Bushido: Tenet #1 – Rectitude

The bushido set a standard of living for the samurai. And the code is marked by 7 tenets or virtues. The first one I will highlight is RECTITUDE, the backbone of all bushido.

Every sane person has a moral compass. Sure, some people weren’t raised to have a compass that points directly north when heading directly north. But everyone knows the different between right and wrong. Rectitude is that right. That good over evil.

Now, I can do wrong at any point, but there are very few times in a given week, where I actually am faced with a real decision about whether or not to do wrong.

The samurai use what’s known as 7 breaths. In Hagakure (which I have still not read) it says, “One should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths…With an intense, fresh and undelaying spirit, one will make his judgments within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side.”

If I live my life with rectitude, I won’t need the 7 breaths. Lying, cheating, stealing, back-stabbing…there is very little gray in those issues. They’re black and white.

With the gray areas, I need to take my time, consider the consequences of my actions, and make the right decisions. The decisions that may be more difficult, or may be short-term less satisfying, or may not be as popular, but these will all be decisions that I know in my heart are the right ones.

Choosing to live with moral rectitude is a path towards self-respect. And while it might feel like it is restraining some behavior, it’s actually freeing. It’s a path towards living a guilt-free life. Any stress and guilt that you are putting on yourself with whatever immoral behavior you are participating in, will all be eliminated. It will be like a weight off of your shoulders.