Buddhism Zen in samurai

Masashi Chiba Sensei - KendoZen has had a strong influence on the development of martial arts in Japan. Essentially, Zen and the martial arts have the same spirit, the same essence.

In ancient Japan, Zen had a major impact on Samurai warriors, and it and was widely adopted as their official religion. The Samurai achieved perfection in martial arts such as kenjutsu, kyujutsu, and jujutsu through the practice of Zazen.

The practice of Zen was ideal for the Samurai way of life as it put emphasis on self-composure, vigilance, and tranquility in the face of death. Because of this, Zazen is called the religion of the Samurai. Even the great swordsman Musashi Miyamoto and some of the 47 Ronin were Zen adepts.

The Bushido, which was the unwritten code of conduct of the Samurai, found its origins in Zen and Shintoism. Many Zen concepts, such as control of the emotions, acceptance of the inevitable, and self-control in the face of any event were highly influential in the development of the Bushido.

KendoZen Buddhism also taught the Samurai to have an intimate awareness of death, and it stressed the importance of detachment from material possessions. Thus, Zen concepts became the heart and soul of the Bushido.

Understanding true martial arts.

Many people in the Western world practice martial arts as a sport, without the spirit of Zen or the Bushido as their foundation.

Without a foundation in Zen, one can hardly understand the full extent of the philosophy of the practice of martial arts. Without Zen, the practice of martial arts is a meaningless practice, and it becomes simply a sport like hockey or baseball. Of course, there is nothing wrong with sports, but they are only games that function as a form of amusement. However, the tradition of Budo, or Japanese martial arts, is of a higher dimension and is certainly more than a game.

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Popular Q&A

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What was the relationship between Zen Buddhism and the samurai?

Zen is a school of Buddhism that that is based on an ongoing and immediate (no rationalization required) response to the world. The samurai appreciated the Zen concept of "instantaneous appreciation of the whole", that is they could react immediately to a situation without the analysis of the morality of their actions. Zen study cultivated this ability which was easily translated into immediates defense if attacked, and complete dedication to a course of action once initiated.

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In what way did Zen Buddhism affect the Samurai and Daimyo class in Japan?

There is no such thing as Zen Buddhism. Zen is a religious philosophy and a way of meditation mainly practiced by Buddhist monks and artists. By practicing Zen, monks wrote many books and artists produced a variety of arts, including Shodo, Chado and Kado that are still alive today as traditional culture of Japan.
On the other hand, samurai were warriors (military); they were not interested in religious practice. Samurai studied Confucianism and Bushido as their code of conduct which emphasizes
「君に忠、親に孝、自らを節すること厳しく、
下位の者に仁慈を以てし、敵には憐みをかけ、
私欲を忌み、公正を尊び、富貴よりも名誉を以て貴しとなす」。
You don'…

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