Budo Sai - 21 Precepts of the Samurai

If you try to live your life by the following precepts then you will find it enriching and fulfilling.

Know yourself
(Jikoo o shiru koto)
There are good and bad character traits in every human being. Everyone has faults and virtues and it is only by understanding these character traits that you can grow as a person. If there are any negative aspects of your personality and character that you are unable to change then look for a way to work around them.

Always follow through on commitments
(Jibun no kimeta koto wa saigo made kikko suru koto)
Regardless of whether you make a commitment to yourself or to others always follow it through. Failures can be very upsetting and can, in some cases, damage or destroy self-esteem. Always think things through carefully before making any commitment and then you will be less likely to break it. Only commit yourself to those things that are truly important to you and never over commit yourself or you will be less likely to succeed.

Respect everyone
(Ikanaru hito demo sonke suru koto)
The true Samurai Warrior respected everyone including his enemies. Respect other people for their culture and beliefs as well as their ideas and who they are. It is only by doing this that people can live peacefully alongside each other and gain understanding.

Hold strong convictions that cannot be altered by your circumstances
(Kankyo ni sayu sarenai tsuyoi shinnen o motsu koto)
It is very easy to make convictions but hard to stick to them especially when peer pressure is against you. Incredible strength of conviction is needed to withstand the social and economic pressures in the modern world for example, drug and alcohol abuse, greed, laziness and self indulgence.

Don't make an enemy of yourself
(Mizu kara teki o tsukuranai koto)
Treat people with respect and compassion and make something of your life. Jealousy, spite, greed, self-indulgence and pity are very dislikable character traits that will not make you any friends. Don’t be your own worst enemy.

Live without regrets
(Koto ni oite kokaisezu)
The past cannot be changed so do not wallow in regret. Instead learn from your mistakes and move forward. Think before you do things. If you think that you might regret any planned action then don’t do it in the first place. Take responsibility for your mistakes and try not to repeat them.

Be certain to make a good first impression
(Hito to no deai o taisetsu ni suru koto)
First impressions count. Try to constantly live your life by leaving everyone with good impressions. If you are achieving this then you are more likely to be leading a decent and positive life.

Don't cling to the past
(Miren o motanai koto)
Nostalgia has its place but make sure that you are not living your life in the past or you will be missing out on the present and the future. Let go of the good and the bad of the past. Leave behind past glories as well as past failures.

Never break a promise
(Yakusoku o yaburanai koto)
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t ever make a promise that you can’t or have no intention of keeping. If you do make a promise then do everything that you can to keep it. One broken promise can cause so much pain and disappointment that it outweighs many that are kept.

Don't depend on other people
(Hito ni tayoranai koto)
Have fulfilling relationships and allow people to become involved in your life but never depend on them. Adults should take personal responsibility for their own lives. Have realistic expectations of life and feel genuine gratitude for the things that people do for you. This will avoid anger, upset and hurt if you are let down.

Don't speak ill of others
(Hito o onshitsu shinai koto)
If you are upset with someone or hold a grievance then be respectful and speak to the person directly and not about that person to other people. It takes real courage to openly discuss problems in friendships and settle your differences but if that can be achieved then the friendship will grow and mature.

Don't be afraid of anything
(Ikanaku koto ni oite mo osorenai koto)
The Samurai had already conquored the fear of death and were instead looking for a noble death. If you do not fear death then you cannot fear life. Fear prevents you from thinking clearly and reacting naturally. Face your problems whether they are everyday niggles or more challenging. Never run away from confronting issues unless you are in physical danger. Do not use escapism or build up emotional barriers to mask difficulties and never resort to using drugs or alcohol to ease the hardships because they will still be there in the morning! Treat the cause not the symptom.

Respect the opinions of others
(Hito no iken o soncho suru koto)
Other people’s opinions are not necessarily right or wrong just different. Some may even be more valid than your own so respect they may have value. Opinions are borne and shaped from people’s lives and experiences so listen and take note and do not dismiss them out of hand. Evaluate everyone's opinions and follow those with value.

Have compassion and understanding for everyone
(Hito ni taishite omoiyari o motsu koto)
Compassion comes through understanding. If you truly care about people and understand them then they will in turn treat you with loyalty and respect. It is especially important to show compassion and understanding for your friends and family as this is the key for achieving harmonious relationships.

Don't be impetuous (rash, passionately impulsive)
(karuhazumi ni koto o okosanai koto)
Many years ago the Samurai lived by a strict code of honour and had to think very carefully about every decision that they made because the slightest mistake could result in dishonour of their family and their own death. Therefore, the implications of every action had to be considered beforehand. Although times are more lenient today care should still be taken to avoid acting too rashly and landing yourself or your loved ones in trouble.

Even little things must be attended to
(Chiisa na koto demo taisetsu ni suru koto)
Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. If you leave a dripping tap unattended you will come home to a huge flood. Life is very much like that. Small issues can result in huge problems if left for a long period of time. Sort out things before they mount up. If you can’t do things by yourself then delegate the duties to someone else or ask for help from friends or family.

Never forget to be appreciative
(Kansha no kimochi o wasurenai koto)
Help others and always try to act in an unselfish manner. A smile and a thank you can go a very long way and a smile can say a thousand words. If you forget to thank people when they have come to your assistance then they will very likely not be around should you ever need help again. Always be appreciative of the things that people do for you no matter how small they may be.

Be first to seize the opportunity
(Hito yori sossenshi kodo suru koto)
Seize the moment. Life does not present opportunities all the time so whenever they come along then grab them. Be ready to act swiftly because some chances will only come once in a lifetime.

Make a desperate effort
(Issho kenmei monogoto o suru koto)
Tackle all tasks with an effort as if your life depended on it and you will be surprised at what you can achieve.

Have a plan for your life
(Jinsei no mokuhyo o sadameru koto)
Your life is a journey. Imagine traveling around the country with no map. It would not be long before you would get lost. Life is very much like that. Make a basic plan and follow it as best you can. Plan for your future. Do not drift aimlessly into dead end jobs but instead decide what you want to train in and then study accordingly. A plan can be as basic as just knowing where you want to live and if you wish to marry to as complex as deciding specific ages of key events in your life or planning every last detail. If you plan ahead then you are more likely to realise your dreams and ambitions.

Never lose your "Beginner's Spirit"
(Shoshin o wasurubekarazaru koto)
Never lose sight of the basics and always try to embrace things as if you where trying them for the first time. Complex problems can be broken down and often solved by the simplest of things if you just follow the basic fundamentals of life. This can also help things feel fresh and invigorating whilst you remain humble and adopt a degree of humility.

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