The Samurai’s Creed

Sayadaw U Jotika from Burma took an early dislike to an anonymous poem from around the 14th century that’s best known as The Samurai’s Creed, he told a packed audience at a recent dhamma talk in Bangkok. (Sayadaw is a Burmese honorific for a highly respected senior monk.)

But the verses’ pared-down simplicity and unlikely-sounding combinations eventually wore down that resistance and grew to captivate the 62-year-old teacher, whose ideas are readily available in Burma on CDs, in books and even adorning the walls of the Lucky Seven Tea Shop in Rangoon.,8211,0,0,1,0

“To overcome loneliness, first learn to meditate, to live in the moment. Living like this, your mind becomes very peaceful, very calm, very strong. Mindfulness makes you very Strong. You will develop inner strength.”

The poem begins:

I have no parents

I make heaven and earth my parents

I have no home

I make mindfulness my home

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 friends

I make my mind my friend

I have no enemy

I make carelessness my enemy

I have no sword

I make absence of self my sword

The Samurai’s 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 princ
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.


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