Mōanjō (A Safe Staff for the Blind) – Part 1-2 for Reflection

Therefore, since we believe this body to be real and solid, our sufferings never cease either by day or by night. If you are one who is really concerned about his body, forget it right now. Where does suffering come from? Only from love of the body. A warrior, especially, must in his own life know birth and death. When you know birth and death the Way is automatically present. When you do not, humanity, morality, propriety, and wisdom are absent too.

Therefore, since we believe this body to be real and solid, our sufferings never cease either by day or by night. If you are one who is really concerned about his body, forget it right now. Where does suffering come from? Only from love of the body. A warrior, especially, must in his own life know birth and death. When you know birth and death the Way is automatically present. When you do not, humanity, morality, propriety, and wisdom are absent too.

Clinging to the idea that our bodies are real and solid… a source of endless suffering.

Forget the body. Forget it right now. Loving the body and forgetting birth and death disguises the Way from us. It prevents what we need most:

humanity,

morality,

propriety,

and wisdom.

Surely, all these things meant something different in Shōsan’s time, than they do now. And Shōsan is vehement in is disavowal of the body. Over and over, he repeats that it’s worthless, it’s nothing, it’s a hindrance.

I personally believe Shōsan had plenty of experience that warned him away from trusting the body or becoming attached to it. In his years as a samurai in service, he must have seen many battles, and likely witnessed many warriors cut down in battle… not to mention coming across decomposing bodies after armed conflicts. His experience in battle, with blades cutting through guts, spilling viscera and excrement everywhere, surely must have affected his view.

Who would trust the human body after seeing it sliced to ribbons so many times?

But even if we haven’t had those same experiences to warn us away from trusting the body, we can still gain something from his words. The more we cling to appearances, especially those of the body, the greater and longer our suffering will be. The farther we remove ourselves from birth and death, the more deluded we become.

We should consider ourselves warned.

 

This version of Mōanjō is based on The Selected Writings of Suzuki Shōsan

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