“Among other things, the Way of the Samurai requires that he realize that something may occur at any moment to test the depth of his resolution, and day and night he must sort out his thought and prepare a line of action. Depending on the circumstances, he may win or lose. But avoiding dishonor is quite a separate consideration from winning or losing.” — Hagakure
“It would not befit a samurai wife to shed sorrowful tears, so please be strong. Of course I will miss you, but this is what a warrior must do.” — Kamisaki Norisuke
The tale of the 47 Ronin is one of the most renowned revenge tales to ever come out of Japan. It is the subject of countless books, plays, and movies. It is also a story that has ignited never-ending debates. Some people argue that the 47 Ronin were paragons of virtue—perfect embodiments of the loyalty and honor that should be expected from the samurai. They offered the answer to the riddle that was plaguing the samurai at the beginning of the 1700s: what does being a member of a warrior class at a time of enduring peace? Other people instead look at the same story and walk away feeling like the 47 Ronin were violent thugs animated by questionable motives. In this two-part series of History on Fire, we dive deep into legend & history to find answers.
In this episode:
The conflict between the author of the Hagakure and the 47 Ronin
Oishi’s long con
Zen master Hakuin and social reputation
Cutting family ties and getting ready to die
The raid in the snow
Giving a pep talk to a guy trying to cut your head off
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Today’s episode is supported by “Human Circus Podcast”—a great historical podcast by Devon Field. The Human Circus Podcast tells the tales of medieval travelers leaving their homelands for adventure in distant lands. You can listen and subscribe at https://humancircuspodcast.com/ or on any podcast platform. Please, also add it on twitter at https://twitter.com/circus_human
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Here is a link to the audiobook of my “Not Afraid”: http://www.danielebolelli.com/downloads/not-afraid-audiobook/
For those of you who may be interested, here is a lecture series I created about Taoist philosophy: http://www.danielebolelli.com/downloads/taoist-lectures/
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