Lessons from life of a Samurai

The world of martial arts is truly a thrilling one, isn’t it? Those movies with ninjas, mighty warriors and samurais give me an adrenaline rush. The swordfights are gripping ones. But above all , the Samurais for some inexplicable reason have always fascinated me. No they aren’t mere characters we see on the screen or hear tales of.

They are a jewel in Japan’s glorious history. The real warriors, whose lives had a deeper meaning beyond protection of the royalty. A life built upon the philosophy of Bushido. (Righteousness, couragebenevolence, respect, honesty, honour, and loyalty). Their lives hold the secrets of becoming a real warrior.

Here are major takeaways from the life of a Samurai. 

  • State of staying calm: The Samurais laid emphasis on cultivating a calm mind. A mind, wherein there is no room for anxieties and nor the fear of death.  In the words of samurai Miyamoto Mushashi, “Most important battle is to overcome yourself”. A calm mind is the ultimate weapon against all your enemies. When the Samurais can stay calm in the face of death, then why can’t we in midst of a challenging situation? Controlling your mind is the first step towards becoming a modern day Samurai.
  • Turning obstacles into opportunities: The story of Samurai Minamoto No Tametomo is an inspiring one. Born with a genetic deformity, his arm was 6 inches longer than others. But did that stop him from becoming a Samurai? Absolutely No!! He turned this “perceived” shortcoming into his strength and went on to become one of the finest Samurai archers. So the next time you feel like whining how unfair life is, just shift your focus. Today’s weakness might turn out to be your greatest strength tomorrow. So stop complaining when life hands you lemons, instead focus on the lemonade.
  • Dedication:  The Samurais had an unwavering dedication towards their duty. And mind you, unlike us their dedication wasn’t short lived. They committed their entire lives towards the single purpose of serving Japan.  The legendary Samurai tales are a testimony of how these warriors could pierce an arrow through large rocks with sheer devotion. They were so resolute in their purpose that upon facing defeat they chose to commit Seppuku(die with honour rather than fall into the hands of their enemies). Honour and purpose weighed far more for a Samurai than his own life. Do contemplate when was the last time you were so dedicated towards your life, relationships and self growth? If not, then find your calling and chase it like a Samurai.
  • Growth Mindset: Remember that scene in karate Kid wherein Jackie Chan tells Jaden Smith to pick up his jacket a thousand times over as a part of his martial arts training?

The above picture carries the essence of Kaizen (Japanese philosophy of change for the better” or “continuous improvement.”) The Samurais were masters of the art of repetition. Learning new techniques and practicing them until they attainted perfection. They trained relentlessly, preparing themselves for battles. Even the master Samurais instead of being consumed by pride, always strived for becoming better than the previous day.  And here we are, basking in the false glory of “knowing it all”. Remember, like desires there is no end to learning. So let’s learn, repeat and grow!

  • Comparison with self: Samurai Tshkara Bokuden quoted “My art is different from yours. It consists not so much in defeating others but not being defeated”. These words resonate deeply in the world today wherein we compare ourselves with colleagues, friends and random people on social media robbing our inner peace. We defeat the very meaning of our own existence in the process of comparison. So like Samurais let’s water the garden of our minds instead of letting the weeds of comparison to grow.
  • Acceptance towards life: The Samurais were mindful of their lives and actions. Unlike others, they weren’t caught in the quest for worldly success nor did they fear death. They accepted both happiness and sorrow with equal calm. They sought nothing outside themselves. The Samurais knew that there lies a powerful force inside us and it is the same force that drives our surroundings. Samurai Miyamoto Mushashi quotes “Get beyond love and grief. Exist for the good of humanity”.So instead of chasing material pursuits, let’s take a step towards becoming more accepting of our lives and the self.

As we come to an end, you must be wondering do samurais still exist? Honestly speaking, they don’t. The Meiji Emperor abolished the Samurai system. However, their cultural legacy is eternal and the lessons from the lives of Samurai still hold the same relevance as they did in the medieval times. But these Samurais weren’t born Samurais. They trained hard both physically and mentally to earn that honour.  I believe, we’re all warriors fighting our own battles and we don’t needs armours or swords for that. Let’s simply imbibe these valuable lessons from the Samurais into our lives.

You ,my friend, don’t just be any warrior. Strive to become a “modern day Samurai”.