10 Great Samurai Sayings
These Samurai sayings represent one of the most important cultures and philosophies of all time. What’s more, the thing that made these warriors truly special was not their skills in battle. It was the principles and values that inspired them.
Some of the great fighters were also magnificent thinkers and writers. They were able to record the most important aspects of the world view that dominated their way of life. Thanks to those Samurais, today we have access to the knowledge and wisdom that they left behind.
“I know nothing about surpassing others. I only know how to outdo myself.”
Three of the most celebrated warriors were also the authors of many Samurai quotes. Their names are Yamamoto Tusunetomo, Inazo Nitobe, and Miyamoto Musashi. Let’s look at 10 of their most famous statements.
Samurai sayings by Miyamoto Musashi
Many samurai sayings invite you to sharpen your senses and make the most of them. This one says, “Observation and perception are two separate things; the eye that observes is stronger, the eye that perceives is weaker.” It was written by Miyamoto Musashi and it contrasts the value of looking with the value of seeing.
This saying emphasizes one of the focal points of eastern thought – don’t focus on yourself. Another saying is, “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.” In other words, don’t spend too much time on thoughts about yourself. Instead, use that energy to think about the reality you live in.
Combat is also a common theme in samurai sayings. This one states, “Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men.” This means that each time you defeat some weakness or fault in yourself, you are prepared to defeat others who have these same defects.
Sayings by Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Yamamoto Tsunetomo is another writer who expressed many Samurai sayings. In this quote, he is talking about the importance of beginning something with strength and energy. If you do this you will be able to maintain your spirit throughout. IT says, “If you launch without vigor, seven out of every ten of your actions will not reach their target.”
Another saying talks about the importance of challenges. It indicates that challenges, and the struggle to overcome them, are what fosters temperance of character. Yamamoto Tsunetomo says it this way, “It is good to face challenges in your youth. He who has never suffered will not sufficiently temper his character.”
Sayings by Inazo Nitobe
More than being an author himself, Inazo Nitobe is a great compiler of Samurai sayings. Many of these teachings are of unknown origin but reflect an incredible clarity and wisdom. This one, for example, talks about the relationship between courage and tranquility. Nitobe writes “The spiritual aspect of valor is evidenced by composure -the calm presence of mind. Tranquility is courage in repose.”
Another text talks about stoicism – the capacity to be strong in the face of pain. To be resilient and always considerate of others. It says, “The discipline of strength instills resistance without complaint, and also teaches courtesy. It demands that we not ruin the pleasure or serenity of others through the expression of our own sadness or pain.“
Another saying goes like this, “The benevolence was considered a sovereign virtue in two senses: sovereign among the multiple attributes of a noble spirit, and sovereign because it is particularly proper for the function of a sovereign.” The philosophy of the Samurai is particularly well-expressed in this quote. They never separate combat from the power of kindness and spiritual values.
In the book The Path of the Warrior or The Path of the Samurai, there are many wise affirmations. They all invite you to face life with courage and always keep your personal evolution in mind. Personal evolution happens inside you and then is reflected in the exterior. This book teaches us the art of good living.
One of the sayings in the book says, “When you give advice, you should first discern whether or not the other person is willing to accept it.” This is a valuable recommendation. It reminds us that you can’t help or guide anyone if they don’t want you to. Or, to say it in a more modern way, don’t give unsolicited advice.
Another saying goes like this, “If you embark on an uncharted path, infinite secrets will appear at the end.” This is a beautiful way to invite us not to fear new things or fear the unknown. Anytime you dive into something new, you will learn valuable lessons.
Samurais are portrayed in the movies as incredibly skilled warriors, and they certainly were. But they were so much more than that. Their attitude towards life was that of those who always strive to be better, and they saw spirituality as the path to achieve greatness.