Monday, March 4, 2013

Education of a Young Samurai

Below is an other excerpt from the Book “My Narrow Isle” by Sumie Seo Mishima. She was born at the beginning of the 20th century on a Samurai family. Although at this period Samurai had lost their privileges, their spirit was still very much alive. After the death of her father the author was still in third grade, and she went to live with one of her maternal aunt in Tokyo. Here she explains a little more about her Uncle, and the education he received as a young samurai.

Uncle had a very serious face. He seldom smiled and almost never laughed or got angry. His movement was slow and ceremonious. Whenever I showed any sign of haste or feeling, he told me that it was most unbecoming to a samurai woman. 

Once I was struck in the street by a signboard blown off by the wind. He said it was most careless of me to be struck by such a thing as a signboard. One should train oneself to have self control enough to dodge any unexpected attack.

When he was young, he ans his two brothers were disciplined by their father under a rule that anyone in the family might strike any other person at any time of the day and night even when the victim was asleep, provided in the latter case the attack was made with a sufficiently loud cry preceding the blow. The one struck was not to make any complaint, however severe the blow might be. 

In this way the young samurai were trained to self composure coming from supremely trained watchfulness, which Uncle said had proved useful in saving him from various possible accidents even after samurai sword-fighting had been made illegal.

His swords had long been put aside, but anyone could tell he was a samurai by his lordly carriage. 


If you think this was harsh, consider the attitude these young men were able to develop. This kind of upbringing makes you become totally responsible for yourself. Something happens to you, you have nobody else to blame but yourself. 

We are surrounded by sorry people - of all political horizons - who keep blaming society for how unfair life is to them. Not much can be done for them. If you try to ease their pains, they will find something else to feel sorry about. If they had received this kind of education, they would probably not have this kind of attitude. 

And let us be clear about this. We are all responsible for this, not just their own parents...

Beside that, I  am also a firm believer in letting kids fights at school – open hand fights – no knives or guns of course. Fights allow testosterone and resentment to be vented before they accumulate so much that you feel the need to kill someone with a gun. 

Before we ask teachers to carry guns, we should let kids settle their disputes with their fists.

But this is another story...

1 comment:

Frederic Lecut said...

Very good. Violence is a given in life; it is only a matter of direction and intensity. We are foolish to deny this fact and pretend that people, who are prey animals, should ignore their most primal instincts. Anger is not always ego and when we look hard we cannot find this ego. To imagine that we should never feel anger is the flip-side of the delusion that we should never suffer. This is not Buddhism. In Zen, we "watch the anger arise"... we do not indulge it. We are always feeling a degree of anger. Same for all other emotions, which are merely variations on a theme. Like the energy in the sun, they are always there, roiling under the surface. When there is an anomaly, a sunspot, when someone "makes us angry," we are caught off-guard in a flare of rage. There is a true source of the anger, but it is not the incident upon which we project it. Do not be fooled; our life is constantly under threat. This way we practice the "preaching of the unemotional."