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The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi (edição: 2004)

de William Scott Wilson (Autor)

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The Lone Samurai is a landmark biography of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary Japanese figure known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, and author of The Book of Five Rings. With a compassionate yet critical eye, William Scott Wilson delves into the workings of Musashi''s mind as the iconoclastic samurai wrestled with philosophical and spiritual ideas that are as relevant today as they were in his times. Musashi found peace and spiritual reward in seeking to perfect his chosen Way, and came to realize that perfecting a single Way, no matter the path, could lead to fulfillment. The Lone Samurai is far more than a vivid account of a fascinating slice of feudal Japan. It is the story of one man''s quest for answers, perfection, and access to the Way. By age thirteen, Miyamoto Musashi had killed his opponent in what would become the first of many celebrated swordfights. By thirty, he had fought more than sixty matches, losing none. He would live another thirty years but kill no one else. He continued to engage in swordfights but now began to show his skill simply by thwarting his opponents'' every attack until they acknowledged Musashi''s all-encompassing ability. At the same time, the master swordsman began to expand his horizons, exploring Zen Buddhism and its related arts, particularly ink painting, in a search for a truer Way. Musashi was a legend in his own time. As a swordsman, he preferred the wooden sword and in later years almost never fought with a real weapon. He outfoxed his opponents or turned their own strength against them. At the height of his powers, he began to evolve artistically and spiritually, becoming one of the country''s most highly regarded ink painters and calligraphers, while deepening his practice of Zen Buddhism. He funneled his hard-earned insights about the warrior arts into his spiritual goals. Ever the solitary wanderer, Musashi shunned power, riches, and the comforts of a home or fixed position with a feudal lord in favor of a constant search for truth, perfection, and a better Way. Eventually, he came to the realization that perfection in one art, whether peaceful or robust, could offer entry to a deeper, spiritual understanding. His philosophy, along with his warrior strategies, is distilled in his renowned work, The Book of Five Rings, written near the end of his life. Musashi remains a source of fascination for the Japanese, as well as for those of us in the West who have more recently discovered the ideals of the samurai and Zen Buddhism. The Lone Samurai is the first biography ever to appear in English of this richly layered, complex seventeenth-century swordsman and seeker, whose legacy has lived far beyond his own time and place. ---------------------------------------------------------------- INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON ABOUT BUSHIDO Q.: What is Bushido? A.: Bushido might be explained in part by the etymology of the Chinese characters used for the word. Bu comes from two radicals meanings "stop" and "spear." So even though the word now means "martial" or "military affair," it has the sense of stopping aggression. Shi can mean "samurai," but also means "gentleman" or "scholar." Looking at the character, you can see a man with broad shoulders but with his feet squarely on the ground. Do, with the radicals of head and motion, originally depicted a thoughtful way of action. It now means a path, street or way. With this in mind, we can understand Bushido as a Way of life, both ethical and martial, with self-discipline as a fundamental tenet. Self-discipline requires the warrior at once to consider his place in society and the ethics involved, and to forge himself in the martial arts. Both should eventually lead him to understand that his fundamental opponents are his own ignorance and passions. Q.: How did the code develop and how did it influence Japanese society? A.: The warrior class began to develop as a recognizable entity around the 11th and 12th centuries. The leaders of this class were often descended from the nobility, and so were men of education and breeding. I would say that the code developed when the leaders of the warrior class began to reflect on their position in society and what it meant to be a warrior. They first began to write these thoughts down as yuigon, last words to their descendents, or as kabegaki, literally "wall writings," maxims posted to all their samurai. Samurai itself is an interesting word, coming from the classical saburau, "to serve." So when we understand that a samurai is "one who serves," we see that the implications go much farther than simply being a soldier or fighter. Also, it is important to understand that Confucian scholars had always reflected on what it meant to be true gentleman, and they concluded that such a man would be capable of both the martial and literary. The Japanese inherited this system of thought early on, so certain ideals were already implicitly accepted. The warrior class ruled the country for about 650 years, and their influence-political, philosophical and even artistic-had a long time to percolate throughout Japanese society. Q.: The Samurai were very much renaissance men - they were interested in the arts, tea ceremony, religion, as well as the martial arts. What role did these interests play in the development of Bushido? How did the martial arts fit in? A.: This question goes back to the Confucian ideal of balance that Japanese inherited, probably from the 7th century or so. The word used by both to express this concept, for the "gentleman" by the Chinese and the warrior by Japanese, is (hin), pronounced uruwashii in Japanese, meaning both "balanced" and "beautiful." The character itself is a combination of "literature" (bun) and "martial" (bu). The study of arts like Tea ceremony, calligraphy, the study of poetry or literature, and of course the martial arts of swordsmanship or archery, broadened a man''s perspective and understanding of the world and, as mentioned above, provided him with a vehicle for self-discipline. The martial arts naturally were included in the duties of a samurai, but this did not make them any less instructive in becoming a full human being. Q.: What was sword fighting like? Was the swordplay different for different samurai? A.: There were literally hundreds of schools of samurai swordsmanship by the 1800''s and, as previously mentioned, each school emphasized differing styles and approaches. Some would have the student to jump and leap, others to keep his feel solidly on the ground; some would emphasize different ways of holding the sword, others one method only. One school stated that technical swordsmanship took second place to sitting meditation. Historically speaking, there were periods when much of the swordfighting was done on horseback, and others when it was done mostly on foot. Also, as the shape and length of the sword varied through different epochs, so did styles of fighting. Then I suppose that a fight between men who were resolved to die would be quite different from a fight between men who were not interested in getting hurt. Q.: How is the code reflected in Japanese society today? A.: When I first came to live in Japan in the 60''s, I was impressed how totally dedicated and loyal people were to the companies where they were employed. When I eventually understood the words samurai and saburau, it started to make sense. While these men (women would usually not stay long with a company, giving up work for marriage) did not carry swords of course, they seemed to embody that old samurai sense of service, duty, loyalty and even pride. This may sound strange in our own "me first" culture, but it impressed me that the company had sort of taken the place of a feudal lord, and that the stipend of the samurai had become the salary of the white-collar worker.M That is on the societal level. On an individual level, I have often felt that Japanese have a strong resolution, perhaps from this cultural background of Bushido, to go through problems rather than around them. Persistence and patience developed from self-discipline?… (mais)
Membro:Hedgescholar
Título:The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi
Autores:William Scott Wilson (Autor)
Informação:Kodansha USA (2004), Edition: 1, 287 pages
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“It is difficult to imagine another character from either history or literature who has captured the imagination of a people. Miyamoto Musashi did not change the politics or shape events in Japanese history. Nor did he write a work that would affect a genre of literature or poems that would become classics. Yet there is something at the heart of his story that has commanded the attention of the Japanese people and others who have heard it. The story as told in any one iteration – any play, movie, novel or comic book is never definitive enough. The story of Musashi, even in its paucity of facts, is much too large to fit once and for all in any single package.”

At the age of thirteen Miyamoto Musashi won his first duel, by the age of thirty he had fought around sixty more, and had lost none, most ending in the death or serious injury of his opponent. After the age of thirty although he still fought - he chose to no longer kill or harm his opponents, he merely blocked, thwarted and demonstrated the weaknesses in their style of swordplay, until they gave up and understood that he was the better swordsman. This alone would be enough to create a legend of his life if it were all and yet, as the quote above states, there’s much, much more. Musashi was not only one of the greatest swordsman of his time, he was also a poet, an extraordinarily skilled painter, sculptor, metallurgist, garden designer and philosopher and in a time when a career as a Samurai* meant being indentured to a master, Musashi followed his own path, committing his life to the way of the warrior.

Musashi was active during a period called the Kyoto Renaissance (1550 – 1650) after suffering a disastrous 150 years of internal conflict, with ancient temples, artwork and libraries lost for all time. Japan was brought back to unification and with it a path to peace and following that peace came economic prosperity and a renewed blossoming of the arts in almost every arena. This flourishing reached across all facets of Japanese culture, raising to greater heights everything from castle architecture and classical poetry through to the martial arts, with new schools hanging up their shingles all over Japan; this was also the period when the Tea Ceremony reached its zenith. All of this fed into the mind of Miyamoto and was to resurface years later in his book 五輪書 Go Rin no Sho (The Book of Five Rings), this was written as five chapters and represented his views, the chapters were:

The Book of Earth chapter serves as an introduction, and metaphorically discusses martial arts, leadership, and training as building a house.

The Book of Water chapter describes Musashi's style, Ni-ten ichi-ryu, or "Two Heavens, One Style". It describes some basic technique and fundamental principles.

The Book of Fire chapter refers to the heat of battle, and discusses matters such as different types of timing.

The Book of Wind chapter is something of a pun, since the Japanese character can mean both "wind" and "style" (e.g., of martial arts). It discusses what Musashi considers to be the failings of various contemporary schools of swordfighting.

The Book of the Void chapter is a short epilogue, describing, in more esoteric terms, Musashi's probably Zen-influenced thoughts on consciousness and the correct mind-set.

It says in the opening quote that he never influenced politics or shaped events in Japanese history nor did he write a work that would affect a genre of literature or poems that would become classics. To that statement I would add one word – directly. Indirectly his influence can be seen through in an infinite number of ways, through writers as diverse as Yukio Mishima, Takehiko Inoue, Sean Michael Wilson and Junichiro Tanizaki. Through the films about or related to samurai, he has even had a song written about him by Bruce Dickinson of the British metal band Iron Maiden (Sun & Steel). All this shows that this 17th century fighter & artist still holds an interest and a relevance for us today.

The Majority of the information and all of the inspiration for this post came from William Scott Wilson’s book The Lone Samurai: The Life of of Miyamoto Musashi. This book is considered to be the authoritative and most reliable text on Musashi, since most of the previously known information is drawn on legends, half truths or fictional accounts.

William Scott Wilson became involved in the life and work of Miyamoto Musashi, when asked to do a translation of The Book of Five Rings, this was to be a bilingual edition and after its completion he was asked to write a short volume on the authors life. In the end this took an awful lot longer and a great deal more research than was first expected, because although stories about this fighter’s life are legion, and range from the Kokura Hibun, a monument inscribed with the story of Musashi’s life, through the Nitenki, a compilation of stories (1755) and numerous records scattered through many clan archives plus the many fictional accounts, sorting through this store of data wasn't a straight forward procedure. In the process of wading through the discrepancies in time and place and sifting between the various versions due to personal alliances etc., this book took shape. Making the Lone Samurai, not only William Scott Wilson’s personal quest, but our best resource to who Miyamoto Musashi; Swordsman, philosopher, Artist was.

“The Cherry blossoms, symbol of the warrior in Japan, had already fallen, and the new light green leaves were everywhere” he died on the 19th of May 1645. He was sixty two years old and was buried in accordance with his wishes, dressed in armour and helmet, provided with six martial accoutrements and placed in the coffin. He was buried in Handa-gun, 5-cho, Tenaga Yuge Village, with the Abbot Shunzan of the Taishoji Temple as officiating priest. When the abbot had finished his address to the departing spirit, a single crack of thunder rang from the clear sky. You can find Miyamoto Musashi’s grave marker still there today.

http://parrishlantern.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/the-path-of-true-warrior-lone-samur... ( )
  parrishlantern | Jan 18, 2013 |
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The Lone Samurai is a landmark biography of Miyamoto Musashi, the legendary Japanese figure known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, and author of The Book of Five Rings. With a compassionate yet critical eye, William Scott Wilson delves into the workings of Musashi''s mind as the iconoclastic samurai wrestled with philosophical and spiritual ideas that are as relevant today as they were in his times. Musashi found peace and spiritual reward in seeking to perfect his chosen Way, and came to realize that perfecting a single Way, no matter the path, could lead to fulfillment. The Lone Samurai is far more than a vivid account of a fascinating slice of feudal Japan. It is the story of one man''s quest for answers, perfection, and access to the Way. By age thirteen, Miyamoto Musashi had killed his opponent in what would become the first of many celebrated swordfights. By thirty, he had fought more than sixty matches, losing none. He would live another thirty years but kill no one else. He continued to engage in swordfights but now began to show his skill simply by thwarting his opponents'' every attack until they acknowledged Musashi''s all-encompassing ability. At the same time, the master swordsman began to expand his horizons, exploring Zen Buddhism and its related arts, particularly ink painting, in a search for a truer Way. Musashi was a legend in his own time. As a swordsman, he preferred the wooden sword and in later years almost never fought with a real weapon. He outfoxed his opponents or turned their own strength against them. At the height of his powers, he began to evolve artistically and spiritually, becoming one of the country''s most highly regarded ink painters and calligraphers, while deepening his practice of Zen Buddhism. He funneled his hard-earned insights about the warrior arts into his spiritual goals. Ever the solitary wanderer, Musashi shunned power, riches, and the comforts of a home or fixed position with a feudal lord in favor of a constant search for truth, perfection, and a better Way. Eventually, he came to the realization that perfection in one art, whether peaceful or robust, could offer entry to a deeper, spiritual understanding. His philosophy, along with his warrior strategies, is distilled in his renowned work, The Book of Five Rings, written near the end of his life. Musashi remains a source of fascination for the Japanese, as well as for those of us in the West who have more recently discovered the ideals of the samurai and Zen Buddhism. The Lone Samurai is the first biography ever to appear in English of this richly layered, complex seventeenth-century swordsman and seeker, whose legacy has lived far beyond his own time and place. ---------------------------------------------------------------- INTERVIEW WITH WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON ABOUT BUSHIDO Q.: What is Bushido? A.: Bushido might be explained in part by the etymology of the Chinese characters used for the word. Bu comes from two radicals meanings "stop" and "spear." So even though the word now means "martial" or "military affair," it has the sense of stopping aggression. Shi can mean "samurai," but also means "gentleman" or "scholar." Looking at the character, you can see a man with broad shoulders but with his feet squarely on the ground. Do, with the radicals of head and motion, originally depicted a thoughtful way of action. It now means a path, street or way. With this in mind, we can understand Bushido as a Way of life, both ethical and martial, with self-discipline as a fundamental tenet. Self-discipline requires the warrior at once to consider his place in society and the ethics involved, and to forge himself in the martial arts. Both should eventually lead him to understand that his fundamental opponents are his own ignorance and passions. Q.: How did the code develop and how did it influence Japanese society? A.: The warrior class began to develop as a recognizable entity around the 11th and 12th centuries. The leaders of this class were often descended from the nobility, and so were men of education and breeding. I would say that the code developed when the leaders of the warrior class began to reflect on their position in society and what it meant to be a warrior. They first began to write these thoughts down as yuigon, last words to their descendents, or as kabegaki, literally "wall writings," maxims posted to all their samurai. Samurai itself is an interesting word, coming from the classical saburau, "to serve." So when we understand that a samurai is "one who serves," we see that the implications go much farther than simply being a soldier or fighter. Also, it is important to understand that Confucian scholars had always reflected on what it meant to be true gentleman, and they concluded that such a man would be capable of both the martial and literary. The Japanese inherited this system of thought early on, so certain ideals were already implicitly accepted. The warrior class ruled the country for about 650 years, and their influence-political, philosophical and even artistic-had a long time to percolate throughout Japanese society. Q.: The Samurai were very much renaissance men - they were interested in the arts, tea ceremony, religion, as well as the martial arts. What role did these interests play in the development of Bushido? How did the martial arts fit in? A.: This question goes back to the Confucian ideal of balance that Japanese inherited, probably from the 7th century or so. The word used by both to express this concept, for the "gentleman" by the Chinese and the warrior by Japanese, is (hin), pronounced uruwashii in Japanese, meaning both "balanced" and "beautiful." The character itself is a combination of "literature" (bun) and "martial" (bu). The study of arts like Tea ceremony, calligraphy, the study of poetry or literature, and of course the martial arts of swordsmanship or archery, broadened a man''s perspective and understanding of the world and, as mentioned above, provided him with a vehicle for self-discipline. The martial arts naturally were included in the duties of a samurai, but this did not make them any less instructive in becoming a full human being. Q.: What was sword fighting like? Was the swordplay different for different samurai? A.: There were literally hundreds of schools of samurai swordsmanship by the 1800''s and, as previously mentioned, each school emphasized differing styles and approaches. Some would have the student to jump and leap, others to keep his feel solidly on the ground; some would emphasize different ways of holding the sword, others one method only. One school stated that technical swordsmanship took second place to sitting meditation. Historically speaking, there were periods when much of the swordfighting was done on horseback, and others when it was done mostly on foot. Also, as the shape and length of the sword varied through different epochs, so did styles of fighting. Then I suppose that a fight between men who were resolved to die would be quite different from a fight between men who were not interested in getting hurt. Q.: How is the code reflected in Japanese society today? A.: When I first came to live in Japan in the 60''s, I was impressed how totally dedicated and loyal people were to the companies where they were employed. When I eventually understood the words samurai and saburau, it started to make sense. While these men (women would usually not stay long with a company, giving up work for marriage) did not carry swords of course, they seemed to embody that old samurai sense of service, duty, loyalty and even pride. This may sound strange in our own "me first" culture, but it impressed me that the company had sort of taken the place of a feudal lord, and that the stipend of the samurai had become the salary of the white-collar worker.M That is on the societal level. On an individual level, I have often felt that Japanese have a strong resolution, perhaps from this cultural background of Bushido, to go through problems rather than around them. Persistence and patience developed from self-discipline?

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