Each person’s life is very different. No two can compare.
But a Japanese Buddhist claims that there are 20 rules we must all follow to lead a happy and fulfilled life. Mere weeks before he died, Miyamoto Musashi, created a list of the main rules he lived by. Born in 1584, he was an expert swordsman, a renowned warrior and his teachings are still studied today, but most importantly, his rules for life are incredibly inspirational. According to his text, ‘The Way of Walking Alone’ this is how we must all live our lives.
1. Learn to accept life as it comes
For the sake of mental health, you must accept the life you are given. Stress, anxiety, and despair are natural parts of a person’s life, and it should never be attacked. Acceptance of the most difficult aspects of life will make you stronger to their advances.
2. Abandon any obsession to achieve pleasure
As humans, we spend a lot of time chasing down pleasure – we give in to our cravings, reach higher for promotions and raises, and have become part of a society obsessed with sexual pleasure. Musashi claimed we should try simply to live life in the moment and enjoy pleasure when it comes to us naturally instead of striving for it.
3. Do not act on an impulsive emotion
We are often told to follow our heart, but Musashi’s teachings suggest this is never a good idea. When faced with a feeling that seems to have come from nowhere, following its path can lead to bad decisions. It is advised that we stick with what we know for sure, and don’t give way to impulse.
4. Do not obsess over yourself
Self-obsession is common in humanity. These days, we are so focussed on online presence, taking a perfect selfie and striving for perfection, that we forget what matters in life. Strive to separate from yourself and your ego for a better perception of what is important.
5. Never allow jealousy to rule your life
Jealousy is a very strong form of hatred, and Musashi claimed that getting stuck in its grasp would ruin you. He said never to be jealous of others, and to simply be thankful for what you yourself have.
6. Abandon attachment to desire
In the same way as achieving pleasure, desire only makes us want for things we may never gain. The idea proposed was to live not wanting more than you have, and to wait for good things to come to you.
7. Never live in regret
As we often tell each other, the past cannot be changed. Musashi believed that everything happened for a reason, and it was all part of your path in life. Dwelling on things you once did could never change them.
8. Do not dwell on a sad separation
Constantly thinking on a sad parting of friends or family prevents us from moving on and continuing our lives. Musashi thought that since there was no way to bring back the dead, they should be left behind in the past.
9. Complaining should have no place in your life
Many of us find comfort in complaining when things go wrong, but according to Musashi’s teachings, we should simply let these things pass us by. Dwelling on what is going wrong only prolongs the past’s hold over your life.
10. Don’t let lust rule your life
Humans are sexual beings by nature, and so many people waste their lives on lustful thoughts. Musashi thought we should instead strive for love and lasting relationships.
11. Keep your options open
Do not rule out matters of the future with closed off thoughts. Keep your options wide open to allow for the best opportunities to come your way.
12. Don’t be a slave to your surroundings
Possessions and a luxurious home may seem important, but there are more important things to treasure in life. Love, health, and life itself should be treasured above all else in the world.
13. Learn not to be gluttonous
We as a society obsess over food and the pleasures of fine dining, or even just a good takeaway. However, Musashi believed that we shouldn’t take so much pleasure in eating, and we should strip meals down to be filling, but not necessarily tasty.
14. Abandon possessions in favor of minimalism
Don’t hold on to things you don’t need anymore, in other words. If it once was important, it can still be cast aside now to live a pure and simple life.
15. Do not believe something just because you’re told to
Allow your own thoughts and beliefs to have space. Don’t just follow the crowd and listen to other’s opinions. Form your own ideas.
16. Respect the Gods, but do not rely solely on their guidance
Gods should be looked up to, but they cannot lead you through every motion. They need to be a figure of guidance, but in the end, a person must make their own path.
17. Have no fear of dying
Fearing death only prevents you from living life to the full. Live each day individually and do not fear the consequences of each action.
18. Do not use weaponry unless it is necessary
Despite Musashi’s fame with a sword, he still believed that weaponry should be used sparingly and only when needed. He claimed that defending yourself was okay, but enforcing attack without reason was a sin.
19. Do not put pressure on retiring with riches
Many of us save for our retirement age so that we can live a life of luxury, but The Way of Walking Alone claimed we do not need possessions to live happily. Again, it was suggested we should live in the moment and not chase happiness in the form of possessions.
20. Always protect your honor
Musashi claimed that the only way to be true to yourself was to follow your own beliefs and live life as honorably as you know how to.
The text is full of inspirational information. Musashi lived a full, incredible life and to follow his rules seems like a way to achieve the same satisfaction. Though some of his ideas have been branded as crazy, far-fetched and nonsensical if he achieved happiness, who are we to question his practices?
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About The Author: Hayley Anderton is a Creative Writing graduate from Liverpool. She’s a freelance writer and the self-published novelist of the LGBT YA book, Double Bluff. She doesn’t go anywhere without a notepad and has been writing ever since she can remember. Her other interests include baking, talking about politics and feminism, and snuggling up with her cat. She has dreams of traveling the world with her best friends, and of being a well-known author some day.