The Bushido Code and The Way of the Warrior
“Bushido(o)” [boo-SHE-dough] was a hybrid code of ethics refined from both the deep honorable tradition of the Japanese warrior class and the spiritual wisdom of Buddhism and Confucianism. The application of THE BUSHIDO CODE had less to do with war, pride, power and conquest and more to do with a path to human refinement, and for some, enlightenment.
Someone practicing Bushido acts with honesty, honor and compassion simply because it is right.
Bushido and Reiki is the “way” that I strive to live my life every day, I am not perfect and somedays the beauty and lessons are found in being imperfect.
I will share my most recent interpretation of Bushido.
“Release your need or desire to control and change the world around you and you will improve the lens through which you see the world. A better view affords one the opportunity to focus on that which makes for a better life. Today is a new day and now is all we have. Yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow is merely a dream not yet realized. Therefore, enjoy the path and every step you take, wherever that may lead you…for you will get there soon enough.”
HONESTY AND JUSTICE
Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself, to the true Samurai. There are no shades of gray in the question of honesty and justice. There is only right and wrong.
Innate to every human being on this planet is a sense of right and wrong. Some call it “conscience.” Regardless of how one chooses to label this instinctive awareness of right action and the converse, this awareness serves to keep each and every one of us on the path of moral righteousness if we so choose to recognize it. The most common reasons for abandoning to uphold this human virtue are greed and selfishness. Once again, the outcome of any situation (or our lives, in general) will come down to the choices we make on a daily basis. Staying in close contact with our conscience and instinctive base of morality will prevent us from straying and committing acts which we will inevitably regret, possibly causing harm to others. To follow the path of Bushido is to support righteousness at all costs…and at all times without compromise.
Rise up above the masses of people who are afraid to act. Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A Samurai must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is Dangerous. It is living life completely. Fully, Wonderfully. Heroic Courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.
Sometimes, making a hard choice requires a great deal of courage. Situations which require us to make these choices don’t necessarily come when we are called upon to save someone’s life or commit a heroic act of such degree that will gain us notoriety. Most of time, it is the simplest of situations which force us to make a choice between taking a chance to do the right thing or remain in the shadows of our own pride, embarrassment or fear and merely observe with regret. Bushido dictates that we must act to support goodness and right action regardless of our level of comfort with the intervention. Sometimes, the lives or well-being of others will depend on our ability to rise with courage at any given moment, usually when we least expect it.
Through intense training the Samurai becomes quick and strong. He is not as other men. He develops a power that must be used for the good of all. He has compassion. He helps his fellow man at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, he goes out of his way to find one.
If there is one aspect of human expression that is most lacking in the world today, then it has to be compassion. We have become so accustomed to living in a selfish way that we are inured to the pain and suffering of others around us, not realizing that their pain is ultimately tied to our pain and that someday soon enough, we will inherit the effects of living our lives so selfishly in ways that we least expect. This should not only be approached from a karmic sense whereby we assume that if we don’t act with compassion then someday we will be overlooked when we are in need. Rather, we should constantly show compassion to all manner of life and try when possible to take care of those less fortunate than ourselves as opposed to shunning and marginalizing them because of ego, shame or prejudice. Every living thing has a heart and soul…and most of us can relate to pain and rejection. As our earthly population grows, driving most of us to become more marginalized, greedy, defensive and selfish, let Bushido guide you to stand apart and act out of generosity and kindness. Setting a good example is a by-product of Bushido and most likely would have become the eighth virtue, had the masters not understood that all those strong enough (and smart enough) to apply The Code to their own lives would invariably understand how contagious even a small amount of decent and respectable human behavior can be to others. Spread the virus of good virtue today.
Samurai have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. A Samurai is courteous even to his enemies. Without this outward show of respect. We are nothing more than animals. A Samurai is not only respected for his strength in battle. But also by his dealing with other men. The true strength of a Samurai becomes apparent during difficult times.
Most think of respect as how it is applied to those older than us. However, respect–as it is viewed in Bushido–is very similar to how it was viewed by almost every highly developed and spiritual culture throughout human history. Respect covers not only a reverence for those who hold authority or seniority over you, but it covers a humility toward all manner of life on this planet–and not only the type of life which happens to support our existence. Once again, we must relinquish our desire to dominate and be selfish. Not only do we have to defer to and honor our elders, we must do the same for other men, women and children and set good examples of humility, which actually requires more strength and restraint than aggression or dominance–primal behavior born out of insecurity. A practitioner of Bushido has nothing to prove, nor has any fear of being lessened by others. Always be courteous, humble and respectful, regardless of the situation. The only exception would be when we must defend someone or something close or important to us. The best part of practicing this virtue is the reward it brings to the heart of the practitioner. However, don’t do it for any possible reward; do it because it is the right thing to do.
When a Samurai has said he will perform an action, It is as good as done. Nothing will stop him from completing what he has said he will do. He does not have to “Give his word.” He does not have to “Promise.” Speaking and doing are the same action.
Truth is the cornerstone of any human relationship and interaction. It is the foundation of how we view the world and how we are viewed by it. It is strong and undeniable, yet is the most easily manipulated, fragile and potentially damaging of all the virtues. This is because the simplest false impression can go a long way and create an alternate reality that when revealed as fiction, can potentially create profound levels of destruction and pain. Honesty is most often compromised by greed and selfishness. Sincerity and truth reside on a steep hillside that must be constantly supported and upheld by each and every one of us. Once we compromise our commitment to honesty, then that hillside becomes a slippery slope and little “white lies” eventually lead to compulsive misrepresentations necessary to support previous untruths and so on. The choice to represent oneself or situation truthfully may initially be painful, embarrassing or scary, but those momentary feelings will be nothing compared to the pain that could be caused down the line when a long-believed lie has been exposed. The “straight and narrow” is known as such because it is that which does not waver and does not make accommodations for any kind of color or compromise–truth is black and white and sincerity lies within speaking from the heart with complete integrity of expression. Indeed, truth can be painful, but it is ultimately preferred and always most respected. More importantly, it is the only way of expression and communication for someone on the path of Bushido.
A true Samurai has only one judge of honour, and this is himself. Decisions you make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom you truly are.
You cannot hide from yourself.
When most people think of honor, definitions surrounding military service and awards of high distinction initially come to mind. This is because the societal relevance of this ancient measure of human merit has shifted over time. Honor is no longer a personal motivation to keep one from behaving in ways that would bring shame to one’s self, family or country. Similarly, a breach of honor is no longer a reason to feel shame; we now can break laws and be convicted for each individual offense rather than trying to uphold some archaic overall personal standard. However, this societal shift has brought with it some disturbing and sad consequences. Now, most of us are trying to behave within boundaries of law and not even looking at our overall approach to ethics and morality. If we can “get away” with something that breaks a rule of law, then chances are that we will, whether accidental or intentional. This approach can best be analogized as walking through life with blankets over our entire bodies looking through holes cut out for our eyes, as we take what we can and do what we can to further our own personal agendas whenever possible, only coming out from under the blanket when absolutely necessary so as to not get caught…and hoping that no one else saw or recognized us when we were momentarily exposed. However, living with honor removes that blanket of obscurity, allowing us to live more fully and responsibly, taking credit for all our actions and consequently, living as more refined, honest and morally evolved human beings. Honor is honesty, fairness and most importantly, the integrity of one’s own beliefs.
DUTY AND LOYALTY
For the Samurai. Having done some “thing” or said some “thing.” He knows he owns that “thing.” He is responsible for it. And all the consequences that follow A Samurai is immensely loyal to those in his care. To those he is responsible for. He remains fiercely true.
We often look at domesticated animals–dogs in particular–when we wish to observe and understand loyalty. And there is good reason for this. Dogs want love and companionship. They will endure years of abuse and even death by the master of their own choosing just to earn the master’s trust and love. Abused animals may not understand why they are abused, but they endure it because they made a decision to stand by their masters, regardless of how painful that commitment proves to be. This has been observed whether or not there is any kind of food dependence or reward involved. However, loyalty, as it applies to Bushido, requires immense understanding as well as commitment. Loyalty, duty and honor are closely connected and are three of the most difficult virtues to master. This is because one has to be completely selfless and unwaveringly responsible in order to fulfill their demands. Many have argued that often the temptation to compromise honesty has been overwhelming during occasions when honor and loyalty had to be defended, usually on behalf of someone else to whom a deep pledge has been made. However, temptations to compromise any given virtue usually arise when self-preservation or guilt are knowingly (or even sometimes unwittingly) taken into consideration. The most common reasons for ceasing to uphold human virtues are greed and selfishness. Suffice to say, there is no compromise that can be justified in the end and each one of us will ultimately know and have to live with our choices in the end. Military applications aside, loyalty, devotion and duty represent clear and non-negotiable commitments either to a person, a place, a thing, a cause, a belief or even a simple promise. They represent bonds that can only be broken by a weakened resolve, a negative shift in priority…or a simple choice. Once again, light is shed upon our individual choices. The Bushido Code is nothing but emptiness until we give it form and purpose. It only means something to one individual life and that of no one else. It only exists if it exists in our choices and more importantly, through our actions. However, it resides in each of us. If you feel the dormancy in your soul, then let your loyalty to your own human evolution awaken its relevance to your life and begin practice of The Code. One good choice will lead to another…and another. Soon you will find that your inner understanding of truth and right living will be indistinguishable from the self-realized image you see in the mirror. Gently remove the ego and live beyond yourself today…and you will find that it will be the greatest gift you could ever give yourself…and the rest of the world.