Giri And The Heart Of Samurai

Lord Naoshige once said,‘‘ There is nothing felt quite so deeply as Giri. There are times when someone like a cousin dies and it is not a matter of shedding tears. But we may hear of someone who lived fifty or one hundred years ago , of whom we know nothing, and has no family ties with us whatsoever, and yet from a sense of Giri shed tears.’’ A Certain warrior noted, ‘‘ It seems strange that with the deaths of members of my family, at no occasion did feelings arouse in me tears, but when viewing the image of a great mystic master I would without fail shed tears. many times upon seeing special children of vulnerability and innocence I am overtaken by a sense of Giri and shed tears. It’s as if something has pierced the heart.

When a Samurai is asked ‘‘ As a human being , what is essential in terms of purpose and discipline , it is to become of the mind that is right now, pure and lacking in complication. Everywhere today people seem dejected. A Samurai’s mind is pure and uncomplicated, his expression is lively. When dealing in matters of human relationships a Samurai’s heart is at the fore. Loyalty, filial piety, dedication to family, bravery, and something that can be used by the whole world. This is difficult to discover, and once discovered is difficult to keep in constant effect. Truly no thing is outside of the immediate moment.

In the Hagakure exists this passage ‘‘ If everyone were in accord and left things to providence their hearts would be at ease. If they are not in accord, though they would do acts of righteousness they lack loyalty. To be at odds with ones companions , to be prone to speak only cantankerous words—- all come from a shallow foolishness of mind. One should always greet people cordially at all times and without distraction, and in a way where one will not seem bored, lies and insincerity are unbecoming. This is because they are for self profit. If one will do things for the benefit of others , and meet even those he has met often before on a first time manner he will have no bad relationships. Manners between husband and wife are no different. If one is as discreet in the end as he is in the beginning there should be no discord.’’ A certain priest once said; ‘‘ Meeting with people should be a matter of quickly grasping their temperament and reacting appropriately to this person or that. Especially to an extremely argumentative person, after yielding considerably one should argue him down with superior logic, but without sounding harsh, and in a fashion that will allow no resentment to be left afterward.’’ This is a function of both Heart and words. The Heart of a virtual person has settled down and he does not rush about at things. A person of little merit is not at peace but walks about making trouble and is in conflict with all. ‘‘ Feeling deeply the difference between oneself and others, bearing ill will and falling out with people—— these things come from a heart that lacks compassion. If one wraps up everything with a heart of compassion, there will be no coming into conflict with people. If your strength is only that of virility, your words and personal conduct may appear to be in accord with the way, and you may be praised by others, but when questioning oneself about this, there will be no answer. The last line of the poem that goes; ‘‘ When your own Heart asks’’ , Is appropriate and said to be a good sensor .

When Lord Katsushige was young he was instructed by his father Lord Naoshige for practice in cutting, executing some men who had been condemned to death. Thus in the place of execution Ten men were lined up, and Katsushige continued to decapitate one after another until he had executed nine of them. When he came to the tenth he found that the man was young and healthy and said, I’m tired of cutting now, I’l spare this mans life. And the man’s life was saved . In regard to executions some may say that they have no merit, or that it is a crime, or that it is defiling ,these are only excuses coupled with extreme negligence. If one investigates into the spirit of a man who finds these things disagreeable , one sees that this person gives himself over to cleverness and excuse making not to kill because he feels unnerved . Lord Naoshige made it his orders because this is something that must be done. This reluctance to except executions has nothing to do with the Heart, it has to do with cowardice .

‘‘ Once when the priest Ungo of Shushima was passing through the mountains at night, he was set upon by bandits , Ungo said;‘‘ I am a man of this area, not a pilgrim , I have no money at all, but you can have these clothes if you like, please spare my life.’’ Well our efforts have been in vain, we don’t need anything like clothes, and passed on. They had gone about two hundred yards when Ungo turned back and called to them; ‘‘ I have broken the commandment against lying. In my confusion I forgot that I had one piece of silver in my moneybag, I am truly regretful , I said that I had nothing at all, I have it here now, so please take it.’’ The mountain bandits were deeply impressed, cut off their hair right there and became his disciples . At the time of a deliberation concerning criminals, Nakano Kazuma proposed making the punishment one degree lighter than what would be appropriate . This was a treasury of wisdom that only he was the possessor of. At that time, though there were several men in attendance , if it had not been for Kazuma alone, no one would have opened his mouth. For this reason he is called Master Commencement and Master Twenty five Days. True wisdom is always connected to the Heart.


Matsuguma Kyushu told this story.‘‘In the practice of medicine is a diferenciación of treatment according to the Yen and Yang of man and woman. There is also a difference in pulse. In the last 50 years , however, men’s pulse has become the same as woman’s . on Noticing this in the treatment of eye desease I applied woman’s treatment to men and found it suitable . When I observe the application of men’s treatment to men , there was no result. Thus I knew that men’s spirit had weakened and that they had become the same as woman, and the end of the world had come. Since I witnessed this with certainty I kept it a secret .When looking at the men of today with this in mind, those who could be thought to have a woman’s pulse are many and those who seem like real men are few. Because of this, if one were to make a little effort , he might be able to take the upper hand quite easily . Today men live by talk and words, ever unwilling to do hard physical work, prudent and clever at making excuses . Know woman but keep man is advice for the ages.

The harmony of Yin and Yang is natural. The loss of this regulating harmony creates a cause and effect within society. Misdirection and a downward slide are the results. Many men have turned their backs on manhood, while women have also shunned motherhood. Humanity , along with its machines and technology is playing its part in the downgrading of the natural world, also having its effect on humanity in a myriad of ways, from changes in the family, all the way up and down society in ways that also degrade and weaken human beings , and move people further from living and closer to surviving.

Yamamoto Sunitomo once said ‘‘Illnesses and the like become serious because of ones feelings.I was born when my father was 71 years old, and was hence a rather sickly child. But because I have had a great desire to be of use in old age, When the chance came I improved my health, and haven’t been sick since’’. Tzu Chan was on the point of death when someone asked him how to govern the country. He replied ‘’ There is nothing that surpasses ruling with benevolence . However, to put into practice enough benevolence to correctly rule the country is difficult . To do this lukewarmly will result in neglect. If governing with benevolence is difficult, then it is best to govern strictly . To govern strictly , means to be strict before things have arisen, and to do things in such a way that evil will not arise . To be strict after evil has arisen is like laying a snare. There are few people who will make mistakes with fire after having once been burned. Of people who regard water lightly, many have been drowned.’’

The I. CHING or book of changes is not for divination . As many in the past have assumed , but rather how one thing changes into another. When Yamamoto Gorozae went to Edo to see the zen priest Tetsuoyu for instruction he was told that Buddhism removes the discriminating mind . Tetsuoyu proposed to give him an illustration in terms of the warrior. In the I CHING the character for meaning is added to the character for mind . Now meaning is discrimination, and when a man attaches discrimination to his true mind he becomes a coward. For a Samurai his mind must be pure and simple , mindless in discrimination . Virility is also contained within this lack of mental discrimination. The mind itself is but a tool, but can be an adversary , as well as an enemy.

If a warrior is not unattached to life and death, he will be of no use whatsoever. A warrior must be absolutely unattached to life and death and mindless on this. This type of warrior can accomplish any feat. Martial arts and the like are related to this insofar as they can lead to the way. Nakano Jin Amon also said ‘‘ Learning such things as military tactics is useless. If one does not strike out by simply closing ones eyes and rushing into the enemy, even if it is only one step. He will be of no use. ‘’ Virility is harmonious with the natural. A warrior must be resolute and determined, mindless in breaking right through to completion . What destiny the future holds is Karmic.

The Mystic Warrior

Tagagi Akifusa was a warrior of matchless valor and a dangerous swordsman. He turned against the Ryuzo clan , appealing to Maeda Iyo no Kami Lesada for shelter, which was given to him. Akifusa had two retainers, Ingazaemon and Fudozaemon , who never left his side day or night, stalwarts inferior in no way. Thus it came to pass that Lord Takanobu sent a request to Lesada to kill Akifusa . As it happened Akifusa was having his feet washed by Ingazaemon on the veranda. At one moment Lesada ran up behind him and struck off his head. Before his head fell he drew his short sword and turned to strike , but instead cut off the head of Ingazaemon, the two heads fell into the wash basin together. Akifusas head then rose into the midst of all present. This was the sort of magic technique that he had.

In the military writings of Yui Shosetsu , on “ The way of the three ultimates”, exists a passage on the way of Karma. A certain Samurai received these teachings, and about eighteen other verses on the greater and lesser bravery. He neither memorized them or wrote them down, but forgot them all together .Then when facing real situations he acted on impulse, and everything that he had learned became wisdom of his own. This is the mystical nature of Karma.

Mysticism is also contained within simple practical actions. Putting spittle on ones earlobe and exhaling through the nose one will overcome Anything at hand, and when feeling a strong rushing of blood to the head , put spittle on the upper part of the ear, and it will soon subside. The Yoshida school of archery’s secret principal was in swallowing ones spittle before shooting. To calm the mind, or when one becomes angry , swallowing your spittle is also effective. These are secret matters.

When a Samurai’s resolution and determination reach a certain level they become mystical in nature, and can move heaven and earth. The way of the Samurai and Zen Buddhism have long had a symbiotic relationship. The Samurai’s strength is imparted to the Buddhists , and the Buddhist’s compassion is likewise given to the Samurai. The priest Daigu of Sanshu was making a sick call to a certain person, and when he arrived he found that the man had already died. After admonishing the doctor present, the the doctor became angry and challenged the priest to bring the man back to life, otherwise the doctor said “ Buddhism is useless “. Put out by this and feeling that it would be unpardonable for a blemish to be put on Buddhism, he replied, “I will indeed show you how to bring his life back by prayer.” He then set his heart right by the Buddhist law, sharpened a short sword , and being resolved that if the man was not brought back to life, he would cut his stomach open and die embracing the corpse . He then sat in meditation next to the corpse. Soon the dead man began to breath, and then completely revived. He lived on for another half year.The famous priest Tannen knew of this. Resolution, determination , desperation to break right through to completion can create “Miracles .”

In the Kayagunkan, one warrior said to another “ When facing the enemy I feel as though I have entered darkness , because of this I get heavily wounded. Although you have fought with many famous men you have never been wounded, why is that? The other warrior answered, “ When I am facing the enemy, of course it is like being in the dark, but if at that time I tranquilize my , it becomes like a night lit by a pale moon. If I begin my attack from that point I feel as though I will not be wounded. This is the situación at the moment of truth. A warrior who simply wishes not to be struck by the weapons of the enemy, will have no devine protection , but rather a warrior who wishes only to be hit by a warrior of fame, not a common soldier, he will be protected. When determining the strength or weakness of the enemy or an adversary , if his head is cast down , he will appear black and is strong,if he is looking upward he will appear white and is weak.”

For a Samurai nothing must be considered as impossible. Moving heaven and earth without effort is simply a matter of concentration . To think that you cannot achieve greatness as the masters of old did, you will soon be on that path. Without absolute faith in oneself , one cannot be a Samurai. A Samurai’s mind must be pure and uncomplicated . Lord Sanenori said “ In the midst of a single breath where perversity can not be held, is the way.” This purity and simplicity of mind can only be attained by piling effort upon effort!

A certain swordsman noted: “ In ones life there are levels in the pursuit of study; In the first , one studies but nothing comes of it, and he sees himself and others as unskillful , at this point he is useless. In the middle stage he is aware of his and others uselessness. In the next level he has pride in his ability, accepts praise from others, and looks down on his fellows, he has some worth. In the next level, the warrior has the look of knowing nothing. In the highest and transcending level a Samurai is aware of the endlessness of entering into deeply a certain way, and never thinks of himself as having finished. Knowing his own insufficiencies he never feels that he has succeeded , by self a basement and no thought of pride he is one with the way. Throughout his whole life he advances daily, becoming more skillful than yesterday, more skillful than today,this is never ending . A part of a Samurai’s training is also a matter of not defeating others, rather in defeating oneself . The way of the Samurai is also within desperation. Common sense and discrimination will not accomplish great things. To break right through to completion requires that a Samurai is resolute, determined, and desperate. Lord Naoshige said.” Ten men or more cannot kill such a man.” The power and mystery within a true Samurai is incalculable .

The Way of Death

The way of the Samurai is cloaked in death. The natural way of a Samurai is to consider himself as already dead. By setting his heart right every morning and every evening his resolve will be firm, if one will do it it, it can be done. With this he gains freedom in the way, his whole life will be without blame and he will succeed in his calling. When it comes to living or dying there is only the quick choice of death. A Samurai must be determined and advance even if he is unable to attain his ends,it is not necessary ,for not attaining ones ends and continuing to live is cowardice. Even if it is considered a dog’s death and fanaticism there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the way of the Samurai. For a Samurai the end is as important as the beginning. When Lord Sama’s castle suddenly caught fire and was burning to the ground,addressing his retainers he said ‘’ I feel no regrets about the house and all its furnishings, they can all be replaced later on, I only regret that I did not take out the family genealogy , which is my families most precious treasure. There was one Samurai in attendance who said ‘’ I will go in and take it out ‘’. Lord Soma and the others all laughed and said , how are you going to take it out, the house is already engulfed in flames ? He replied “ I have never been of much use to the master. But I have always been resolved to someday be of use to him, this seems to be the time. “. And he leapt into the flameS. After the fire had been extinguished the master asked them to look for his remains. Looking everywhere , they found his burnt corpse in the garden adjacent to the living quarters, when they turned him over blood flowed out of his stomach , he had cut open his stomach and placed the genealogy inside and it was not damaged at all. From that time on it was known as the “ Blood Genealogy”. Breaking right through to completion without regard for ones own life is within the way of the Samurai.. The way of the Samurai is simply in forcing ones way into a place and being cut down, because by considering how many there are, and how best to complete the job, time will run out , and in the end you will give up. E ven if the enemy numbers are in the thousands fulfillment lies in simply standing them off , and being determined to cut them all down. Starting from one end you will finish the greater part of it. For when the moment arrives there will be no time for reasoning, and without prior resolution there will most likely be shame. In matters of action discernment soon spoils. In looking at the matter completely and knowing that what will happen next is unknown , and that victory and defeat are matters within the temporary force of circumstances, a real Samurai does not think of victory or defeat, he plunges recklessly towards an inevitable even irracional death. By doing this, you will awaken from your dream.

On Losing

Lord Naoshige, speaking to his grandson Lord Motoshige, explained how; No matter if one is of high or low class or rank, a family line is one that will decline when its time has come. If one tries to keep it from ending at that time it will become unseemly and squalid. If one sees that the time has come, it is best to let it go down with good grace. Doing this he may even cause it to be maintained.
Once ten blind masseuses were traveling together in the mountains, when they began to pass a high presapass ,thier bodies began to shake and terror overtook them, just then the lead man stumbled and fell off the cliff; they all wailed, how pitios, but the fallen man quickly yelled back, I’m fine, if you all wish to be at ease, fall quickly.
In all things, when one has lost, lose quickly. This is truly within harmony. If one acquiesces after losing, with this the losers sincerity and nobility are also revealed.

The Way 0f Ruling

True generosity is in itself compassion, with true compassion all people are to be cared for. The true heart of a Ruler must be unlimited in its breadth and depth. Wisdom and courage come from this unlimited compassion. To act with compassion ensures the act will be limitless i n its strength and correctness. Selfish acts are mean and egotistical, leading to evil. Lord Layasu said ‘’ The foundations for ruling the country in peace is compassion, for when one thinks of the people as being his children, the people will think of him as their parent, the result being the harmonious heart of a parent child relationship. In society fault finders will be punished by others. A true Ruler rules with the maxim ‘’ Principal above Reason ‘’. Lord Leyasu also invited us to ‘’ Taste the inexhaustible ‘’ .If the heart of a Ruler is truly compassionate , strength will already have been there,, and great wisdom will be present.. Superior rulers are of this type.

The Present Moment.

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. If one fully understands the present moment, as a succession of moment after moment in ones life, there will be nothing else to do, or pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment. Everyone lets the present moment slip by, then looks for it somewhere else. Knowing this, one piles experience upon experience ,and this understanding transforms one. Single-mindedness and clarity are the results. When one achieves this their affairs will thin out. Loyalty is also contained within single – mindedness.