Lesson: Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not a living at all. A true Warrior must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is living life completely, fully and wonderfully.
Meditation: Heroic courage is not blind. It is intelligent and strong.
Musings: One must be careful not to confuse courage with recklessness. Those who blunder into perilous situations seemingly oblivious to the danger or the consequences of their actions are not brave – they are negligent. Those who know the risks but go ahead anyway, with callous disregard to what happens to themselves or those around them are not courageous – they are reckless. The truly brave are not foolhardy; they are keenly aware of the dangers and consequences because they have thought them through. The courageous are not without fear, for fear is a powerful and important check on our actions. Rather, the valiant overcome their fears and subdue them in the service of a greater good. Once committed, the true Warrior fights with tenacity, intelligence and strength. Strength is physical prowess and marshaling such prowess to defeat and destroy one’s enemy. Courage is rooted in self-sacrifice.
The samurai philosopher, Tsunetomo Yamamoto, held that the essence of bushido is to die. Courage, bravery, valour at that level of commitment, even at the cost of one’s own life, was the classic archetypal quality of the samurai.
The text I use for the Lesson and Mediation come from the Bushido Seven page on the website of the Traditional Karate Centre in Wilmette, IL, USA. They own the copyright. The rest of the essay is compiled from my own meagre musings on the subject.
On the first Friday of each month, I hope to post another Samurai Value. Traditionally, there are seven bushido virtues in all, so if everything goes as planned, this will take us from June to December.