One family member was a little puzzled by the name of my blog. This person knew the samurai as butchers who had a medieval culture and code of ethics.
To be frank, I mostly named the blog this because I thought it sounded cool. But there was a little bit of deeper meaning intended behind the word “samurai”.
At risk of stating the obvious, I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence. As Isaac Asimov put it “violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
However, below are some of the samurai values that I personally like. I’m not trying to push these values on other people, but I wanted to explain myself to those who are interested.
Note: the only Bushido philosopher I have read is Yamamoto Tsunetomo. I don’t claim to be an expert on Bushido, and I am aware that there are other interpretations of the philosophy that I’m not familiar with and thus can’t comment on.
1) Service to a greater good. For the samurai, this meant protection of their feudal lord. For me, this translates to looking out for the interests of my family, my community, and my fellow humans.
One thing I admire about the samurai was how seriously that they took this commitment to the lord: so seriously that they would happily sacrifice life and limb for what they saw as the greater good.
2) Ichinen. Roughly translated as “single-minded resolve”.
3) Third, constant and lifelong self-improvement (this is the essence of the current tagline of this blog, “less dumb than yesterday”).
4) Strong-headedness. This is one thing that to me differentiates the samurai from other armies. Hagakure 1-106 tells of a samurai who disobeyed the orders of his lord because he did not believe them to be in the lord’s best interest. To me, this shows that a good samurai is free thinker. They didn’t disobey orders just to grandstand, but they weren’t afraid to do what they thought was right.
5) Dissonant feelings about craving glory… Hagakure 1-43 tells the story of a samurai who was only motivated by reputation and thus acted sanctimoniously. On the other hand, Hagakure 1-154 warns about the danger of becoming conceited if you do not care enough for your reputation.
These are some qualities of the samurai that I admire.