True Bushido Code

True Bushido Code
True Bushido Code

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hagakure: The way of the Samurai (True Bushido Code)


Hagakure: The way of the Samurai is the essential book of the Samurai. Written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, who was a Samurai in the early 1700s, it is a book that combines the teachings of both Zen and Confucianism. Tsunetomo's views on bushido, the warrior code of the samurai. Hagakure is sometimes said to assert that bushido is really the "Way of Dying" or living as though one was already dead, and that a samurai retainer must be willing to die at any moment in order to be true to his lord.

Hagakure was not widely known during the decades following Tsunetomo's death. However, it received wider circulation at the start of the 20th century, and by the 1930s had become one of the most famous representations of bushido thought in Japan. Hagakure remains popular among many non-Japanese who are interested in samurai culture. It is also frequently referred to as The Book of the Samurai and was featured prominently in the 1999 Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

You can purchase the book through Amazon, or download the pdf here.

These philosophies are centered on loyalty, devotion, purity and selflessness, and Yamamoto places a strong emphasis on the notion of living in the present moment with a strong and clear mind. The word Hagakure literally translates as hidden beneath the leaves and also fallen leaves. Perhaps it was named this because at the time that it was written, the way of the samurai was becoming obsolete.

The Hagakure has been rewritten in modern terms by one of Japan’s famous writers, Yukio Mishima. His own views were very similar to those of Yamamoto, particularly the philosophy of cultivating the self. His characters all had self sufficiency in common, and did not rely upon anyone else for completion.

Although the Hagakure was written centuries ago for a breed of warriors that no longer exist, the philosophies and wisdom within are still practical, even in our modern times.

7 comments:

Mai said...

Your link to download the pdf of the Bushido Code seems not to be working.

However, perhaps you can help me.

I am trying to track down this quote:

The average warrior goes into battle afraid of death.
The good warrior goes into battle with no fear of death.
The superior warrior goes into battle already dead.


Any ideas?

The Doctor said...

Mai. I am no expert of any degree, yet I have through much meditation. Understanding of the samurai have come to know what this means. The average warrior fears death for he knows too little of duty, yet he understands it with a feeling that if he shall die. It will not be the one he wishes. Not fully able to grasp that which bears most fruit leaving it under ripe. The good warrior knows his purpose which will in turn make him reflect on his life. It will pass judgement of his self toward him making him see that a welcomed death that he wishes for in battle. Expecting it with no clear understanding missing the real purpose of the art . He has let the fruit become over ripe with prolong meant, missing the part of what makes it sweet. The superior warrior asks not for death, nor does he wish life. Instead he understands what his duty means, is in all essence. He knows that life is as turbulent as the seas surrounding his home. As subtle as the forest before a fire, as well as after one. He is the swift wind and gentle breeze. He is not afraid of death for he knows what he has done on this physical plane has granted him honor, for himself and those he will one day leave behind. Neither will he seek death knowing them it is not a death for a samurai. Samurai means "to serve" which makes his sought death not serviceable. Instead this hasty death is a breaking of his oath to his lord, as well as his country, his people. Death only comes to him when all is fated to be. When a warrior does his part he is then allowed to die in the honor that he is best befitted when time decides him to die. No man can control his fate nor can he master the most essential death of honor. So the superior warrior is not the best of fighters, he is the wisest of warriors. Able to understand that it is the will of the universe that he is part of, not the samurai who makes the universe part of him.
I hope this helps Mai.

Mai said...

The Doctor. Yes, your exposition on this triane is enlightening.

Do you have any idea where the lines were first written? I had thought "The Art of War" or some other Chinese writings, but they actually seem to have a more Japanese taste to me, for some reason.

Mai said...
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Mai said...
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Mai said...
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Mai said...

And now I see that some of my replies went through and I didn't know it. Life's like that, eh? I'll be joyful if they are deleted.