Perhaps the greatest ancient book of strategy ever written was by one of the world’s greatest swordsmen and warriors, Miyamoto Musashi. Born in imperial times of Japan, his work, The Book of Five Rings, is unarguably one of the most revered and studied books of strategy in the modern world. A highly respected warrior in his day, his set of methods and ideologies have set the standard for all martial artists as well as the contemporary business world. It is not only important for the hard-driving male warrior, but, as well, Musashi’s work brings guidelines and empowerment for today’s busy, high-pressured woman in all walks of life. Be she a lawyer, a doctor, company executive, restaurateur, marketeer … the five books of Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and No-Thing that are explained in The Rings brings a new sense of self-reliance to the modern woman warrior.
In the first book, Earth, Musashi speaks of the ‘way’ of strategy and what it is, as well as stressing that the ‘way’ of the warrior is a ‘way’ of life. Generally speaking, a woman seeks to attain the goal of a self-fulfilling life, be it by marriage, her job, raising children, or whatever else she strives for. Musashi explains that even though it is virtually impossible to understand all things, one must strive to understand the aspects of one’s particular endeavors by understanding the similarities in everything else. For the woman warrior, her constant research to understand all things will eventually unfold as a higher understanding of her own particular needs. And, this understanding will lead to a healthy sense of her self-worth and the innate knowledge that there is nothing that she cannot achieve.
In the second book, Water, Musashi talks of his two-sided philosophy, which means understanding the value of strategy by seeing things from another perspective. As an example, Musashi said that there is only one way to handle a sword and that the sword and everything that can be associated with it in any form is the same thing. A woman’s kitchen knives and utensils are a sword; her powder and makeup is also a sword. Her attache case is a sword, and, yes, even her vagina is a sword that can be even more deadly than Musashi’s sword ever was! The essential message here is that all things flow with a natural rhythm and timing regardless of the tool being wielded.
In the third book, Fire explains the manner in which to conduct oneself with regards to the intensity applied to any and all situations that you find yourself involved with. Musashi relies heavily on the idea of being passionate in all that you do. In a woman’s world this applies to relationships, as well, and even more importantly, it should not be confused with emotionalism. Passion can be accomplished by a woman’s desire to be willing to understand herself and her aims with more clarity than the day before. It will permit her to know where she stands in relation to any obstacle that she has to surmount. The elements discussed in the Book of Fire will allow her to learn from practice what separates passion from emotion.
In the fourth book, Wind, the misconceptions of various schools of strategy are examined as to how they differ from Musashi’s two-sword, or two-sided approach. He explains the importance of knowing the differences between realistic and functional approaches and ineffectual strategies used by others. The woman warrior must determine for herself what strategy will work for her and what will not. This may take a bit of experimentation on her own part. For example, if she is in the cooking profession and is darned good at it, she may consider using different styles of service. This may or may not lead to financial success, but the main thing should be for her to complete the perfection of what she is proposing. This way she will know in her own mind that she has given it her very best and that she will never have to look back over her shoulder. Again, the main idea of strategy is that she determine what will work for her and what will not.
In the fifth and final book, No-Thing, Musashi speaks of the spirit of the universe as an emptiness, which is no-thing and that no one can have no understanding of this place. It exists, and, yet, it does not. How many times have you told yourself that whatever difficulties you had to endure, they were nothing but illusion except for your own perception of their importance? The message here is that you must understand that life is simple enough to live in the manner you want to live. It is important for the woman warrior to understand no-thing by realizing that there is nothing outside of herself that can ever enable her to get richer, stronger, smarter, more productive, etc. Outside of intellectual powers, there is no such thing as reliance on any external forces, material or spiritual.
Musashi’s ancient wisdom of warrior strategy can and does provide an enormous benefit to the modern day woman and not just man. Her innate intuitiveness, passion, emotional strength, caring and love makes her an ideal receptacle for the messages and teachings that Musashi presents in his Book of Five Rings. With her own tools, she will learn to live and express herself with dignity and personal respectability from The Five Rings untimely knowledge.
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