I have written a few articles here at Timberwolf HQ on the number 7, its mysteries and the effect it seems to have on the human psyche. It seemed appropriate that I follow those up with the Seven Principles of the Way of the Warrior. I do not mean a physical warrior, although this may also be true. I mean the Spiritual Warrior and Seeker of the Way.
The 7 principles I am referring to are also known as the 7 virtues. They have long been held as the highest ideals of the Samurai and the followers of the Bushido1 code. It is interesting to note that out of all the virtues that could have been chosen and the number, those that were eventually settled upon numbered 7. The number relates to many things including Shichi-Go-San2 (a ritual rite of passage for 3 and 7-year-old girls and 3, 5 & 7-year-old boys) and Kyu Sei Ki-Gaku3 which is:
a system of Oriental astrology, numerology, directionology, and study of destiny based on a Magic table of nine basic stages of energy flow.
Shichi-Go-San was originally practiced by those of noble birth and was overtime incorporated into the belief systems of the Samurai and the Bushido Code. Kyu Sei Ki-Gaku gives meaning to the numbers from 1 to 9. Having the number 7 as a character number gave the following meaning:
Potential ~ Charismatic, easy-going, diplomatic, wise, observant, receptive, leader.
Out of balance ~ Lazy, aloof, shallow, dismissive, spoilt, wasteful.
The 7 virtues or principles that the Samurai strove to achieve at the highest levels would have enabled them to become the consummate diplomat. These principles5 are:
- Rectitude ( gi) – rightness or practice; exact conformity to truth, or to the rules prescribed for moral conduct, either by divine or human laws; (moral) uprightness, integrity; honesty; morality; straightness.
- Courage ( yu) – the quality of a confident character not to be afraid or intimidated easily but without being incautious or inconsiderate; the ability to do things which one finds frightening; …”Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” ~ Mark Twain
- Benevolence ( jin) – disposition to do good; charitable kindness; an altruistic gift or act.
- Respect ( rei) – an attitude of consideration or high regard; good opinion, honour, or admiration; polite greetings, often offered as condolences after a death.
- Honesty ( makoto or shin) – the act, quality, or condition of being honest; to be truthful.
- Honour ( meiyo) – an objectification of praiseworthiness, respect (for example: something that represents praiseworthiness, respect).
- Loyalty ( chugi) – unswerving in allegiance; faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government; faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due; faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product; the state of being loyal; fidelity.
7 very powerful descriptors. Most people would find it difficult to attain to one or two, the Samurai sought to excel at all 7. The question is why 7? It may have something to do with the reasons outlined in a book I was reading called “The Ancient Wisdom“.6. In it Geoffrey Ashe tracks the origins and significance of the number 7 as he has uncovered it.
Whether 7 is a number buried deep within the human psyche through ancient wisdom or whether it is just a convenient number, I have invested some time in developing my own list of 7 attributes. I call them the Seven Principles of the Way of the Warrior. These principles or attitudes are given below:
- Love – universal acceptance of the emotional aspect of human nature; demonstrated concern for the well-being of others.
- Compassion – a feeling of deep understanding about or for another being; a strong desire to alleviate suffering in others.
- Open-mindedness – having or attaining an unprejudiced, unbigoted or impartial view of the universe; maintaining a receptive mind; being open to new ideas or arguments.
- Faith – trust in a person, ability or observation that is not based on proof; belief in a code of ethics or standards of merit, loyalty or fidelity towards fellow beings.
- Vision – something seen or otherwise experienced; an occurrence in which an inspired idea delivers considered improvement to the circumstances of yourself and others.
- Tolerance – objective and fair attitude toward people whose beliefs, practices, division of humanity or creed differ from our own; unbiased interest in ideas, opinions and practices different to one’s own; undogmatic point of view.
- Dedication – attaining a state of commitment to others; undertaking service to others without seeking gain or reward; loyalty or allegiance to an ideal.
I am certain that there exists in almost every spiritual paradigm, a list of virtues that are promoted as being the only attributes to cultivate. Christianity has its list of 7 virtues and 7 sins. My list is just that, a list of personal traits that mean something to me and perhaps to many others among you, my readers. I share them with you in the hopes that they will be of benefit to you.
Above when talking about the 7 virtues of the Samurai, I said that it would take a great effort to achieve a high level of personal achievement in them. The same applies to my list of 7 principles or attitudes. To practice and live these in their full measure would likely take a lifetime of effort and commitment which is what Spiritual Warriors and Seekers of the Way are prepared to undertake. While I am a humble novice in this area, I have found that adopting these principles or attitudes has allowed me to develop as a person within myself and as a member of the community.
I am interested to know if you, my readers, have your own set of principles that you live by. Leave your list in the comments below.