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Finding Peace & Transcending Death

Why is it that being extremely in want of peace, there has not been an interval between war and conflicts? While possessing nuclear arms which in an instant can destroy the world and eradicate humanity, people go around crying, “Peace! Peace!” What is the story the uneasy people of the present age are telling?


The Hagakure states, “Bushido towa shinuru koto to mitsuketari” (Bushido consists of dying). The meaning here is to pass through or transcend death and killing to awaken to the “Great Life.” It is this that is the most serious matter of human existence. It was this experience that the people of old designated as the Martial Ways.

Even a man of noble and god-like character cannot exist for a single day without depriving other forms of life of their life. This is a sad reality of human beings. Even a very honest and pure person must snatch water away from the earth without paying for it, breathe the air from the sky without authorization, and steal energy from the sun without paying. Otherwise, he cannot maintain his existence even for an instant. This is the sad fate of man. According to this definition the, everyone bears the original sin.


Consequently, even if man really loves peace, in order to attain this noble aim of peace, he must kill the cow, kill the pig, kill the chicken, kill the fish, and kill the vegetables. To put it paradoxically, man himself falls into the scene of the great destruction of life caused by the survival of the fittest. Therefore, one can say that because there is no peace, he desires peace. Man’s existence basically possesses this dialectic structure. In this way the reality is that human existence is definitely based on killing. There is absolutely no human life that does not include killing or death. Martial Ways must really grasp this solemn fact.


From Zen & Budo, written by Sogen Omori, Rotaishi (trans. by Tenshin Tanouye, Rotaishi)

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