The Heart of the Warrior: Origins and Religious Background of the Samurai System in Feudal Japan
Psychology Press, 1994 - 226
From their origins as provincial men-at-arms the samurai, or more correctly bushi, evolved into a warrior nobility which for seven centuries held supreme power in Japan. This book traces the development of their concept of chivalrous behaviour and strict code of honour, later known as Bushido, 'the Way of the Warrior'. The manner in which the bushi regarded themselves and their role in society, and the awe they inspired, has earned them an almost mythical status as well as widespread interest. The warrior ethic is examined here in relation to the three traditional religious influences, Shinto, Confucianism and Buddhism. As professional warriors the bushi contravened one of the central religious tenets, the injunction against taking life, common to Buddhism and Shinto. Observance of the principle of loyalty until death, and indeed for the duration of several existences, justified their actions.
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