Zen Way to the Martial Arts
Bushido, the way of the samurai, grew out of the fusion of Buddhism and Shintoism.
This way can be summarized in seven essential principles:
These are the seven principles
underlying the spirit of Bushido, Bu--martial arts; shi--warrior; do
- Gi: the right decision, taken with equanimity, the right attitude,
the truth. When we must die, we must die. Rectitude.
- Yu: bravery tinged with heroism.
- Jin: universal love, benevolence toward mankind; compassion.
- Rei: right action--a most essential quality, courtesy.
- Makoto: utter sincerity; truthfulness.
- Meiyo: honor and glory.
- Chugo: devotion, loyalty.
The way of the samurai is imperative and absolute. Practice, in the body,
through the unconscious, is fundamental to it, thus the enormous importance
attached to the learning of right action or behavior.
Bushido has influenced Buddhism, and Buddhism has influenced Bushido; the
elements of Buddhism found in Bushido are five:
Before the Second World War Zen Master Kodo Sawaki used to lecture the greatest
masters in the martial arts, the highest authorities of Budo. In English "martial"
arts is confused with "arts of war," but in Japan there is only: the way. In the
West the "martial arts" are a fashion, they have become an urban sport, a technique,
and have none of the spirit of the way.
- pacification of the emotions;
- tranquil compliance with the inevitable;
- self-control in the face of any event;
- a more intimate exploration of death than of life;
In his lectures Kodo Sawaki would say that Zen and the martial arts had the
same flavor and were the same thing. And in both Zen and the martial arts, training
counts for a great deal.
How long do you need to train? Many people have asked me, "How many years
do I have to practice zazen?" And I answer, "Until you die." They're not very
happy with that answer. In the West people want to learn fast; some people think
once is enough: "I came once and I understood," they say.
But the dojo is not like a university.
In Budo, too, you have to practice until you die.
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