Bushidō has been influenced heavily by buddhism, confucianism, shintoism, and zen over the centuries.
Bushidō holds justice, benevolence, love, sincerity, honesty, and self-control in utmost respect. Justice is one of the main factors in the code of the samurai. Crooked ways and unjust actions are thought to be lowly and inhumane. Love and benevolence were supreme virtues and princely acts. Samurai followed a specific etiquette in every day life as well as in war. Sincerity and honesty were as valued as their lives. Bushi no ichi-gon, or "the word of a samurai," transcends a pact of complete faithfulness and trust. With such pacts there was no need for a written pledge; it was thought beneath one's dignity. The samurai also needed self-control and stoicism to be fully honored. He showed no sign of pain or joy. He endured all within--no groans, no crying. He held a calmness of behavior and composure of the mind neither of which should be bothered by passion of any kind. He was a true and complete warrior.
From Buddhism, bushidō gets its relationship to danger and death. The samurai do not fear death because they believe as Buddhism teaches, after death one will be reincarnated and may live another life here on earth. The samurai are warriors from the time they become samurai until their death; they have no fear of danger. Through Zen, a school of Buddhism one can reach the ultimate "Absolute." Zen meditation teaches one to focus and reach a level of thought words cannot describe. Zen teaches one to "know thyself" and do not to limit yourself. Samurai used this as a tool to drive out fear, unsteadiness and ultimately mistakes. These things could get him killed.
Shintoism, another Japanese doctrine, gives bushidō its loyalty and patriotism. Shintoism includes ancestor-worship which makes the Imperial family the fountain-head of the whole nation. It awards the emperor a god-like reverence. He is the embodiment of Heaven on earth. With such loyalty, the samurai pledge themselves to the emperor and their daimyo or feudal landlords, higher ranking samurai. Shintoism also provides the backbone for patriotism to their country, Japan. They believe the land is not merely there for their needs, "it is the sacred abode to the gods, the spirits of their forefathers . . ." (Nitobe, 14). The land is cared for, protected and nurtured through an intense patriotism.
Virtues of Bushidō Edit
The virtues of bushidō are what guide the samurai. They virtues are the motivation that made the samurai the warriors they are.
Seven of the virtues that are most common to a samurai are:
- 義 – Gi – Rectitude
- 勇 – Yū – Courage
- 仁 – Jin – Benevolence
- 礼 – Rei – Respect
- 誠 – Makoto – Honesty
- 名誉 – Meiyo – Honor/Glory
- 忠義 – Chūgi – Loyalty
Some samurai chose to follow different virtues that are either added or replace others:
- 忠 - Chū - Preservation of ethics
- 智 - Chi - Wisdom
- 悌 - Tei - Care for the aged