35 Inspirational Yamamoto Tsunetomo Quotes On Success

35 Inspirational Yamamoto Tsunetomo Quotes On Success

Yamamoto Tsunetomo was a samurai of the Saga Domain in Hizen Province under his lord Nabeshima Mitsushige. For thirty years Yamamoto devoted his life to the service of his lord and clan. When Nabeshima died in 1700, Yamamoto did not choose to follow his master in death in junshi because the master had expressed a dislike of the practice in his life. After some disagreements with Nabeshima’s successor, Yamamoto renounced the world and retired to a hermitage in the mountains. Later in life, he narrated many of his thoughts to a fellow samurai, Tashiro Tsuramoto. Many of these aphorisms concerned his lord’s father and grandfather Naoshige and the failing ways of the samurai caste. These commentaries were compiled and published in 1716 under the title of Hagakure, a word that can be translated as either In the Shadow of Leaves or Hidden Leaves. He believed that becoming one with death in one’s thoughts, even in life, was the highest attainment of purity and focus. To him, a resolution to die gives rise to a higher state of life, infused with beauty and grace beyond the reach of those concerned with self-preservation. He also believed in immediate action. May his quotes inspire you to take action so that you may live your dreams.

1. “If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of no use whatsoever. The saying that ‘All abilities come from one mind’ sounds as though it has to do with sentient matters, but it is in fact a matter of being unattached to life and death. With such non-attachment, one can accomplish any feat.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

2. “Sincerity does not only complete the self; it is the means by which all things are completed. As the self is completed, there is human-heartedness; as things are completed, there is wisdom. This is the virtue of one’s character and the Way of joining the internal and external. Thus, when we use this, everything is correct.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

3. “The condition of a person is revealed by his dreams. It would be good to make companions of your dreams and to put forth effort.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

4. “There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

5. “When one is writing a letter, he should think that the recipient will make it into a hanging scroll.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

6. “If one does not get it into his head from the very beginning that the world is full of unseemly situations, for the most part his demeanor will be poor and he will not be believed by others.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

7. “It is not sufficient just to remain calm in the event of catastrophe or emergency. When challenged by adversity, charge onwards with courage and jubilation. This is rising to a higher level. It is like the saying, The more water there is, the higher the boat rises.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

8. “It is bad to carry even a good thing too far. Even concerning things such as Buddhism, Buddhist sermons, and moral lessons, talking too much will bring harm.” Tsunetomo Yamamoto

9. “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

10. “There is nothing we should be quite so grateful for as the last line of the poem that goes, When your own heart asks.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

11. “Imitating another style is simply a sham.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

12. “If one has no earnest daily intention, does not consider what it is to be a warrior even in his dreams, and lives through the day idly, he can be said to be worthy of punishment.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

13. “In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

14. “Matters of great concern should be treated lightly. Master Ittei commented, Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

15. “Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

16. “No matter if the enemy has thousands of men, there is fulfillment in simply standing them off and being determined to cut them all down, starting from one end.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

17. “Purity is something that cannot be attained except by piling effort upon effort.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

18. “It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain to that which you have seen and heard the masters attain. The masters are men. You are also a man. If you think that you will be inferior in doing something, you will be on that road very soon.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

19. “To give a person an opinion one must first judge well whether that person is of the disposition to receive it or not.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

20. “Being superior to others is nothing other than having people talk about your affairs and listening to their opinions. The general run of people settles for their own opinions and thus never excel. Having a discussion with a person is one step in excelling him.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

21. “In offering one’s opinion, one must first ascertain whether or not the recipient is in the right frame of mind to receive counsel.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

22. “Living without mistakes is truly impossible. But this is something that people who live by cleverness have no inclination to think about.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

23. “All that matters is having a single-minded purpose (ichinen), in the here and now. Life is an ongoing succession of ‘one will’ at a time, each and every moment. A man who realizes this truth need not hurry to do, or seek anything else anymore. Just live in the present with single-minded purpose. People forget this important truth, and keep seeking other things to accomplish.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

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24. “Be true to the thought of the moment and avoid distraction. Other than continuing to exert yourself, enter into nothing else, but go to the extent of living single thought by single thought.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

25. “Do not rely on following the degree of understanding that you have discovered, but simply think, This is not enough.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

26. “If one is but secure at the foundation, he will not be pained by departure from minor details or affairs that are contrary to expectation. But in the end, the details of a matter are important. The right and wrong of one’s way of doing things are found in trivial matters.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

27. “Common sense will not accomplish great things. Simply become insane and desperate.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

28. “Rehearse your death every morning and night. Only when you constantly live as though already a corpse (jōjū shinimi) will you be able to find freedom in the martial Way, and fulfill your duties without fault throughout your life.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

29. “It is a wretched thing that the young men of today are so contriving and so proud of their material possessions. Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty. Lacking in duty, they will have no self-respect.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

30. “When someone is giving you his opinion, you should receive it with deep gratitude even though it is worthless. If you don’t, he will not tell you the things that he has seen and heard about you again. It is best to both give and receive opinions in a friendly way.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

31. “At times because of one man’s evil, ten thousand people suffer. So you kill that one man to let the tens of thousands live. Here, truly, the blade that deals death becomes the sword that saves lives.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

32. “Victory and defeat are matters of the temporary force of circumstances.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo


33. “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.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

34. “It is said that what is called ‘the spirit of an age’ is something to which one cannot return. That this spirit gradually dissipates is due to the world’s coming to an end. For this reason, although one would like to change today’s world back to the spirit of one hundred years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus it is important to make the best out of every generation.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

35. “Human life is truly a short affair. It is better to live doing the things that you like. It is foolish to live within this dream of a world seeing unpleasantness and doing only things that you do not like.” Yamamoto Tsunetomo

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