Deviant state of mind (The Book of Five Rings)

Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings had been a part of my library for a few years now. The book had been collecting dust until I came upon an episode of the Jocko Podcast discussing the work. Such is the reason for this, as well as subsequent posts regarding the content of Musashi’s work.

“In the practice of every way of life and every kind of work, there is state of mind called that of the deviant. Even if you strive diligently on your chosen path day after day, if your heart is not in accord with it, then even if you think you are on a good path, from the point of view of the straight and true, this is not a genuine path. If you do not pursue a genuine path to its consummation, then a little bit of crookedness in the mind will later turn into a major warp. Reflect on this.”

What is this ‘deviant’ state of mind?

Why does your heat have to do with anything?

What is the genuine path?

Where without heart in relation to the path that you are walking on? As simple as it may be, this passage could be applied to our careers, vocations, even our hobbies. Each path holds our heart to different degree: 

What do you do? Why do you do it? What is your motivation? Are you in the chosen line of work due to it being in line with your goals and aspirations or are you in it just for the money? Is there a middle ground between the two? Do means justify the end result?

The stakes were high for Musashi. He could not afford indecision in matters of life and death. Without a sincere and wholehearted effort the outcome of the battle for the samurai was a certain death.

What does this say about us and how we approach out everyday ‘battles’? Do we fail in what we consider are our most ardent pursuits because we do not really make a wholehearted effort. What is a wholehearted effort?W

The kids that I coach appear to enjoy the game of basketball itself, but for some a wholehearted effort is a little hard to come by. Should they obsess about practice? Not everyone does. Nor everyone should. That, in itself, is a process of sifting those who have the heart and those who do not.

Some kids will strive on the current path but only because at this point in time they are of a level ofphysical maturity that is above their peers. Winning through sheer physical force they lack finesse and are unable to visualize the context for their actions. As Musashi states, “that is not a genuine path” and soon enough the “crookedness” of their deviant ways will reveal itself when the ‘weaker’ peers, smaller, younger peers overtake them by the skills acquired through patience and sincere learning.

You have to ask yourself how badly do you want this to be your path in life? Unlike Musashi, most of our day to day activities are not full of life-or-death moments. Rarely are we under physical and mental strain to make decisions that could cost us our life. That is why we should be true to ourselves snd live in harmony with our heart and mind. If we are not then we stand no chance with our efforts that will most certainly result in death of our flesh, worse yet, death of our spirit.

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