Samurai Philosophy

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

  • Do not fail
    To learn from
    The pure voice of an
    Ever-flowing mountain stream
    Splashing over the rocks.
    Ueshiba Morihei

    Sincerity is the end and beginning of things; without Sincerity there would be nothing.

    God detests filth. To comprehend supreme truths, a samurai must be impeccable, for one day he will perish but the Ideal will remain.
    Purity, a concept that recalled flowers, the piquant mint taste of a mouthwash, a child clinging to its mother’s gentle breast, was something that joined all these directly to the concept of blood, the concept of swords cutting down through the shoulder to spray the air with blood.

    And to the concept of seppuku. The moment that a samurai “fell like the cherry blossoms”, his blood-smeared corpse became at once like fragrant cherry blossoms.
    Mishima Yukio, Runaway Horses

    Life is as thin as a thread. This awareness makes one’s life pure. A warrior should be selfless in action and wholesome in thought. By purifying his mind, he cleanses himself of malicious emotions. Lifelong spiritual practice is the warrior’s path towards Purity.

    There are three ways to pure a warrior’s heart, and they are loyalty, integrity and courage. If your heart is full of vicious intentions, loyalty will pure it. Integrity may also pure your thoughts.
    There is one more secret: if vice is so engrained in your mind that neither loyalty, nor integrity are capable of coping with it, recourse to courage and strain every nerve.
    Then you will see that you became perfect.
    This method of warrior’s heart purification is kept back from general knowledge and is passed by word of mouth from generation to generation.
    Daidoji Yuzan

    Ascension by T. Berg (print & painting)
    || All Artwork

    Isao was always thinking of death, and this had so refined him that the physical seemed to fall away, freeing him from the pull of earth and enabling him to walk about some distance above its surface. Indeed he felt that even his distaste and hatred for the affairs of the world no longer stirred him deeply.
    Mishima Yukio, Runaway Horses

    Loyalty is the refuge from sorrow and illusion. Love and loyalty have the same source. If you smell the stench of treachery, leave immediately.
    Prince Toin recalled a passage from The League of the Divine Wind that Isao must have read with keen appreciation, applying it to himself: “Most of them did not take to refinement. They loved the moon shining on the banks of the Shirakawa with the love of men who believed that it was the last harvest moon they would see in this life. They prized the cherry blossoms like men for whom this spring’s blossoms were the last that would ever bloom.” The hot blood of such young men made the forty-five-year-old regimental commander’s heart stir excitedly within his breast.
    Mishima Yukio, Runaway Horses

    Samurai’s romantic ideal of death:

    “… But let me ask you this: what do you wish for more than anything else?”
    This time Isao was silent. He had been keeping his eyes fixed upon the Lieutenant’s, but now he turned them slightly away. His glance went from the damp wall to the tight-fast window of ground glass. That was as far as he could see. He knew that beyond the close-worked lattice of the window was a thick curtain of rain. Even if the window had been opened, there would have been nothing but rain in view. Still Isao seemed about to speak of something that was not close at hand but far off.
    When he spoke, though his voice stammered slightly, his words were bold:
    “Before the sun . . . at the top of a cliff at sunrise, while paying reverence to the sun . . . while looking down upon the sparkling sea, beneath a tall, noble pine . . . to kill myself.”
    Mishima Yukio, Runaway Horses

    A lotus emerges from mud, but when it grows it is spotless. This is why it has become the symbol of Enlightenment. Every samurai was raised to be a lonely hero who was conscious of his death. He learned to govern himself, and this gave him a robust personality and impenetrable courage, making him equal to gods.
    Be wise and strong as a dragon that hides in seclusion drinking spring water and bathing in the sun’s pure energy. Freedom is in the Spirit, high above the clouds where the dragon flies.
    When a crystal is ground to perfection, nothing sticks to it. A Warrior must refine himself to become as pristine as a crystal. Purity, fatal and beautiful, the inspiration of poets, the treasure of a warrior’s heart... read further in the book


    Back to the Blog

    This is part of a chapter from Samurai: Spirit of the Warrior by A. R. Berg
    samurai books

You may also like:

Samurai jisei

Jisei: death poems


Takeda shingen and uesugi kenshin

Takeda shingen and uesugi kenshin


miyamoto musashi samurai books

Miyamoto musashi