Here is a great video of Mark Dacascos travelling through Japan and visiting many of the places in Miyamoto Musashi’s life, and discussing what he has learned of the greatest swordsman to ever live…
The book that he is reading about Musashi on the train is called “the Lone Samurai” (William Scott Wilson), and covers everything that the documentary does, but in greater detail.
One of the things I wanted to address, though, is one of Dacascos’ interpretations of Musashi’s wisdom. Specifically, “Death in the midst of life” as meaning “never forget that we’re going to die. Because if you know that you’re going to die, if you admit it, you appreciate life that much more…” Admittedly, he says that these were his opinion – and I am not criticizing his opinion, nor am I trying to say it’s wrong – he’s entitled to it, and it’s not a bad interpretation.
Let’s look at it a different way – Recognizing that you’re going to die frees you from the fear of it. Death exists as a looming shadow over every living being, and can happen at any moment – but to live in fear of it means it controls you, at least in some small part.
“To be fearless in the face of the enemy”, Dacascos later elaborates, and says that he felt Musashi was saying to do what you have to in order to get things done. The two sentiments are not exclusive or disconnected – To be fearless in the face of the enemy WAS to recognize that death loomed, but being afraid of the outcome or the agent of it meant that the Samurai (who lived with the threat of death every day – either by an enemy or their own hand) wouldn’t enable them to ensure their master’s will was being done.
To live as though one was already dead – to not have regrets, and to live simply… these were Musashi’s personal revelations.
Either way – enjoy the video.