Friday 23 February 2007

The way of the warrior



The samurai doctrine, in Japanese Bushido, was more than just a military code of conduct, it was essentially a way of life. Samurai were not simply a group of elite amongst the upper classes in early Japan, they constituted the entire upper class of their society. The samurai ideal developed over time into a combination of martial and scholarly prowess, a life dedicated to the pursuit of perfection in war, strength in government and honour in death.

The ten virtues of Bushido
-Gi - Rectitude
- Yū - Courage
- Jin - Benevolence
- Rei - Respect
- Makoto or Shin - Honesty
- Meiyo - Honour, Glory
- Chūgi - Loyalty
- Kō - Filial piety
- Chi - Wisdom
- Tei - Care for the aged

"Never in my life have I placed mine thoughts above those of my Lord and master. Nor will I do otherwise in all the days of my life. Even when I die I will return to life seven times to guard my Lord's house.
We have sworn to do four things: namely:-
(1) We will be second to none in the performance of our duty
(2) We will make ourselves useful to our Lord
(3) We will be dutiful to our parents
(4) We will attain greatness in charity"

"Every morning make up thy mind how to die. Every evening freshen thy mind in the thought of death. And let this be done without end.
Thus will thy mind be prepared. When thy mind is always set on death, thy way through life will always be straight and simple. Thou wilt perform thy duty; and thy shield will be stainless. When thou canst see thy way straight, with open eyes and free from obstructing thoughts, there can be no straying into errors. Thy performance of duties will be above reproof and thy name immaculate."

"When you realise how for generations your fmily has served for he house of his lordship: when you remember how those who have gone before you served, and how those who are to come after you are to serve; you will be moved to a deep sense of gratitude. For you, there should be no thought but of service for the one who has claim on your grateful heart."

"....one who lives long in this world may develop all sorts of desires and his covetousness may increase so that he want what belongs to others and cannot bear to part with what is his own, becoming in fact just like a mere tradesman. But if he is always looking death in the face, a man will have little attachment to material things and will not exhibit these grasping and covetous qualities, and will become, as I said before, a fine character."

"Be sparing in speech. Where you would speak ten words, speak but one. When you leave a festive place, take leave while you still desire to sty. When you feel you are satisfied, you have had more than enough. Enough is too much. Surfeit not yourself."

"I will arise every morning at six o'clock and retire each evening at twelve o'clock. Except when prevented by guests, sickness or other unavoidable circumstances, I will not be idle. If tempted to be indolent, I will call forth my right spirit to drive away my lazy spirit. I will avoid useless words even with inferiors. I will be temperate in eating, and drinking, merely satisfying my hunger and thirst. I will eat at regular times."

"If one lives a day let him perform a day's duty and die; if one lives a month let him perform a month's duty and die; if he lives a year let him perform a year's duty and die."

"To take rest after death. This is a maxim, short yet charged with meaning. Perserverance, dogged determination, there is no other way." - Yoshida Shoin


"For he who is born brave will be loyal and filial to his lord and parents, and whenever he has any leisure he will use it for study, neither will he be negligent in practising the martial arts. He will be strictly on his guard against indolence and will be very careful how he speands every penny. If you think this shows detestable stinginess you will be mistkn for he spends freely when it is neccessary. He does not do anything that is contrary to the ordinances of his lord, or tha is disliked by his parents however much he may wish. And so, ever obedient to his lord and parents he preserves his life in the hope of someday doing a deed of outstanding merit, moderating his appetite for eating and drinking and avoiding over-indulgence in sex, which is the greatest delusion of mankind., so that he may preserve his body in health and strength. For in these as in all things it is rigid self-control that is the beginning of valor."

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