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Shinin Quotes

Introduction: In the late 1990's, Professor Tom Jenkins was explaining to me some aspect of the Mokuroku that he was translating from the original kanji. During that explanation, he told me about how the term Shinin meant "dead person." I was elated. I had known for many years what a martial art must consist of to be considered complete. By complete, I mean, a martial art must actually provide a pathway to the oft-spoken about "perfection of character." Without Shinin, Danzan Ryu would be surely lacking in respect to other traditional martial arts. In the last year, the "debate" about what Master Okazaki intended when he named the Shinin list has heated up. My contribution to this discussion is this web page. Here, I will list quotes from famous martial arts books throughout the centuries. All of these quotes will point to the absolute necessity for a martial understanding of Shinin. These books, many of which I read 20-25 years ago, provided me with the need to find in Danzan Ryu not only Shinin, but also Munen Musow. Note: The quotes in bold text I find especially instructive.

From Hagakure “The Book of the Samurai” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one’s master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead.

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one's aim.

 If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.

 The person without previous resolution to inevitable death makes certain that his death will be in bad form. But if one is resolved to death beforehand, in what way can he be despicable? One should be especially diligent in this concern.

 Thus, the Way of the Samurai is, morning after morning, the practice of death, considering whether it will be here or be there, imagining the most sightly way of dying, and putting one's mind firmly in death. Although this may be a most difficult thing, if one will do it, it can be done. There is nothing that one should suppose cannot be done.

 It is said that becoming as a dead man in one's daily living is the following of the path of sincerity.

 If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of no use whatsoever.

 Gorin No Sho "Book of Five Rings: Miyamoto Musashi

Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.

Zen & the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche, Winston L. King, professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University, Oxford University Press, 1993 from Dan Browning's reading.

"Daidoji Yuzan Shigesuki, author of The Code of the Samurai, was born roughly 10 years after Ieyasu's death in 1616 and lived to the age of ninety-two. Thus his writings represent the viewpoint of who how has known only Tokugawa peace all his life, but he was a Tokugawa retainer and "an expert in the military arts and a prominent writer of those days." Like many of his class - and may shogunal officials -- he wished, even in the days of peace, to somehow keep alive in the samurai breast the warrior's resolution and fire. Thus the very first words of his treatise are an exhortation to maintain death-readiness of mind:

One who is a samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind, by day and by night, from the morning when he takes up his chopsticks to eat his New Year's breakfast to Old Year's night when he pays his yearly bills, the fact that he has to die. That is his chief business.

These are words that would have been wholeheartedly endorsed by the warriors of Genji-Heiki days some five hundred years previously, and their many warrior-successors in all the years since then, as accurately describing the most essential samurai qualities."
King goes on to quote passages from the Hagakure, including the passage about meditating daily on the myriad ways to die. He says, "Such language is almost identical in tone, and very similar in content, to that reported of Suzuki Shosan as characteristic of his training for actual combat under Ieyasu: He imagined himself to be casting himself down from a high cliff upon the rocks below, dashing alone into the front ranks of enemy hosts, or being pierced in the side by a spear yet managing to win the battle. ... "The way of death is such that a man can die calmly if he practices it in his daily life. ... here is the recognition of the Buddhist assertion that what is called life can equally well be called death, that 'life' cannot be counted on surely for more than the duration of one's present breath."