The Sword and Mind

Ittokusai had a big influence in reviving the spiritual elements in the traditional training of the samurai in Japan. Zen Buddhism had played a great part in that spiritualization, much as chivalry had in the West. The latter succeeded partially in refining and ennobling people who were originally little more than gangsters. In Japan, similarly, the cult of force, the naked sword, was partially spiritualized by the efforts of a chain of masters of the so-called knightly arts— including what became judo—and by Zen teachers at Kamakura and elsewhere who influenced them. The so-called feudal Japan was not so very long ago. Fairly recently, there was a very senior Member of the Japanese Diet whose grandfather had committed hara-kiri because he had displeased the head of his clan. That was about 1860. So the memories were still alive. After the Meiji Restoration of that period, many of the samurai were …

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