The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Bushido
January 2, 2006 · 11:59pm EST · Posted by Fujiyama Dojo
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
"Intentions are not enough to succeed. We ought to become." wrote Yuzan Shigesuke, samurai, scholar, and adviser to Lord Matsudaira of the Aizu clan.

In today's world, this advice becomes much more relevant than in the time that it was written. Many teachers are berated by pupils who take the teachings lightly, and their arts with a half-hearted attitude that shames the dojo where they train. Those students who are only willing to barely skim the surface of what they claim to be learning, and refuse to accept its true spirit may unfortunately some day become teachers. That they would teach will not only be a desecration to the art, but a pollution that may affect many.

In true Bushido there are no compromises; there is no middle ground. Where the wise and the fool may thread a common path with equal acceptance. To define the true ones, the scrolls teach us the seven cardinal virtues that describe the values, the priorities and the nature of those worthy of teaching and of becoming teachers. Each student should memorize them and abide by them. Each teacher should be an example of each. They are much more than mere words. They are the basics of a code of conduct that should always be followed, even outside the dojo's walls.

They are given in no particular order of importance or priority, since all should be learned at once: Courage, Rightfulness, Truthfulness, Politeness, Loyalty, Honour, and Mercy.

The fool would mock and discard them. The hypocrite would hear them and discard them later. The weak would joke about them with the fool and wonder, but would learn nothing.

The true deshi will hear, learn, respect and follow them at all times. That one, and only that one, is worthy of the secrets.

A teacher need not waste time describing each one. A fool would be the first one to recognize himself and then discard the notion, but eventually will go his own way. If no one is left, there won't be any loss. "It would be better to lose an art forever that to teach it to a conceited fool. Better a jewel crushed than a tile intact."

As Yuzan Shigesuke wrote, "To those willing to follow ONLY half of the code, teach them ONLY how to use a third of the sword."


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