The Bushido Code: The Way of the Warrior

“Bushido” is a Japanese word which translates as "military scholar road" used to describe the way of the samurai. It originates from the samurai moral values and principles which put emphasis on compassion, benevolence, honor, and other qualities of true manliness.

Bushido was first used in Japan during the 17th century and has been into common use after the publication of Nitobe Inazo’s “The Soul of Japan” in 1899. In this bestseller, Inazo interprets the samurai code of behavior which serves as a guide on how chivalrous men should act in their personal and professional lives.

The Bushido Code is composed of Eight Virtues outlined as follows:

1.     Rectitude

Rectitude is known as the strongest virtue of Bushido. It is defined as the power to make unwavering decisions which is in accordance with reason. It is the bone that gives firmness and stature.

2.     Courage

Courage is defined as the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. But according to the code, courage can only be useful when exercised with correct morals.

3.     Benevolence

The samurai, which possesses the power to destroy and kill, is also expected to exercise acts of kindness. Known as the highest attribute of the human soul, benevolence is an important virtue which maintains the balance between violence and hatred, and love and mercy.

4.     Respect

Respect is having the understanding of treating people and things the appropriate way. It is considered as the expression of a benevolent regard for the feelings of others. It is a great feeling to be respected, and providing the same is just as rewarding.

5.     Honesty

Honesty refers to a facet of moral character which connotes positive attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness. The Samurai was always thought of as someone who does not lie. There are even tales about those who were put to death by violating this virtue. It’s amazing how the Samurai didn't see the need for written contracts as that would only indicate doubtfulness of their word.

6.     Honor

Honor is said to be an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual. The Samurai holds the highest regard for honor as they have lived and died for it. As Nitobe would put it, “Fear of disgrace hung like a sword over the head of every samurai”.

7.     Loyalty

During the reign of the Samurai, loyalty was thought of as being more valuable than life itself. In our world today, loyalty has been a rare virtue, and is oftentimes used with all the wrong motives. “But only in the code of chivalrous Honor does Loyalty assume paramount importance”.

8.     Character

The teachings of Bushido encourage men to behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic. He is expected to know the difference between good and bad and what is right and wrong. It is also his obligation to teach his children moral standards by making his own behavior the primary pattern.

Reinforcing the Bushido code throughout our daily activities is definitely helpful in improving the quality of our lives physically and mentally. They say chivalry is dead, but the Bushido Code will always be a reminder that it is not. And for those who follow, remember that all you have is utmost advantage.