Samurai no Kokoroe

I ran across this over in Buck’s blog; or rather, I ran across a reference to it. Buck helped me with translations, which I then cross-checked on a number of web sites. I do not know the origin of this, nor do I know of it’s accuracy, nor am I certain the translations are correct. […]

I ran across this over in Buck’s blog; or rather, I ran across a reference to it. Buck helped me with translations, which I then cross-checked on a number of web sites.

I do not know the origin of this, nor do I know of it’s accuracy, nor am I certain the translations are correct. Details, these are; It spoke to me.

Samurai no Kokoroe – Precepts of the Samurai.

  • Jiko o shiru koto
         (Know yourself)
  • Jibun no kimeta koto wa saigo made kikko suru koto
         (Always follow through on commitments)
  • Ikanaru hito demo sonke suru koto
         (Respect everyone)
  • Kankyo ni sayu sarenai tsuyoi shinnen o motsu koto
         (Hold strong convictions that cannot be altered by your circumstances)
  • Mizu kara teki o tsukuranai koto
         (Don’t make an enemy of yourself)
  • Koto ni oite kokaisezu
         (Live without regrets)
  • Hito to no deai o taisetsu ni suru koto
         (Be certain to make a good first impression)
  • Miren o motanai koto
         (Don’t cling to the past)
  • Yakusoku o yaburanai koto
         (Never break a promise)
  • Hito ni tayoranai koto
         (Don’t depend on other people)
  • Hito o onshitsu shinai koto
         (Don’t speak ill of others)
  • Ikanaku koto ni oite mo osorenai koto
         (Don’t be afraid of anything)
  • Hito no iken o soncho suru koto
         (Respect the opinions of others)
  • Hito ni taishite omoiyari o motsu koto
         (Have compassion and understanding for everyone)
  • karuhazumi ni koto o okosanai koto
         (Don’t be impetuous (rash, passionately impulsive)).
  • Chiisa na koto demo taisetsu ni suru koto
         (Even little things must be attended to)
  • Kansha no kimochi o wasurenai koto
         (Never forget to be appreciative)
  • Issho kenmei monogoto o suru koto
         (Make a desperate effort)
  • Jinsei no mokuhyo o sadameru koto
         (Have a plan for your life)
  • Shoshin o wasurubekarazaru koto
         (Never lose your “Beginner’s Spirit”)

I’m not a zen guy so much. Not into the eastern philosophy, the meditation. Yet, I see myself as some sort of warrior, even if I’ve not always got an enemy to face down, or if the enemy is within. The sword may be imaginary, may be made of words, but it is the fighter with whom I most identify.

And so, when I read this code, this set of rules, it seems to apply.

I do not agree with every line of it, nor do I measure up on all points. And yet as a whole, if feels right.

Certain lines of it speak to me to the extent that I began thinking of a tattoo; wondering what these look like in Kanji.

Ikanaku koto ni oite mo osorenai is one such – how can one not wish to embody it? But more, there’s another that says tattoo to me for a special reason.

Koto ni oite kokaisezu – Live without regrets. This is something for which I strive, and mostly, mostly, I’ve managed it. But it also takes me back to a memory, one of the last conversations I had with my father, or at least one of the last meaningful ones we had.

What if you regret your tattoos?” he asked me, when I first started to get them. And it made me think. I considered this for several moments before I answered him.

I have no choice – thus, I will not.

It was a moment when I made a lifetime choice about regret; a choice that applied to tattoos specifically at that moment, but as time went on, a choice I’ve tried to apply to all my life.

I strive for this; yet there are regrets in my life I feel daily. And thus I strive to overcome regret.

Koto ni oite kokaisezu. I want to wear it.

13 thoughts on “Samurai no Kokoroe”

  1. God dammit, Rach, that all you got to say? B^)

    Ok. Stupid browsers. On OSX, it looked fine, safari, firefox, even IE (ick!). I hadda run mozilla on Linux to see the problem; it’s a browser bug. I had tags like this:

    (imagine this is in angle brackets, not square)

    [em][b][li]Hito ni tayoranai koto[/em][/b][br]

    Mac browsers didn’t care about the incorrectly nested tags, but on a PC or linux, it barfed.

    I simply changed to:

    [li][b][em]Hito ni tayoranai koto[/em][/b][br]

    Fuckin’ browser problems.

    Chelse, of course you say that, and of course I agree. Though when I get a tattoo in latin, it’s gonna be across my stomach, and it’s gonna say ‘Fortitudeine’, the MacRae clan motto. Only, first I need to finish working on those rock-hard abs.

  2. so – i am going to post this in my journal too, k? *smile* it works for the most part if yo translate “people” as “your close friends” and “everyone” as, again “your close friends” – heh. but no, *sigh*

  3. Interesting. Some thoughts, though.

    I also tend to see regret as a fruitless exercise, and I also always say that I’d sooner regret things I’ve done than things I haven’t done. It’s a solid philosophy. Life is too short for regret.

    But when it comes picking and choosing from these Precepts to create a tattoo of your favorite one, though, I think that deflates its power and meaning. If you take this single precept out of the code and isolate it, you change it from one facet of a code of conduct into something akin to bumpersticker philosophizing. This Precept is a Code of Conduct, and Codes of Conduct are meant to be holistic: Think of such obvious Western examples as the 10 Commandments, or less religio-centric ones such as the Bill of Rights. They are made up of pieces that are meant to be practiced interdependently. Each piece of the whole is equally important. In other words, no part is meant to be taken out of context.

    By following all of the Precepts living without regret is far easier/more likely — nearly a foregone conclusion — simply because the precepts largely act as guidance on behavior or choices that most directly would lead to regretful/regretable consequences. If you follow the other precepts, then the likelihood of regrettable behavior is minimized or eliminated, and if you’ve made choices in accord with the precepts and something “regretable” has still occurred, you can be assured that your bahavior was noble and therefore regret is not productive. But if you ignore any or all of the rest of the precepts (not saying *you* do — it’s the good ol’ impersonal 2nd person) and just say “No matter what happens I won’t regret anything!” you inherently deny the importance of the Precepts — all of them, including the one you like so much.

    Consider: A pure sociopath could be said to adhere completely, absolutely, to ONLY the “live without regrets” portion of the Precepts. Living without regrets isn’t the same thing as never having done something that should be regretted and deciding not to regret it anyhow.

    In other words, in context “Koto ni oite kokaisezu” resonates as part of a code of conduct that provides a structure for living according to a recurrent beat of guidance and wisdom. Out of context, it’s just a phrase that can be rendered in Kanji. If you like the way it looks in Kanji, that’s great — it’s your body and your tattoo — but without context I’d say it’s sort of like getting a Kanji version of the “No Fear” emblem.

    Which is fine. Just don’t get one of those stupid-ass “Calvin Pissing on a NASCAR Number” things.

  4. There are a number of precepts missing, such as “You can chop peasants in half if they piss you off” and “You are entitled to living off taxes paid by farmers, while doing no productive work yourself.”

    Sorry, I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, but I’ll leave it alone.

    If you get the tattoo, make sure the characters aren’t backwards or something. I see this all the damn time. I suggest getting them down the spine.

  5. Where’s the Kanji transliteration for “Don’t spit into the wind?”

    I’m pretty sure Confucious said that.

  6. Kanji and Kon-Fu-Tsu? WTF?

    K.E., this sounds a lot like Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, and definitely in the vein of Bushido.

    Like DN said, this one’s a keeper.

    Domo arigato gozaimasu.

  7. I dunno what it is about this date but like last year, I was picturing japanese character tattoos; this time I was imagining the character for Ronin and thinking about how cool that would be.

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