Bushido (or the Way of the Warrior) is my defining commitment and I would like to explain what it means. Long ago in Japan, the warrior-nobility lived under expectations to be the most evolved members of their society.They thrived under the unspoken credo of “To preserve peace through literary or martial means” (Binder 1999). What is dear to my heart was that touching upon all the arts, in addition to the martial, was the mark of a fulfilled and self-created warrior. It is little wonder then that the greatest warriors were also the greatest artists. My personal hero was the master painter, sculptor and samurai named Miyamoto Musashi. I believe that the Seven Virtues are exquisite in both their harmony and Truth; but what is harmony but another word for Truth?
1. Rectitude is the foundational virtue and it is moral righteousness in principle and conduct. The Way demands unfettered integrity because it calls to our humanity.The heroic artist knows that diligence and follow through are the keys to excellence. You may want to ask yourself “Are my actions based in unenlightened self-interest and greed or are they in accordance with Truth?” Right action demands the best of our personal morality at all times because honesty with both ourselves and the world that we are a part of will ensure that we reach the pinnacle of our Being.
2. Courage is mental or moral strength to face danger without or in spite of fear. I believe that courage is finding that within to defeat that without. It doesn’t always mean running into a burning building to save a child, courage can mean something as simple as being brave enough to surpass your insecurities. Mark Twain famously said “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it ” If you have your mind set on being exceptional, your courage will surely flower forth.
3. Benevolence is simply compassion but compassion is the seat of our humanity, In the Way of the warrior, your disposition must be to do good; which requires courage and rectitude. There are many skittering about who lack compassion, who only do that which they think is beneficial to themselves while not considering how it affects their fellow human. The warrior-artist knows the power of love and thus is above this cancerous pettiness.. The great philosopher Confucius said “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you”. Kindness is a rarity but an evolved being knows the value of it. Share compassion wherever you go and you will be invoking the Way of the Warrior.
4.To Respect someone is having the courage to hold another in esteem. Respect requires benevolence as it entails consideration for others. So many people diminish themselves that it is hard to grant them even a modicum of respect. But if you realize that they, like you, are suffering too; then would it not be easier to respect them? Even if they are your enemy, courtesy should still be extended. This shows that your humanity is as a well during a wind storm; undisturbed.
5. Honesty means “speaking truth and creating truth in the minds of others. Honesty does not mean telling the truth in a calculated, spiteful way but being honest in a benevolent way.” As a fairly direct person, I sometimes forget this, as to me, Truth surpasses everything; but the mind that is not receptive to Truth will not hear it if abject bluntness mutilates their pride. To quote thebushidocode.com; “Sincerity lies within speaking from the heart with complete integrity of expression. Indeed, truth can be painful, but it is ultimately preferred and always most respected. More importantly, it is the only way of expression and communication for someone on the path of Bushido.” It takes great courage to speak the truth but one must if they are serious about the Way.
6. Fidelity to principle is what Honour means. Or “truth in action” as I succinctly think of it. How many people have you met who think that little things to get over on people or to gain some illusory advantage is “ok” because it’s not necessarily “illegal”. A lack of compassion leads to dishonour because you no longer think as to how your actions will be perceived by your highest self, your family and close friends. Your actions must be in accordance with the highest principles lest they be worthless. It takes great courage to live a life of honour and I try every day, so know that someone struggles with you as well.
7. The last virtue is Loyalty which is duty, devotion or faithfulness. But those are just words, no? If rectitude is the sun of Bushido, loyalty would be its moon. Beauteous orbs shining down upon your path. Loyalty requires the other six virtues to be grasped in its fullness, you must be faithful to that which is true and to those who are true to you. We forget loyalty in the face of selfishness, we falter in our courage when we lose sight of this virtue. Deep devotion can be a frightening thing because it requires you to set your self aside but is self not an illusion? Is truth not of value?
I thank you for taking the time to read these virtues, I leave you with this quote “Warriors aren’t born, and they aren’t made…they create themselves through trial and error and by their ability to conquer their own frailties.”-Philip J. Messina
Yours upon the Way,