The secret of the Samurai warrior

One of the mysteries that surrounds Japan is the mystery of the Samurai. There are books on it like: Hagakure: Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (Hagakure is a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo). There is something in the samurai figure that enchants readers.

Does this ancient and distant Samurai has something to offer for a person of today? Well the answer is: mainly a way to combat. A way to fight, a way to win a battle without becoming broken inside. A way to connect to great forces until the end of the battle.

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The history of the samurai

In the 14th century the first schools for the training of samurai in the Aikido way, the way of the sword – were open. They were soldiers and warriors, but with the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate, at the beginning of the 16th century, the conditions and the culture of the samurai went through a change.

They were amongst the most trained warriors in the world. The samurais specialized in few weapons; a bow and an arrow, spear, sword and more, they were also very trained in unarmed combat, but the sword became their dear weapon.

A samurai sword

The sword was the soul of the warrior, he sleeps with it, eat with it, and never would he will be found without it.

The use of the sword was an art work of the samurai, and creating one sword could take many months.

Every samurai invests all his body and soul in creating his sword. The creation of the sword is a fable for the design and the polishing of his warrior’s consciousness.

The sword is a symbol for the awakened consciousness, from this respect the awakened consciousness is like a sword, in that (that like a sword), it could be shining, bright, quick and cruel. It has got in it the combination of the speed of light with the precision and sharpness of a laser beam.

The samurai saw in his sword the sublime balance between the opposite forces of distraction and creation, war and peace.

There is of course the known and low side of the samurai, and this is the soldier that fights physically in service of his master. But there is also the higher and hidden side, which takes place in the battle field of consciousness.

Here the war is between two consciousness (high and low), and not between two bodies. And in this level the samurai should take care that his consciousness will be polished and sharp, but also stemming and coming out of a sea of peacefulness.

For the samurai the sword is a weapon that it’s purpose is to destroy what blocks the perfect Zen. But if he becomes too enchanted by the physical power which is in it, then he will become a prisoner of his own enchantment.

This self-enchantment is called in Buddhism: Maya (In Indian philosophies, Māyā is a spiritual concept connoting “that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal”, and the “power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality”) It is self-illusion which can stop spiritual advancement.

 

The Zen philosophy of the samurai:

The most important influence on the tradition of the samurai was the introduction of Zen, this took place between 1192-1933, much of the philosophy and thought of the life of the samurai is based on the Zen way of thinking.

Zen is a way of life without defined borders that ripens through years of discipline, instruction and training.

The study of Zen is not a study of facts and external study, but an internal experience study.

To begin the journey the searching samurai must find a master that would take him under his wings and will teach him. The teaching is done through two parameters; one is relating to the personal life of the young samurai, and the other is done through observation of the young samurai the life style of the master; how he drinks his tea, how he is sneezing, how he writes a letter – in all this there is Zen, and the more it is a daily thing, so does the Zen of the master is more present. The student needs to discover this Zen of the master and then he wins something which is much more precious than an intellectual lesson.

The way to the Zen is through riddles; Koans, (Koans are various procedures attempting to lead to higher states of being or consciousness. The purpose of koan is to help the individual escape himself from thinking and the constraints of the rational mind) not solutions).

Zen does not deal in religious beliefs, God, or life after death, it deals in inner focusing, in finding the God within, and this is done by release from the world which is outside the warrior.

What the samurai learns personally, as a consciousness warrior, is: directness, simplicity and relying on oneself.

The samurai needs to be with stoic peace that is coming to expression in his nerves which are as made from still. He needs to be versatile without being weak, and hard without being too rigid.

In battle, the samurai uses Zen not only to guide him to the path of victory, but also to turn the winning tools which are in the hands of the opponent, to be used for his own defeat.

Zen for the monk is a way of life, for the samurai the Zen is a way for high concentration (under extreme circumstance).

To be in Zen says that you do all from the unknown and this in order to polish the consciousness

The samurais of consciousness were generally Zen students, and at the heart of Zen was the meditation that developed a peace of mind, which is vital for the samurai when he stands in front of countless threats from the outside (human beings) and the many threats coming from his inner world (demons). Inner peace is the life giving mother, without her and without returning to her from the wars outside, the samurai would have been falling apart.

Inner peace is the home to which one returns tired and crushed, there they relax, get purified and gather strength.

Without this inner peace he would lose his concentration, his consciousness will depart and he would fall back to sleepy consciousness.

The heritage of the samurai is of cultured killers; from one hand they were very officiant as warriors, and from the other hand they were very learned and fine.

This combination of killing and high consciousness is being expressed in the great importance they gave to self-respect. If a samurai lost his honor, it is better for him to kill himself: Seppuku, in Japanese.

 

Quotes on the Samurai:

 “Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate. Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this. A real man does not think of victory or defeat. He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.”
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“Bushido is realized in the presence of death. This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death. There is no other reasoning.”
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“Respect, Honesty, Courage, Rectitude, Loyalty, Honour, Benevolence”
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of no use whatsoever. The saying that “All abilities come from one mind” sounds as though it has to do with sentient matters, but it is in fact a matter of being unattached to life and death. With such non-attachment one can accomplish any feat.”
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

“In china there was once a man who liked pictures of dragons, and his clothing and furnishings were all designed accordingly. his deep affections for dragons was brought to the attention of the dragon god, and one day a real dragon appeared before his window. it is said that he died of fright. he was probably a man who always spoke big words but acted differently when facing the real thing.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“No matter if the enemy has thousands of men, there is fulfillment in simply standing them off and being determined to cut them all down, starting from one end.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“If one has no earnest daily intention, does not consider what it is to be a warrior even in his dreams, and lives through the day idly, he can be said to be worthy of punishment.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“Even if it seems certain that you will lose, retaliate.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

 

“Strategy is the craft of the warrior. Commanders must enact the craft, and troopers should know this Way. There is no warrior in the world today who really understands the Way of strategy…. It is said the warrior’s is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways.
Students of the Ichi school Way of strategy should train from the start with the sword and long sword in either hand. This is a truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn.
In strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everday life you should be determined though calm. Meet the situation without tenseness yet not recklessly, your spirit settled yet unbiased.
If the enemy thinks of the mountains, attack like the sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack like the mountains.
If we watch men of other schools discussing theory, and concentrating on techniques with the hands, even though they seem skillfull to watch, they have not the slightest true spirit”.

Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645)
A Book of Five Rings (pg. 37, 45, 53, 80, 83)

 

“Because of some business, Morooka Hikoemon was called upon to swear before the gods concerning the truth of a certain matter. But he said, “A samurai’s word is harder that metal. Since I have impressed this fact upon myself, what more can the gods and Buddhas do?” and the swearing was cancelled.
It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything that is called a Way. Therefore, it is inconsistent to hear something of the Way of Confucius or the Way of the Buddha, and say that this is the Way of the Samurai. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own.
A person who is said to be proficient at the arts is like a fool. Because of his foolishness in concerning himself with just one thing, he thinks of nothing else and thus becomes proficient. He is a worthless person.”

Tsunetomo Yamamoto (1659-1719)
Hagakure (pg. 43, 50, 51)

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Biliography:

Bottomley and Hopson – Arms and Armor of the Samurai
Musashi, Miyamoto – A Book of Five Rings
Nitobe, Inazo – Bushido: The Warrior’s Code
Turnbull, Stephen – The Book of the Samurai – The Warrior Class of Japan
Wilson, William Scott – Ideals of the Samurai
Rati, Oscar and Westbrook, Adele – Secrets of the Samurai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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