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.
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?