- Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings.
And what are we to make of the many references in the text to one's 'opponent' or 'enemy'? Well, when it comes to the practice of mindfulness---and most things in life for that matter---one's most real and formidable opponent or enemy is within, that is, within one's own mind. We have many inner opponents and enemies, so to speak. One's many 'false selves' that wax and wane but constantly seek our attention, for starters. But we can be victorious. They are not us. Here's some really good advice from the book: 'If you wish to control others you must first control yourself.' The 'others' include the false selves (the innumerable 'I's' and 'me's') within us.
Ah, the ancient wisdom again---emptiness!
I will finish with this. Do not try to be, or remain, alert, for if you think about being alert, or staying alert, you will not be. Let yourself---without conscious effort or any act of the will---be mindfully awake, and fully relaxed, ready to accept whatever arises. As Alan Watts used to say, we need to learn ‘how not to use the mind.’ Got it? Yes, it’s a paradox. Being mindful is, well, being ‘un-mindful’ of any thing in particular.
So, don’t try to be mindful---and don’t try to be un-mindful either.