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#351138 - 08/05/07 10:20 AM Re: a definition of budo [Re: caltrop]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
I'm no expert on the subject either, but like most everyone else contributing on forums - I still have an opinion anyway

the 'willingness to die' idea was an imperial Japan WWII invention. It was a extremists perversion of 'bushido code' that was propagandized to their own soldiers/people in a form of brainwashing leading to kamikaze and dare-to-die justification.

Along the same lines of any extremist group which warps ideals of popular doctorine in order to further their own agenda. sound familiar?

From my reading, pre-Meiji Samurai ideals promoted fearlessness, honor and shrewd tactics - not suicide IN battle. A distinct difference - but you can see how the ideal can be molded.

back to with bushido ideals, the definition of Budo is dependant upon the time period. Today's everyday Budoka has more internal battles than external threat. Hence, some say, the difference between Bu-Do vs. Bu-Jutsu. however, some argue that both views have always complimented and contain each other.

It's through the external training, that a Budoka gets to their internal battlefield. ...but I don't think you need the term 'Budo' to do that - no need to get caught up in foreign terms which could lead to romanticism (maybe the difference between 'lusting' vs 'loving' an Art?).
Anyone who challenges themselves and perseveres is fighting the same battles, regardless of what they call it.

like I mentioned...just my take on the subject.

#351139 - 08/05/07 05:00 PM Re: a definition of budo [Re: Ed_Morris]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
I would defer to Musashi's "Book of Five Rings"...
"It is said the warrior's is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability he can be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way. Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. Although not only warriors but priests, women, peasants and lowlier folk have been known to die readily in the cause of duty or out of shame, this is a different thing. The warrior is different in that studying the Way of strategy is based on overcoming men. By victory gained in crossing swords with individuals, or enjoining battle with large numbers, we can attain power and fame for ourselves or for our lord. This is the virtue of strategy. "

and this commentary:

Resolute acceptance of death
This idea can be summed up as the philosophy expounded in Ha Gakure or "Hidden Leaves", a book written in the seventeenth century by Yamamoto Tsunenori and a few other samurai of the province Nabeshima Han, present-day Saga. Under the Tokugawas, the enforced logic of the Confucius-influenced system ensured stability among the samurai, but it also meant the passing of certain aspects of Bushido. Discipline for both samurai and commoners became lax. Yamamoto Tsunenori had been counsellor to Mitsushige, lord of Nabeshima Han, for many years, and upon his lord's death he wanted to commit suicide with his family in the traditional manner. This kind of suicide was strictly prohibited by the new legislation, and, full of remorse, Yamamoto retired in sadness to the boundary of Nabeshima Han. Here he met others who had faced the same predicament, and together they wrote a lament of what they saw as the decadence of Bushido. Their criticism is a revealing comment on the changing face of Japan during Musashi's lifetime: "There is no way to describe what a warrior should do other than that he should adhere to the Way of the warrior (Bushido). I find that all men are negligent of this. There are few men who can quickly reply to the question "What is the Way of the Warrior?" This is because they do not know in their hearts. From this we can see they do not follow the Way of the warrior. By the Way of the warrior is meant death. The Way of the warrior is death. This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death. It means nothing more than this. It means to see things through, being resolved. Sayings like "To die with your intention unrealized is to die uselessly", and so on, are from the weak Kyoto, Osaka Bushido. They are unresolved as to whether to keep to their original plan when faced with the choice of life and death. Every man wants to live. They theorize with staying alive kept in mind. "The man who lives on when he has failed in his intention is a coward" id a heartless definition. That to die having failed is to die uselessly is a mad point of view. This is not a shameful thing. It is the most important thing to the Way of the warrior. If you keep your spirit correct from morning to night, accustomed to the idea of death and resolved on death, and consider yourself as a dead body, thus becoming one with the Way of the warrior, you can pass through life with no possibility of failure and perform your office properly.
"The servant must think earnestly of the business of his employer. Such a fellow is a splendid retainer. In this house there have been generations of splendid gentlemen and we are deeply impressed by their warm kindness... all our ancestors. This was simply abandoning body and soul for sake of their lord.
"Moreover, our house excels in wisdom and technical skill. What a joyful thing if this can be used to advantage.
"Even an unadaptable man who is completely useless is a most trusted retainer if he does nothing more than think earnestly of his lord's welfare. To think only of the practical benefit of wisdom and technology is vulgar.
"Some men are prone to having sudden inspirations. SOme men do not quickly have good ideas by arrive at the answer by slow consideration. Well, if we investigate the heart of the matter, even though people's natural abilities differ, bearing in mind the Four Oaths, when your thinking rises above concern for your own welfare, wisdom which is independant of thought appears. Whoever thinks deeply on things, even though he may carefully consider the future, will usually think around the basis of his own welfare. By the result of such evil thinking he will only perform evil acts. It is very difficult for most silly fellows to rise above thinking of their own welfare.
"So when you embark upon something, before you start fix your intention on the Four Oaths and put selfishness behind you. Then you cannot fail.
"The Four Oaths: Never be late with respect to the Way of the warrior. Be useful to the lord. Be respectful to your parents. Get beyond love and grief: exist only for the good of man."

While it is archaic, it is my understanding of Budo and how Bushido fits into it.

Edited by wristtwister (08/05/07 05:25 PM)
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

#351140 - 08/05/07 09:57 PM Re: a definition of budo [Re: wristtwister]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
The commentary is the archaic part. just to add a thought -

'acceptance of death' is much different from seeking death. That is, if every warrior sacrificed himself in every battle - then the war wouldn't last too long. it's strategically inferior (in a conventional battle setting) to indoctrine suicide as a policy. nonconventional warfare is another story....but we are talking about rows of samurai facing each other and clashing. fearless, for sure. trying to die? no.

today, Japanese would say that committing suicide for failing is the cowards way out. living with and learning from mistakes is much harder to do. 180 degree shift in the intepretation of budo/bushido, yet the spirit of it remains intact.

#351141 - 08/05/07 10:24 PM Re: a definition of budo [Re: Ed_Morris]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
What gets left out of that equation is that warriors only sought death as a "good" death... meaning that they died gloriously and honorably in service to their masters. Culturally, it was important for them to die with honor, and not bring shame on their families.

The rules for ritual suicide were pretty clear, and there were choices where doing one thing was dishonorable, yet suicide to prevent yourself from having to do it was honorable. It isn't simply that they "sought death", they simply had rules to determine whether it was a good death or not.

"The Last Samurai" was a movie that portrayed how Bushido worked in the Japanese culture pretty well. There were no illusions about right and wrong, and it was clear that the sellouts in the movie were traitors to their own people. While it was necessary for the Japanese to leave the feudal system and join the modern world, the movie portrays a pretty good indication of how painful the change was... for the Samurai were reduced to having no station in the society, where they were once the rulers of the provinces and villages.

It was their sense of honor that made them great.

What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

#351142 - 08/05/07 11:29 PM Re: a definition of budo [Re: wristtwister]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
understood, but the lasting image many have of 'bushido' isn't Tom's the WWII kamikaze - and my only point is that Samurai were not kamikazi yet both drew from the same code. clearly there was a difference in interpretation of it.

#351143 - 08/05/07 11:55 PM Re: a definition of budo [Re: Ed_Morris]
eyrie Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/28/04
Posts: 3106
Loc: QLD, Australia
Nothing in life is ever truly black or white... merely different shades of gray...

#351144 - 08/06/07 03:16 AM Re: a definition of budo [Re: eyrie]
Bushi_no_ki Offline

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1669
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
How about a modern soldier's perspective. I joined the military, in a time of war, expecting to deploy. Now, that keeps getting pushed back, but I know the likelihood of me seeing combat is high. Therefore, an acceptance of death is necessary to me. I could be killed in a combat situation. Obviously, Budo and Bushido today have to have a different meaning for most people in the modern world, as preparing to die in a knife fight is just plain wasteful, but the spirit of Budo does live on in the hearts of today's military personnel, regardless of nationality.

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