Friday, May 26, 2023

I have no parents


I have no parents:
I make the heaven and earth my parents.

I have no home:
I make awareness my home.

I have no life and death:
I make the tides of breathing my life and death.

I have no divine powers:
I make honesty my divine power.

I have no means:
I make understanding my means.

I have no secrets:
I make character my secret.

I have no body:
I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes:
I make the flash of lightening my eyes.

I have no ears:
I make sensibility my ears.

I have no limbs:
I make promptness my limbs.

I have no strategy:
I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy.

I have no design:
I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design.

I have no miracles:
I make right action my miracle.

I have no principles:
I make adaptability to all circumstances my principle.

I have no tactics:
I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.

I have no talent:
I make ready wit my talent.

I have no friends:
I make my mind my friend.

I have no enemy:
I make carelessness my enemy.

I have no armor:
I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.

I have no castle:
I make immovable mind my castle.

I have no sword:
I make absence of self my sword.

 ~ anonymous samurai song 
 14th century

I have no Parents; I make the Heavens and the Earth my Parents.
We are all from the same origin and we are all learning from the same source of knowledge: the universe.

I have no Home; I make the Tan T’ien my Home.
The Tan T’ien is considered to be the true center of the body regarding strength and balance. Making this my home, I am always at home, no matter where I am physically. It is also a place to be away from distractions, both from the world and from thoughts. It is where feeling and instinct are most powerful.

I have no Divine Power; I make Honesty my Divine Power.
Complete honesty under all circumstances is something only divine creatures are capable of. For me, to strive for honesty is one big step closer to be a better human being. I understand honesty as not to lie to myself or to other people.

I have no Means; I make Docility my Means.
Assets or utilities are not essential for me, I can do without them. I overcome obstacles by having a mind that is willing to learn and willing to be taught.

I have no Magic Power; I make Personality my Magic Power.
My personality is unique. Its magic is sometimes obvious, sometimes surprising, and sometimes hidden to be discovered.

I have neither Life nor Death; I make A Um my Life and Death.
A Um is the eternal soul. To something that is eternal, life and death do not matter, they are mere steps from one state to the other. 

I have no Body; I make Stoicism my Body.
My body is subject to pain and other physical “distractions”. If stoicism is my body, I am indifferent to the shortcomings of my flesh. What really counts is my mental attitude which will eventually overcome my body’s weaknesses.

I have no Eyes; I make The Flash of Lightning my eyes.
I do not trust things just because I can see them, because my visual senses are easily deceived. The flash of lightning is some kind of first impression, a gut-feeling, or my instinct about a certain situation. I try to trust these more than what I can see.

I have no Ears; I make Sensibility my Ears.
This is rather similar to the previous one. Things do not become facts just because I can hear them. It is more important what happens in my mind to the heard: I process what I hear, think about it, and weigh it with experience. Thus, I do have an opinion about it most of the time.

I have no Limbs; I make Promptitude my Limbs.
It is not really my arms and my legs that get me where I want. It is my decision to get there right now, which gets me there. I try to do important things without any delay.

I have no Laws; I make Self-Protection my Laws.
In the end, nearly all comes down to self-protection. This is the universal law that governs everything. While I think this is some kind of fact, I also think that one should try to overcome this basic law. There are people we cannot live without, there’s family and other loved ones. They build up a context where self-protection does not matter any more. Though this is a weakness, it is a necessary one and one I embrace.

I have no Strategy; I make the Right to Kill and the Right to Restore Life my Strategy.
The underlying strategy of my life is that everything counts. God or the Devil is in the details, as many details might have the power to save my life or to destroy it.

I have no Designs; I make Seizing the Opportunity by the Forelock my Designs.
I have no secret plans. I try to make the best out of the opportunities life offers me, as I cannot control life.

I have no Miracles; I make Righteous Laws my Miracle.
I cannot do miracles. But as it is really hard to be a good human being, I consider it my miracle that I stick to traditional virtues such as honor or honesty.

I have no Principles; I make Adaptability to all circumstances my Principle.
I accept and embrace change. Many things in life are unchangeable and therefore it is not wise to try to stick to strict pseudo-universal principles. I am ready to question myself and to adapt to new situations. I am agile. I am change.

I have no Tactics; I make Emptiness and Fullness my Tactics.
This seems to be contradictory. To achieve a goal, I have to empty myself from any prejudices and other external influences. An empty mind is a mind before thinking, before speaking, before words, a mind at home, relying on instinct (see above). This emptiness is necessary to build up a fascination for the new and to have space that can be filled with ideas and knowledge concerning the goal. (This idea is also discussed in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and in Buddhism.)

I have no Talent; I make Ready Wit my Talent.
Talents are mostly bound to specific tasks. If I have a ready mind that adapts to new tasks quickly, I am not limited by this constraint.

I have no Friends; I make my Mind my Friend.
The first and foremost person I have to become friends with is myself. I am much more powerful if I am happy with myself, if I can trust myself, and if I really know and understand myself.

I have no Enemy; I make Incautiousness my Enemy.
Not other people are my worst enemies, but myself. If I do things in a sloppy way, hastily, if I am not paying attention to the details, if I am betraying myself, if I do not know what I can do and what not: these things will harm me. Trying to do my best at all times is my protection against this enemy.

I have no Armour; I make Benevolence my Armour.
This can be seen in two ways. First, being benevolent, I probably make more friends than enemies and this saves me a lot of trouble. Second, being benevolent poses no threat to other people and, thus, might make an armor unnecessary.

I have no Castle; I make Immovable Mind my Castle.
A castle is a place to hide, a place to gather strength. As it is a common theme in this creed, this is not a physical place, but a place within me. The “immovable mind” (the translation can also mean the “immovable heart”) is immovable in respect to its focus. This focus should be in my inner, natural self and be free of corrupting influences such as anger, fear, or doubt. Within the self, the focus is flexible and not fixed on one particular attribute of the self. This whole idea is heavily connected to the concept of emptiness and fullness, as outlined above.

I have no Sword; I make No Mind my Sword.
And again, this is also very related to the concept of emptiness and fullness and to rely on instinct. Striving for emptiness, the point where I do not think anymore, where I really am…this state of the mind is considered to be the most powerful one, the state I am capable of the most difficult tasks. (This idea is discussed further in Zen and especially in Miyamoto Musashi’s “A Book of Five Rings”.)
 This is merely a brief start to finding a meaning for the creed.
 Comments by André Miede