Bushido: The Tenets of The Samurai

  • The famous Samurai were not just simple warriors with an insatiable thirst for blood. They followed an important codex that ruled their lives. Let’s see if we can learn something from them!

    Bushido Code

    The so-called “Bushido” was the traditional code of the samurai. Bushido had several main aspects which were important: frugality, loyalty, mastery of martial arts and honor. Also, there were eight really important virtues: righteousness, courage, benevolence, respect, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control. The samurai’s life, career and behavior were adjusted to these aspects and they were followed strictly, even if that would mean death. For example, if a warrior was defeated in battle and thus lost his honor, he committed the ritual suicide called “seppuku” to not leave this world in disgrace.

    Bushido is an expression from rather modern than ancient times. It was developing from the 16th on. It was influenced by Shinto and Zen Buddhism so that the violent nature of the samurai could be tempered with wisdom. Although many samurai thought that by following bushido they would follow a tradition that started in the 10th century, several scholars claimed that the expression was never really mentioned before the modern literature.

    The codex changed throughout the time a lot and was depending on the region, social background and the economy of the samurai family. Thus, many samurai were allowed horse-riding while others were allowed to carry two swords but not allowed to ride horses. Simply because the latter ones were perceived to be “lower” than the others. But the numbers of the “lower” ones were smaller than the rest.

    Still, they worked together and many saw it as their mission to help their lower comrades to preserve their name by teaching them tenets. Besides that, the samurai would also help raise each others’ children, take care of their appearance and grooming. The reason behind all these things was simple. It would help a warrior to achieve the ultimate goal of an honorable death. Yet this honor wouldn’t percolate into their assumed afterlife.

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