The path of the samurai is not an easy
trail to walk, for it is fraught with temptation, and it is too easy for us to
fall. We are challenged daily by
the words of others, the lies of our fellow men and women, and by the
uncertainties that can be born only in our own hearts.
But even in face of all of these
obstacles, a young samurai need not be alone.
I was very young when my mother first taught me of Bushido, the
text of Akodo himself. She told me
that whenever I was alone, or my path was uncertain, to remember always these
seven parts. This I have tried to
do, and it has brought me this far, with honor.
Here I put to the pen both my own words and the words of Akodo One-Eye,
in the hopes that I may aid all samurai, bushi or not, in the path to not simply
having honor, but understanding it.
From the Journal of Kakita Brent, On
I am not Akodo.
I have fought in only three battles, where he fought in many more.
I do not claim to understand the heart of the Lion Clan…I am sometimes
unsure that I understand even the edges of their soul.
But honor is not divided into clans and armies, as men are.
With these words, and a willingness to understand, true honor can be born
in each of us.
Gi (Honesty and Justice)
Be acutely honest throughout your dealings
with all people. Believe in
justice, not from other people, but from yourself.
To the true samurai, there are no shades of gray in the question of
honesty and justice.
There is only right and wrong.
(Brent’s Commentary: This is a part
of a samurai’s soul, and it is too often forgotten.
I once asked a Dragon monk that, if this world is merely a stepping stone
to the next, then why do they still believe in honor?
He smiled and said, “A liar is still worried about being punished for
his actions, and thus is trapped in this world.”
Perhaps Akodo wished the samurai to understand something similar.
Harbor no illusions about justice and honesty…be truthful to yourself
at all times, and you can both understand yourself and change the world.
Become trapped in lies, even those said only to yourself, and you will
Rei (Polite Courtesy)
Samurai have no reason to be cruel.
They do not need to prove their strength.
A samurai is courteous even to his enemies.
Without this outward show of respect, we are nothing more than animals. A samurai is not only respected for his strength in battle,
but also by his dealings with other men. The
true inner strength of a samurai becomes apparent during difficult times.
(Brent’s Commentary: We forget this
often, when we shout insults across the field of war or have heated words in the
courts of the Emperor. Conflict is
unavoidable, for all men do not share the same vision.
This does not mean that cruelty is needed, too.
Do not waste your strength, lording it over those weaker than you.
Conserve it, so that it will all be ready,
to answer your lord’s call.)
Yu (Heroic Courage)
Rise up above the masses of people that
are afraid to act. Hiding like a
turtle in a shell is not living at all. A
samurai must have heroic courage. It
is absolutely risky. It is
dangerous. It is living life
completely, fully, wonderfully. Heroic
courage is not blind. It is
intelligent and strong.
Replace fear with respect and caution.
(Brent’s Commentary: Do not be afraid
to live. We are men and women,
given the opportunity to experience everything that life has to offer us, both
pain and joy. But we cannot do so
while fear rules over us. I have
met men that have walked Rokugan since before my father’s time, and yet some
of them have not lived a single day. Be
courageous, use your intelligence and wisdom well, and you will experience
everything that life has to offer. Still
I remember what Toshimoko-sama said to me, long ago.
“Live each day so that you have no
A true samurai has only one judge of his
honor, and that is himself. Decisions
you make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of who you
You cannot hide from yourself.
(Brent’s Commentary: There is nothing
more important than honor. We do
not abandon it, not for our loved ones or our lord.
We must listen to our hearts, and not turn away from the difficult
decisions, hiding our lies behind what we see as loyalty.
Loyalty is a sword of two edges. Remember
that even as you must show that you will not dishonor your lord, he must not
dishonor you. Be truthful with
yourself, and you will find true victory.)
Through intense training that samurai
becomes quick and strong. He is not
as other men. He develops a power
that must be used for the good of all. He
has compassion. He helps his fellow
men at every opportunity. If an
opportunity does not arise, he goes out of his way to find one.
(Brent’s Commentary: We are
samurai…servants to all people. Our
founders and ancestors, the honorable Kami, made the promise to the people of
Rokugan to protect them. We must
uphold this oath, or we dishonor them. Too
often do men strive for power for their own good, rather than the good of the
Empire. In the courts, on the field
of battle…we must overcome this want, this lust for glittering things.
Service is our purpose. We
are samurai, and we must stand to protect all life.
Killing is a thing for weaker men.
We were not given our swords for petty acts of greed and vengeance, not
granted the daisho for personal gain. The
sword is the heart of the samurai. Betray
it, and you betray yourself.)
Makoto (Complete Sincerity)
When a samurai has said he will perform an
action, it is as good as done. Nothing
will stop him from completing what he has said he will do. He does not have to “give his word.” He does not have to “promise.”
The action of speaking alone has set the act of doing in motion.
Speaking and doing are the same action.
(Brent’s Commentary: Your word is
sacred. We do not make idle
promises. Always remember that,
“you own every word you speak.” People
will not respect you if they cannot trust you.
For a true samurai, for the samurai that each of us tries to be, whether
in war or peace, we must keep our word. That
is what will let people trust us, and what will one day teach us to trust other
Chugo (Duty and Loyalty)
For the samurai, having done some
“thing” or said some “thing,” he knows he owns that “thing.”
He is responsible for it and all the consequences that follow.
A samurai is immensely loyal to those in his care.
To those he is responsible for, he remains fiercely true.
(Brent’s Commentary: We must learn
not to risk something, say something, or to do something that we will regret in
the morning. Temper yourself, so
that you can understand how things truly are.
The loyalty of others is important, and it can only be created with time
and effort. A samurai should not
throw such things away in a moment of weakness.
Remember that at the end of your life, you will look back.
Be able to look back and accept who you really are.)