How the Samurai Code Works

Samurai. The name often conjures images garnered from films and television; an idea of adventure, wrapped in bright lights and celluloid. However, in reality, the samurai lived by a strict code of ethics and behavior, living courageously, honestly and with complete authenticity. This has long since been forgotten. To resurrect and apply this code would be a monumental feat in itself, but a feat that would magnificently alter our present world and our individual lives. We learn to live this way as the samurai once did: being aware that our deaths are always one breath away, we begin holding each moment, every moment, as it is meant to be: precious. To live this way we can follow their code, the code known as Bushido – the Way of the Warrior.

In today’s fast-paced world, we have become slaves to technology, mass consumerism and instant gratification, which has bred greed, selfishness and self-centeredness. Because of this we have become disconnected from ourselves and our environment, which has led to the marginalization of all people and the erosion of our compassionate nature. Compassion is the intrinsic human quality that allows us the ability to feel another’s pain as our pain, giving us a connection to others and ourselves.

To follow the samurai’s code is ultimately about having an extraordinary sense of character. By learning to develop and embrace these virtues, we too can build great character for ourselves, thus transforming our interactions with ourselves, others and ultimately the world in which we live. This path is not for the faint of heart, and is in no way an easy challenge, but it is certainly within the realm of possibility and human capacity. May the Way of the Warrior guide you in the development of true depth of courage, respect, compassion and an uncompromising character in your daily interactions and lives.

The Code

Beginning in the 1100s, the samurai emerged from the feudal system of Japan, protecting the interests of wealthy landowners. They evolved into a fierce class of warriors and a military power-house, gaining respect and reverence from the people of Japan as protectors and sought-after retainers. During their evolution, the samurai developed their uncompromising Bushido code.

Moral Righteousness. This first tenet has to do with the choice between right and wrong – or, as we say nowadays, “having a conscience.”

Courage. Courage wasn’t always about being heroic in battle, but also in daily life.

Compassion. Compassion has to do with holding respect for all life, and although this may seem to contradict the warrior lifestyle, it was considered the highest attribute of the human soul, and an important aspect in being connected and present in life.

Respect. Respect to the samurai was not only reserved for their lords or emperors, but to all people, including their enemies on the battle field as well as people of lower station. This also included great humility. To easily lose their temper was a sign of a lack of patience, and deeply frowned upon. This was also included within the tenets of compassion and honor.

Honesty. Honesty was not only about speaking truthfully at all times to all people, but also about being honest with one’s own self. This tenet is essentially about keeping your word. When a samurai said they would do something, it was as good as done.

Honor. Honor to the samurai had to do with strict adherence to the Bushido code, as well as defending their name, as well as the name of their lord. It was also directly connected to the other tenets of humility, fighting bravely and dying a good death. This also included the act of seppuku (suicide) if they were defeated in battle or brought shame to themselves, their clan or lord.

Loyalty. Loyalty to the samurai’s lords, family and the Bushido itself. Without this loyalty and uncompromising adherence, the samurai would be nothing but brutal savages.

In what areas of your life are you living the tenets of Bushido? In what areas and relationships are you lacking? How can working on embracing Bushido transform your personal relationships, your relationship to yourself, your family and your life in general?

3 thoughts on “How the Samurai Code Works

  1. Syafiq

    I waited 20 years for my seocnd tattoo as after I got my first I only wanted Chris to do my tattoos. It took me a while to track him down from the little shop in NYC where he did the first one. As you can see it was worth the wait. Everyone has always been impressed with the art piece I had and now everyone has been impressed with the new art piece. Looking forward to some sushi when you head up this way. Thanks again for another great piece of art . thinking of a third piece of art already.

  2. Jacqueline

    Hi Toshiro,

    Absolute love this article, The Bushido, is very similar to the Native American beliefs, as with you Gina Rose your belief, after all they come from the same old, old ways, I teach my children this way of thinking, and strive to live this way of life every day.

    Would love to see more of this.

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472

  3. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Hi Toshiro,

    I thought this article was really excellent…….it was very interesting to read about Bushido.

    My younger brother, Pete, teaches martial arts, competes professionally and owns his own dojo…..I’ve heard him speak of this code before. He teaches children, primarily, martial arts and I’ve heard him talk about this code to his students.

    The Wiccan spiritual path, ( I walk the Old Path ), also has a similiar code that not too many people on the outside are aware of……very similiar to Bushido.

    Excellent article and very well written……

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500


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