Having a code of honor these days is probably less trendy than in the past. However living our values is critical for integrity both at the personal and the collective level. Weaknesses in integrity will lead to a shortage of self-confidence and motivation, poor relationships, a lack of meaning and direction, disrespect of any living creatures and ultimately an unfulfilled life. In this post, I share with you the eight virtues of bushido, the code of honor and morals developed by the Japanese samurai.
Bushidō (武士道, “the way of the warrior”) is an overarching term for all the codes, practices, philosophies and principles of samurai culture (including samurai attitudes, behavior and lifestyle).
The bushidō code is typified by eight virtues according to Nitobe Inazō in the Meiji Period (1900).
1. Righteousness (義, gi)
Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself. To the true warrior, all points of view are deeply considered regarding honesty, justice and integrity.
Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.
2. Heroic Courage (勇, yū)
Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A true warrior must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is living life completely, fully and wonderfully.
Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.
3. Benevolence, Compassion (仁, jin)
Through intense training and hard work the true warrior becomes quick and strong. They are not as most people. They develop a power that must be used for good. They have compassion.
They help their fellow men at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise, they go out of their way to find one.
4. Respect (礼, rei)
True warriors have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. Warriors are not only respected for their strength in battle, but also by their dealings with others.
The true strength of a warrior becomes apparent during difficult times.
5. Honesty (誠, makoto)
When warriors say that they will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing what they say they will do. They do not have to ‘give their word’. They do not have to ‘promise’.
Speaking and doing are the same action.
6. Honour (名誉, meiyo)
Warriors have only one judge of honor and character, and this is themselves. Decisions they make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of who they truly are.
You cannot hide from yourself.
7. Duty and Loyalty (忠義, chūgi)
Warriors are responsible for everything that they have done and everything that they have said and all of the consequences that follow. They are immensely loyal to all of those in their care.
To everyone that they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true.
8. Self-Control and Self-improvement (自制, jisei)
Self-control, or in other words discipline, is an essential character trait. Having the capacity not to react hastily, under constant duress, is very important. Without it, people will make rushed decisions and act, when restrain would be more beneficial. Warriors are prone to mistakes in judgments and actions, when emotions override rational decision-making.
Only through focusing on mastering their art a true warrior can emerge. It can be achieved through restraint, loyalty to the principles despite suffering, striving for the ideal model while facing any inconvenience. A warrior needs to practice his art-form every waking minute, always trying to find some aspects of his techniques to be improved. Even if it’s a small one, it’s worth it, because across time these little gains might be the deciding factor in a life and death situation.
Choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them. – Brené BROWN on integrity
Tell me in comments what are the main core values of your code of honor, and how you live them on a daily basis.