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The Samurai began as provincial warriors before rising to power during the 12th century as members of a powerful military caste in feudal Japan. The samurai started Japan’s first military dictatorship, known as the shogunate. As servants of the daimyos (great lords), the samurai helped the shogun gain power over the mikado (emperor) and dominate Japanese government and society until the Meiji Restoration of 1868 when the country abolished the feudal system

After the Meiji Restoration many of the samurai entered the elite ranks of politics and industry and made the traditional samurai code of honor, discipline and morality known as bushido or “the way of the warrior” the basic code of conduct for Japanese society. They made the Shinto the state religion of Japan and, unlike Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity, it was Japanese and adopted bushido as its ruling moral code. 

Japan signed an alliance agreement with Britain in 1902 and defeated the Russians in Manchuria two years later. By 1912, Japan had built up its military strength and by the end of World War 1 was recognized at the Versailles peace conference as one of the “Big Five” powers alongside Britain, the U.S., France, and Italy. 

The liberal, cosmopolitan 1920s gave way to a revival of Japan’s military traditions in the 1930s, leading to imperial aggression and Japan’s entrance into World War II. During that conflict, Japanese soldiers brought antique samurai swords into battle and made suicidal “banzai” attacks according to the bushido principle of death before dishonor or defeat. By the end of the war Japan had to draw on its strong sense of honor, discipline, and devotion to a common cause again, but not with the daimyos and shoguns of the past, but with the emperor and the country. This allowed Japan to rebuild itself and reemerge as one of the world’s greatest economic and industrial powers of the 20th century.

Kaiten Nukariya

“It is the divine light, the inner heaven, the key to all moral treasures, the centre of thought and consciousness, the source of all influence and power, the seat of kindness, justice, sympathy, impartial love, humanity, and mercy, the measure of all things.”

Interesting Quotes from the Author

“Zen is completely free from the fetters of old dogmas, dead creeds, and conventions of stereotyped past, that check the development of religious faith and prevent the discovery of a new truth. Zen needs no Inquisition. It never compelled nor will compel the compromise of a Galileo or a Descartes. No ex-communication of a Spinoza or the burning of a Bruno is possible for Zen.”

“It is the divine light, the inner heaven, the key to all moral treasures, the centre of thought and consciousness, the source of all influence and power, the seat of kindness, justice, sympathy, impartial love, humanity, and mercy, the measure of all things.”

Kaiten Nukariya, The Religion of the Samurai A Study of Zen Philosophy and Discipline in China and Japan

“The golden age is not passed. It is yet to come. There are not a few who think that the world is in completion, and the Creator has finished His work. We witness, however, that He is still working and working, for actually, we hear His hammer-strokes resounding through heaven above and the earth beneath. Does He not show us new materials for His building? Does He not give new forms to His design? Does He not surprise us with novelties, extraordinary, and mysteries? In a word, the world is in progress, not in retrogression.”

 “We should always bear in mind that the world is alive, and changing, and moving. It goes on to disclose a new phase, or to add a new truth.”

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