The Ways of the Warrior
Zen practitioners of martial arts observe the following seven cardinal principles* of ethics and morality even in the middle of a deadly war. These principles are testament to courage, honor and righteousness. The way of the warrior or Samurai is equally appropriate for ordinary human beings to conduct the business of life efficiently, ethically and harmlessly. If we can observe these principles in our daily life, our mind will be tranquil and rested and we shall not be regretful of having done something wrong.
It is an active meditation which we should carry on even in the middle of a market place, business-dealings, trying to iron out relationship problems at home or work. They are:
Justice: It precludes any dishonesty or deceit. This attribute is the mainstay of all the spiritual traditions and reminds us of the power of transparency and fairness towards other people. More than that, it demands that we become honest towards our self and make a sincere effort to know our own self.
Courage: Based on serenity, experience and vigilance, it encompasses both moral and physical aspect of courage. Spiritual courage is little different than being outright brash or reckless. This demands a careful yet generous approach towards life and fellow human beings. Being and acting courageous points towards recognizing the necessity of doing the needful irrespective of its consequences.
Benevolence: It includes magnanimity, love, and sympathy. Once we embark upon a spiritual journey, it is the persistent training of the heart which leads us toward freedom and big-heartedness. A warrior’s way is to be generous and fair at the same time as he is shrewd and smart on the battlefield. This attribute can be developed only with consistent spiritual training and development of solid ethical foundation.
Politeness: It is essential for the refinement of body and soul. Though politeness may sound contradictory to the life of a warrior, yet it is an essential part of the training through which he develops the need to be humble and polite even in the face of a real enemy. More so, when we are polite yet firm, negative forces of anger or abrasion do not eat away the vitals of our spirit.
Veracity: A warrior does not give written promises. His utterances are promises. A true warrior speaks less but whatever is spoken is tantamount to a written promise. Such state of being comes with the deepening of spiritual training, cementing of resolve and knowledge of one’s own self.
Loyalty: Being faithful is an important quality even in our general life. It shows an essential quality of the person and to what extent one is committed to the values and the cause he/she professes. Its importance cannot be overstated whether it is in a war or at home while building relationships with our family members or peer group.
Honor: The warrior’s way is such that nothing is done or practiced which would have the potentiality of bringing dishonor to the practitioner or to the whole tradition. The same tenet is applicable even in general life. Any dishonorable act can besmirch our soul and spiritual life and push us into emotional and spiritual limbo.
All these above-mentioned tenets are equally important to ordinary people as they are to a warrior. In fact, life is a battle in which we have to be very careful as to what sort of strategies we choose to play. If our strategies are flawed, are smacks of injustice, lack fairness, including disloyalty, dishonor and indifference, then, sooner or later we will have to bear the fruit which will be of our own choice.
We must bear the responsibility for our actions and deeds.
* Murphy, M. (1992). The future of the body. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.