The Book of Five Rings 
The Classic Masterpiece by Miyamoto Musashi

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About Miyamoto Musashi

THE BOOK OF THE VOID

[In Buddhism, void does not imply something lacking, but rather the elimination of what is superfluous.]

I will describe the essence of the Ni To Ichi Way of strategy in this book of the Void. What I call the void is where nothing exists. It is about things outside man's knowledge. Of course the void does not exist. By knowing what exist, you can know that which does not exist. That is the void.

People in this world look at things mistakenly, and think that what they do not understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is confusion.

In the Way of strategy, also, those who study as warriors may think that whatever they cannot understand in their craft is the void. Someone like that will continue to be distracted by irrelevant things. This is not the true void.

To attain the Way of strategy as a warrior you must study fully other martial arts and not deviate even a little from the Way of the warrior. With your spirit settled on your duty, you must practice day by day, and hour by hour. Polish the twofold spirit of Shin [heart] and I [will], and sharpen the twofold gaze of ken [perception] and kan [intuition]. When your spirit is not in the least confused, when the clouds of bewilderment are cleared away, there is the true void.

Until you realize the true Way, whether in Buddhism or in worldly laws, you may think that your own way is the one correct and in order. However, if we look at things objectively, in the light of the Straight Way of the Heart or in accordance with the Great Square of the World, we see various doctrines departing from the true Way. What you believe in often proves to be contrary to the true way, distorted as it is by tendencies to favor your own thoughts and views. Know this well, and try to act with forthrightness as the foundation and keep the true Heart as the Way. Enact strategy broadly, correctly and openly.

Then you will come to see things in an all-encompassing sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void.

In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom exists, principle exists, the way exists. Spirit is Void.

[ The hyoho of the body and the massive rock are both shown in Ku (emptiness). Musashi says to make your emptiness your way, and your way your emptiness. The word Ku is entirely good and contains no evil. It is a world of great wisdom which goes beyond human intellect. It benefits yourself and others, the world of Daijo (the great vehicle). It is a world in which one agrees to the true way, at any time, in any place, and agrees with many people. However, the mind presented in Gorin no Sho is the spiritual mind which frees itself from ego. Musashi called this the hyoho of Jisso-enmon (the ultimate reality and perfection), in which one receives peacefully, thankfully, everything in the world for what it is, good or bad, for the benefit of oneself and others. ]

Twelfth day of the fifth month, second year of Shoho (1645)
Teruro Magonojo
SHINMEN MUSASHI
 

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