All is One (獨行道 4)

This is number 4 of my series of posts on Dokkōdō.

Dokkōdō (獨行道is a short work written by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本武蔵) a week before he died in 1645. It consists of 21 precepts. [It] was largely composed on the occasion of Musashi giving away his possessions in preparation for death, and was dedicated to his favorite disciple, Terao Magonojō. “Dokkōdō” expresses a stringent, honest, and ascetic view of life. ~ From Wikipedia

4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.


I’m reminded of a story I heard where a wise man was asked to define perfection.

His answer: The farther you go from the self, the closer you are to perfection.

The more we focus on ourselves, the more our thoughts and actions become restricted. The less we are able to create an impact or address greater issues.

Focusing only on myself — what I want, desire, hope for, care about, and my personal perspectives about what is “important” and “significant” — is the narrowest and most limiting way to think. It creates a “me vs. all” paradigm.

If I go to the next level beyond myself, to my immediate family I start to expand to the needs, desires, perspectives and beliefs of those around me. And while it is better than focusing only on the self, it is still limiting. I am now in a “my family vs. all” paradigm. My view and scope is limited by those in my immediate circle.

What about the next level? My friends? Or perhaps my community, or my city? Each expanding level is more expansive and inclusive, but is still limiting my views to only those within that group. It is still ultimately divisive and creates an “us vs. them” mindset.

As long as there are those I view as “not as important or significant” as my group, I am limiting the impact and significance that I and my group are capable of reaching.

If I expand my focus to include all of the world’s people, then that is a great step, but it is still just the beginning. Because our world is not limited to the people who live on it, but all life is a part of this ecosystem.

Plants, animals and all living things.

But also, rocks, mountains, water, and air.

But this is just one planet. Our world depends on the rotation around our sun. And then our solar system depends on the interplay of other systems within our galaxy.

The farther we reach out and focus, the more inclusive we become.

This isn’t to say we should completely ignore our own needs. We must eat. We should sleep. We need to make a livelihood so we can pay for a roof over our heads and various goods and services.

But if our view is on those needs as an ends unto themselves, then that limits their significance.

When we view everything we do, mindful of how it is a part of the greater whole, then we expand our reality to the highest level.

We need to eat. So we buy food. Where did that food come from? Who prepared it? Who grew it? How did they learn to farm? How did that plant come to be? How does it retrieve its nutrients from the earth? How does it receive energy from the sun? How does the sun receive energy from the universe?

None of us are a lone island in a vast sea of indifference.

We are all interconnected. We are all a part of the whole.

To expand our focus and reach closer to perfection, think lightly of ourselves, and deeply of the world.