Monday, February 01, 2010

No. 7 - The Book of Five Rings

by Miyamoto Musashi

Translated by Thomas Cleary

Started: February 1
Finished: February 5

Notes: I am reading this particular translation of this book while at the same time reading another version. I was drawn to this translation in part because the book also includes "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War" by Yagyu Munenori.

Mini review: This translation was generally easier to understand than the other I read, but it was interesting to compare the two and to take note of different wording used in some places. Generally, this particular translation was more explanatory of certain words or phrases that could seem confusing when translated into English from Japanese. However, it wasn't because of the translation (I think), but I didn't care much for the additional text, "The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War." It seemed, in some places, to counter some of what was written in "The Book of Five Rings," and seemed overly ethereal in some places. "The Book of Five Rings" is actually pretty down-to-earth and straight forward, while also retaining flexibility. One thing I did like from " The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War" was talk of having "no mind" while performing certain tasks, sort of like having a clear mind while driving a car or shooting a gun or attacking with a sword; basically, for example if you are driving a car, your mind doesn't directly focus so much on driving the car because it will cause you difficulties in driving the car. Make sense? Kind of odd, I know, but it made sense to me. Another example would be shooting a bow. If you focus too much on shooting the bow, you will not be as accurate as you would if your mind was more free, not thinking directly so much about shooting the bow. What this means is, through physical practice and mental training, you become so familiar with doing a certain thing that you are good at it by not thinking about it.

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