Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook ペーパーバック – 2009/10/6
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Through the ages, the samurai have been associated with honor, fearlessness, calm, decisive action, strategic thinking, and martial prowess. Their ethos is known as bushido, the Way of the Warrior-Knight.
Here, premier translator Thomas Cleary presents a rich collection of writings on bushido by warriors, scholars, political advisors, and educators from the fifteenth century through the nineteenth century that provide a comprehensive, historically rich view of samurai life and philosophy. Training the Samurai Mind gives an insider’s view of the samurai world: the moral and psychological development of the warrior, the ethical standards they were meant to uphold, their training in both martial arts and strategy, and the enormous role that the traditions of Shintoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism had in influencing samurai ideals.
The writings deal with a broad range of subjects—from military strategy and political science, to personal discipline and character development. Cleary introduces each piece, putting it into historical context, and presents biographical information about the authors. This is an essential read for anyone interested in military history and samurai history, and for martial artists who want to understand strategy.
Thomas Cleary holds a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law. He is the translator of over fifty volumes of Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, and Islamic texts from Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Pali, and Arabic.
A Japanese classical work that details the depth and wonder of the Samurai concept. It is sweeping in the subject matter that was the heart, soul, spirit, and body of the Samurai. More than just a warrior well trained in the art of combat a Samurai was also a man of well-rounded studies and knowledge. I enjoyed the book especially because it took me inside the heart, soul, and mind of a Samurai warrior. It was enlightening to discover just how knowledgeable a man had to be to become a Samurai. Teachings not only covered what I have listed in the title above but also ethics and social behaviors. The mind of a Samurai was truly far more than a deadly and effective killing machine.
Once again I have zero complaints concerning the narration. The narrator was excellent and a joy to listen to.
My main complaints about the book are more personal in nature and center around some of Cleary's commentary, which at times can be insightful while others clearly reveal his exceeding his own understanding of the subject. One example is his description of the ninja merging of the Left hand Path with Shinto and Buddhism for the purpose of "mental terror", which is arguably correct in certain later instances, though it suggests he has no clue about the ninja and their relationship with the Yamabushi or how this relationship developed over 900-years ago or the various evolutions that took place during that period. I could debate other issues but as mentioned this is my personal peeve and should not detract from the quality of the book.
My only other complaint is the inclusion of Yamamoto Tsunetomo taking up chapter 10. The Hagakure is a book unto itself and is translated by Wilson, which Cleary must certainly be aware of. Since this book would mostly appeal to people who have already read The Hagakure, why waste space including it here? I would have preferred to have been astonished with a never before translated piece by Yamaoka Tesshu or one of the Yagyu's. That could have put the book over the top.
As the 3-star review by Duff aptly points out, this is not a casual read or any sort of flowing study that will appeal to the mass market. Students of martial arts and history who are willing to read and reread and contemplate the material are certain to not be disappointed. I highly recommend this book.