Samurai creed

I have no parents; I make the heaven and earth my mother and father.
I have no home; I make awareness my dwelling.
I have no life and death; I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power; I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means; I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets; I make character my magic secret.
I have no body; I make endurance my body.
I have no eyes; I make the flash of lightning my eyes.
I have no ears; I make sensibility my ears.
I have no limbs; I make promptness my limbs.
I have no strategy; I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy
I have no designs; I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my design.
I have no miracles; I make right action my miracle.
I have no principles; I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics; I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents; I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends; I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemy; I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor; I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle; I make immovable mind my castle.
I have no sword; I make absence of self my sword.


I first read a version of those words in a martial arts book, back when I was a young weeaboo, and the bleak reiterating format is striking. Later around high school I saw it again in Eric Lustbader's The Miko. I didn't know what to call it, I remembered the first lines as:

I have no parents; I make the earth and sky my parents
I have no home; in the depths of my soul I make my home

Googling around, apparently it's called the "samurai creed," with several slightly different wordings extant on the web, original author unknown, from the 14th century. There's no Wikipedia page for the samurai creed, but maybe there should be; Robert Pinsky's Samurai Song riffs on the theme, and it is eminently riffable.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Word verification keep out the spambots, but comments will never be censored. Crocker's Rules. Tell me I'm an ass.