Instagram YouTube Facebook Tumblr
Books about Bushido, Samurai Art, A. R. Basov Home ||| Blog

Call of Death

While living
Be dead,
Be absolutely dead
And do whatever you want.
Everything will be fine.
– Bunan

The Gates of death are always nearby, every moment, at a distance closer than hairbreadth, and the Warrior does not forget about it. But the nearness of death is the most important stimulus to live fully and sincerely.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.
– Lao Tzu

Life is evolution, and if there is none, death comes. When you stop improving yourself, you will die.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The complete reality reveals itself on the verge of destruction. That is why to live, exist, and participate in reality means to die.
– Mishima Yukio

The fear of death rules people. A warrior must get free of the fear of death by any means possible.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The Way of the Warrior is based on deliverance from the fear of death.
– Yagyū Munenori

By becoming fearless, the Warrior crosses the Rubicon of life and death, acquiring the fullness of existence unavailable before.
Without fearlessness, integrity of life is inaccessible.
This idea seems incredible, but it is really so… The objective is to conceive the essence of the fundamental concept of fearlessness, an absolute fearlessness of existence…
The higher the risk and the closer death is, the more potent is the thrill a man has. Rummaging in personal experience anyone would recall the moments of utter bliss, an astounding invigorative pureness that taking risk offers.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If one's thought has attained the inborn awareness of the good and truly reached the Great Vacuity, then if the physical body that envelops it is destroyed, it will return in an instant to eternally omnipresent Great Vacuity.
The sage does not despise the death of the body but the death of the spirit.
– Ōshio Heihachirō

A samurai must know how to die the right way and not cling to life. Thoughts and words are pure, and the soul is free of fear.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

A truly brave man is ever serene; he is never taken by surprise; nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit. In the heat of battle he remains cool; in the midst of catastrophes he keeps level his mind. Earthquakes do not shake him, he laughs at storms. We admire him as truly great, who, in the menacing presence of danger or death, retains his self-possession; who, for instance, can compose a poem under impending peril or hum a strain in the face of death.
– Nitobe Inazō

Death is the principle of the highest order for a samurai; it is the source of spiritual power, the citadel of his unwavering Spirit. Death will never fail you. It helps a samurai to follow the Way.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Death comes to all – the great and the small.
Death reaches you without taking into account if you are prepared to meet it or not. But not all people are prepared for the fact of death. However you are inclined to think that you will outlive everybody. It deceives both you and others. Death stalks you before you know it. Facing death be sure that you meet it fully prepared.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo

By overcoming the idea of death, the samurai developed another view of the world. They acquired the gift of self-perfection given only to those who have overcome death in their consciousness. This is Bushi-Do.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If a samurai always looks in the face of death, he will not be attached to things and will become a worthy man.
– Daidōji Yūzan

Only in the face of death can one become a real man.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Those who cling to life die, and those who challenge death live.
The most important thing is consciousness. Look into your consciousness and strengthen it, then you will understand that there is something inside you that is beyond birth and death, something that does not burn in fire or sink in water…
A man who does not want to give up life and fall into the embrace of death is not a true warrior.
– Uesugi Kenshin

Death itself is not important for a warrior, but the determination to die any moment at his own will.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The central focus for a samurai is death. However peaceful an epoch is in which a samurai lives,
death is always the main driving force for him, and if a samurai is afraid of, or avoids death, he ceases to be a samurai.
– Mishima Yukio

Death is the central point of the Bushi-Do philosophy that calls to channel all your thoughts and acts through the prism of death.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If you look into the depth of the samurai's heart … The Way of the Warrior is the love of ("inclination toward") death.
– Miyamoto Musashi

With irony bordering on contempt, samurai treated the fear of death, as their famous saying proves: "Do you really love life that much?"
© A. R. Basov, "Legend"

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Death is the principle of the highest order for a samurai; it is the source of spiritual power, the citadel of his unwavering Spirit. Death will never fail you. It helps a samurai to follow the Way.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

A samurai should lie neither in his actions nor in his heart. A real samurai should meet death in a more tranquil state of mind than usual. This is where the difference between a samurai and common people lies.
– Mito Mitsukuni

He who understands death overcomes death. He begins to realize that there is something beyond death.
A man has something in him of which he is unaware…
The main principle that the warrior should follow day after day states: you must live and die according to the Way of the Samurai.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

For the man who would be a warrior, regardless of high or low rank, his very first consideration should be the quality of the moment of his physical end, when his fate runs out. No matter how clever or good at talking a man seems to be, if in his final moments he is so panicky that he loses consciousness or otherwise faces his end poorly, all his former good behavior well become as water. Such a man will be scorned by people of understanding, and this will be a great shame.
– Daidôji Yûzan

Death is the summit, the highest point in one's life, the gate into a new life. A samurai must walk to his death joyously, his eyes wide open, without looking aside, keeping the spirit firm and thoughts clear until the last moment. Like no one else in the world, he must be ready for his death and regard it with love.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Daily contemplation of death helps one live. If we live every day with the thought that it could be the last day of our lives, we notice that our actions become filled with joy and meaning.
– Mishima Yukio

He is the warrior who practices bravery, having eliminated fear in himself.
The Warrior has broken free from the desire to live and the fear of death.
The Warrior does not want to live, he just lives.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Thus, the Way of the Samurai is, morning after morning, the practice of death.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo

A samurai should maintain both inner and outer purity. His appearance and habits should be the embodiment of orderliness and immaculacy. Every morning after washing a samurai puts on clean clothes and is physically ready for death.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If a man does not investigate into the matter of Bushido daily, it will be difficult for him to die a brave and manly death.
– Katō Kiyomasa

The Warrior feels the appeal of risk and intuitively starts understanding that the spirit calls him to death.
The spirit calls to death!
Death becomes desirable, because the Way of Risk leads to it, because death is the Gate…
A paradoxical and sublime yearning for death grows in the soul of the Warrior. All samurai refer to this fact. Few people understand the source of this hidden irrational yearning. It is that same “hidden by leaves,” the secret love of Yamamoto Tsunetomo…
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Prohibit the taking of omens, and do away with superstitious doubts. Then, until death itself comes, no calamity need be feared.
– Sun Tzu

To die properly a man shall at first understand deeply what for and how he should die.
Enjoy life, but be capable of leaving it at any moment.
You cannot calculate your life any further than the time needed to take one breath.
Not the death itself is important for a warrior, but determination to die any moment at his own will.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The Way of death is the following: a man may die calmly if he has been faithful to the Way all his life.
– Daidôji Yûzan

The samurai had a tradition of a beautiful death in a most glorious moment of life, the moment of victory and triumph…
It was a magnificent death indeed.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The samurai must be the color of cherry blossoms, even in death. Before committing suicide the custom was to put on rouge not to look pale. Thus, the samurai moral dictates to set his appearance in order before death not to disgrace himself in the eyes of the enemy. But how much more important this precept is while a man is alive and mingles in the society, where appearance has the highest value!
– Mishima Yukio

The mental state at the moment of death defines the subsequent rebirth. The spirit chooses the material shell that it enters. This is why it is said that the spirit sets up the form.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Martial arts Masters of the past taught that a samurai must comprehend the truth of life and death. Karate-Do and other varieties of Martial arts seek liberation from the thought of life and death.
– Ōyama Masutatsu

Beyond the limits of life and death there is another reality that a warrior faces at the moment of combat.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will be alive; wish to survive in the battle and you will surely meet death.
– Uesugi Kenshin

It is hard for anybody to break free from the idea of death. It's a professional duty for a warrior. The idea of death is an obstacle. Overcome it!
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The wise look beyond the bounds of death…
– Nicholas Roerich

Dying in one dimension means being born in another. The borderline between being and non-being does not exist; non-being is the formation of being, being is the formation of non-being, and all of this taken together is the eternal movement to perfection that is unattainable in its absolute, but life persistently moves towards it. It is the philosophy of brave people at all times.
The ancients called the living "the wanderers" and the dead "the returned".
Death is the return to the place we came from when we were born.
Have you ever felt the fear that you had not existed before you were born? Why, then, are you afraid to go back to the place from which you came?!
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The fear of death is something that appears only with the moment of birth:
since there is flesh, there is consciousness of danger of its ruin. The absence of fear of death is a quality that precedes birth.
Alienation from the flesh can make one feel this quality of death for the first time ever.
Thus, a person, in his fear of death, should discover the truth of fearlessness towards it.
The deep meaning of that is that a person comes back to his innermost essence that existed before he was born.
– Mishima Yukio

Life is evolution, and if there is none, death comes. When you stop improving yourself, you will die.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

If quick, I survive.
If not quick, I am lost.
This is "death".
– Sun Tzu

Even if you hide underground a thousand steps deep, death will find you if your time has come.
Cowardice attracts misfortune. The brave despise danger, and it avoids them.
Accordingly, legendary warriors rarely died in battle. The power of spirit is the most reliable protection and one should always remember it.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

We had set out in a rain of flowers to seek the death of heroes. The war was our dream of greatness, power and glory. It was a man's work, a duel on the fields whose flowers would be stained with blood. There is no lovelier death in the world...
Anything rather than stay at home, anything to make one with the rest.
– Ernst Jünger

A Samurai shall maintain both inner and outer purity. All his appearance and habits shall be the embodiment of orderliness and immaculacy. Every morning after lavation a samurai puts on clean clothes and is physically ready for death.
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

A real warrior must always be ready to meet his death. He must always be prepared to lose his life without hesitation at any moment.
Fear blinds the mind and paralyzes willpower. A warrior needs deliberate and calm determination, a mind free of illusions, and will harder than metal.
Do not mind pain; meet your death as if you do it every day, samurai!
This is the true Way of the Warrior.
– Daidōji Yūzan

A samurai must be learning constantly, perfecting himself, following the Way of Ascension until the last moment of his life. Even death is not an obstacle for him. One renowned samurai said, “I am getting older, but I learn all the time!”
This is the Way!
Use every day of your life!
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

Life itself is always a trial. In training you must test and polish yourself in order to face the great challenges of life.
Transcend the realm of life and death, and then you will be able to make your way calmly and safely through the crisis that confronts you.
– Ueshiba Morihei

A samurai welcomes death and is joyous that he is given a chance to die…
Death is not a sunset but a sunrise! A samurai walks towards the dazzling sun of death…
© A. R. Basov, "Spirit of the Warrior"

The death of blossoms;
is not something to grieve on;
but the way of things.
– Asakura Sōteki



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

avaliable as an eBook (for Windows, Android, iOS) and a hardcover book (pre-order only).


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!

Copyright 2000-2021 Alexey R. Basov, Tatiana Basova. All rights reserved.

Follow us on:

Russian page

[an error occurred while processing this directive]