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Musashi

self-portrait

  1. Accept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things, have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor.
  21. Never stray from the way.

Wikipedia describes this brief set of precepts as “a short work written by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) a week before he died in 1645.” I’m wondering if there are parallels in the Christian monastic tradition.

Though Musashi was a Japanese warrior or ronin, his fighting style was influenced by training with (Buddhist?) monks. The Dokkodo is not a religious document but a collection of wise or pithy sayings, similar in some ways to Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. Monastic ‘rules’ might be closer to this type of writing, though the goal of a Rule was probably more to facilitate communal life than Musashi’s Dokkodo: literally, The Path of Aloneness. But maybe there are ‘rules’ for hermits and sketes too…

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“Here’s my advice to aspiring communitarians: before you move in together, or as soon thereafter as possible, hammer out in detail who you are and why, what you expect of one another, the rules and boundaries that will shape the integrity of the community you aspire to be.”

emerging communities · ancient roots

“The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves…Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight.

—Dietrich Bonheoffer

I want to give voice here to a concern that’s been building in my mind. Two interviews that have had a strong impact on me, particularly in how I assess the relative structural health of a community, are my conversations with Lois…

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