Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Bushido: Way of the Warrior. From Hagakure with a Catholic perspective of course!
My life is not my own, it belongs to God. Time spent here on earth is borrowed from Him; I must live according to His will. Whatever I do is done because He wills it to be. If I am one with Him then the paths I choose will always be the paths that He leads me to.
Even though I am alive I must live as though I am dead, for if I am already dead then there is no fear in dying. And because I am already dead, this allows me to fully live in that I can act without being conscience of my mortality.
The Way of the Samurai is found in death; one might say that death is at the very center of Bushido as the overall purpose- to die a good death and with one's honor intact. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one's aim is to die a dog's death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one's aim.
We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening (through prayer and good works, and other corporal works of mercy), one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
Every morning one should first do reverence to God and honor his parents and then to his patron saints. If he will only make his master (God) first in importance, his parents will rejoice and God will give His assent. For a warrior there is nothing other than thinking of his God and master. If one creates this resolution within himself, he will always be mindful of the master's person and will not depart from him even for a moment. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening (through prayer and daily devotion to God), one is able to live as though his body were already dead. He will gain freedom in the way, his whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.
By thinking that you must complete the job you will run out of time. By considering things like how many men the enemy has, time piles up; in the end you will give up. No matter if the enemy has thousands of men, there is fulfillment in simply standing them off and being determined to cut them all down, starting from one end. You will finish the greater part of it.
Above all, the Way of the Samurai should be in being aware that you do not know what is going to happen next, and in querying every item day and night. Victory and defeat are matters of the temporary force of circumstances. The way of avoiding shame is different. It is simply in death. Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.
How should a person respond when he is asked, "As a human being, what is essential in terms of purpose and discipline?" First, let us say, "It is to become of the mind that is right now pure and lacking complications." People in general all seem to be dejected. When one has a pure and uncomplicated mind, his expression will be lively. When one is attending to matters, there is one thing that comes forth from his heart. That is, in terms of one's lord, loyalty; in terms of one's parents, filial piety; in martial affairs, bravery ; and apart from that, something that can be used by all the world.This is very difficult to discover. Once discovered, it is again difficult to keep in constant effect. There is nothing outside the thought of the immediate moment.
Every morning, the samurai of fifty or sixty years ago would bathe, shave their foreheads, put lotion in their hair, cut their fingernails and toenails rubbing them with pumice and then with wood sorrel, and without fail pay attention to their personal appearance . It goes without saying that their armor in general was kept free from rust, that it was dusted, shined, and arranged.Although it seems that taking special care of one's appearance is similar to showiness, it is nothing akin to elegance. Even if you are aware that you may be struck down today and are firmly resolved to an inevitable death, if you are slain with an unseemly appearance, you will show your lack of previous resolve, will be despised by your enemy, and will appear unclean. For this reason it is said that both old and young should take care of their appearance.
Although you say that this is troublesome and time-consuming, a samurai's work is in such things. It is neither busy- work nor time-consuming. In constantly hardening one's resolution to die in battle, deliberately becoming as one already dead and working at one's job and dealing with military affairs, there should be no shame. But when the time comes, a person will be shamed if he is not conscious of these things even in his dreams, and rather passes his days in self- interest and self-indulgence. And if he thinks that this is not shameful, and feels that nothing else matters as long as he is comfortable, then his dissipate and discourteous actions will be repeatedly regrettable. The person without previous resolution to inevitable death makes certain that his death will be in bad form. But if one is resolved to death beforehand, in what way can he be despicable? One should be especially diligent in this concern.
When meeting calamities or difficult situations, it is not enough to simply say that one is not at all flustered. When meeting difficult situations, one should dash forward bravely and with joy. It is the crossing of a single barrier and is like the saying, "The more the water, the higher the boat."
When one's own attitude on courage is fixed in his heart, and when his resolution is devoid of doubt, then when the time comes he will of necessity be able to choose the right move. This will be manifested by one's conduct and speech according to the occasion. One's word is especially important. It is not for exposing the depths of one's heart. This is something that people will know by one's everyday affairs.
Throughout your life advance daily, becoming more skillfull than yesterday, more skillful than today. This is never-ending.