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Samurai Code

Be devoted to the lord.
Be respectful towards your parents.
Be brave in battle.
Be scrupulous when killing living beings.
Do not be afraid to die.
These are the main principles of Bushi-Do.


A man whose profession is the use of arms should think and then act upon not only his fame, but also that of his descendants. He should not scandalise his name forever by holding his one and only life too dear.
– Shiba Yoshimasa

In Japanese, gishi literally means ‘decent person’ – the highest title indicating the proficiency in an art or skill.
This is the name given to warriors who follow the Law of Giri.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If you are able to see the good and bad sides of people, you will always hold true to your high principles.
–  Yamamoto Tsunetomo

A true moral is the ray of Enlightenment.
The samurai are the rulers, the enlightened warriors whose principles are intertwined with their destiny. Leaders from all eras can learn from the samurai and their simple belief that every person honorably fulfils their predetermined duty. If you are a ruler, be honest. If you are a bodyguard, give your life to protect your master. If you are a merchant, be decent.

Cast aside the lies, and truth will triumph.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Precious metals and jewels are not necessarily treasures. Rather, one should consider his samurai and the common people as his wealth and bring them up with gentleness and benevolence.
– Kuroda Nagamasa

The samurai were obliged to assist and protect the people, even at the expense of their own lives.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The samurai were established with the function to protect the three classes from disasters caused by the robbers and thieves, and were placed above the other members of society. There is no doubt that the function of the warrior is to bring peace of mind to the other members of society. Thus, it is unreasonable for men called warriors to act in unjust and excessive ways towards the other three classes. This goes without saying for those of high rank, but also concerns men of lower status.
– Daidōji Yūzan

A person with a bit of wisdom is one who will criticize the times.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo

A samurai is born to bring about prosperity for others and must use his power towards this end.
All problems should be solved according to giri – the sense of moral duty and honor.

A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

It is difficult to call a man who does not understand duty a warrior.
– Daidōji Yūzan

If a goal is not worth sacrificing your life, it is a false goal.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Lord Ieyasu said, “The foundation for ruling the country in peace is compassion, for when one thinks of the people as being his children, the people will think of him as their parent.” Moreover, can’t it be thought that the names "group parent" and "group child" [i.e., group leader and member] are so called because they are attached to each other by the harmonious hearts of a parent-child relationship?
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Honor cannot be measured mathematically!
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Money is money and loyalty is loyalty. These are completely different things.
Money is for financial matters, and loyalty can be preserved only by seppuku. That is all.
– Mishima Yukio

An ideal samurai is one who has never touched money.
This is an unrealistic expectation in today’s world, but important to keep in mind nevertheless.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

I do not need gold and silver. One cup of rice a day is quite enough for life.
– Sōhō Takuan

Even if he needs to hide behind a mask, a samurai’s moral foundation does not allow him to humiliate himself by lying, which is considered a weakness. Keeping silent is acceptable, but not lying. Likewise, it is advisable to remove yourself from a situation rather than act if acting leads to error.
A samurai knows when to attack and when to retreat. Either way, he is calm, conscious, and courageous.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Reward without merit is an unfair gift that inflicts misery.
– Zhuo Zhuan

A warrior should always adhere to the principle of austere simplicity. He must not be enslaved by worldly goods or acquire material excess that waste one’s time and energy. He must not be overburdened with muscles or his spirit is serving his body and not the other way around. Ascetic hedonism means enduring hardships stoically and knowing how to enjoy life. Being moderate enables a man to overcome hardships and pursue goals without being overwhelmed by minor burdens that rule most people’s lives. It is foolish to make life primitive by equating it with the pursuit of delights and satiation of animal instincts. This is how a man becomes a puppet, he essentially cuts himself off from his consciousness. The Way of the Samurai is simplicity in everything, character development, and accumulation of Force. Knowing how to enjoy life makes it even more abundant. A combination of asceticism and hedonism is a rare, but truly noble quality.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Whether a man becomes good or bad, clever or thick-witted, is simply a matter of the way he uses his mind.
In this uncertain world, ours should be the path of discipline.
– Shiba Yoshimasa

Having power requires responsibility. Serving society is the most difficult duty, and the ruler who honestly fulfills it is remarkably successful. But even perfection is tainted by the imperfect. This is why a micro-scale lifestyle of isolation and concentration was popular among samurai.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The purpose of coming into the world is to accomplish one's duties.
– Sakamoto Ryōma

It may seem paradoxical that, while serving society the foundation of their Way and ultimate duty, many Masters lived in solitude, sometimes in a complete isolation. Absorbed in self-development and self-perfection, a wise man avoids confrontation and seeks harmony with the world; achievable only by the sovereign and self-sufficient.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

One should always be genteel in his speaking. A man shows his inmost self by a single word.
– Hōjō Nagauji

The most significant life is the one lived on the basis of a personal sense of justice and the desire to see justice realized everywhere.
– Ōyama Masutatsu

Rulers do not always act in accord with the Laws of Heaven and may persuade a warrior to do deplorable things. A samurai must be ruled by his conscience first; otherwise he will be nothing more than a bloody tool trapped in immoral hands. Ultimately, samurai serve only one Shogun– the Heavenly one.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

One must never be perfidious to his master. In the Lun Yu it says: “One should act according to the way even in times of haste. One should act according to the way even in times of danger. It says further: 'When one is serving his master, he should exert himself.”
– Takeda Nobushige

If you will take it into your mind to be sincere in throwing away your life for your master, you will not have the slightest fear or trembling even with the advent of innumerable impending calamities.
– Torii Mototada

A warrior-sage lives according to supreme laws and is indifferent to man-made rules.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Although the words "parent" and "lord", "filial piety" and "loyalty" are different, in the sincerity of the mind they are one.
– Daidōji Yūzan

One of the samurai’s core principles is loyalty. To remain loyal and dignified, a samurai must first be devoted to his principles. Because he is proud, he abides by one law above all others – honor. Since loyalty is a matter of honor for a samurai, he meticulously weighs all details before swearing his allegiance and will only serve one master. It is a matter of self-respect, because a samurai ultimately serves his principles, not people. Serving the ideal is the core of Bushi-Do.
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If a loyal samurai sees that his lord has fallen under the influence of a bad man – a flatterer and a hypocrite – and nothing can change his lord's opinion, the samurai must report this to higher ranking retainers and kill such a man, while being ready to accept the responsibility and commit seppuku.
– Daidōji Yūzan

No matter whether a person belongs to the upper or lower ranks, if he has not put his life on the line at least once he has cause for shame.
– Nabeshima Naoshige



Live judiciously, for you are born to be a human being!
A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

 

 

All quotes are taken from
the book "Samurai. Spirit of the Warrior" by A. R. Basov

avaliable as an eBook
(for Windows, Android, iOS)

 




I will not get lost...
The North Star is shining in the darkness...
The road to Valhalla, straight like a sword, is always in front of me!

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