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April 9, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The Bushido Code: Benevolence (仁 jin)

According to dictionary.com Benevolence is desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness: to be filled with benevolence toward one’s fellow creatures.

This definition captures the idea very well.  While warriors are required to be harsh with enemies the Samurai and the Western Knight was required to be kind to the unarmed, women, children, and general civilians.  Now, I realize this didn’t always happen and war in any age creates collateral damage.  That is why it is listed in the code as the ideal to strive toward.

The Samurai were to be kind to family, friends, neighbors and folks were caught in the middle of the conflict.  This included subordinates as well.  Obviously it was military life, so they didn’t get babied.  But even after the drilling, the commander was to hold the best interests of the soldier at heart as well as they could.  According to the Art of War by Sun Tzu the best way to endear the troops was to have the filial attitude of a disciplinarian father.  Best interests, but lets get stuff done.  Also Sun Tzu gives us some guidance on how the winner of a conflict was also to exercise kindness to the people that lived in the land being conquered.  This was fairly simple.  Don’t enslave them. Don’t be mean to them after their rulers are deposed. Be kind to them so as to earn their favor and successfully perpetuate the new kingdom.

Obviously, we don’t experience war the way the ancient Japanese did so how does this work out for us who live the civilian life?

If you are a boss or any kind of supervisor, be kind to your subordinates.  Look out for them. Hold them accountable. Stand for their greatness. Give them multiple opportunities to make it right.  If however, after training and coaching, they take advantage of your kindness, graciously let them go.

If you are a parent look to the best interests of your children, not simply nurse your attachment.  This is similar to the above  with one add on.  Exercise tough love as needed.  And this is the hard part.  This is like firing but its not because you never really get kicked out of a family unless someone did something HORRIBLE to defame the family.

Couples also need to have benevolence toward each other in a mutual way.  This also extends to kindness to your colleagues.

The other area we need to examine this in terms of enemies.  Be kind to your enemies and so remove any reason for them to be your enemy.  This doesn’t mean you are a doormat.  If needed stand up to them. And of course and actual life and death opponent (street fight) you obviously would need to neutralize them, but you want to avoid lethal force if possible.

There is also an extent to which you want to be benevolent to yourself..  Obviously, you want to refrain from self-enabling thoughts and behavior.  You also want to refrain from self-destructive thoughts and behavior. You need to be empowering to yourself and have sense of self criticalness that isn’t neurotic.  You also want to refrain from spoiling yourself as well.  Something that is an epidemic in our culture.

As you can see it applies to all facets of life.

Kind to others.

Kind to yourself.

What would more benevolence across the board make possible for you?

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One Comment

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  1. NBA熱身賽 / Nov 4 2014 5:15 am

    Amazing website, thanks for sharing !!

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