if they cannot make the proper preparation at the time, they should rely on assistance from their group leader. To this extent, it is necessary for the group leader to be on intimate terms with his men beforehand. As for men who are under the master's direction, and especially for those who are with him directly, it is better to be without preparation money. At the time of the summer maneuvers at Osaka, a certain person brought along twelve monme of refined silver and went off with Master Taku Zusho. This, of course, would have been fine if he had simply ridden off early. I think that it is better to dispense with such care.
In carefully scrutinizing the affairs of the past, we find that there are many different opinions about them, and that there are some things that are quite unclear. It is better to regard
such things as unknowable. Lord Sanenori once said, "As
for the things that we don't understand, there ere ways of
understanding them. Furthermore, there are some things
we understand just naturally, and again some that we can't
understand no matter how hard we try. This is interesting."