The progression of the work, good performance, never-slackening attention, knowing the utility of things and the relative spirits of the men, plus giving encouragement—all such things are within the master carpenter’s frame of mind. The principles of the martial arts are like this.
Miyamoto Musashi – The Book of Five Rings
The Way is the same in all things. All worthwhile professions & pursuits have a path.
Worthwhile pursuits have paths for life, thus removing false paths and identifying micro-paths. A micro-path is a path that is too small to be life-sustaining and therefore unfulfilling but is part of a larger path fed by an unknown number of micro-paths. A decision must be made once a follower sees where the micro-path leads; does he want to follow the stream to the river where he will spend the rest of his time?
Find the answer with meditative introspection.
The Way is a metaphor for life.
You begin life, you learn how to walk, and you walk. Walking forward takes dedication to a path–a conscious selection and decision to live The Way, whatever way that may be.
Infants pursue The Way organically. Poor feedback takes us away from the path. The wanderer must find his way back.
Even if you refuse to choose a path you are still walking, albeit in circles, dying not far from where you lived. Born a beginner, dying a beginner.
Fulfillment comes from distance traveled on the path. This is The Way.
A man dying unfulfilled, without commitment to masteries, dies like a lemon that falls not far from its tree. The lemon withers away with the juice still inside to the benefit of no one.
The master carpenter frames houses; individuals frame their lives. There is carryover between how we think about our lives and how the master carpenter maintains control of building progress.
In The Book of Five Rings, Musashi says that the principles of martial arts are like The Way of the carpenter. This is because The Way is the same in all things.
The Principles of the Master Carpenter’s Mind
- The progression of the work.
- Good performance.
- Never-slackening attention.
- Knowing the utility of things and the relative spirits of the men, plus giving encouragement.
The Progression of the work
Find fulfillment moving forward.
You have to be in the moment to understand where you are. It is here that you can determine if the path is moving away from you because you have not found the path, or have consciously or unconsciously refused to walk.
The modern era is full of distractions because organizations want time for themselves at the expense of your path. Progress and distractions move at the same speed; as people contribute, there is more to consume and more to witness which creates distractions from the path.
Another’s path can shine so bright it makes yours dim so you stop focusing on your progress so you can live vicariously through another wanderer.
This is to not say that progress is bad; progress also provides greater access to knowledge, which can be good but can be a distraction itself.
Choice can paralyze or provide. Information can sterilize or support.
The progression of work must be measured to ensure distractions, whether conscious or unconscious, do not taking the wanderer off of path.
Create a framework to measure the progression of work. Because Musashi chose the sword as his primary path, his progression framework was easy to understand; Did I fall in battle, or did the opponent?
When Musashi duels worthy opponents he tests the progression of his skill. This continues until he reaches the end of the path, which at that point, The Way shifts to new paths.
The Way is individual to all wanderers. Thus the framework will be personal to all followers, but it may not be unique to them, as countless other samurai used the same framework as Musashi.
The lost, walking in circles, have no framework and no concept of progression.
The lost die with little spiritual change. Pathetic mental growth. Their bodies wither. Avoid this.
There are ways to work, to learn, to train, all without improving.
An unfocused, undriven mind will turn itself off or out of what it is doing. This generates an unconscious life of monotonous moments that burns life at both ends with nothing to show for it. Long days, short years.
Walking in circles.
Completing tasks on the path does not move it forward; you need to improve to move forward. Whatever it is you practice to be great at, you need to be fully absorbed in the process in order to have good performance.
You need to lose yourself in the path. This is hard for people who like to be in control because progress is often accompanied by a lack of control. The flow state.
Good performance is not subjective when applied to the concept of the path. It is objective. Good performance is making progress or showing up with a full mind. When the path is worthwhile, showing up with a full mind may be the progress, while no visible progress occurs in the moment. This is only disheartening to the individual who questions his path. The reward is the process. The difficulty exists to make the reward sweeter.
If you are not making visible progress and struggle to engage your full mind, you may not be on the right path. No one can help you answer this. Those that say they have the answer for your path say so because you have wandered onto their path, which is certainly not for you and will come at your expense.
Do not walk in circles. Do not expect observable progress at all stages.
Understand that following the path with a true heart will expand your knowledge in all things.
Full attention is required for good performance and the progression of work. The path should be alluring enough that it is impossible to have slack attention.
You can make progress with split attention. Understand that you cannot manually divide your attention. Any intention is futile like how you cannot be two places at once. Your mind cannot be two places at once. Attention allocates outside of your control.
Attention is a vessel of water poured into cups of different activities. Even if you split attention you still have the same amount. Something has to be watered down when you are not all in.
Will listened. Faint and far off, but still distinct, he heard the strange inhuman voice that had first welcomed him to Pala. “Attention,” it was saying. “Attention. Attention . . .”
“That bloody bird again!”
“But that’s the secret.” “Attention? But a moment ago you were saying it was something else. What about that young man who’s so reserved?” “That’s just to make it easier to pay attention.”
Because attention cannot be manually allocated, you risk focusing on the minor instead of the major when you multi-task. The major is always the path.
Consider studying with lyrical music. You may think you are focusing on your studies better, but you cannot control what cup–studying or consuming music–gets more water. Split attention is chaotic. Some individuals listen to Skyrim ambiance to help them focus. You may find that studying with music improves your progress. If that is so this is good. Establish a framework to monitor performance so you are certain.
Do not rely on what you think, but on what you can observe.
Use Science to test beliefs before they become law or practice. When a belief no longer functions, create new tests, and follow what promotes the most progress.
One example for studying would be to study one day for two hours with music, the next day without music, keeping other variables of your life that could affect the study to a minimum. Systemize your results so you do not forget your results and what works for you. Code Building 101.
Attention is butter; whatever it touches improves.
Knowing the utility of things and the relative spirits of the men, giving encouragement
By existing, you are deserving of love. Always promote life and growth from within by refuting negative thoughts with constructive messages that eliminate negative emotions born from poor thinking.
Your thoughts are not who you are. They just are.
Love is not ego nor is it complacency.
Do not tolerate poor behavior that does not support The Way, disguised as self-love. Complacency and ego come from the same place of deserving without effort or acceptance without growth.
Complacency: An often unjustified feeling of being pleased with oneself or one’s situations or achievements.
A cold spirit cannot walk the way.
We are all responsible for the heat of our spirit. Our spiritual temperament comes from our thoughts, words, and actions. Thoughts come first and act as the coals that all else builds on.
People who do not manage their minds, who do not control their inner consciousness, can easily divert to poor thought that acts as water thrown on the coals that heat your spirit.
If you do not control your mind it will control itself. Consider your mind a toddler for all your life. The beginner’s mind.
As you would not permit a toddler to run free, neither your mind. A toddler left alone in a normal living room for an hour can cause destruction or self-harm. The mind is no different.
You do not walk your paths to compete with others. You walk your paths because they are The Way and there is no other way for YOU to live.
Finding your paths then living with them is harmony.
The reward is living The Way. The reward is not what physical, or societal awards a worthy performance may provide. Rewards from the way can be distractions from The Way.
Think of fighters who turned from the path once they “made it” according to their standards. Mike Tyson fell off the path because of the rewards. Some say Connor McGregor fell off after he gained a significant amount of liquidity. Often those who follow The Way become masters. Society rewards masters.
Consider artists, athletes, and others who have fallen from the path because their path rewarded them. Learn from this.
There are enough life lessons from others to create the wisest man on earth with infinite access to information.. If you can gain 1% wisdom from the world instead of your own experiences you avoid 1% of mistakes. The first act for a wanderer is failure. The second act is success. You have to make it through both to be pure to The Way.
Remind yourself that you care. You are doing this for yourself, and no one else; we are special and deserve love–life–for finding the way.
The way you talk to yourself matters. How you talk to yourself when you’re failing is dire. There are no benefits to negative self-talk.
All setbacks can be framed in a positive way and interpreted in that way. Nothing is good or bad. How we react to feedback is our choice.
Your spirit holds your mind, which holds your body. The reasons why dwell in the spirit level and travel outward to the mind and to the body levels.
The spirit fire needs to be warm enough to penetrate the levels of mind and body.
A hot spirit is one full of self-love and love for the world.