Not all that we see is reachable, not all that we reach is visible.

INTRODUCTION
The hidden meanings behind alchemy, smiths and warriors

T
o most of humanity, other faiths have taken over the ancient knowledge, among which, the roots of Alchemy which is not to be confused with a religion. The essence of the alchemic way is generally ignored, usually taken as a search for transforming metals into gold. Such is but a corrupted belief.

I
t is not known, however, if the first alchemists were smiths or perfumers, but traces of it can be found in almost all civilizations.

ALCHEMY. A METAPHOR PERHAPS...
L
ayman may think that it was the forerunner of modern chemistry. Others, more inclined to a spiritual way will see in Alchemy a metaphor for the human state.

A
ccording to Dom Pernety (in Greek and Egyptian Fables Revealed, 1786) " Vulgar chemistry is the art of destroying compounds that nature have formed, while the chemistry of the hermeticists is the art of working with nature to perfect them ".

T
he alchemist indeed perfects nature. In his eyes - in simple terms - metals such as copper and lead are diseased (leprous) gold. His work is to restore them to their original state, which leads one to ask what is he seeking when he tries to turn lead into gold?
It is impossible to reach any kind of understanding without appreciating that the best of the alchemists were not striving after vulgar gold. The philosopher's stone was, in fact, the symbol of a state of inner freedom. We are, therefore also in the realm of symbolism.

Nicolas Flamel himself shows in his Book of Hieroglyphic Figures that, if religious feeling - to speak in psychic terms - constitutes the "raw material" of the work, then alchemy by its spiritual nature transcends religion and morality. The alchemist exposes his own solitude and plunges himself into the universe and then invents his own morality, becoming the child of his works.

Flamel's short transcript of his book
'The Explication of the Hieroglyphic Figures'

O
n the last side of the fifth leaf there was a King, with a great Fauchion, who made to be killed in his presence by some Soldiers a great multitude of little Infants, whose Mothers wept at the feet of the unpitiful Soldiers the blood of which Infants was afterwards by other Soldiers gathered up, and put in a great vessel, wherein the Sun and the Moon came to bathe themselves.

A
nd because that this History did represent the more part of that of the Innocents slain by Herod, and that in this Book I learned the greatest part of the Art, this was one of the causes why I placed in their Church-yard these Hieroglyphic Symbols of this secret science. And thus you see that which was in the first five leaves. I will not represent unto you that which was written in good and intelligible Latin in all the other written leaves, for God would punish me; because I should commit a greater wickedness than he who (as it is said) wished that all the men of the World had but one head, that he might cut it off with one blow.
Having with me, therefore, this fair book, I did nothing else day nor night but study upon it, understanding very well all the operations that it showed, but not knowing with what Matter I should begin, which made me very heavy and solitary, and caused me to fetch many a sigh. My wife Perrenella, whom I loved as myself, and had lately married, was much astonished at this, comforting me, and earnestly demanding if she could by any means deliver me from this trouble. I could not possibly hold my tongue, but told her all, and showed this fair book, whereof at the same instant that she saw it, she became as much enamoured as myself, taking extreme pleasure to behold the fan cover, gravings, images, and portraits, whereof, notwithstanding she understood as little as I; yet it was a great comfort to me to talk with her, and to entertain myself, what we should do to have the interpretation of them. In the end I caused to be painted within my Lodging, as naturally as I could, all the figures and portraits of the fourth and fifth leaf, which I showed to the greatest Clerks in Paris, who understood thereof no more than myself: I told them they were found in a Book that taught the Philosophers' Stone, but the greatest part of them made a mock both of me and that blessed Stone, excepting one called Master Anselme, who was a Licentiate in Physic, and studied hard in this Science. He had a great desire to have seen my Book, and there was nothing in the world he would not have done for a sight of it: but I always told him I had it not; only I made him a large description of the Method. He told me that the first portrait represented Time, which devoured all; and that according to the number of the six written leaves, there was required the space of six years, to perfect the Stone; and then, he said, we must turn the glass, and seethe it no more. And when I told him that this was not painted, but only to show and teach the first agent, (as was said in the Book) he answered me that this decoction for six years space was, as it were, a second Agent; and that certainly the first Agent was there painted, which was the white and heavy water, which without doubt was Argent Vive, which they could not fix, nor cut off his feet, that is to say, take away his volatility, save by that long decoction in the purest blood of young Infants; for in that, this Argent Vive being joined with gold and Silver, was first turned with them into an herb like that which was there painted, and afterwards, by corruption, into Serpents; which Serpents being then wholly dried, and decocted by fire, were reduced into powder of gold, which should be the Stone. This was the cause that during the space of one and twenty years, I tried a thousand broulleryes, yet never with blood, for that was wicked and villaneous: for I found in my Book that the Philosophers called Blood the mineral spirit which is in the Metals, principally in the Sun, Moon, and Mercury, to the assembling whereof, I always tended; yet these interpretations for the most part were more subtil than true. Not seeing, therefore, in my works the signs at the time written in my Book, I was always to begin again. In the end, having lost all hope of ever understanding those figures, for my last refuge I made a vow to God and St. James of Gallicia, to demand the interpretation of them at some Jewish Priest in some Synagogue of Spain.
Whereupon, with the consent of Perrenella, carrying with me the Extract of the Pictures, having taken the Pilgrims' habit and staff, in the same fashion as you may see me without this same Arch, in the Church-yard in the which I put these Hieroglyphical Figures, where I have also set against the wall, on the one and the other side, a Procession, in which are represented by order all the colours of the Stone, so as they come and go, with this writing in French: Much pleaseth God procession, If it be done in devotion.

Alchemy
is neither a list of recipes nor a dogma, or even a religion. It is existential poetry. It is spiritual knowledge, refined to the point where it can penetrate the dark corners where our strongest and most urgent desires lurk.
I
n producing the black colour, the alchemist reaches the center of the earth, where metals sleep.

The philosopher's gold
T
hus the philosopher's gold, full of impurities, surrounded by thick darkness, covered in sadness and mourning, must nevertheless be considered the true and unique raw material of the Work, even as its own true and unique raw material is mercury, from which this gold, invisible, miserable and unnoticed sprang. ( Fulcanelli Les Demeures).
T
he physical philosopher's stone and the mystical philosopher's stone are similar but not identical. To achieve the second, is to be able to achieve the first supremely; having achieved the first, one knows which may lead to the achievement of the second, but it does not necessarily mean that the journey has been made. The distinction is essential. (Savoret Qu'est ce que l' alchimie? )
W
e are, therefore, dwelling under the realms of hermeticism and esoterism.

Esoterism may be defined as a doctrine, "according to which knowledge cannot or must not be vulgarized, but only communicated to a few disciples”.
Esoteric was the adjective applied to ancient Greece to teaching in certain schools, and used also of any particularly well-qualified student; the esoteric completed and deepened the doctrine. It could be applied to any doctrine or body of knowledge which was transmitted by oral tradition to qualified adepts.
Traditional esoterism constitutes at the same time in itself, a body of knowledge, being at the same time doctrine and practice, implying for the whole of the being, body, soul and spirit, a fundamentally different way of existence, states R. Abellio in La Fin de l´ésoterisme.

Initiation
To be initiated is to set off on the trail of a hidden or unsurpassed truth that is not perceived by all. Initiation is a ritually transmitted process. The neophyte is led to the “center of the earth”, into the womb of wombs, a place where he must meet with himself, where he is led into a space-time equation where his psyche is that of a new-born looking for his identity.
It is important to understand that an initiation does not convey new powers but can be seen as operative poetry that tends to be purely ignored.
All kinds of initiations, as simple as baptism, or the coming of age in a tribal society, or even in a more elaborate integration into an esoteric society implies a symbolic rebirth, a new life, which carries the annihilation of the former self as something can only be reborn, like the phoenix from its own ashes.
Initiation is identified with the “original”. It embodies a paradox of “becoming himself” through the exaltation of the inner self, by identifying the self with the universe. In fact how can anyone contain within himself that of which he is but a part? The answer may rest in the fact the aim is not complete identification, but rather an analogy between man, the microcosm and the universe, the macrocosm. Analogy is therefore the first step of the journey, and all initiation rituals are devised to create the awareness to the importance of analogy.

The simulation of the cosmos
T
he temples that we know of and all those we do not know of are basically built under plans that confer them a hidden esoteric meaning. The word “temple” derives from templum, the Latin word that refers to a zone in the sky or in the earth marked out by an augur or a soothsayer as a suitable place in which to take auspices.

T
he importance of temples, apart from the architectural style or rules under which they were built, reside in the space where one is more able to relate with the universe, the divinity or entering into the transcendental and symbolic significance of life that invokes creation.

In more symbolic terms the temple is the stage for the collective or individual spiritual connection with the cosmos.

THE SWORD SMITH
I
n all civilizations and cultures, the one who works with fire and metals, smelting them, changing their natural state have always been considered at a special level. In some african cultures, the smith was the uncircumcised one, the one who possessed the physical atributes of masculinity and femininity, therefore considered entire, possessing the essential atributes of the cosmos i.e., the  opposites, the positive and the negative atributes of energy that is common to the entire Universe.
In the Kongo nation that occupies a large part of Western Africa the smith is cast away from the rest of the village, living isolated. These primeval fears that required the smith to be a chosen one, have a direct connection to the fact that he dealt with what was taken from Mother Nature's womb in an act of defiance.
For the Chinese, it was necessary that a sacrifice was to be made before the smelting of metals could succeed. According to Clarity and Virtue, an article by anthropologist Carlos Morais José, Yu, the Great, knew the art of melting metals. He knew how to distinguish between male and female metals. The hares of Wou, of whose bile a pair of swords was made, were a couple, hence each of the swords has a different sex. The temper comes from the union of water and fire. At that very instant, swords may some times transform into a dragon. Yin swords remain in the creeks were they are tempered. Thus the tendency of swords to plummet into the waters to seek for their lost partner. The most famous waterway, where one finds Dragon Gorge, is named the Creek of Swords precisely because it was there that a sword became a dragon and took off into the air as it was about to be tempered.
I
t therefore seems that legends from the East or those of the West, such as Excalibur and the symbolism of Avalon, drink from the same source of occult and symbolic knowledge.
How much of an alchemist is a sword smith? At the very least we know that he deals with as different elements as fire, metal, water, air that feeds fire, earth that is both the very first source for metal, and wood in any state, that ignites into fire.
Yet, while an alchemist may be more concerned with the Secret Fire and the spiritual paths initiated through the study of the transformations of metals, it is also commonly known that the Japanese smith would purify himself and wear priests clothes before starting the fire.
I am therefore led to believe that there was an initial knowledge that, at some stage was common. In fact, today smiths use salt baths that are undoubtedly related to the alchemic sulphur, mercury and salt. There is undoubtedly a chain of knowledge instead of compartmented knowledge.
Hence the unacknowledged reason behind which swords have survived both as
Symbols and as tools for sword arts practices that are apparently anachronic in the third millennium, when sophisticated weapons took for long, the place of swords, and machines substituted agricultural tools. But it is also interesting to acknwledge that in the digital age we live in, the age of iron and steel has its place, being without doubt the longest era of mankind.

The Warrior, is he an initiate?
There is nothing in the world weaker, yet more supple, than water. But to attack the strong, who will ever be as effective as water? The void within it gives it the power to transform.

In other words, the only possible way for a man to become a warrior is to undergo an experience of  physical meeting with death, which becomes an initiation. This reality is somehow supported if the fighter or warrior starts his life under the rites of initiation in which some form of suffering is endured as a test and also as a rebirth.

The warrior is, in other words, dead. For it is through this symbolic and anticipated death that will free the warrior's mind. The texts below may lend some ideas supporting this conclusion.

Shamanism incorporates rites that prepare warriors of different origins at the time of their coming of age, for their duties, by rituals that involved near death experiences or other painful ones that would prepare the new warrior to understand the importance of his role.
The Oglala Sioux warriors were initiated by being hung by their pectoral muscles through spikes skewered beneath for a large amount of time, enduring the pain and suffering until some would reach a state of hallucination that would provide them with visions of ecstasy.

A warrior initiate who undergoes such rites shows his wounds as a concrete symbol of his masculinity and courage. There is a pride associated with undertaking torture, tattoos, or any infliction of pain without crying out. The Sioux Indians exemplify this by painting a red circle around wounds as a point of interest. The warrior who has undertaken the torture ritual is believed to possess superior strength and courage. Having been so close to death and having endured great pain without crying out during his scarring, a warrior would have little to fear in battle. He has already been wounded, and is not afraid of a wound. He has already been near death, and is not afraid to die. The warrior can look at the wounds and the paint that accentuates them as proof of his strength, masculinity, physical prowess, and spirit to live. The wounds symbolize a metamorphosis of the physical body to a higher plane.

Pain is also present with the Masai of Tanzania, when the ritual of initiation is endured by 13 years old who reach manhood by circuncision.

To become a warrior, a boy must remain perfectly still and stare at a fixed point throughout the entire procedure.
Their ears are cut at an early age with coal from the fire to help prepare for the pain, while large earings are placed on the lobes.

In Northern Europe, ÓÐINN presided over the pre-christian teutonic shamanist rituals.

The warrior no matter where he comes from, share a similar fate, that of death in battle as the ultimate consequence of his life. It is understandable that, under these circumstances, the concept and conclusion that the warrior is already dead.

Therefore Shamanism is classified by anthropologists as an archaic magico-religious phenomenon in which the shaman is the great master of ecstasy. Shamanism itself, was defined by the late Mircea Eliade as a technique of ecstasy. A shaman may exhibit a particular magical specialty (such as control over fire, wind or magical flight). When a specialization is present the most common is as a healer.

The distinguishing characteristic of shamanism is its focus on an ecstatic trance state in which the soul of the shaman is believed to leave the body and ascend to the sky (heavens) or descend into the earth (underworld). The shaman makes use of spirit helpers, with whom he or she communicates, all the while retaining control over his or her own consciousness. (Examples of possession occur, but are the exception, rather than the rule.) It is also important to note that while most shamans in traditional societies are men, either women or men may and have become shamans.
There are a number of relatively common practices and experiences in traditional shamanism which are being investigated by modern researchers. While the older traditional practices are ignored by some researchers, others have begun to explore these older techniques. The emergence of the new field of the "anthropology of consciousness" and the establishment of Transpersonal Psychology as a "Fourth Force" in psychology have opened up the investigation of research into the nature and history of consciousness in ways not previously possible. Outside of academic circles a growing number of people have begun to make serious inquiries into ancient shamanic techniques for entering into altered states of consciousness.

Traditional shamans developed techniques for lucid dreaming and what is today called the out-of-the-body experience (oobe). These methods for exploring the inner landscape are being investigated by a wide range of people. Some are academics, some come from traditional societies and others are modern practitioners of non-traditional shamanism or neo-shamanism. Along with these techniques, the NDE or near-death-experience have played a significant role in shamanic practice and initiation for millennia. There is extensive documentation of this in ethnographic studies of traditional shamanism. With this renewed interest in these older traditions these shamanic methods of working with dreams and being conscious and awake while dreaming are receiving increased attention.

The ability to consciously move beyond the physical body is the particular specialty of the traditional shaman. These journeys of Soul may take the shaman into the nether realms, higher levels of existence or to parallel physical worlds or other regions of this world. Shamanic Flight, is in most instances, an experience not of an inner imaginary landscape, but is reported to be the shamans flight beyond the limitations of the physical body.

As noted in this article, the Call to shamanize is often directly related to a near death experience by the prospective shaman. Among the traditional examples are being struck by lightning, a fall from a height, a serious life-threatening illness or lucid dream experiences in which the candidate dies or has some organs consumed and replaced and is thus reborn. Survival of these initial inner and outer brushes with death provides the shaman with personal experiences which strengthen his or her ability to work effectively with others. Having experienced something, a shaman is more likely to understand what must be done to correct a condition or situation.

Post-Shamanic: While shamanism may be readily identified among many hunting and gathering peoples and in some traditional herding societies, identifying specific groups of individuals who might be called shamans is a difficult task in more stratified agricultural and manufacturing based societies. A society may be said to be Post- Shamanic when there are the presence of shamanic motifs in its traditional folklore or spiritual practices indicate a clear pattern of traditions of ascent into the heavens, descent into the nether- worlds, movement between this world and a parallel Otherworld, are present in its history. Such a society or tradition may have become very specialized and recombined aspects of mysticism, prophecy and shamanism into more specialized or more "fully developed" practices and may have assigned those to highly specialized functionaries. When such practices and functionaries are present or have teplaced the traditional shamans found in historical or traditional shamanism the use of Post-shamanic is appropriate.

More specifically, a society may be said to be Post-Shamanic when at least 6 of the following 8 conditions have been met:

Shamanic ecstasy is still present, but light trance techniques are also used to access the Otherworld.
Agriculture and some forms of manufacturing/crafts have replaced hunting and gathering as the primary basis for the economic life of the community.
The society has developed a highly stratified social structure and very specialized occupations.
Religion and spiritual methodology has become more fully developed and can no longer be properly referred to as "archaic." This is expecially important for rituals, ceremonies and ecstatic techniques which had traditionally been the domain of the shamans.
Mystical ecstasy and unitive visions have become at least as important esoteric experiences and doctrines as shamanic ecstasy, ascension and descent in the religious and spiritual life of the community.
The shaman is no longer the primary escort for the souls of the dead into their place in the next world (psychopomp). This role generally either passes onto the priestcraft or clergy to perform through ritual, is an object of individual or group prayer, or is beleived to be done by gods of guardian spirits, angels or demons.
A professional clergy is present which regulates the religious life of the community.
Other forms of healing, divining and counseling are present have replaced shamans as the primary source of such services.

Post-shamanic motifs are found among many Indo-Eruopean, Asian, African and some native peoples of North America. The use of Post-Shamanic as a term makes examination of these parallel traditons and possible survivals of earlier shamanic traditions easier.

Therefore we may conclude that ancient warriors were submitted to some form of Initiation which provided them an everlasting experience with death.

In Medieval myth and legend, nothing has held more fascination or mystique than the tradition-shrouded ceremony which preceded a knighting ceremony. This initiation ceremony, known as the Vigil of Arms, has captured the fantasy of knighthood long after the actual practice became an anachronism. But what was this forgotten ceremony, and what made it an intrical part of Medieval society?

T
here are two forms of vigil which were performed in correspondence to knighthood in the Middle Ages. The first was a standard vigil, a trial run for the lesser-experienced combatants on the night before a tourney or joust. The other was the ceremonious Vigil of Arms, which an esquire was required to keep the night before he became a knight. It is this latter ceremony which is the focus of so much secrecy and significance.

O
riginally, during the Dark Ages, knighting was done on the battlefield, or shortly thereafter. If a squire performed some act of high bravery, he was knighted by his liege-lord directly after the day’s battle, with no pomp or ceremony. Then, around the year AD 1200, the Catholic Church took over the dubbing of knights and imposed its rituals and obligations on the event, turning the knighting into both a ceremony and a sacrament.

U
nder the Church’s two-day ritual, the candidate for knighthood took a symbolic bath, donned symbolic garments, and stood or knelt for ten to twelve hours in a night-long sacred watch, or at prayer. At dawn, mass was said in front of an audience of nobles. The candidate’s sponsors then presented him to his feudal lord, and gave him his armour and weaponry after a prayer and blessing had been said over each piece of equipment. Then, the soon-to-be knight’s sponsors attached his spurs. Then he knelt before his feudal lord and swore homage before he was officially granted the rank of knight. The knighting itself was straightforward, and is well-documented and public. But what did this mysterious Vigil of Arms involve, and who was it for?

A
ny esquire who had been deemed worthy of receiving his spurs (hence the saying “to earn one’s spurs”) and who had obtained a worthy sponsor, could be offered knighthood once he had undergone his Vigil of Arms. Every part of this vigil had a significance, and no part of it could be skipped, or the candidate would be declared unworthy of the honour and responsibilities of knighthood. Every action of the candidate, during the vigil, must reflect spiritual purity and integrity, and his worthiness of the rewards of Paradise.

T
here were six basic actions of the Vigil of Arms, every one of them required for knighthood. First, the hair of the candidate was cut, since sacrificing one’s hair was seen as a sign of devotion to God. Generally, the cutting of a single lock was considered sufficient, but some of the more holy orders of knights required their candidates to be shorn in the fashion of a priest’s tonsure.

A
fter his hair was cut, the candidate was bathed and put in a bed, symbolising his having been cleansed of his past sins. Then, as a symbol of his new purity, the candidate was dressed in a long white tunic. A red garment with long sleeves and a hood was then placed over the white tunic, indication that the candidate was now prepared to shed his own blood in God’s service and the service of his liege-lord. Then, a close-fitting black coat was put on over top everything else to remind him that everyone eventually meets death, and that a knight should never fear that death. Then, as the final preparation for his night-long watch, the knight-to-be was required to fast for twenty-four hours. This final step was meant to purify his body and soul, humble him into his humanity, and remind him to always champion the poor and meek. Then, prepared at last, he would enter the chapel, kneel or stand before his weapons which were displayed on the altar, and further humble himself before God in a holy watch of no less than ten hours.

The purpose
of the Vigil of Arms was to purify the future knight and always remind him that his duty to God and Church superseded all worldly duties or possessions. After that, he was responsible to the duty imposed on him by his liege-lord, then by his sponsors. He was also to champion the poor and misused, and to hold all of these things above himself.

W
hether for good or ill, the practice of the Vigil of Arms died out of use along with feudalism in most parts of the world, and knighthood became little more than a title of honour. However, the basis of the Vigil of Arms remains in effect for some, including candidates for the Papal Swiss Guard.

 

Warriors of the Far East

CHINA

Qin Shihuangdi
who was able to unify the seven states and unify China was known to be a ruthless and powerful warrior who was originally King of the State of Qing, hence the name. His burial tomb in Xian is well known for the thousands of life size sculptures of warriors that provide a very important clue to the study of weaponry and military warfare of his times.

Chinese civilization and culture would influence all surrounding states and kingdoms mainly Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.

Although much is not known on the rituals of initiation until the later Qing Dynasty (also known as Ching, 1644-1911). At this later times initiations were performed for members of Secret Societies who were to be admitted.

Nonetheless the long Chinese History is full of heroes and acts of bravery with sacrifice of their lives, while Sun Tzu wrote the important strategy book known as The Art of War.

SUN TZU's  ATTACK BY STRATAGEM

In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.

The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege.

Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field.

With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph
will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem.

It is the rule in war, if our forces are ten to the enemy's one, to surround him; if five to one, to attack him; if twice as numerous, to divide our army into two.

 

JAPAN

T
he Japanese society has evolved since the Yamato (300 - 645) unified state, which begins with emergence of powerful clan rulers; Japan establishes close contacts with mainland Asia.
 
This would soon pave the way to a warrior oriented feudal society where bushi (warrior) would later be replaced by the samurai (he who serves) who would learn to perfect their abilities to conquer the fear of death, therefore freeing their minds. Zen Buddhism which was introduced from China in 1191, became very popular among the members of Military class. In Zen, one can achieve self-enlightenment through meditation and self discipline.
The issue of Life and Death found in Zen the answer to existential matters, thus contributing the afore mentioned conquer of the fear of death.

Free from death, the samurai would later develop a code of honor known as Bushido through Yamaga Soko (1622-1685), Japanese master of religion and military science.

Origin and Principles of the Way of the Warrior

Bushido
derives from three early sources:

T
he ancient animistic belief of the Japanese, known as Shintoism (the Way of the Gods) emphasized naturalness, sincerity and the spirituality of all things Japanese. This tradition suffused bushido with the sense of a sacred link to one's peers, the soil and the mission of Japan.

During the 12th century, a warrior class (bushi) emerged near present-day Tokyo. The Bushi usurped power from the aristocratic elite in the capital of Kyoto, and conquered new territory in eastern Japan. Some of these bands gave allegiance to their lords through total self-renunciation and personal loyalty; others constantly shifted their allegiance for materialistic gain. Gradually, a code of ethics developed which stressed the samurai's unconditional willingness to die for his master. By the mid-seventeenth century, this code supported an attitude toward death which idealized and romanticized the warrior who was honor-bound to die for his lord, or even to commit ritualistic suicide (seppuku).

The major religious influence on the warrior class was Zen Buddhism, which teaches that the goal of life is personal enlightenment through ascetic selflessness, rigorous discipline, and repetitive effort. However, religious discipline must not become lost in the drudgery of the rituals. Enlightenment is achieved through spontaneous, instinctive revelations, or single acts of self-awareness which erupt from toilsome tasks. Enlightenment is not a consequence of rational judgement, but of sudden personal discovery.

PRINCIPLES OF BUSHIDO

Yamaga Soko
(1622-1685) synthesized the thinking of the various religious and military schools to describe what became known as "The Way of the Warrior." Yamaga related the traditional values of sincerity, loyalty, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice to the Chinese values of a sage.

To be a real warrior, one needs to be cultivated in humanistic arts, i.e., poetry, painting, calligraphy and music, while in service to the master. The true sage combines virtues of "wisdom, humanity, and valor" to perform his service to his lord's government. During the peaceful Tokugawa era (1602-1868), ethics of bushido prevented the military from becoming a warlike and oppressive elite. Rather, the samurai became administrators, accountants, artists, scholars, and entrepreneurs.
Miyamoto Musashi (b. 1584?-d. ?) combined the roles of warrior, artist and intellectual. In l643 he wrote the classic on military strategy, A Book of Five Rings.
As an artist, he became noted for his intensity and extraordinary monochromatic ink paintings. Other samurai such as Uragami Gyokudo (1745-1820) renounced or neglected their military role and concentrated on the humanistic artist of music, painting, and literature.

The Mitsui Company, one of Japan's largest business enterprises, was just one of many Tokugawa businesses operated by a samurai family. These contributions to civil society helped Japan develop economically and intellectually into the twentieth century.

There was also a non-Chinese or indigenous influence. The samurai classic Hagakure (1716), by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719), provided the famous aphorism: "Bushido is a way of dying."
Contrary to Yamaga's emphasis on public service or the balance between the military and civic role of the samurai, Yamamoto idealized and spiritualized the role of death.

The loyal and self-abnegating samurai is expected to give his life spontaneously and unquestioningly for his master. A life that ends in death on the battlefield with unswerving hard work and dedication, or in ritualistic suicide is glorious. Yamaga and Yamamoto agreed that only through action could one pursue truth and self-enlightenment.
The "Way of the Warrior" emphasized human performance, intuition, and spontaneity.

Training in the martial arts (bujutsu) was an important technique to promote group cohesiveness and self-awareness. Through bujutsu the samurai discovers and overcomes his spiritual and physical weaknesses, thereby deepening his self-awareness and ultimately preparing himself for a life of service and a readiness to sacrifice. The abolishment of feudalism and the samurai class in 1872 did not also end the appeal of bushido. The rise of militant nationalism and Imperial Shintoism created a militaristic bushido.

The publication of Fundamentals of Our National Policy by the Ministry of Education in 1937 declared in unequivocable terms that bushido was the "outstanding characteristic of our national morality." The new bushido "shed itself of an outdated feudalism . . . [and] became the Way of loyalty and patriotism, and has evolved before us as the spirit of the imperial forces." The Japanese soldier was called upon to sacrifice his life for the Emperor. A strong central government and a fascist military system forcefully made the new bushido a significant part of Japan's imperialist expansion.

CONCLUSION

T
he history of mankind is rooted into many different aspects that one should be reminded of, and with an open mind be aware of the wealth of information that History provides in order that some dogmatic thoughts are removed and an open and inquisitive mind is present, searching not just for the sword, but for essential knowledge that provides the body with what Pierre de Coubertin re-quoted as mens sana in corpore sano or in other words, the pen before the sword.

War was probably a necessity when nations were in the forging, or when basic economic needs required that men conquered men. But today it emerges as a plague that requires ultimate skills to handle emotions, beliefs, ideologies and all other distorted views that precipitate killing.
T
he romanticized warrior or knight had a time and circumstances of his own. Nevertheless, courage and honour are values that are to be cherished as much as the pursuit of perfection of our personal spiritual realm.
 


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