The 7 Lessons of Bushido, the Way of the Warrior

· June 7, 2018

This way of the warrior, or bushido, talks about a code of honor that applied to samurais. It has a series of principles, but above all there are the seven values that should dominate your behavior. They say that members of the leading class were taught it at very early ages.

Anyone can enter the toughest battle and die. This is easy for a common thug, but for a samurai true determination is in impartiality, and true virtue is knowing to live when you must live, and to die when you must die. 

-Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu-

The way of the warrior is also known as the samurai code. There are principles of Buddhism, Confucianism, and other Eastern philosophies in it. And it’s still a valuable guide for our lives. Here are 7 of the virtues and lessons it prioritizes.

1. Courage, a necessary virtue for being free

According to the way of the warrior, you can only be free when you have courageCourage is what allows you to live fully, without being tied down by fear. You have to be brave to decide to act, and especially when it comes to the big things.

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Courage isn’t blind fearlessness. For it to be true courage it also has to come with intelligence and strengthThe fear is there, but you shouldn’t let it overcome you. Instead, you should replace it with caution and respect. And that’s when true courage shows up.

2. Never be discourteous

In the way of the warrior, courtesy isn’t just a bunch of friendly gestures or good manners. It’s actually a virtue that has really strong ties to a respect for other people, even your enemies.

Above all, courtesy is respect and considerateness for the other person, no matter the circumstances. That means never being cruel, or making unnecessary shows of power or strength. It’s a virtue that shows character and a lot of internal strength.

3. You should always be compassionate

You should use whatever strength and power you have for the good of all. That’s what the way of the warrior tells us, and it also says there’s a huge value to solidarity. This is one characteristic that it includes as a part of strength.

Compassion isn’t just a feeling, it should also lead to concrete actions. Anytime you can help someone, you should. And if you don’t have the ability to help them, you should always try and find a way.

4. Justice above all

The way of the warrior says there’s no grey area with justice. According to this ancient wisdom, what is just comes simply from defining what is proper and setting that apart from what is not. The proper receives praise and the improper receives punishment.

Being just means trying to always act properly. That means it shouldn’t depend on what other people say, it should depend on you. Everyone knows in their heart what’s just and what’s not. So you should only follow your own guiding light.

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5. Loyalty belongs to strong, noble spirits

What a person says or does is completely part of them. That’s why the consequences will be theirs too. So you should always feel a big sense of responsibility before you speak or act. 

Above all, loyalty means being loyal to yourself. It’s the ability to be consistent. Along those lines, it’s also a commitment to stick to the things you say. And loyalty only belongs to the strongest, noblest spirits.

6. Your word and your honesty

A samurai’s word means a lot to them. They don’t speak just to speak, or talk just to talk. That’s why the way of the warrior says that words are completely equal to actions. When you say something it’s like you’ve already done it.

This philosophy gets rid of the value of a promise. It’s not necessary. It’s enough to say you’ll do something, and that’s a commitment to doing it. This is only possible for people who are completely honest with themselves and everyone else. 

7. Honor brings human beings higher

According to the way of the warrior, the greatest virtue of all is honor. Being honorable means acting with integrity, no matter the situation. Doing what you should and sticking to your values, without worrying whether other people will approve of it or not.

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Honor goes along with the respect you feel for yourself. This means not letting yourself fall into unethical or disgraceful behavior. Honor is so important in this philosophy that if you lose it,  the only way to get it back is by taking your own life.

The most interesting part of the way of the warrior is that even though it’s such an old ethical code, the values it puts forward are still around. The world would be a different place if we used these valuable samurai principles in every conflict, or every confrontation.