Rightfulness: The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Bushido
September 23, 2006 · 9:00pm EST · Posted by Fujiyama Dojo
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
Rightfulness or seigi in Japanese simply means "to do the right thing". It means that whenever there is a choice of action to be made, the honorable path is the one that is taken. Although this is a simple concept, the implications are very far-reaching, and in fact should reach into every part of your life. Like all the other virtues, it takes courage to practice it consistently. Most of the time, it is obvious what is right and what is wrong. It is wrong to steal, to lie, to cheat, to betray a friend, or to be hypocritical, which is lying to yourself. It is also wrong to do things that are harmful to yourself, such as smoking, drinking or doing drugs, because that is like deliberately harming the people who love you. These things are dishonorable.

Every person is known by the things they do. Nobody knows your thoughts, intentions or plans; they can only see your actions. If your words and actions do not match, then it is your actions that are true. If you lie, then you are a liar. If you steal, then you are a thief. It doesn't matter if anybody else knows that you have done these things, it only matters that you know.

Rightfulness is not only negative, the absence of wrong-doing, it is also positive, a deliberate action to achieve a positive goal. It is helping some seniors to load their groceries in the car. It is offering your seat on the bus to someone who needs it. It is treating your parents and siblings with respect, and obeying the rules of the household. Rightfulness is also admitting mistakes and doing whatever is necessary to make it right again. Everyone makes mistakes, and a wise person will recognize one and learn from it. An even wiser person will learn from someone else's mistakes! But it is not enough to just realize that you are in error, you must do what you can to fix it, to make it right. This is never easy, but it must be done to restore your honor. "See, recognize, correct" are the three steps to self-improvement and personal growth. Only when you are willing to do all three can you be said to have corrected a mistake.

Doing the right thing also requires taking responsibility for oneself. It means that you accept the consequences of your actions, and your inactions. It means not trying to lay blame on someone else for our errors, or to justify or rationalize a mistake, or laugh it off as inconsequential. Every action and choice has consequences, for yourself and for those around you. Every choice needs to be one you can live with.

It also means being responsible with the assets that each of us have, with our talents, our gifts, our abilities, our time, and yes, even our money. To those who are given much, much is expected. It is an honorable choice to "give back" what is in your power to do so. There are many opportunities all around you to help others that need help. This could be as simple as helping a sibling with their homework or your mom with some chores, or it could be as big as donating a kidney to a dying relative. To choose never to do any of these things means that you are a taker - that you have chosen to live in society, meaning your neighborhood, or even your household, without actually participating in it, that you will enjoy all of your assets, but without sharing them with others who are not so lucky. It is not right to always be a receiver of benefits, and never a giver.

Young people are at a stage in life when they are forming their character, establishing what kind of person they are. Adults too, are changed day by day by their actions and the choices they make. You are shaping your own opinion of yourself, and making choices that will decide who you see yourself to be. This process is on-going. It is built up slowly, day by day, by the choices that you make, and whether or not it is the right one. Right choices make you in to an honorable person, strong and confident knowing that you need not hide aspects of your character from yourself and others. Right choices make you able to respect yourself, and be respected and admired by others. Wrong choices tear down your self-esteem, and create a cycle of failure. That is why it is so important to SEE errors, RECOGNIZE a mistake, and CORRECT it, to get back on track and repair the damage to your inner self. As Saigo Tanomo said, "Do not do that which you should not do."

A cynic perceives life as a commercial transaction, his goal in life is personal profit. A budoka sees life as honor and duty. His purpose and path is seigi.


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