Friday, May 31, 2013

365 day challenge - day 151 / 7 military classics - day 6

7 Military Classics - Day 6

(6)Three Strategies of Huang Shigong

From Wikipedia:

The Three Strategies of Huang Shigong is a text on military strategy that was historically associated with the Han dynasty general Zhang Liang. The text's literal name is "the Three Strategies of the Duke of Yellow Rock", based on the traditional account of the book's transmission to Zhang. Modern scholars note the similarity between its philosophy and the philosophy of Huang-Lao Daoism.

As its title would suggest, the Three Strategies of Huang Shigong is organized into three sections, which can be interpreted as a hierarchy of importance or as simple indicators of position in the work. The work itself states that all three types of strategy are necessary for different styles of government. Much of the work is concerned with administrative control, but some important tactical concepts are also developed. Generals are placed in a high position, and must be unquestioned once they assume command. Attacks should be swift and decisive.

There are three points which should be mastered:

  1. Alternate hard and soft approaches. This means a leader must be both benevolent and awe-inspiring according to what is appropriate. This links to the second principle-
  2. Act according to the actual circumstances. Avoid responses which are based on imagination, memory of the past, or habits acquired in other circumstances. You must rely only on observation and perception and be willing to modify plans at any time.
  3. Employ only the capable. This requires an accurate insight into others.

Each of these principles have deep and various implications.

Military Theory
The sections of the Three Strategies which directly discuss military strategy and tactics emphasize quality generalship, swiftness, authority, the integration and balance of available forces, and the relationship between hard and soft tactics. The text supports the view that, once a general assumes command, his authority must be absolute. The commander must be emotionally controlled and never display doubt or indecision. He should be receptive to advice and constructive criticism, but his decisions must ultimately be unquestioned.

The text agrees with Sun Tzu's Art of War, arguing that speed must be emphasized in military engagements, and that long, indecisive wars of attrition must be avoided. Secrecy, unity, and righteousness must characterize the commander's decisions. Public doubts, internal dissention, divination, or anything else that would slow an army or weaken its collective commitment must never be permitted.

The general must cultivate his sense of awesomeness by rigorously, severely, and systematically employing a well-known, public system of rewards and punishments. It is only when such a system is unquestioned that the commander's awesomeness and majesty will be established. Without a system of rewards and punishments, the commander will lose the allegiance of his men, and his orders will be publicly ignored and disparaged.

The author confirms the Daoist belief that the soft and weak can overcome the hard and strong, and extends this belief to military strategy and tactics. The Three Strategies teaches that an army must adopt a low, passive posture when not directly engaged in action, in order to prevent becoming brittle, exposed, and easily overcome. The text assumes that the employment of both hard and soft tactics must be utilized by a successful army, in order to achieve the desired levels of unpredictability and flexible deployment.

365 day challenge - day 151

Thursday, May 30, 2013

365 day challenge - day 150 / 7 military classics - day 5

7 Military Classics - Day 5

(5) Wei Liaozi

From Wikipedia:

Definition:  The Wei Liaozi is a text on military strategy, one of the Seven Military Classics of ancient China.  It was written during the Warring States Period (403-221 BC).

History and authorship:  The work is purportedly named after Wei Liao, who is said to have either been a student of Lord Shang or an important advisor during the Qin Dynasty. However, there is little evidence to support either view. The only textual reference to Wei Liao outside of the Wei Liaozi is in the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), where he is cast as an advisor to Qin Shi Huang, the youthful king of the state of Qin. Since the Wei Liaozi contains almost no actual strategy, it is thought that Wei Liao was a theoretician. Questions of authorship are further clouded by the fact that two different works of the same name appear to have been known during the Han Dynasty. The work assumed its present form around the end of the fourth century BC. A new version of the Wei Liaozi was discovered in 1972 at a Han Dynasty tomb in Linyi. It is more philosophical in tone than the received text, but differs significantly in only a few places.

Content:  The Wei Liaozi frequently advocates both a civil and military approach to affairs. According to the text, agriculture and people are the two greatest resources of the state, and both should be nurtured and provided for. Although the Wei Liaozi does not specifically mention Confucianism, the text advocates a government based on humanistic values, in line with that school of thought. The ruler should be the paradigm of virtue in the state. However, heterodoxy and other values not conducive to the state should be punished using draconian measures.

365 day challenge - day 150 (begin 3)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

365 day challenge - day 149 / 7 military classics - day 4

7 Military Classics - Day 4

(4) Wuzi

From Wikipedia:

The Wuzi is a classic Chinese work on military strategy attributed to Wu Qi. It is considered one of China's Seven Military Classics.

It is said there were two books on the art of war by Wu Qi, but one was lost, hence leaving the Wuzi as the only existing book carrying Wu Qi's military thoughts. The oldest Wuzi edition that survives dates to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Because of the lack of surviving copies, there is no consensus among modern scholars concerning the latest date of the Wuzi's final composition, but the core of the work is nominally assumed to have been composed around Wu Qi's lifetime (440-381 BC), in the mid-Warring States period. Historical references indicate that the Wuzi was very famous and popular in both the Warring States period and in the Han dynasty. In addition to strategic/tactical studies and the philosophy of war, the Wuzi pays significant attention to the logistical achievement of war preparedness.

Military theory

The present text of the Wuzi consists of six sections, each focusing on a critical aspect of military affairs: Planning for the State; Evaluating the Enemy; Controlling the Army; the Tao of the General; Responding to Change; and, Stimulating the Officers. Although each chapter is less concentrated than the traditional topic headings would suggest, they depict the subject matter and general scope of the book as a whole.

As a young man, Wu Qi spent a formative three years as a student of Confucianism. After gaining several years of administrative experience, he came to believe that, in order for benevolence and righteousness to survive in his time, military strength and preparation were necessary. Without a strong military to defend the just, he believed that Confucian virtues would disappear, and evil would dominate the world. Because of his emphasis on the importance of the military for safeguarding civil rights and liberty, the author of the Wuzi states that commanders must be selected carefully, ideally from those possessing courage and who excelled in military arts, but who also possessed good civil administration skills, and who displayed Confucian virtues, particularly those of wisdom and self-control.

Because armies in the Warring States were heavily dependent on the horse, both for transportation and for the power of the chariot, the Wuzi places a greater importance and focus on raising and maintaining a force of cavalry more than on maintaining infantry in its discussions of logistics. Because of the shift away from warfare fought among nobility, towards the mass mobilization of civilian armies, the Wuzi stresses the importance of gaining the strong support and loyalty of the common people. Because of its focus on the importance of civil administration as a necessary aid to military strength, the Wuzi stresses the implementation of Confucian policies designed to improve the material welfare of the people, gain their emotional support, and support their moral virtues.

Harmony and organization are equally important to each other: without harmony, an organization will not be cohesive; but, without organization, harmony will not be effective in achieving collective goals. There are three steps to achieving a disciplined, effective fighting force: proper organization; extensive training; and, thorough motivation. It is only after the creation of a disciplined, cohesive army that achieving victory becomes a matter of tactics and strategy. Much of the Wuzi discusses the means to achieve such a force.

Regarding the Legalist theories of achieving desired action through the proper exercise of reward and punishment, the Wuzi states that rewards and punishments are, by themselves, insufficient: excessive reward may cause individuals to pursue profit and glory at the expense of the group, while excessive punishment can lower morale, in the worst cases forcing men to flee service rather than face the consequences of failure. In addition to reward and punishment, the general should inculcate (essentially pseudo-Confucian) values into his soldiers: men fighting for what they believe is a moral cause will prefer death to living ignominiously, improving the chances of success for both the individual soldier and the army as a whole. It is only with the combination of both moral focus and effective rewards and punishments that the army will become a disciplined, spirited, strongly motivated force.

The Wuzi advises generals to adopt different tactics and strategy based on their assessment of battlefield situations. Factors affecting appropriate tactics and strategy include: the relative terrain and weather of the engagement; the national character of the combatants; the enemy commander's personal history and characteristics; and, the relative morale, discipline, fatigue, number, and general quality of both friendly and enemy forces. In gathering this information, and in preventing the enemy from gaining it, espionage and deception are paramount.

365 day challenge - day 149

365 day challenge - day 148 / 7 military classics - day 3

missed yesterday's post because I was down for the count with a cold or flu...feeling a little better today (even after 8 hours of work), so I thought I'd get this posted before I crash.

7 Military Classics - day 3

(3) Sun Tzu's - The Art of War

From Wikipedia:

The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu (also referred to as "Sun Wu" and "Sunzi"), a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician. It was believed to have been compiled during the late Spring and Autumn period or early Warring States period.  The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare. It is commonly known to be the definitive work on military strategy and tactics of its time. It has been the most famous and influential of China's Seven Military Classics, and: "for the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people knew it by name."  It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy and beyond.


Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible. The war should be fought swiftly to avoid economic losses: "No long war ever profited any country: 100 victories in 100 battles is simply ridiculous. Anyone who excels in defeating his enemies triumphs before his enemy's threat become real". According to the book, one must avoid massacres and atrocities because this can provoke resistance and possibly allow an enemy to turn the war in his favor.  For the victor, "the best policy is to capture the state intact; it should be destroyed only if no other options are available".  Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of positioning in military strategy. The decision to position an army must be based on both objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective beliefs of other, competitive actors in that environment. He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment; but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations.

The 13 chapters

The Art of War is divided into 13 chapters; the collection is referred to as being one zhuàn ("whole" or alternatively "chronicle").

1.  Laying Plans/The Calculations explores the five fundamental factors (the Way, seasons, terrain, leadership and management) and seven elements that determine the outcomes of military engagements. By thinking, assessing and comparing these points, a commander can calculate his chances of victory. Habitual deviation from these calculations will ensure failure via improper action. The text stresses that war is a very grave matter for the state and must not be commenced without due consideration.

2.  Waging War/The Challenge explains how to understand the economy of warfare and how success requires winning decisive engagements quickly. This section advises that successful military campaigns require limiting the cost of competition and conflict.

3.  Attack by Stratagem/The Plan of Attack defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and discusses the five factors that are needed to succeed in any war. In order of importance, these critical factors are: Attack, Strategy, Alliances, Army and Cities.

4.  Tactical Dispositions/Positioning explains the importance of defending existing positions until a commander is capable of advancing from those positions in safety. It teaches commanders the importance of recognizing strategic opportunities, and teaches not to create opportunities for the enemy.

5.  Energy/Directing explains the use of creativity and timing in building an army's momentum.

6.  Weak Points & Strong/Illusion and Reality explains how an army's opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of the enemy in a given area.

7.  Maneuvering/Engaging The Force explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when they are forced upon the commander.

8.  Variation in Tactics/The Nine Variations focuses on the need for flexibility in an army's responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully.

9.  The Army on the March/Moving The Force describes the different situations in which an army finds itself as it moves through new enemy territories, and how to respond to these situations. Much of this section focuses on evaluating the intentions of others.

10.  Terrain/Situational Positioning looks at the three general areas of resistance (distance, dangers and barriers) and the six types of ground positions that arise from them. Each of these six field positions offer certain advantages and disadvantages.

11.  The Nine Situations/Nine Terrains describes the nine common situations (or stages) in a campaign, from scattering to deadly, and the specific focus that a commander will need in order to successfully navigate them.

12.  The Attack by Fire/Fiery Attack explains the general use of weapons and the specific use of the environment as a weapon. This section examines the five targets for attack, the five types of environmental attack and the appropriate responses to such attacks.

13.  The Use of Spies/The Use of Intelligence focuses on the importance of developing good information sources, and specifies the five types of intelligence sources and how to best manage each of them.


"Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.” 

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself,
you will succumb in every battle”

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”

"Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”

"Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

"In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”

365 day challenge - day 148

Monday, May 27, 2013

365 day challenge - day 147 / 7 military classics - day 2

7 Military Classics - Day 2

(2) The Methods of the Ssu-ma (also known as Sima Rangju Art of War)

From Wikipedia:

General Focus
In the East Han dynasty, The Methods of the Sima was classified as a work describing rites and propriety (禮), largely because it discusses methods of organization, administration, and discipline much more deeply than strategy or battlefield tactics. The Methods of the Sima rarely discusses direct issues related to battlefield command, instead concerning itself with how to initiate, administer, and manage military campaigns. The limited discussions of strategy and tactics which do appear in the work are broad, general, and common to the other Seven Military Classics.

The Justification of War
The Methods of the Sima promotes the view that warfare is necessary to the existence of the state, that it provides the principle means for punishing evil and rescuing the oppressed, and that its conscientious exploitation is the foundation for political power (personal note: People debating that "War Doesn't Solve Anything" might want read that last sentence...and pick up this book).

It states that a balance between war and peace must be maintained for the prosperity of the state: that those states which neglect their armies will perish just as quickly as those states which resort to warfare too frequently. The book promotes the view that war is an unfortunate necessary for peace. [personal note:  it's like being in a relationship, if you don't stand up for yourself now and then she (or he) will walk all over you]

The contributors to the Methods of the Sima stress that appropriate civil and military roles must be distinguished because of their contradictory values. Civilian culture is judged to be severe, remote, and languid, placing value in courtesy and benevolence, while military culture is judged to be severe, stern, and active, placing value in order and discipline. The writers of the Methods stress that the Virtue (德) of the people will decline both when civilians act in ways that are appropriate for soldiers, and when soldiers act in ways that are appropriate for civilians.

The King must conduct himself differently in these two spheres and expect different things from his citizens. In civil life, he must cultivate the people through education and the promotion of regional culture.

The Methods of the Sima stresses that the only justification for warfare is the assistance of the common people. Because warfare must benefit the people of all states involved in a conflict in order to be legitimate, nations must avoid engagements that injure the people of enemy states, and actions which might antagonize a subject populace are severely prohibited. Because it identifies the only justification for warfare as eradicating a government evil, the Methods encourages commanders to engage in ceremonial, accusatory formalities before beginning a campaign, and makes it a vital necessity that the army's soldiers understand the virtuous nature of their mission. These policies promote the utilitarian goals of strengthening morale and weakening enemy resistance.

The Importance of Discipline
The text states that an army which is perfectly unified has the greatest chance of success. This requires the Emperor and his representatives to enforce strict discipline. Laws must be clear and consistent and enforced with total impartiality. There must also be active concern for disruption and sedition. Commanders must be aware of rumors and doubts and address them promptly. They must also be capable of leading by example. Weapons and tactics must be studied with extreme thoroughness. Enemy weapons may be copied if they are superior (e.g. AK-47)

The book's contributors significantly elaborate on the nature of military discipline. Rewards and punishments are necessary in shaping the actions of the military. Because a worthy person could become self-important and disrupt the integrity of the military if reward is excessive or unpredictable, rewards must be appropriate and consistent in order to be most effective. Punishment must also be carefully considered. When the military experiences failure, the commander must encourage everyone to accept responsibility, including himself. If he singles out an officer, the troops could infer that the officer alone was responsible and avoid improvement.

365 day challenge - day 147

Sunday, May 26, 2013

365 day challenge - day 146 / 7 military classics - day 1

7 Military Classics - day 1

Following up my postings last week on Bushido, and since tomorrow is Memorial Day in the United States, I thought this week's postings should have a military focus.

Thus, this week I'm going to cover the 7 Military Classics...

From Wikipedia:  The Seven Military Classics were seven important military texts of ancient China, which also included Sun-tzu's The Art of War. The texts were canonized under this name during the 11th century AD, and from the time of the Song Dynasty, were included in most military encyclopedias.  For imperial officers, either some or all of the works were required reading to merit promotion, like the requirement for all bureaucrats to learn and know the work of Confucius. There were many anthologies with different notations and analyses by scholars throughout the centuries leading up to the present versions in Western publishing. The Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty commented on the seven military classics, stating, "I have read all of the seven books, among them there are some materials that are not necessarily right, ... and there are superstitious stuff can be used by bad people." Members of the Communist Party of China also studied the texts during the Chinese Civil War as well as many European and American military minds.  Emperor Shenzong (宋神宗), the sixth emperor of the Song Dynasty, determined which texts would compose this anthology in 1080.

According to Ralph D. Sawyer and Mei-chün Sawyer, who created one of the latest translations, the Seven Military Classics include the following texts:

  1. Jiang Ziya (Taigong)'s Six Secret Teachings
  2. The Methods of the Ssu-ma (also known as Sima Rangju Art of War)
  3. Sun Tzu's The Art of War
  4. Wu Qi's Wuzi
  5. Wei Liaozi
  6. Three Strategies of Huang Shigong
  7. Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong

There are no other known variations of the Seven Military Classics anthology with alternating members but the constituent works themselves have had many multiple versions, especially the Art of War, which has had at least several dozen different translations to English in the 20th Century alone.

(1) Jiang Ziya (Taigong)'s - Six Secret Teachings

The Six Secret Teachings, is a treatise on civil and military strategy traditionally attributed to the legendary figure Jiāng Zǐyá, a confederate of King Wen of Zhou, founder of the Zhou Dynasty, at around the eleventh century BC. Modern historians nominally date its final composition to the Warring States period (c.475-221 BC), but some scholars believe that it preserves at least vestiges of ancient Qi political and military thought. Because it is written from the perspective of a statesman attempting to overthrow the ruling Shang dynasty, it is the only one of the Seven Military Classics explicitly written from a revolutionary perspective.

The Six Secret Teachings are the following:

1) The Civil Strategy - This strategy teaches commanders never to delight in small advantages, or that is all they will achieve. It teaches that the greatest gains result from benevolence and helping others achieve their aspirations for a better world.

2) The Military Strategy - This strategy teaches commanders to achieve victory via benevolence and wit, preferably without actually fighting. It teaches commanders to outwit opponents through diplomacy and manipulation.

3) The Dragon Strategy - This strategy explores the subtle and complex aspects of critical situations without losing control to advisors or becoming confused. It emphasizes that the government depends on a centralized and orderly overview which must be well informed in order to function effectively.

4)  The Tiger Strategy - The Tiger Strategy discusses military equipment, tactical principles, and essential issues of command. Most of the section provides "tactics for extricating oneself from adverse battlefield situations. The solutions generally emphasize speed, maneuverability, unified action, decisive commitment, the employment of misdirection, the establishment of ambushes, and the appropriate use of different types of forces."[4] It emphasizes that a commander must guard against laxity and act in accord with ever-changing conditions. A commander must observe and utilize the effects and interactions of variables such as weather, terrain, and human psychology in order to achieve success.

5)  The Leopard Strategy - This section teaches commanders how to know their strengths, and how to direct those strengths against the weaknesses of their enemy.

6)  The Dog Strategy -  This strategy teaches never to attack an enemy when his morale is high, and to time a concentrated attack when the moment is right.

365 day challenge - day 146

Saturday, May 25, 2013

365 day challenge - day 145 / Bushido - day 7 (last day)

Bushido - Day 7

(7) Loyalty - 忠義

Definition / Formal Thoughts

Merriam- Webster definition:   the quality or state or an instance of being loyal (unswerving in allegiance: as
a : faithful in allegiance to one's lawful sovereign or government
b : faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due
c : faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product

Interesting references on Wikipedia. It seems like loyalty was mainly associated with governments, royalty (kings and queens) or God until very recently.

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition defines loyalty as "allegiance to the sovereign or established government of one's country" and also "personal devotion and reverence to the sovereign and royal family". It traces the word "loyalty" to the 15th century, noting that then it primarily referred to fidelity in service, in love, or to an oath that one has made. The meaning that the Britannica gives as primary, it attributes to a shift during the 16th century, noting that the origin of the word is in the Old French "loialte", that is in turn rooted in the Latin "lex", meaning "law". One who is loyal, in the feudal sense of fealty, is one who is lawful (as opposed to an outlaw), who has full legal rights as a consequence of faithful allegiance to a feudal lord. Hence the 1911 Britannica derived its (early 20th century) primary meaning of loyalty to a monarch. This definition of loyalty based upon the word's etymology is echoed by Vandekerckhove, when he relates loyalty and whistleblowing.

Biblical and Christian views
In the Christian Bible, Jesus states "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." So, it acknowledges a limit to the authority of man. In the Christian view, there is a sphere beyond the earthly, and if loyalty to man conflicts with loyalty to God, the latter takes precedence. Moreover, Christianity rejects the notion of dual loyalty. In the Gospel of Matthew 6:24, Jesus states "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon". This relates to the authority of a master over his servants (as per Ephesians 6:5), who according to (Biblical) law owe undivided loyalty to their master (as per Leviticus 25:44–46).

It then talks about a book written in 1908:  Josiah Royce in his 1908 book The Philosophy of Loyalty presented a different definition of the concept. According to Royce, loyalty is a virtue, indeed a primary virtue, "the heart of all the virtues, the central duty amongst all the duties". Royce presents loyalty, which he defines at length, as the basic moral principle from which all other principles can be derived.  The short definition that he gives of the idea is that loyalty is "the willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause".  The cause has to be an objective one. It cannot be one's personal self. It is something external to oneself that one looks outward to the world to find, and that cannot be found within. It concerns not one's own person, but other people. The devotion is active, a surrendering of one's self-will to the cause, that one loves.

I tend to agree with this definition...and rather like the thought.

Personal Thoughts

I am fiercely loyal to my family and friends...this is definitely where I agree with Royce's definition including length. In order, I strive to be loyal to (1) God (2) family (3) friends. As I've stated with previous virtues of Bushido, I am not perfect and fail to live up to this standard 100% of the time, but I do strive to be loyal to God, family and friends consistently.  This goes back to a comment I made when I discussed "Respect" on day 4. And this is where I also agree with Royce that loyalty is the "heart of all the virtues". Because it is to people I am most loyal and respect that brings out, what I can only define as an innate fire in my personality (just ask my family, Garrett, Mitch...).

And this is where, after a week in writing about Bushido, it does all make (more) sense. For a group like the samurai, who's job it was to defend the nobility of the country, the country itself and be held up as an example for all to follow (less than 10% of the Japanese population were samurai) is impossible not to be a fierce warrior for any cause if you strive to live up to:

(1) Rectitude/Righteousness
(2) Courage
(3) Benevolence/Charity
(4) Respect
(5) Honesty
(6) Honour
(7) Loyalty

365 day challenge - day 145

After a long day of work, I was able to get in a ride...this time on my brother's Harley

Friday, May 24, 2013

365 day challenge - day 144 / Bushido - Day 6

Bushido - Day 6

(6) Honour - 名誉

Definition / Formal Thoughts

Of the six virtues of Bushido (and their definitions) I have written about thus far, I must say this was the most interesting (i.e. - I've never thought of honor as:  an "abstract concept"; " being as real"; or having "several senses")

From Wikipedia:  Honor or honour (see spelling differences; from the Latin word honos, honoris) is an abstract concept entailing a perceived quality of worthiness and respectability that affects both the social standing and the self-evaluation of an individual or corporate body such as a family, school, regiment or nation. Accordingly, individuals (or corporate bodies) are assigned worth and stature based on the harmony of their actions with a specific code of honour, and the moral code of the society at large.

Honour can be viewed in the light of Psychological nativism as being as real to the human condition as love, and likewise deriving from the formative personal bonds that establish one's personal dignity and character. From the point of moral relativism, honour is perceived as arising from universal concerns for material circumstance and status, rather than fundamental differences in principle between those who hold different honour codes.

Dr Samuel Johnson, in his A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), defined honour as having several senses, the first of which was "nobility of soul, magnanimity, and a scorn of meanness." This sort of honour derives from the perceived virtuous conduct and personal integrity of the person endowed with it. On the other hand, Johnson also defined honour in relationship to "reputation" and "fame"; to "privileges of rank or birth", and as "respect" of the kind which "places an individual socially and determines his right to precedence." This sort of honour is not so much a function of moral or ethical excellence, as it is a consequence of power. Finally, with respect to women, honour has traditionally been associated with (or identical to) "chastity" or "virginity", or in case of a married woman, "fidelity". Some have argued that honour should be seen more as a rhetoric, or set of possible actions, than as a code.

According to Bushido, the Code of the Warrior in feudal Japan, honour was always seen as a duty by Samurai. When one lost their honour or the situation made them lose it, the only way to save their dignity was by death. Seppuku (vulgarly called "harakiri", or "belly-cutting") was the most honourable death in that situation. The only way for a Samurai to die more honourably was to be killed in a battle by a sword.

Personal Thoughts

I would agree with the thought that honor resembles credibility ("In the end it boils down to credibility" - Submarines, Lumineers). If you have no honor, you have no credibility and visa versa...amongst your family, friends, community and society as a whole.

After giving this some thought, I need to add "Honor/Credibility" to my list of virtues to focus. Myself and our society in a whole could benefit greatly on renewed focus on this virtue. At least in America, it seems we've lost our way when it comes to Honor and Credibility and are celebrating the opposite of these virtues in our mainstream media. We've become a society where the more mean (see Gordon Ramsay), less ethical (see Lance Armstrong), or more vulgar (see Two and a Half Men) you are the more of a "reputation" and "fame" you garner.

Point being, it would be nice to see more honor injected into our daily lives.

365 day challenge - day 144

Thursday, May 23, 2013

365 day challenge - day 143 / Bushido - Day 5

Bushido - Day 5

(5)  Honesty - 

Definition / Formal Thoughts
Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating or theft. Honesty is revered in many cultures and religions. Honesty means being truthful, trustworthy, loyal, fair and sincere. Honesty also means straight forward conduct.

"Honesty is the best policy" is a proverb of unknown origin.
"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."- Thomas Jefferson.

Personal Thoughts
In high school I received/started using a Franklin Dayplanner and did an evaluation of my values and goals at that time. Upon leaving college and starting my first (salaried) job at Merrill Lynch I re-evaluated my values and goals and wrote down the values that "I have identified as significant in my life". Those were:
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Sincerity
  • Respect
  • Accountability
  • Persistence
  • Order/Organized
  • Physical Health
  • Intellectual Excellence
  • Financially Secure
At the time I wrote that honesty was "tied to integrity, honesty is something that I strive to achieve every day".

Although I wrote those words almost 20 years ago, it is still something that i strive to achieve every day (i.e. the quality or condition of being honest; implies truthfulness, fairness in dealing, and absence of fraud, deceit, and dissembling; implies freedom from lying, stealing and cheating).

365 day challenge - day 143

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

365 day challenge - day 142 / Bushido - Day 4

Bushido - Day 4

(4) Respect - 

Definition / Formal Thoughts

From Wikipedia:  Respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., "I have great respect for her judgment"). It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect. Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, where as actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect. Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures. Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt, a professor at the University of New York Sten School of Business, as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.
Respect is both given and received. We expect other people to respect us in return for the respect we show them. Respect is also something that is earned by the standards of the particular society in which one lives. Respect cannot be measured as a quantity, cannot be bought or traded, it is one of those things that is earned and built over time, but that can be lost with one stupid or inconsiderate act. One can ask or beg for respect, but only others can bestow us with respect as a result of their perceived treatment by us. Continued caring interactions are then required to maintain or increase that original earned respect. Respect cannot always be seen or observed by actions, but for those who practice chivalry, the outward display of respect is refreshing. Some women view this as patronizing and demeaning, but in its pure form chivalry is about nearly absolute respect.

Personal Thoughts

Nothing sets me off faster than seeing someone I respect, disrespected. When it's directed toward my personally, it doesn't bother me as much because I view it as that persons point of view...but when directed toward someone I care for and respect...this I just will not allow.

As a value, I hold respect as one of the highest - both on a personal level and as a society.  Because if a person is respected and and acts in a way that is deserving of that respect, the people around them and society as a whole (usually) benefit.

For the most part I feel I am deserving of people's respect because of my actions, how I conduct myself in society and what I have accomplished/overcome in my life. I am far from perfect, and there are times in my life and actions I have done that would cause certain people to not have or lose respect for me, but I do strive to conduct myself in a manner that would be deserving of respect.

Regarding respect/chivalry, I can thank my mother for raising me to be thoughtful and chivalrous toward women. Similar to my first comment, nothing sets me off faster than seeing a woman disrespected.

365 day challenge - day 142

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

365 day challenge - day 141 / Bushido - Day 3

Bushido - Day 3

(3) Benevolence (aka Charity) - 

Definition / Formal Thoughts

Benevolence means an act of, or a general inclination towards, charity.

From Wikipedia:  The word "charity" entered the English language through the Old French word "charité" which was derived from the Latin "caritas".[1]
Originally in Latin the word caritas meant preciousness, dearness, high price. From this, in Christian theology, caritas became the standard Latin translation for the Greek word Αγάπε, meaning an unlimited loving-kindness to all others. This much wider concept is the meaning of the word charity in the Christian triplet "faith, hope and charity", as used by the Douay-Rheims and the King James Version of the Bible in their translation of St Paul's Letter to the Corinthians. However the English word more generally used for this concept, both before and since (and by the "King James" Bible at other passages), is the more direct love. (See the article Charity (virtue))
St Paul's agapē was not primarily about good works and giving to the poor (And though I feed the poor with all my goods, and though I give my body, that I be burned, and have not love [agapē], it profiteth me nothing - 1 Cor 13:3, Geneva translation, 1560), although in English the word "charity" has steadily acquired this as its primary meaning, wherein it was first used in Old French at least since the year 1200 A.D..
There are three different kinds of charity: pure, public, and foreign. Pure charity is entirely gratuitous. Public charity is charity that benefits the whole rather than the individual. Foreign charity is when the beneficiary lives in a country different from where the funds or services are being sent from.
Charitable giving is the act of giving money, goods or time to the unfortunate, either directly or by means of a charitable trust or other worthy cause.

Personal Thoughts
In the first definition of benevolence, charity or "love", I would define myself as being a very benevolent person. From very early on in my life until now I have had deep empathy and love toward people. Although I do get frustrated at the human race in general, when dealing with (most) people one-on-one I strive to have a "loving-kindness" toward them and a benevolent nature.
Now, when it comes to the more modern definition of charity, this is an area I would like to continue to work on. I do volunteer (but not enough) and give my time and money to causes I believe in (but not enough), but it is an area of my life I would like to focus more of my time and resources.
note: I have given far more than my fair share to foreign charity.

365 day challenge - day 141

Monday, May 20, 2013

365 day challenge - day 140 / Bushido - day 2

Bushido - Day 2

(2) Courage - 勇氣

Definition / Formal Thoughts

From Wikipedia - Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement.
In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage. In the Western tradition, notable thoughts on courage have come from philosophers such as AristotleAquinas and Kierkegaard; in the Eastern tradition, some thoughts on courage were offered by the Tao Te Ching. More recently, courage has been explored by the discipline of psychology.

Personal Thoughts
By definition, I have shown with my actions both physically and morally that I have courage.
Physically I have endured physical pain and hardship in my life. Actually, I can point to only two instances in my life where I have "backed down" from the threat of physical pain or intimidation. The first happened in junior high when I developed slower than other kids and was physically intimidated by one of my classmates. This is the one instance I feel I should have stood up for myself (or others), but did not. The other instance happened about 5 years ago while traveling in Paris. A man approached the people I was traveling with and was being very disrespectful to them. Although this may fall under the category of "wisdom" as it was very late at night and he certainly may have been on (and/or carrying) something...I confronted him, but decided it was better to walk away instead of trying to be "courageous".
I can also point to times where I have had hardships (lack of food, water, basic necessities) and instead of doing sometime immoral or illegal have had the courage to act rightly.

Regarding moral courage, I have not "acted rightly" as often as I have with physical courage. Maybe because it's easier to say nothing when I hear an off-color statement or joke...or because it's easier not to cause confrontation, opposition or discouragement by saying nothing over saying something. I have not "acted rightly" as often.

On the other hand, after working in an industry rife with scandal and shame for over a decade (the financial services industry - e.g. Bernie Madoff, Lehman Brothers, countless brokers who have ripped off their clients), I hold it up as a badge of honor and can proudly say that I ALWAYS acted in the best interest of my clients (personal or business clients).

Now, I also know that courage is relative. Am I as courageous as a soldier going off to Am I as courageous as a child sold into even close ( But in the context of what my life has thrown at me thus far...I feel I do have courage...and will do all I can to continue that act.

365 day challenge - day 140

Sunday, May 19, 2013

365 day challenge - day 139 / the number ' 7 '

I had this thought a while ago, and (finally) decided to start it today. Over the years, I've had an interest in the number ' 7 ' and all of its appearances in religion, science, entertainment (007, seven dwarfs), life (7 year itch), etc.  I'm going to begin a weekly/daily series of posts today on the number '7', including 7 deadly sins, 7 chakras, 7 days of the week...

I decided to start this series with the seven basic principles of the samurai...also known as Bushido.

The first being Rectitude (or righteousness)

Definition / Formal Thoughts

Via Wikipedia, righteousness is an important theological concept in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism (Dharma), and Zoroastrianism (Iranian religion). It is an attribute that implies that a person's actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been "judged" or "reckoned" as leading a life that is pleasing to the god(s) portrayed in these belief systems.
William Tyndale remodelled the word after an earlier word rihtwis, which would have yielded modern English *rightwise or *rightways. He used it to translate the Hebrew root צדקים (TzDYQ), tzedek, which appears more than five hundred times in the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek wordδικαιος (dikaios), which appears more than two hundred times in the New Testament.

Personal Thoughts
I can't say if I've lead a righteous life or not. Because I am a Christian, the New Testament speaks of two types of righteousness...righteousness by works and righteousness by faith. I do work hard to be a righteous person...I believe that most of the actions I've taken in my life are justified...I know I fail often, but I do try to lead a life that is pleasing to God (aka. living righteously). But the truth is, only He can determine if I've lead a righteous life.  Thus, I believe I can only be judged as being righteous or living a righteous life by God.

365 day challenge - day 139