Hagakure (Shambhala Pocket Classic): The Book of the Samurai (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

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9781611801873: Hagakure (Shambhala Pocket Classic): The Book of the Samurai (Shambhala Pocket Classics)
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The seminal treatise on the code of the samurai--now available as a Shambhala Pocket Classic.

     Hagakure is a treatise on the samurai code written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, an eighteenth-century samurai. It's a guide, organized as a loose collection of thoughts, on how samurai should conduct themselves. This philosophy--bushido, or "the way of the samurai"--is, according to Tsunetomo, essentially a Way of death or dying. This embracing of death with honor and courage is the core theme of Hagakure--and part of its allure.
     This edition, translated by the esteemed translator William Scott Wilson, is considered the definitive version of this classic. No other translator has so thoroughly and eruditely rendered this text into English. Wilson's introduction casts Hagakure in a different light than ever before. In Tsunetomo's time, the Way of death was a nuanced concept that related heavily to the Zen idea of the death of the ego. Wilson's introduction gives the historical and philosophical background for that more metaphorical reading of Hagakure, and through this lens, the classic takes on a fresh and nuanced appeal.

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About the Author:

WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. He received BA degrees from Dartmouth College and the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, and an MA in Japanese literary studies from the University of Washington. His best-selling books include The Book of Five Rings; The Unfettered Mind; and The Lone Samurai, a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

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.

Negligence is an extreme thing.

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 one's aim.

We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaining one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. 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.

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.

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 quickly."

When your mind is going hither and thither, discrimination will never be brought to a conclusion. With an intense, fresh and undelaying spirit, one will make his judgments within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781590309858: Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

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ISBN 10:  1590309855 ISBN 13:  9781590309858
Publisher: Shambhala, 2012
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9781456303754: Hagakure: Book of the Samurai

Create..., 2010
Softcover

9784770011060: Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

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9784770029164: Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

Kodans..., 2002
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9784770026125: Hagakure: The Book Of The Samurai

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