Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Perfect Warrior in Bushido Thinking

I attended a lecture on bushido today. It was on what is the image of the perfect warrior in bushido thinking. When one brings up the topic of the perfect warrior in Japan, there may be some who will think about historical figures like Takeda Shingen, Uesugi Kenshin and Miyamoto Musashi. In bushido, the perfect warrior is not just one who is highly skilled in martial arts. He is someone who is also compassionate and kind and skilled in the fine arts. Why?

Bushido believes that the person who is not afraid of death is a strong warrior. I don't think anyone can dispute that. After all, if a person is willing to be killed just so that he can also cut you down, he is quite likely to be able to achieve what he sets out to do (ie. cut you down). But what makes a person able to disregard his own life in the pursuit of his goal?

That is when the pursuit of the fine arts come in. When a warrior pursues the fine arts, he learns to appreciate beauty, he learns to appreciate that the beauty of the things around him do not come by easily. A calligrapher may take only minutes to write a calligraphy piece, but he had to practise years before he could make each piece a work of art. A warrior skilled in the fine arts is thus able to appreciate the difficulties of life, and that brings about compassion and kindness in him. He is able to appreciate beauty and the value of life.

And thus when he can convince himself of his goal being bigger than the value of his life, he is no longer afraid of dying, and that makes him a very dangerous opponent. It is similar to what I have written before about being ready to accept defeat.

Thus, it is not enough to just train everyday in the martial arts. The perfect warrior must also devote time to studying the fine arts and learn to appreciate the beauty in the things around him and the wonders of life.

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