“When you embark on something,” Musashi wrote, “before you start, fix your intention on the Four Oaths and put selfishness behind you. Then you cannot fail.”
The Four Oaths:
Never be late with respect to the Way of the warrior.
It has been quoted that the martial arts begin and end with respect. The warrior illustrates their respect always. Proper manners, proper speech and proper appearance are some examples. Other things such as being on time of training and events. Always be the best that YOU can be.
Be useful to the lord.
Today, you may think that you have many lords. It probably is true. From the many levels of supervision at your job to the administrators of your city/town (stuff like taxes, maybe?) and finally to your family. In another work by Musashi, he said “Do nothing of which is no use.” Being productive at whatever you are doing is very important. Wasting time and resources does not show respect for the lord that serve or the warrior that you are trying to become.
Be respectful to your parents.
Your parents have provided for you to opportunity to achieve many great things. I’ll lead this a bit of a different route. Parents are not necessarily those who have the same blood. Those elders who have helped you figure things out about life are your parents. These people deserve to be respected and treated well. They are where your strength starts.
Get beyond love and grief: exist for the good of man.
USA Haidong Gumdo Association Senior Chief Master Marshall Parnell commented during a seminar “Martial artists are champions, not of humankind, but for humankind.” I don’t know if he was of Musashi or not but it sure seems to fits here nicely. Our family and other loved ones will leave this world well before we want them to. Getting past that and continuing to work to the benefit of your family, community, state and nation must happen. The emotions of love and grief can cause hesitation and doubt to arise.
These oaths seem to be quite interconnected. If you are abiding by one of the oaths, the others almost automatically being followed as well. Most importantly keep training to ensure these are practiced and displayed for all.
Author: Master Robert Frankovich
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