Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The essence of Bushido


Tsunetomo Yamamoto (1659-1719) was a samurai of the Saga domain in Hizen Province, under his lord Mitsushige Nabeshima. For thirty years Yamamoto devoted his life to the service of his lord and clan. When Nabeshima died in 1700, Yamamoto did not choose junshi because Nabeshima has expressed a dislike of the practice in his life, so Yamamoto considered it better to follow his lord’s wishes. Yamamoto renounced the world and retired to a hermitage in the mountains. Late in life, he narrated many of his thoughts to a fellow samurai, Tsuramoto Tashiro. These commentaries were later turned into the Hagakure (Hidden behind the Leaves).

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(Selection)

I have found the essence of Bushido: To Die!

In other words, when you have a choice between life and death, always choose death. If you die before you hit your target, then it will be the death of a dog. In order to master this essence, you must die anew every morning and every night.

The way of advising others must be carried with utmost care. It’s quite easy to see the evil in othersGet intimate, refer to your own weaknesses and failures, then let him discover your point without mentioning his weakness. How can you reform others if you disgrace them?

On the previous night… make plans for the next day.

Don’t go where you’re not invited.

In order to be called a samurai, you must offer your life to Tao. There is no difference between high and low.

It’s difficult to carry acts of justice.

Onlookers see more than the players. Find your own faults through speculation. Consult others. Read books. Learn from the previous generation. You must throw your own judgment.

There are levels in the course of mastery. At the lowest level, you think of others as poor (needless to say, at this level you’re not useful). At the high level, you pretend to know nothing. You go ahead only with the idea of mastery. You go forward without pride and without humility. Your life you build every day. You’re better than yesterday and but not better than tomorrow.

Think of serious matters in a light manner, but think of trifles in an earnest and thoughtful way.

Those who never make mistakes are in danger.

If your eye is able to see good qualities in others who apparently are (you see as) inferior to you, then they can be your masters, even though they have shortcomings as well.

On your way, you meet a shower. You dislike get wet, so you hurry along the streets under the eaves. Still you get wet the same. As long as you accept that you will get wet, you won’t suffer from being wet.

Normally, most people rely on you when they are in trouble. But they will not think of you once they are out of their trouble.

On a low level, it’s unsatisfactory if you remain unfrightened when you find yourself with disaster and difficulties. On a higher level, you ought to go through troubles with courage and elation. “If the water rises, the ship rises too.”

However gifted you are, people refuse to see it if you are a greenhorn. Build your brightness and give it restrained play; “The slower the better.”

The way to excel above others is to have others talk about and judge you. To consult with others is a spring-board to a higher level.

After a year had passed, everyone said: “He looks a tired and sick man.” A took this as the beginning of my service.

There are many in the world who are eager to give advice. There are few who feel glad for being given advice. And there are still fewer who follow the given advice.