“The Eight Principles of Bushido”

Apply to whatever you do!

bushidokanjiBushidō (武士道) or the “Way of the Warrior” describes a uniquely Japanese code of ethical conduct adhered to by the samurai. It is loosely analogous to Western concepts of chivalry (think Knights of the Round Table) and yet it is more. Bushido encompasses a system of moral principles. It embodies a code of daily living for the samurai. Those instructed in the code are expected to discipline themselves according to it. There are Eight principles of Bushido:

1. Rectitude. Correct judgment or procedure for the resolution of righteousness. “To die when it is right to die, to strike when it is right to strike.”

2. Courage. A virtue only in the cause of righteousness. Death for an unworthy cause was termed a dog”s death. “It is true courage to live when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.”

3. Benevolence. Love, affection for others, sympathy and nobility of feeling are regarded as the highest attributes of the soul. “Benevolence brings under its sway whatever hinder its power just as water subdues fire.”

4. Politeness. A poor virtue if it is actuated only by a fear of offending good taste. Rather it should stem from a sympathetic regard for the feeling of others. “In its highest form politeness approaches love.”

5. Veracity. “Truthfulness.” Lying was deemed cowardly, and it was regarded as dishonorable. Indeed the word of a samurai guaranteed the truthfulness of an assertion. No oath is necessary. “Propriety carried beyond bounds becomes a lie.”

6. Honor. A vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth is implicit in the word honor. “Dishonor is like a scar on a tree which time, instead of effacing only helps to enlarge.”

7. Loyalty. Only in the code of chivalrous honor does loyalty assume importance. In the conflict between loyalty and affection the code never wavers from the choice of loyalty. “A samurai was obliged to appeal to the intelligence and conscience of his sovereign by demonstrating the sincerity of his words with the shedding of his own blood.”

8. Character and Self-Control.  The first objective of samurai education was to build up Character. The subtler faculties of prudence, intelligence, and dialectics were less important. Intellectual superiority was esteemed, but a samurai was essentially a man of action.

Books of Note,  that may interest: 

“The Art of War”  by  Sun Tzu (“Master Sun”, also spelled Sunzi) 5th century BC

The Art of War has been applied to many fields well outside of the military. Much of the text is about how to fight wars without actually having to do battle: it gives tips on how to outsmart one’s opponent so that physical battle is not necessary. As such, it has found application as a training guide for many competitive endeavors that do not involve actual combat.

“The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto, Musashi

To learn a Japanese martial art is to learn Zen, and although you can’t do so simply by reading a book, it sure does help–especially if that book is The Book of Five Rings. One of Japan’s great samurai sword masters penned in decisive, unfaltering terms this certain path to victory, and like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War it is applicable not only on the battlefield but also in all forms of competition. Always observant, creating confusion, striking at vulnerabilities–these are some of the basic principles. Going deeper, we find suki, the interval of vulnerability, of indecisiveness, of rest, the briefest but most vital moment to strike. In succinct detail, Miyamoto records ideal postures, blows, and psychological tactics to put the enemy off guard and open the way for attack. Most important of all is Miyamoto’s concept of rhythm, how all things are in harmony, and that by working with the rhythm of a situation we can turn it to our advantage with little effort.

But like Zen, this requires one task above all else, putting the book down and going out to practice.

“Bushido, the soul of Japan” by Inazo Nitobe’s

A description of the Samurai code, Bushido. Bushido literally translates “the way of the warrior” and it was a widespread philosophy of work, war, art and spirituality which influenced the entire society. Bushido has it´s roots in Zen-Buddhism and the ethic codes of the Japanese chivalry and Bushido is a philosophical foundation for a range of martial arts such as Aikidoand Kendo. Bushido the Soul of Japan was first published in 1904 and here it is: