Modernizing The Bushido Code – 7 Virtues To Live Like A New Age Samurai
“A Samurai must always amass his knowledge in one point, concentrate and strive to transform his knowledge into action. If he catches himself thinking that he could have acted better than he did, it means that the maturity of his mind is not at the necessary level, and the philosophy of his action has not been achieved yet. It is essential to intensely work on oneself. Such is the way of the Samurai.” – A.R. Basov
The Code + Samurai Mentality
The Bushido Code or “The Way of The Warrior” were unwritten rules used by the military nobility of early-modern Japan. “The Samurai”, as they were alternatively known as, were deeply rooted in their peaceful philosophies, whilst also being ruthless warriors when it was called for.
In the spirit of these articles being about personal development and self awareness, we will be dissecting the ancient Bushido Code and making it relevant and implementable in terms of modern day, and are for those looking to act in accordance with the “Samurai Mentality” whether that be physically, philosophically, or emotionally. The Samurai were resilient in all senses whilst maintaining balance between brutality and benevolence, humility and hubris.
The 7 Virtues
The Bushido has 7 virtues we will look at, all laying the foundation for the iron will and resolve of the “New Age Samurai”. Whilst these virtues may seem forgotten or underused today, they are important if our goal is to attain a level of serenity and strength that these warriors were able to achieve.
Gi – Righteousness/Integrity
- “Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from YOURSELF. To the true warrior all points of view are deeply considered regarding honesty, justice and integrity”
- It may hard to be completely honest and transparent with people, but molding people around lies or lack of transparency is living with a lessened sense of integrity. In my previous article “79 Tips and Principles To Live By” I mentioned how people in general can’t handle truths, that truth are largely subjective and that one must emphasis kindness over overt transparency at times. Whilst I still largely believe this is the way I would choose to do things, I can also say that it can be thought of as stifling my personal integrity. You can choose to be blunt based on your deep rooted beliefs like the samurai, and although you may face backlash at times, no one can question your loyalty to your beliefs.
Yu – Courage
- “Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A true warrior must have absolute courage. It is absolutely risky, but it is living life completely, fully and wonderfully”
- Staying in your comfort zone is a stagnancy that is arguable more risky to you than living outside it. Whilst it may not seem apparent now, a life of passing opportunities, or wasting time can take a depressive effect on the psyche and have a tranquilizing effect. The samurai didn’t believe in complacency and neither should the “New Age Samurai”. Whilst in modern day this doesn’t mean go to extreme measures like hunt for your own food, or fight a bear butt ass naked, it just means to always look for opportunities and not denying them when they knock on your door.
Jin – Benevolence
- “Through intense training and hard work, the true warrior becomes quick and strong. They are not as most people. They develop a power that must be used for good. They have compassion. They help their fellow man at every opportunity they can”
- “With great power comes great responsibility” is the first thing that comes to mind in respect to this virtue of the code. Whilst this is a “Hollywood” quote from the movie “Spider-man” it is nonetheless true in all senses. Power can be abused for personal gain, or it can be used to bring up everyone around you. You can use it to push your personal agenda and leave people in the dust, or you can realize how interconnected we are, use it to empower others, cultivate your own confidence and leave a positive mark. Whilst you may have to use your personal power in sub optimal situations, you are equipped with the moral fiber and responsibility to make hard decisions in whatever context.
Rei – Respect
- “True warriors have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. Warriors are courteous even to their enemies. Warriors are not only respected for their strength in battle, but with their dealings with others.”
- Being cruel serves no other purpose than to put yourself ahead of your fellow man/woman. People who have cultivated a certain amount of self assurance and confidence have no reason to be cruel, in fact they see only qualities they admire in others. This doesn’t come from a space of jealousy or desire, but an understanding we are all equipped with our own strength and weaknesses. The modern samurai is strong in battles of the mind, soul and body. They are strong internally as well as externally, and never let their ego of their achievements consume them.
- Whenever I feel I am being cruel or mean or I notice people around me who are, it is always from a scarcity mentality. It is 99% of the time a need for validation, or to bolster a self confidence issue. We all do this from time to time, the key is to catch yourself when you do it and analyze its intent.
Makoto – Sincerity
- “When warriors say they will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing what they say they would do. They do not have to “give their word” or make a “promise”
- Don’t flake on things you give yourself to do, or things you do for others. When you say you will be at someones place at a certain time, you better be there by then. When you say to yourself you are going to quit smoking, you are going to do it. There are no half measures taken in anything, because you have the personal resolve and drive to accomplish your tasks.
- Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with giving someone your “word” or making a “promise” its usually to ease the inevitable guilt when something doesn’t pan out. “Well I had made a promise, things just went astray. I really intended to do it from the very start!” you may say to yourself or others. If you are bullshitting, you are not living by the code. Be honest with yourself, and actively try to say what you actually mean.
Meiyo – Honor
- “Warriors have only one judge of honor and character and that is themselves. Decisions they make and how these decisions are carried out is a reflection of who they truly are”
- The modern samurai realizes that for any action he does, he will be judged to a certain degree. Whether its by family, friends, strangers, being overly influenced by these judgments is to live with a lack of honor. Make decisions with ease and poise, and do not ruminate on being judged. Rumination also in action means you are overly anxious and to be too quick is to be impulsive. Think and decide within a reasonable time frame.
Chugi – Loyalty
- “Warriors are responsible for everything they have done and everything they have said, and all the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to all those in their core”
- Making a commitment to someone is a big deal to the modern day samurai. They also take responsibility for their shortcomings, and successes and do not place the blame and contrarily any recognition on anyone else’s shoulders but their own. Without the fierce loyalty taught by the code, personal relations would decay, and life becomes tense for everyone around. Be loyal to those you are tied to.
To be fair, many of the things we have heard from the Bushido Code have been heard largely in daily life and in the realm of personal development. The key distinction is the degree to which The Samurai took these virtues to heart.
They would not stray or deviate from the code, and whilst you can claim in modern times this makes us too rigid in our mentalities, it doesn’t carry too much weight in the grand scheme of things.
These are all things that we know are good for us and putting these virtues very simply we can see this.
Treat others with respect, treat ourselves with respect, take our goals and things we say to others seriously, be honest and compassionate, and live an unchained, free life.
You don’t have to be a devoted Japanese warrior to see that these are things we all need to work on.
In this sense, we are all modern day, new age Samurais.