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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai


Guest Javanmard
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Guest Javanmard

Gurfateh

I dedicate this section to regular quotes from the Hagakure of Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719). The hagakure is a compendium of quotes about the art of being a samurai. Let's discuss these quotes and see how they can relate to us.

Here is one from the 11th chapter:

Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one's body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning , being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one's master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead. There is a saying of the elders that goes: "Step from the eaves and you're a dead amn. Leavse the gate and the ennemy is waiting" This is not a matter of being careful. It is to consider oneslef as dead beforehand.

Reminds me of the injunction to meditate on Mahakal...

what do you think?

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Gur Fateh!

The Hagkure is a formidable text on the 'Way of Death', this is a topic that certainly warrants discussion in the light of much of Dasam Bani...shall provide my thoughts soon...in the interim, also consider bringing in the Bushido text (the 'Way of the Samurai/Warrior'), translations by Thomas Cleary for instance are easily available and worth discussing in line with our puratan rehitnamas...

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The more I think of it.. I think Japan is fit for Sikhi actually.Of all countries provided we encourage them to rediscover and re-read Japanese culture and not try to make Jatts out of them...

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Consider the following also from the first chapter of Hagakure...

Every morning, the samurai of fifty or sixty years ago would bathe, shave their foreheads, put lotion in their hair, cut their fingernails and toenails rubbing them with pumice and then with wood sorrel, and without fail pay attention to their personal appearance . It goes without saying that their armor in general was kept free from rust, that it was dusted, shined, and arranged.

ALTHOUGH IT SEEMS THAT TAKING SPECIAL CARE OF ONE'S APPEARANCE IS SIMILAR TO SHOWINESS, IT IS NOTHING AKIN TO ELEGANCE. Even if you are aware that you may be struck down today and are firmly resolved to an inevitable death, if you are slain with an unseemly appearance, you will show your lack of previous resolve, will be despised by your enemy, and will appear unclean. For this reason it is said that both old and young should take care of their appearance.

Although you say that this is troublesome and time-consuming, a samurai's work is in such things. It is neither busy- work nor time-consuming. IN CONSTANTLY HARDENING ONE'S RESOLUTION TO DIE IN BATTLE, DELIBERATELY BECOMING AS ONE ALREADY DEAD, AND WORKING AT ONE'S JOB AND DEALING WITH MILITARY AFFAIRS, THERE SHOULD BE NO SHAME. But when the time comes, a person will be shamed if he is not conscious of these things even in his dreams, and rather passes his days in self- interest and self-indulgence. And if he thinks that this is not shameful, and feels that nothing else matters as long as he is comfortable, then his dissipate and discourteous actions will be repeatedly regrettable.

Whilst allowing for cultural and traditional variance (i.e. shaving foreheads et al), this account in the message brought forward could easily apply to the Khalsa Singh through the various guidance provided for daily conduct through Gurbani (e.g. ‘Kirt Karni’)and our Rehit Namas (Comb your kesh and tie your Dastaar twice daily, having Ishnaan, maintain Guru Ji’s Mahakaal Bana and Saroop with care and pride)...

...whilst jotting down these ideas, it also reminds me of the Mystical-Chivalry/Nobility thread from a few months back as all these essentially ‘Khshatriya’ traditions (keeping of Kesh and Shastars, fine and elegant appearence, disciplined work and so on) can be seen across many cultures of the World...

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Guest Javanmard

Niranjana wrote

...whilst jotting down these ideas, it also reminds me of the Mystical-Chivalry/Nobility thread from a few months back as all these essentially ‘Khshatriya’ traditions (keeping of Kesh and Shastars, fine and elegant appearence, disciplined work and so on) can be seen across many cultures of the World...
all cultures except... :LOL::LOL:

There is a lot of insistance on high culture, good appearance, chivalry etc..

contrast this with the present state of Sikh youth...

Take a look at the UK: I have met very few young Singhs who actually speak correct and nice English let alone proper Panjabi... It's a shame: we are knights of Guru Gobind Singh not some gangsta idiots!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Javanmard

Whilst reading the Hagakure I realised how homosexuality never was an issue in Japan depending on certain circumstances. May I recommend one of the most beautiful recent samurai movies:

Gohatto by Nagisa Oshima (1999) which was internationaly acclaimed as a master piece at the Cannes festival!!!

Beautiful photography.

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There is an easily accessible text on Tantra interviewing a modern era Aghori (Vimalanda) written by Robert E. Svoboda, entitled Kundalini Aghora parts I and II.

I'm not sure what the scholarly view on such material is, but I would love for this book to be provided within 3HO circles to really show them what 'Kundalini Yoga' is 'actually' about!!!

According to the text, Aghora is literally "non-terrifying" and refers to the most extreme of Indian sects, concentrating on forcible conversion of a limited human personality into a divine personality...and Aghori is a practioner of Aghora...

...hope this helps put Dynamic Banda's revelations into context!

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Thanks for your input nirjana,

Db you wrote

True sikhi is the aghori panth..

How sikhi is the aghori panth... can you please explain that logic?? As far as i know we dont beleive in tantra and mantra's???? :?

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  • 1 month later...

People think that they can clear up profound matters if they consider them deeply, but they exercise perverse thoughts and come to no good because they do their reflecting with only selfinterest at the center.

It is difficult for a fool's habits to change to selflessness. In confronting a matter, however, if at first you leave it alone, fix the four vows in your heart, exclude self-interest, and make an effort, you will not go far from your mark. Because we do most things relying only on our own sagacity we become self-interested, turn our backs on reason, and things do not turn out well. As seen by other people this is sordid, weak, narrow and inefficient. When one is not capable of true intelligence, it is good to consult with someone of good sense. An advisor will fulfill the Way when he makes a decision by selfless and frank intelligence because he is not personally involved. This way of doing things will certainly be seen by others as being strongly rooted. It is, for example, like a large tree with many roots. One man's intelligence is like a tree that has been simply stuck in the ground.

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  • 6 months later...

If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a samurai is, its basis lies first in seriously devoting one's body and soul to his master. And if one is asked what to do beyond this, it would be to fit oneself inwardly with intelligence, humanity and courage.' The combining of these three virtues may seem unobtainable to the ordinary person, but it is easy. Intelligence is nothing more than discussing things with others. Limitless wisdom comes from this. Humanity is something done for the sake of others, simply comparing oneself with them and putting them in the fore. Courage is gritting one' s teeth ; it is simply doing that and pushing ahead, paying no attention to the circumstances. Anything that seems above these three is not necessary to be known.

As for outward aspects, there are personal appearance, one's way of speaking and calligraphy. And as all of these are daily matters, they improve by constant practice. Basically, one should perceive their nature to be one of quiet strength. If one has accomplished all these things, then he should have a knowledge of our area's history and customs. After that he may study the various arts as recreation. If you think it over, being a retainer is simple. And these days, if you observe people who are even a bit useful, you will see that they have accomplished these three outward aspects.

Hagakure: From the 2nd Chapter

It is said that much sake, self-pride and luxury are to be avoided by a samurai, There is no cause for anxiety when you are unhappy, but when you become a little elated, these three things become dangerous. Look at the human condition. It is unseemly for a person to become prideful and extravagant when things are going well. Therefore, it is better to have some unhappiness while one is still young, for if a person does not experience some bitterness, his disposition will not settle down. A person who becomes fatigued when unhappy is useless.

Meeting with people should be a matter of quickly grasping their temperament and reacting appropriately to this person and that. Especially with 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 afterwards. This is a function of both the heart and words. This was an opinion given by a priest concerning personal encounters .

Dreams are truthful manifestations. When I occasionally have dreams of dying in battle or committing seppuku, if I brace myself with courage, my frame of mind within the dream gradually changes.

This concerns the dream I had on the night of the twenty- seventh day of the fifth month.

If one were to say in a word what the condition of being a samurai is, its basis lies first in seriously devoting one's body and soul to his master. And if one is asked what to do beyond this, it would be to fit oneself inwardly with intelligence, humanity and courage.' The combining of these three virtues may seem unobtainable to the ordinary person, but it is easy. Intelligence is nothing more than discussing things with others. Limitless wisdom comes from this. Humanity is something done for the sake of others, simply comparing oneself with them and putting them in the fore. Courage is gritting one' s teeth ; it is simply doing that and pushing ahead, paying no attention to the circumstances. Anything that seems above these three is not necessary to be known.

As for outward aspects, there are personal appearance, one's way of speaking and calligraphy. And as all of these are daily matters, they improve by constant practice. Basically, one should perceive their nature to be one of quiet strength. If one has accomplished all these things, then he should have a knowledge of our area's history and customs. After that he may study the various arts as recreation. If you think it over, being a retainer is simple. And these days, if you observe people who are even a bit useful, you will see that they have accomplished these three outward aspects.

A certain priest said that if one thoughtlessly crosses a river of unknown depths and shallows, he will die in its currents without ever reaching the other side or finishing his business. This is the same as when one is indiscriminately eager in being a retainer without understanding the customs of the times or the likes and dislikes of the master and, as a result, is of no use and brings ruin upon himself. To try to enter the good graces of the master is unbecoming. One should consider first stepping back and getting some understanding of the depths and shallows and then work without doing anything the master dislikes.

If you attach a number of bags of cloves to your body, you will not be affected by inclemency or colds. Some years ago Nakano Kazuma returned to this province as a messenger by horse in the dead of winter, and though he was an old man, he was not the least bit in pain. It is said that that was because of his having used cloves. Furthermore, drinking a decoction of the feces from a dappled horse is the way to stop bleeding from an injury received by falling off a horse.

A faultless person is one who withdraws from affairs. This must be done with strength.

There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment .

Covetousness, anger and foolishness are things to sort out well. When bad things happen in the world, if you look at them comparatively, they are not unrelated to these three things. Looking comparatively at the good things, you will see that they are not excluded from wisdom, humanity and bravery .

It is said that one will not be able to do great works if he does not behave with some reserve towards his master, the chief retainers and elders. What is done casually and freely will not work out well. It is a matter of attitude.

It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself that it was only a dream. It is said that the world we live in is not a bit different from this.

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The priest Tannen used to say in his daily talks that : A monk cannot fulfill the Buddhist Way if he does not manifest compassion without and persistently store up courage within. And if a warrior does not manifest courage on the outside and hold enough compassion within his heart to burst his chest, he cannot become a retainer. Therefore, the monk pursues courage with the warrior as his model, and the warrior pursues the compassion of the monk.

"It is as though a man were in the midst of ten thousand allies but not a one were following him. If one hasn't previously mastered his mind and body, he will not defeat the enemy.''

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