Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 11/13/2014

In Hagakure (cited in Suzuki, 1988, pp. 72–73) , the Edo era samurai Yamamoto stated that “Bushidō means the determined will to die” (Bushidō towa shinu koto to mitsuketari). This implies that all samurai had to live admirably and honorably in order not to have regrets when they died, since facing death was a daily occurrence.

Bushido is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe.... More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten....It was born of a blend of Buddhism, Chu-Tsu, Confucius and Shinto, and -- though officially introduced in the seventeenth century, it was ingrained in the bushi from the time of their origin. Bushidō refers to ethics that were formed among the samurai. Although the term was not used until the Edo period, the concept itself was formed in the Kamakura period, evolving through the adoption of neo-Confucian ideals in the Edo period, to become the foundation of national morality after the Meiji Restoration (Bushidō, 1988, p. 2111).

Buddhism was introduced into Japan from China in the sixth century and has had a great influence on Japanese culture. At the end of the twelfth century, a Buddhist sect called Zen became established in Japan. While other Buddhist sects affected mainly the religious aspects of Japanese life, Zen contributed enormously to building the Japanese character. Activities that were strongly influenced by Zen included tea ceremony (sadō), flower arrangement (kadō), haiku, and calligraphy (shodō).

The main goal of Zen Buddhism is for practitioners to achieve spiritual enlightenment (satori) through experiencing the Buddha-nature within: “Enlightenment is seen as a liberation from man’s intellectual nature, from the burden of fixed ideas and feelings about reality.”

It is said that “to experience satori is to become conscious of the Unconscious (mushin or no-mind)” (Suzuki, 1988, p. 220), and mushin is the secret of the martial arts as well as the aesthetic arts in creating a strong mentality. As the Zen master Takuan, states: [No-mind] is a mind that is not at all disturbed by affects of any kind. . . . When mushin or munen is attained, the mind moves from one object to another, flowing like a stream of water, filling every possible corner. For this reason the mind fulfills every function required of it. But when the flowing is stopped at one point, all the other points will get nothing of it, and the result will be a general stiffness and obduracy. (Ibid., p. 111) In other words, the state of no-mind unites the body with the spirit. Many samurai trained hard to achieve this state through Zen, and this relieved their fear of death.

Confucianism is first and foremost a rational, utilitarian philosophy of human
nature which considers proper human relationships as the basis of society. . . .
[It] stresses a social order based on strict ethical rules, resulted in ensuring loyalty to master, heirarchy of classes in japan where the samurai is the highest.

Samurai valued honor in an extreme and strict way, which was expressed in the
adage “Die rather than disgrace yourself” (Ozawa, 1994, p. 13).

Following are the eight principles of bushido:
GI – Right Action, Duty
YUUKI – Courage
JIN – Benevolence
REI – Morality
MAKOTO – Truthfulness
MEIYO – Honor
CHUUGI – Loyalty

The tripod that supported [1905: which supported] the framework of Bushido was said to be ChiJinYu, respectively Wisdom, Benevolence, and Courage.

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