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Saturday, 1 December 2007

Code of the Samurai – is it Relevant Today ? –

I was impressed after reading 2 great novels of Eiji Yoshikawa, MUSASHI and TAIKO. Then somebody gave me a bilingual handbook about BUSHIDO written by Nitobe Inazo. It’s really complicated book but very interesting . Nitobe Inazo said in his book, ( 武士道は、日本を表徴する桜の花と同じように、わが国土の固有の桜である。その花は、ひからびた古代道徳の標本となって、わが国の歴史の中に保存されているというわけではない。それは現在でもなお、その力と美をもって、わが民族の心の中に生きつずけている。武士道は明白な形態はとらないが、それにもかかわらず、その道徳的雰囲気の香りは、今なおわれわれに力強い感化をあたえている。) Bushido is a flower no less indigenous to the soil of Japan than its emblem, the cherry blossom; nor is it a dried-up specimen of an antique virtue preserved in the herbarium of our history. It is still a living object of power and beauty among us: and if it assumes no tangible shape or form, it not the less scents the moral atmosphere and makes us aware that we are still under its potent spell .And I do believe that these codes of samurai are relevant today, you will realize it ,especially when you have close relationship with Japanese People. Below is the summary from some books I read about Bushido and Samurai. I hope you are all will enjoy it THERE ARE 3 GREATEST SAMURAI AND WARLORD IN JAPAN, NOBUNAGA, HIDEYOSHI AND IEYASU. WHEN ONE QUESTION TO BE ASKED TO THEM, WHAT WILL THEY DO IF THE BIRD DOES NOT WANT TO SING, THEY REPLIED :NOBUNAGA : KILL THE BIRD !HIDEYOSHI : MAKE THE BIRD SING !IEYASU : WAIT !( TAIKO – EIJI YOSHIKAWA )

1. KEEP DEATH IN MIND ALL TIMES, every day and every night , from the morning of New Year’s Day through the night of New Year’s EveIf people comfort their minds with the assumption that they will live a long time, something might happen, because they think they will have forever to do their work and look after their parents – they may fail to perform for their employers and also treat their parents thoughtlessly. But if you realize that the life that is here today is not certain on the morrow then when you take your orders from your employer and when you look in on your parents, you will the sense that this may be the last time- so you can not fail to become truly attentive to your employer and your parents. In any case when you forget death and become inattentive, you are not circumspect about things. You may say something offensive to someone and get into argument. You may challenge something you might as well have ignored and get into a quarrel.Or you may stroll about in resorts where you have no business, not avoiding crowds, where you might bump into some oaf and get into an unexpected brawl. You could lose your own life, get your employer bad publicity and cause your parents and siblings difficulties. All this trouble comes from inattentiveness when you fail to keep death in mind at all times.When you always keep death in mind, when you speak and when you reply to what others say, you understand the weight and significance of every word as a warrior by profession, so you do not engage in futile arguments.People of all social classes, high and low, constantly overeat, drink too much and indulge in their desires to an unhealthy degree, all because of forgetting about death. This puts a strain on their internal organs, so they may die remarkably young or else become sickly or invalid. When you always keep death in mind, even if you are young and healthy, you already know how to take care of yourself. You moderate food and drink, avoid sexual addiction and behave prudently.When you assume that your stay in this world will last, various wishes occur to you and you become very desirous. You want what others have and cling to your own possessions, developing a mercantile mentality.The question now is HOW TO KEEP DEATH IN MIND ?The Idea is to take care of your public and private duties day and night and then whenever you have any free time when your mind is unoccupied, you think of death, bringing it to mind attentively. It is said that in the great hero Kusunoki Masashige’s instructions to his son Masayuki, he told him “ always get used to death”( TAIKO-EIJI YOSHIKAWA )

2. EDUCATIONWarriors stand in a position above the other three castes and are supposed to be professional administrators, so they need to study and gain an extensive understanding of the principles of things.

3. FAMILIAL DUTY For warriors, taking good care of parents is fundamental. If people do not care for their parents, they are not good, even if they are exceptionally smart, well-spoken and handsome.In the way of warrior ( Bushido ), it is essential to do right from root to branch. If you do not understand the root and branch, there is no way for you to know your duty. Parents and employers, familial duty and loyalty – these differ only in name, for there is no difference in the sincerity of the heart. If a man who is not caring toward his parents at home does go into the service of a lord, he keeps his eyes on his employer’s balance sheet and as soon as he sees any little slip his attitude changes: in an emergency he will flee or turn traitor. These are cases like this past and present; this is something to be ashamed of, something to be wary of.(note : it may explain one of the reason why the turn over of employees in Japanese Company is not so high as in other place, the loyalty is the reason )4. PRINCIPLES OF WARRIORS ( BUSHIDO )In the code of warriors there are two kinds of principles with four level. Two kinds of principles are ordinary principles and emergency principles. The ordinary principles include principles of knighthood and principles of weaponry. The emergency principles include army principles and combat principles.The principles of knighthood include washing your hands and feet and bathing morning and night, keeping your body clean, shaving and dressing your hair every morning, dressing formally according to the season and circumstance, and always keeping your fan in your belt, not to mention your long and short swords. When dealing with guests, you treat them courteously according to their status and avoid useless talk. Even when you partake of a bowl of rice or a cup of tea, you are always careful not to be slovenly.As for the principles of weaponry, the first thing to learn is swordsmanship, then lancing, riding, archery, shooting and any other martial arts. Your duty is to study, practice and master them, so you can be ever ready with them.Once you have cultivated these two levels, the principles of knighthood and the principles of weaponry, you lack nothing in the way of ordinary principles. In the eyes of ordinary people you will seem like a good warrior, worthy of employ. However, warriors are fundamentally emergency men. When there is a civil disturbance, they set aside their usual knight ways for the moment, adopt military terminology for their superiors, comrades and subordinates, doff their formal suits and put on armor, take up weapons and head for the enemy’s ground. These are all sorts of manners and forms of doing this collectively referred to as army principles.Next are combat principles. When your enemies and allies clash in battle, if your dispositions and maneuvers work as planned, you gain victory; otherwise, you lose the advantage and suffer defeat. There are traditional secrets to these various maneuvers and dispositions; these are called combat principles.A warrior who has cultivated the four levels of ordinary and emergency principles to perfection is considered a top class knight. If you have accomplished the two levels of ordinary principles, you are competent for service as a knight, but if you have not mastered the two levels of emergency principles, you can not be a samurai commander, a group leader, a magistrate or anything like that.

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