musashi 21 principles - principle 20

This article is the twentieth¬†Principle in the series: Musashi’s 21 principles for life.

Musashi’s 21 Principles

Each principle has its own article expanding upon the wisdom of Miyamoto Musashi.


You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor

musashi principle 20

Musashi Principle 20 | You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor

Honor transcends the body

Your legacy will live forever if you build it high enough. Kiss the sky with your tower; the work you do today can influence the world for thousands of years.

You may spend your entire life toiling, but never see the result in your lifetime. That’s fine. The purpose of work is meaning–not results. The joy of creation; satisfaction after accomplishing previously impossible feats. Every challenge is impossible until you prove yourself wrong.

Vincent Van Gogh, the artist, cut off his earlobe. Why? No one knows–except Vincent. His body meant nothing to him. His art; everything.

vincent van gogh ear

Paintings of Vincent depict him with a bandaged ear. He incorporated his damaged meat-vehicle into his work. Vincent’s madness, only he understood; no one else. He followed no man. He followed his muse and created without reward until he died–a good life for an artist.

Never forsake your honor

never forsake your honor

Honor is a metric for how much you can trust yourself. An honorable man can rely on himself. Others can rely on an honorable man.

A dishonorable man cannot be depended on. He can’t depend on himself. His family can’t rely on him either; like a drunken Irish father in a Frank Mccourt biography.

Dishonorable men betray themselves for pleasure–drinking at the bar–instead of using factory wages to buy food. Dishonorable men understand what they should do, but, do the opposite instead, or, what their dicks command.

Honor determines how much you can depend on yourself taking the right action, for yourself.

If you lie to yourself: You can’t trust yourself. If you can’t do that, you have nothing except the empty shell of a man, still a boy, who never left the nest; seeking more nipples to feed on.

Honor means doing the right thing even if what you need to do isn’t pleasurable.

Honor lost can never return.

depression without honor

Dishonor is a scar carved deep into the skin with your hand, using a rusty butterknife the color of a shovel left out in the rain since the 30’s.

Lost honor never heals, and, is rarely forgiven, even with the help of therapy. Lost honor is never forgotten–the opportunities missed because fear pulled your shirt over your eyes.

You’ll never forget the girl you slept with in college who weighed more than Willford Brimsley, the Diabetes man, after a Sunday spent clearing out a Country Kitchen Buffet.

You can’t forget the times you betrayed yourself; your body won’t let you.

You can buy anyone–except the honorable. Everyone has a price, except the honorable man. This man cannot be bought and will not break before any challenge. He may fail. Soon, you’ll see him again; honorable men don’t know how to quit.

You gain honor by never lying to yourself; picking challenges you care about; finishing them.

hate yourself or love yourself

alex faichan

The honorable man loves himself. But has no ego. Musashi loved himself and took responsibility for his life. He didn’t hand responsibility to an employer; a grown-up babysitter because no one is self-motivated anymore.

Musashi had no competition because no man took as much responsibility for their life as Musashi did.

Honor is staying consistent with your values while the world fights to dismantle them. What matters to you? What do you love? What do you hate? Dishonor is abandoning your values like switching from a flip-phone to a smartphone: It’s hard to go back.

Life to the highest standards you set; never retreat to the comfort of yesterday’s standards. Take steps forward into darkness, fumbling with your matches, trying to make sense of a new world, never explored.

Life isn’t a casual boat ride on an endless river. Get off the track and wander into the forest. Adventure forward. Leave no experiences outside the coffin. Or the urn.

Carry your honor to the grave and you’ll die without regret.

Musashi Principle 20 | You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor


This article is the twentieth¬†Principle in the series: Musashi’s 21 principles for life.

Musashi’s 21 Principles

Each principle has its own article expanding upon the wisdom of Miyamoto Musashi.

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