Hagakure, by Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Information is not knowledge is not wisdom. How we see an object may depend greatly upon the clarity of our vision. In what ways does self-interest obscure our vision? In this passage, the 18th-century samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo cautions against tunnel vision. To see things only from our own, selfish point of view is to abandon reasons. One may argue, as many have, whether one’s motives are ever completely altruistic. That is not Tsunetomo’s concern. Rather, he compares our intelligence—not what we know but how we act on what we know—to a large tree with many roots. One cannot be firmly rooted when the soil is composed of self-regard alone.
How rich is the soil of our actions? Who are the advisors upon whom we depend to see things with a richness of perspective? How do we move from self-interest to common sense, a sense we have in common?
Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado