Monday Miyagi – Matters of Great Concern

Hagakure, Chapter 1, Continued…

The Hagakure is a slow read with lots of information to digest.

“Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige’s wall there was this one: ‘‘Matters of great concern should be treated lightly.” Master lttei commented, “Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.””

I reread this maxim and Master Ittei’s comment several times, trying to understand both, before moving on. The next several sentences provide a lot of clarity for the first maxim:

“Among one’s affairs there should not be more than two or three matters of what one could call great concern. If these are deliberated upon during ordinary times, they can be understood. Thinking about things previously and then handling them lightly when the time comes is what this is all about. To face an event [and] solve it lightly is difficult if you are not resolved beforehand, and there will always be uncertainty in hitting your mark. However, if the foundation is laid previously, you can think of the saying, “Matters of great concern should be treated lightly,” as your own basis for action.”

Great advice and, for me, reinforces a course of action for future challenges. “Thinking about things previously…” has been my approach in dealing with matters of great concern and has always resulted in the best outcomes. The next step of “…handling them lightly…” is something that I will need to practice in the future. I do know that I often have peace of mind after making a decision and that always feels better than the turmoil of indecision. Perhaps maintaining that peace of mind is part of the key to treating challenges lightly.

Another line, further along states, “Reading books and listening to people’s talk are for the purpose of prior resolution.”

My first impression of Master Ittei’s commment, “Matters of small concern should be treated seriously.” was that it was instead of treating matters of great concern lightly. Upon further reflection and reading it became clear to me that both are correct courses of action. To me, Master Ittei’s comment means that we should treat all matters seriously, big or small. This reminds me of how important it is as a teacher to be engaged and excited in conversations with our youngest students. If a “little dragon” shares his excitement about getting a new toy before class, I need to be excited too. As a parent, the same holds true. We need to take our conversations and our interactions with our children seriously and remember that what may be a matter of small concern to a parent may be a matter of great concern to a child. For that matter, what may appear as a small concern to me may be a great concern to another adult I am speaking with. Another good reminder 🙂

Stay Focused,

Mr. Herrman