Asceticism Is The Way To Power

Samurai Philosophy

This is a chapter from the e-book Samurai: Legend by A. R. Berg

  • Can someone lacking in courage say that he lives to the fullest? Certainly not, for only courage allows us to do what we really want, what has to be done. Fearlessness makes us feel like we are living on the highest plane of existence. Courage is also a prerequisite of sincerity. If it is missing, life is an illusion filled with lies. Therefore, without courage, one cannot be accomplished or free.

    buddha warrior art
    Buddha in the ocean of blood by T. Berg (print & painting)
    || All Artwork

    Freedom, however, does not imply permissiveness. According to Bushido, a samurai must be able to deny himself many things and strictly follow the ethical and moral obligations he has set for himself. Unless one lives an ascetic life, he will become weak and dependent on many debasing and irrational things. Life is often defined by the power of things, not people. After all, people live among things, are controlled by things and ultimately, they outlast us. People fight to possess things, but in fact, things possess people. Avoiding this means seeing things as they really are, and maintaining a sensible austerity declares one’s independence from illusion.

    The samurai consciously denied themselves many possessions in order to weaken their dependence on them and purify their lives. Every day, they strove to remove excesses and have an ascetic lifestyle which included speaking laconically (poetically), and using small tea houses with thousands of Buddhas unseen by the naked eye. They owned few simple, but tasteful, things. Austerity and fine aestheticism were part of the true samurai lifestyle and their art of living; they embodied dignity and the victory of the spirit. Living sensibly and constantly perfecting oneself is a kind of art, which is why the samurai lifestyle is so attractive. Sometimes perfection can be observed in a single detail, like the way a single petal gives an impression of a flower’s aroma.
    The samurai art and philosophy may therefore be likened to white chrysanthemums whose every petal multiplies their beauty.

    An important aspect of the samurai’s way is that he consciously subjects his life to strict... read further in the book


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    This is part of a chapter from Samurai: Legend by A. R. Berg
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