The Hagakure is a samurai doctrine written by Tsunetomo Yamamoto near the end of his life. The text originally was kept alive within small samurai clans and later became the defacto warrior philosophy text of Japan. The kamikaze pilots of Pearl Harbor were gifted a handwritten version of the text during the ceremonies of their death mission.
Here are some excerpts:
A certain swordsman in his declining years said the following:
In one’s life. there are levels in the pursuit of study. In the lowest level, a person studies but nothing comes of it, and
he feels that both he and others are unskillful. At this point he is worthless. In the middle level he is still useless but is
aware of his own insufficiencies and can also see the insufficiencies of others. In a higher level he has pride
concerning his own ability, rejoices in praise from others, and laments the lack of ability in his fellows. This man has
worth. In the highest level a man has the look of knowing nothing .
These are the levels in general;. But there is one transcending level, and this is the most excellent of all. This person is
aware of the endlessness of entering deeply into a certain Way arid never thinks of himself as having finished. He
truly knows his own insufficiencies and never in his whole life thinks that he has succeeded. He has no thoughts of
pride but with self-abasement knows the Way to the end. It is said that Master Yagyu once remarked, “I do not know
the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself. ”
Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is neverending.