As a world renowned classic, the book, “Man’s Search For Meaning” is famous for its insightful appraisal of human dignity and liberty.
Patricia J.Williams, author of “Seeing a Color-Blind Future: The Paradox” refers to Dr.Victor Frankl’s work as a “timeless formula for survival”. Apart from the book being a tribute to hope and the quest to find our purpose of life, this book is a reminder that each of us have the powerful gift of counselling ourselves in adverse circumstances. “Man’s Search of Meaning” compels us to reflect on the learning we gain in any situation and the responsibility of making the world we live in better through our learning from those experiences.
In his book, Frankl argues that we are never left with nothing if we use the freedom to choose to respond to the situation the way we wish to.This age old wisdom is what the Samurai, the ancient warriors from Japan too followed. Whether in life or in war, our response to the stimulus has a better desirable outcome if we are calm and we keep our mind focused and serene. By tranquility, alertness, sharpness and purpose is not forgotten but there is a conscious avoidance of anger and other emotions that can affect our judgement.
“Bushido” (in the Japanese language) or “Way of the Warrior” is the ancient code of conduct of the Samurai. They emerged during Japan’s medieval era, and rose in status and importance by the Edo period. The Samurai lifestyle and conduct were heavily influenced by the philosophy of Zen Buddhism. The virtues of ethical conduct, self discipline and respect were held with the greatest reverence, along with total allegiance to their master.
What makes the wisdom of these legendary warriors timeless is their principles and their belief regarding honour and chivalry. The principles they followed interestingly are practical for our existence in this modern era too. The values that these principles stand for are ones that can create a sharper sense of purpose in our existence, greater sincerity in our approach to life, heighten the value of the human relationships in our life and enhance the gratitude for life at large.
Some of the core principles that the Samurai followed as their way of life were –
This principle asks us a very relevant yet possibly disturbing question – Are we as righteous in our personal space as we appear to be in our social environment?
We are unable to ensure that people around us treat us the way we treat them, but what we need to realize is that each of us hold a powerful key to wiser living, The key is that we choose to treat people with our principle of integrity which is determined by us alone.
The word integrity stands for a complete adherence to moral principles and honesty. The Samurai believed in the concept of integrity to the level that they followed virtuousness as a way of life and existence. They would follow the principle of integrity in their personal life with the same passion as in their social life.
The reverence or respect for life stems from the veneration for the power and position the Samurai holds. The choice to vanquish or defeat is a choice that has to be made with great attention, diligence and care. In our case, as members of society, each of us have a responsibility to respect others and their differences. Through the learning we gain in the process, we stand to become the best version that we can be.
The Samurai realized that the noble power they held, placed them in a position of responsibility and respectability in the society. Their decisions were greatly dependent on the wisdom of unbiased and objective judgement. The outcome of their decisions and actions even more so, since it affected the lives of many. Thus, their intrinsic respect for humanity helped them make the right decisions in a situation.
In our life, if we, like the Samurai thought of the impact of our actions in a larger perspective, our actions will not be just beneficial for our well-being but will positively affect the environment we are a part of.
The Samurai epitomized reliability, sincerity, and faith in their conduct. Trustworthiness required them to be dependable and their spoken word to be relied unconditionally. The quality of our relationships and our life is so dependent on our authenticity. Can we be depended on in terms of our commitment or a promise we make? Can our word be held with a certainty that what we utter shall be followed with the desirable action?
Yamoake Tesshu, one of Japan’s greatest Samurai warriors, who was also a statesman, calligrapher, philanthropist and swordsman, once said,
“As a Samurai, I must strengthen my character; as a human being I must perfect my spirit”
If we reflect on optimizing our learning from the wisdom of the past and include their value in our life, there is much that can do to improve and “perfect” our own human spirit.
The legendary Samurai continue to fascinate and inspire generations from all over the world for not just the principles they held dear but for their indomitable fearlessness, discipline and courage. Their lives symbolized the nobility of their beliefs and conduct and in the process, awaken many to enlightenment and empowerment.