Bushido

  • Bu-shi-do: military-knight-ways
  • Author
    • Nitobe (1862-1993) married a white woman, Mary. Was Under-secretary General of the League of Nations.
    • Born into a high-ranking samurai family
    • joined the Society of Friends (Quakers)
    • He visited a Belgian scholar who asked “how do Japanese teach moral education to young people if there’s no religious instruction”
      • he couldn’t answer, but the question lingered… after many years he realized it was Bushido
    • Russo-Japanese war in 1904-1905
  • Introduction
    • “Chivalry itself is the poetry of life”
    • sunbeams of unrecorded time
    • gradual cumulation and slow attainment of harmony is the law
    • bushido not an embalmed mummy but a living soul
  • Ethical system
    • stars still shine on us though they are not; light of chivalry is a child of feudalism
    • long period of constant warfare
    • fair play in fair fight
  • sources
    • buddhism – quiet submission to the inevitable (vv: vs do not go quietly into that good night?)
    • Zen, Dyana – attempt to attain through meditation zones of thought beyond normal verbal expression
    • delphi – know thyself
    • Shintoism teaches samurai to be balanced and passive rather than arrogant
      • no original sin– innate goodness and godline purity of the human soul
    • confucious
      • master/servant (governing/governed)
      • father/son
      • husband/wife
      • older/younger brother
      • friend/friend
    • knowledge becomes really such only when it is assimilated into the mind of the learner and shows in his character/behavior. an intellectual specialist = machine. intellect itself subordinate to ethical emotion. (counter of Huxley’s idea that the cosmic process was unmoral)
    • ample food for their spirit from a sheaf of commonplace and fragmentary teachings, gleaned as it were on the highways and byways of ancient thought, stimulated by the demands of the age
    • french savant: towards the middle of sixteenth centure, all is confusion in japan, govt, society, church. civil wars, barbarism, necessity for each man to execute justice for himself– formed men comparable to 16thcentury italians (??)… grand capacity to do and to suffer. militant and resistant. uhhhh
  • Rectitude/justice
    • decision. deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering– to die when it is right to die, strike when to strike is right.
    • bone that gives firmness and stature. without bones the head cannot rest atop the spind, without rectitude neither talent nor learning can make a samurai of a human frame.
    • giri = duty. love should be the only motive. moral obligation. giri is a severe task master, birch-rod in hand to make sluggards perform their part. secondary power in ethics, as a motive it is infinitely inferior to love, which should be THE law (… Watts =?)
    • “i help you because I love you” is superior to “i help you because i’m obligated because it is my duty and i wish to avoid shame for not doing my duty”
  • courage, daring, bearing
    • doing what is right. Heart. “death for a cause unworthy of dying for = dog’s death”.
    • Stories of military exploits were repeated almost before boys left their mother’s breast.
    • “What a coward to cry for a trifiling pain! What will you do when your arm is cut off in battle? What when you are called upon to commit hara-kiri?”
    • “For a samurai, when his stomach is empty, it is a disgrace to feel hungry.”
    • Children of tender age sent amount utter strangers with some message to deliver, made to rise before the sun, attend to their reading exercises before breakfast, walk to teaches with bare feet in the cold of winter, once or twice a month spend the night without sleep, reading aloud. Pilgrimages to execution grounds, graveyards, haunted houses, etc. Small boys sent to witness public decapitations,and sent to visit alone at night to leave a mark of their visit on the head.
    • Spiritual aspect of valour – composure – presence
    • true brave man is ever serene, never taken by surprise, nothing ruffles the equuanimity of his spirit
    • heat of battle he remains cool, level mind. smiles in earthquakes and storms.
    • poetry in death. assassin: “ah, how in moments like these, our heart doth grudge the light of life”, victim “had not in hours of peace, it learned to lightly look on life.”
    • what a game.
  • benevolence, distress
    • virtue is the root, wealth is the outcome
    • kings are the first servant of the state – frederick
    • difference between a despotic and paternal government is this: in one the people obey reluctantly, in the other they do so with proud submission, dignified obedience, subordination of heard which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of exalted freedom
    • the bravest are the tenderest, the loving are the daring. bushi no nasake– tenderness of a warrior.
    • mercy where mercy was not a blind impulse, but recognized due regard to justice, backed with power to save or kill. effectual. power of acting for the good or detriment of recipient.
    • sad and tender melodies
  • politeness
    • genuine concern and affection for others
    • approaches love
    • adherence to everchanging fashions of the West – ceaseless search of the human bind for the beautiful
    • grace is the most economical manner of motion
    • most economical use of force
    • most graceful
    • the end of all etiquette is to cultivate your mind that even when you are quietly seated, not the roughest ruffian can dare make onset on your person
    • fine manners -> power in repose
  • veracity/sincerity
    • veritas
    • measure the worth of your words
    • is sincerity subjective?
      • the end eand beginnings of all things
    • “call one a thief and he will steal”
    • “the merchant was placed lowest in the category of vocations – the knight, the tiller of the soil, the mechanic, the merchant. “
    • Montesquieu – the debarring of the nobility from mercantile pursuits was an admirable social poliy, prevented wealth from accumulating in the hands of the powerful. seperation of power and riches
  • honour
    • most valuable in small, tightly knit communities where veryone knows everyone
    • othello
    • “in losing the solidarity of families”, says balzac, “society has lost the fundamental force which montesquieu named Honour”
    • “shame is the soil of all virtue, of good manners and good morals”
  • duty of loyalty
  • education & training of samurai
    • chivalry is uneconomical
    • ‘it is by riches that wisdom is hindered’
    • ‘luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood
    • severest simplicity of living was required of the warrior class
    • it is the parent who has born me, the teacher who has made me a man
  • self-countrol
    • regret nothing ~ accept everything ≠ feel nothing
    • pre-empt criticism and manage it artfully
  • suicide & redress
    • socrates / hemlock
    • apologize for errors, escape disgrace, redeem friends, prove sincerity
    • refinement of self-destruction, cool and composed
    • “an honorable death”
  • sword & soul
    • It insults the sword to draw it to appease one’s wounded ego, but it is equally insulting to leave it sheathed in the face of injustice. Defiance and anger is justified when it for a cause greater than yourself. (Does this justify terrorism? Not in the suicide-bomber sense. It would be the equivalent of drawing your sword to slaughter your enemy’s children. Dishonourable.)
  • training and position of woman
    • surrender
    • “self-renunciation, without which no life enigma can be solved”
    • “until we learn to discriminate between differences and inequalities, there will always be misunderstandings about this subject”
    • japanese men speak poorly of their families because they are being humble…?
  • influence of bushido
    • virtues are no less contagious than vices
    • bushido not just the flower of the nation but the root as well
    • “men have divided the world into heathen and Christian, without considering how much good may have been hidden in the one or how much evil may have been mingled with the other. They have compared the best part of themselves with the worst of their neighbours, the ideal of Christianity with the corruption of Greeece or of the East. They have not aimed at impartiality, but have been contented to accumulate all that could be said in praise of their own, and in dispraise of other forms of religion.”
  • is it still alive?
  • future
    • decay of chivalry
    • shintoism is supperannuated
    • “the decay of the ceremonial code… the vulgarization of life… among the industrial classes… chief enormities of latter-day civilization”
    • “If history an teach us anything, the state built on martial virtues– be it a city like Sparta or an Empire like Rome– can never make a “continuing city”. Universeal and natural as is the fighting instinct in man, fruitful as it has proved to be of noble sentiments and manly virtues, it does not comprehend the whole man. Beneath the instinct to fight there lurks a diviner instinct – to love. (Warrior King Magician Lover)
    • The Kingdom Of God Is within you
    • “The domineering, self-assertive, so-called master-morality of Nietsche”
  • http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/bsd/

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