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Seven Principles of Bushido

The Seven Principles of Bushido

Bushidō (武士道) or “Way of the Warrior” is a term of common usage as of the late 19th century.  It describes a uniquely Japanese code of conduct adhered to by samurai since time immemorial, and loosely analogous to Western concepts of chivalry. Bushido encompasses a system of moral principles. It embodies a code of daily living for the samurai. Those instructed in the code are expected to discipline themselves according to it. The seven principles of budo are:

1.  Rectitude.  Correct judgment or procedure for the resolution of righteousness. “To die when it is right to die, to strike when it is right to strike.”

2.  Courage.  A virtue only in the cause of righteousness. Death for an unworthy cause was termed a dog”s death. “It is true courage to live when it is right to live, and to die only when it is right to die.”

3.  Benevolence. Love, affection for others, sympathy and nobility of feeling are regarded as the highest attributes of the soul. “Benevolence brings under its sway whatever hinder its power just as water subdues fire.”

4.  Politeness.  A poor virtue if it is actuated only by a fear of offending good taste. Rather it should stem from a sympathetic regard for the feeling of others. “In its highest form politeness approaches love.”

5.  Veracity.  “Truthfulness.” Lying was deemed cowardly, and it was regarded as dishonorable. Indeed the word of a samurai guaranteed the truthfulness of an assertion. No oath is necessary. “Propriety carried beyond bounds becomes a lie.”

6.  Honor.  A vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth is implicit in the word honor. “Dishonor is like a scar on a tree which time, instead of effacing only helps to enlarge.”

7.  Loyalty.  Only in the code of chivalrous honor does loyalty assume importance. In the conflict between loyalty and affection the code never wavers from the choice of loyalty. “A samurai was obliged to appeal to the intelligence and conscience of his sovereign by demonstrating the sincerity of his words with the shedding of his own blood.”

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