Zen buddhism in samurai culture

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As modern people who don’t know too deeply about the culture of Samurais, we tend to look at them in a superficial way. We look at them as just a person who carries a sword and knows martial arts. They are usually depicted as Japanese warriors who are either heroes or perhaps a ruthless villain. Some of these assumptions are in fact partly true, however it does not entirely define a samurai. There is a lot more to a samurai than just combat. These swordsmen had a culture, principles, beliefs, philosophies and religion. One philosophical religion in particular that heavily influenced Samurai culture was Zen Buddhism. It played a major role in their lives. It shaped the samurai’s way of life, mentally and psychologically, which in return aided them in their combat and martial arts.

Zen Buddhism is a form of practice in spiritual awakening between a master and his student. “Zen is Zazen or Zen meditation, za meaning sitting, or seated meditation” (2). Just as stated, to perform the meditation properly the person would sit on some type of soft cushion with their legs folded together. Next, the person would have there hands together while looking on the floor in front on them with there eyes relaxed open. The whole purpose is for the person to relax and let go all of the tensions from their lives caused by their thoughts, basically detaching oneself from the world. It is the practicing of emptying the mind in hopes of reaching enlightenment. Although Zen Buddhism is a practice between the master and his student, the master never really teaches the student anything. “Zen is not a moral teaching, and as it is without dogma, it does not require one to believe in anything. A true spiritual path does not tell people what to believe in...

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...chings of Zen Buddhism. These principles are Gi, Yu, Jin, Rei, Makoto, Meiyo, and Chugo. In translation, these words mean righteousness, courage, benevolence, truthfulness, honor, loyalty, and respect. They helped the samurai clear their mind before any battle to not fear death, but rather embrace the possibility of it.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that Zen Buddhism is a samurai religion. The two connected perfectly together. It aided the samurai at their way of life through meditation and way of being. It heavily influenced them in their battle physically and mentally, martial arts, and their principles. Not only that, but also Zen influenced their lives during their off time from being warriors through recreational activities such as making poetry, tea rituals, and gardening. They achieved their ideal way of life and culture through Zen Buddhism.
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