In the medieval times of Japan, the samurai warriors were employed to serve with nobility and protect the land of the wealthy.
Although the samurai are no longer active, the influence of these great warriors still exists at a deep level in Japanese culture.
During the Heian period (794 – 1185), warrior clans skilled in mounted combat became the Emperor’s preferred tool for shutting down rebellions. With the help of political backing and powerful resources, the samurai had risen to power. In 1160, the Taira clan beat the Minamoto clan in order to establish the first samurai-led government.
From the 13th century, as many clans struggled for power, samurai conduct became heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism. Meditation was used to calm the mind and provide a mental edge over their enemies. As there was no place for fear in combat, Zen meditation gave a warrior philosophical strength to deal with inevitable death.
The samurai warriors followed a set of rules that later came to be known as the bushido, or “the way of the warrior.” These are the guiding principles and philosophical codes of the samurai.
The Seven Virtues of Bushido
Righteousness and Rectitude
Moral conduct is the foundation of conduct. This includes right action, honesty, with a strong belief in justice for all people. All points of view are deeply considered.
Warriors are eminently courteous, even towards their enemies. Respect of the samurai is an attitude of honor and admiration with no need to prove their power. The true strength of a warrior becomes apparent during difficult times.
Courage is not blind, it is intelligent and strong. While always remaining cautious and on point, the warrior is not easily intimidated.
The samurai moves with honor and grace. Decisions are carried out with accountability. The warriors have only one judge: themselves. In the way of the samurai, you cannot hide from your own actions.
Through intense training, the warrior becomes quick and strong, but this power must be used for good. Helping fellow man and practicing compassion is a virtue. If an opportunity does not arise, they go out of their way to find a way to make a positive impact.
Honesty and Sincerity
In the way of the warrior, speaking and doing are the same action. Nothing will stop the warrior from sticking to their word while taking action from a place of sincere truth.
Duty and Loyalty
The warrior practices unconditional loyalty and trust towards others. This unwavering conduct of faith is a core belief in ethics of merit, loyalty, and fidelity towards fellow beings.
The seven virtues of bushido were originally practiced to achieve the highest levels of self-discipline and performance. These principles evolved into the code of the samurai and maintain a strong place at the core of Japanese philosophy and culture.
For many of us today, attaining full capacity of even one of these virtues could be a challenge. Engrained in history and preserved through time, the spiritual warrior of the modern era can use these principles as a daily mantra, or a guiding light for everyday moral conduct.
The development of the seven virtues of bushido translates into clarity, power, and vitality that can be carried into all aspects of life. A path of pure strength and mental fortitude in the face of modern challenge.
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