Bushido and Samurai Traditional Knowledge
Perception and the Dedication to Duty
Tsunetomo Yamamoto (1659-1719) was an ancient Samurai, and later a monk, who dictated his thoughts on Bushido and the Samurai code. This collection of writing, translated in the mid-20th century, provides an interesting insight into the spirit of those men. Many of those ideas can be applied in the modern age when faced with challenges.
“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”
Tsunetomo Yamamoto, The Hagakure: A Code to the Way of Samurai, 1716.
This very simple and wonderful quote captures a cornerstone of modern counseling technique and intervention; the ability to re-frame our perceptions and protect our energy systems.
Here we are addressing perception and how it relates to duty. Life will always present us with challenges. Our ability as humans to shape our own perceptions is the key ability in taking back control in how we address life challenges. While the quote refers to something as simple as a rainstorm, we can expand this ability to re-frame perceptions to all of life’s experiences.
Re-framing our perception is vital in learning to be able to balance the power of any given situation. This re-balancing is related to the idea of energy and how we choose to use it. We can get lost in the aggravation of a sudden weather change such as a rainstorm, or we can choose to accept it as something beyond ourselves and move forward. As we accept it, we stop wasting vital energy in being annoyed by such a thing. This release opens new energy paths once taken up by wasteful feelings. Perception re-framing is not simply re-framing our understanding, but more importantly, it is about protecting the loss of energy in wasteful ways.
So the base idea is a simple one. When faced with things that cause great feelings within us, we have to ask the question of is my reaction warranted in this situation. When we an constantly aggravated in Chicago traffic, is it fair to waste so much of our energy resources in these feelings. No, it is better to re-frame our perception, realize that we are all stuck in traffic together and release these feelings. Focus on catching up with an old friend or listening to the radio. This allows us to save so much of our precious emotional resource.
We can end up binding so much of our energy into the annoyance or aggravation of a thing, which only makes a task more difficult. As we look towards a difficult or uncomfortable task, we should take a moment to be mindful of what is about to occur.
Mindfulness towards our own energy, and the ability to choose where and how we spend our energy is the difference between exhaustion and revitalization. We only have a finite amount of energy to use throughout a given day. We must learn to engage and disengage as needed to protect and marshal our energy resources to dedicate towards tasks that are truly important in life.
This ultimately allows for is a greater ability to focus on the people and things that truly do matter to us in our lives. This directly relates to duty and the successful completion of our true life tasks and goals. We always have a greater duty to ourselves and others near to us. Marshaling our resources is key to goal attainment.
A linear understanding of these ideas: Re-framing our perceptions regarding a situation, which saves energy. We can then reapply this saved energy towards the things in life that truly matter, our life duties.
Now remember, this idea was written nearly 300 years ago and still rings true today.
Take your time. Think about what is happening in front of you. What is your reaction and is it fruitful or wasteful? Adjust what you need to move forward and take control of your environment. Each day, each moment we have a choice on how to act. It is vital that you put yourself at the center of your world and see yourself moving through the world. You have much more power than you may think.
Wisdom of the Ancients Series
In this series of posts, we will take a long look into the wisdom of the ancient world as we revitalize powerful understandings of humanity and apply them to our contemporary world.
The ideas that we will be bringing forward here connect us to our collective past. How we live as humans has changes so rapidly. Human beings are the same as we have always been. We must learn to reconnect to our history which can anchor us in the present and provide a calm and power to how we chose to live our lives in the here and now.
Writings focus on the mind, body, and spirit to give a better frame of reference to the modern counseling process and practical applications of those ideas into how we live each and every day.