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Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook Paperback – October 6, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The subtitle on this book is "A Bushido Source Book" and could just as easily be called The Bushido Chronicles as it chronicles writing pertaining to the warrior lifestyle over 500 years. This book combined with the writings of Sun Tzu, Lao Ztu, and Cleary's translation of the Code of the Samurai, will give the warrior a clear picture of what the Asian warrior was all about, as well as give the warrior a guide to how to live a life of character, honor and integrity.
I highly recommend this book to every martial artist, every military man, and everyone who may be interested in the ways of Asian wisdom. I honestly don't see how you could read this and not get some benefit from the wisdom that it contains. Highly recommended!
Bohdi Sanders, author of the award-winning bestseller Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence
There are 22 chapters, each consisting of a writing by some Japanese individual who was well-known as a bushido teacher in that particular time period. Cleary gives a short intro of the person's biography and cultural setting, as well as their philosophical bent. The rest of the chapter is then a translated writing of theirs that covers some element of bushido, be it warfare, personal responsibility, or training. Cleary has done a nice job in translating the material in a way that makes it understandable to the Western reader. Given that each chapter stands completely alone, you can digest the book in small chunks without having to keep track of an overall plot or theme.
I think I struggled in that the writers each had their own slants and takes on Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shinto in terms of how they affected the life of a samurai. Not having a strong background in the differences and nuances of each, I think some of the material was lost on me. Also, I missed the continuity that comes from a single writer exploring a subject in some detail. I'm sure I'd feel different if the subjects were more a part of my normal culture. But as such, they came across as somewhat random and eclectic.
I think Cleary did a fine job in translation of the material. I just think that you'd have to be pretty well grounded in bushido thought to get the most out of this book.
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.Read more ›
I was hoping to find some nuts and bolts descriptions of how one trained his body and mind to become a warrior of such renown that we still make movies about his lifestyle two hundred years later and half a world away. Instead, there was a bunch of pious, redundant pontificating. Real gems like "battle at night is the opposite of battle during the day" and odd stories about one-armed swordsmen in marketplaces and the courage of bees and scorpions compared to hesitating lions. I'd say roughly 60% of the book boils down to "don't be a jerk". Not exactly ground-breaking stuff.
I accept the possibility that I'm not reaching for deeper meanings or that it's fascinating to some (maybe those with more historical context) but if you are looking for something concrete, look elsewhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
this book delves into the business mind for me. sometimes we need to change the way we think about things.Published 4 months ago by J. Broughton
I volunteer at a Natural Science Museum. We currently have a special exhibit on loan that covers Samurai weapons and armor. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Gillian Callen
I'm very happy with this item. Well made and shipped professionally all at a very reasonable price. I do recommend this to others.Published 22 months ago by Sama Takeo
Beautiful presentation, the favorite translator for many years, excellent selections of texts, and an overall great purchase. Read morePublished on January 2, 2014 by Life Enthusiast