Bushido - Part 4 (Benevolence)

posted Oct 5, 2009, 5:48 PM by Robert Collins II

Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1: disposition to do good
2 a: an act of kindness b: a generous gift
3: a compulsory levy by certain English kings with no other authority than the claim of prerogative

Another precept of the Code of Bushido or Knightly ways, was the idea of benevolence. Benevolence also is linked very strongly to rectitude and courage, two of the previous precepts discussed. Benevolence is an outgrowth of “right thinking” and courageous behavior.

Leo Rosten said, "I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong." This quote is very much akin to the well-known quote “Bushi no Nasake”, the tenderness of a warrior. It is very appropriate to equate the warrior’s tenderness with benevolence because it comes from a position of strength and the ability to do harm as well as good.

The Bushi Masamune’ also cautions against becoming too compassionate or tender as he states, “rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness; benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness.”

Doing good is so much more powerful when the ability to harm at will is present. Therefore, it seems to me, benevolence is an act of the mighty as opposed to the weak.

Benevolence implies choice. By definition the weak, who have no choice, cannot demonstrate the benevolence of the warrior.

There is a place in today’s world for the code of Bushido and you can see it in the films and photos that have come back from Iran and Afghanistan. You can see our young fighting men playing with children, caring for the elderly and generally showing the compassion of strength. In general they have been fine examples of Bushido in action in a modern world.

Practice the way of the warrior in both strength and tenderness.

Remember that benevolence is not just a right of the warrior it is a responsibility.