The Slippery Path
In this journey of life, particulary the path of budo, the road can be treacherous. We strive to be our best, and to seek perfection of character, but it’s no guarantee. Personally, I have fallen short. I have made mistakes, I have lost sight of core principles, and I have fallen down. We all fall down. Getting up, climbing, clawing, and fighting our way back to that familiar path..that is the embodiment of the warriors code.
SEEK perfection of character. It isn’t a natural occurance, nor is it permanent. Every single person reading this is susceptable to falling down, hitting a stumbling block at full speed, and slipping off the path.
I’m writing this particular article as a reminder to myself. I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older (quickly approaching 50) that hot-button issues from 5-10 years ago, are no longer important. Other issues that I’ve neglected have taken precedence on my list of priorites. Feelings, opinions, and emotions, are not as important as love, compassion, and giving from the heart.
Nitabo Inoze summed it up best:
“Righteousness (義 gi)
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. Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.
Courage (勇 yū)
Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A true warrior must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is living life completely, fully and wonderfully. Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.
Compassion (仁 jin)
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 men at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, they go out of their way to find one.
Respect (礼 rei)
True warriors have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. Warriors are not only respected for their strength in battle, but also by their dealings with others. The true strength of a warrior becomes apparent during difficult times.
Integrity (誠 makoto)
When warriors say that they will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing what they say they will do. They do not have to ‘give their word’. They do not have to ‘promise’. Speaking and doing are the same action.
Honour (名誉 meiyo)
Warriors have only one judge of honor and character, and this is themselves. Decisions they make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom they truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.
Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)
Warriors are responsible for everything that they have done and everything that they have said, and all of the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to all of those in their care. To everyone that they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true.”
Make no mistake; there are zero living samurai among us today. Not here, not in Japan. Why then, do we martial artists grasp so strongly to the 7 principles of Bushido? It’s not because we secretly identify as modern samurai, or ‘bushi’. No, not for me anyway. Those principle of Bushido – The Warrior’s moral code – give us guidelines to live by. Not rules, not requirements, but guidelines that we, in the 21st century, can implement in our daily lives to simply become better versions of ourselves. Let’s face it, the world can do without another samurai uprising, along with the civil wars and power grabs that were so prevalent..but the world always needs better versions of us.