Historic Efforts.

481 years ago, on this date of March 17, a legendary warlord was born. Today, we all know him as Hideyoshi Toyotomi. His legacy lives on through his heart warming story and his words. On his birthday, I would like to talk a little bit about both.

Hideyoshi, as a child (he wasn’t called Hideyoshi then) was a waif, a peasant wanderer in search of adventure. At age 11, he strayed into the Oda clan, lords of Owari Province (roughly modern Fukui Prefecture). He served as “sandal-bearer” to the clan head, Oda Nobunaga (1534-82). Hideyoshi was one of the three great unifiers of Japan, along with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

www.japantimes.co.jp

Hideyoshi-samas story is a typical ‘humble-to-hero’ story. But the path to success varies for everyone. And especially for someone surviving in the Sengoku Jidai (Era of the Warring States), success isn’t as easy.

As we’ve seen in the above story, Hideyoshi started off as a nobody. He wasn’t even ‘Hideyoshi’ at that time. He wandered from province to province, meeting new people, surviving alone.

Being in the upper echelon of the Oda prowess also wasn’t easy. Initially, he was just a ‘sandal-bearer’. From there, after gaining the trust of all his comrades and his Lord, Hideyoshi became one of the most trusted vassal of Oda Nobunaga.

And in my view, Nobunaga-sama is someone who is not very easy to please. This thought comes from the English translation of a Japanese poem, which Japanese children are taught to recite. It perfectly sums up the ideologies and personalities of the three great unifiers of Japan.

(1) 鳴かぬなら殺してしまえほととぎす

(なかぬならころしてしまえほととぎす)

Refers to Oda Nobunaga-“If the cuckoo does not sing, kill it”

(2) 鳴かぬなら鳴かして見せようほととぎす

(なかぬならなかしてみせようほととぎす)

Refers to Hideyoshi- “If the cuckcoo doesn’t sing, coax it”.

(3) 鳴かぬなら鳴くまで待とうほととぎす

(なかぬならなくまでまとうほととぎす)

Refers to Tokugawa Ieyasu- “If the cuckoo doesn’t sing, wait for it”.

-Source:

The Three Major Daimyō

Thus, you can understand where my perception comes from. Nobunaga seems very impatient. It’s his either his way, or a dead end. Gaining trust from Nobunaga is a feat in itself.

Hideyoshi had a way with words. We can understand this when he says, “Coax the bird”.

And Ieyasu seems like a very patient man.

Technically, I’ve noticed one thing, Nobunaga is at one side of the extremity and Ieyasu is at the other. Hideyoshi is like the balance between the two. A linking of two ideologies.

And now, I’ll talk about my favourite quote by Hideyoshi-sama :

Super resembling, isn’t it? The reason I love this quote is because it encompasses the essence of who ‘Hideyoshi’ actually is. These words sum up his entire life.

A peasant wanderer ➡ sandal bearer ➡ trusted vassal of Nobunaga ➡ one of the great unifiers of Japan.

But between these arrows, there is a long story to tell. A story of failures. A story of hurt, love, disappointment, trust and victory.

Hideyoshi is inspirational. He makes us realise that efforts are the only means to the end of success.

If privileged people are born with greatness, then there are people who achieve greatness.

Don’t lament if you are not privileged with the genius of intellect or luck. Work your way right up to the pinnacle.

Today, Hideyoshi’s name is spoken in tandem with Nobunaga and Tokugawa. It’s all because of the sheer effort that he put in. Even after 400+ years, we speak about him and hail him. Because he deserves it.

He set off alone on a journey. Years later, under Nobunaga’s leadership, he commanded troops during war.

Isn’t it just so awesome that how people can surpass their own social crises thorough perseverance?

If he can do it, so can we. In our own little ways. Everyone has a spark, you only need a little instigation to amplify it into an inferno of success.

***

I absolutely adore Hideyoshi for his hardwork and his interesting story. In fact, I’m (hopefully) planning to read this historic fiction, ‘Taiko : An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan’ in my summer vacation!

The novel traces the life of Hideyoshi from his childhood, fact mixed with fiction. Interesting, right? As a budding fan of Japanese history, this is going to be a perfect summer treat.

You can read the synopsis, some reviews and also check out a few preview pages here.

***

Thank you for checking out this blog! Do tell me your views!

Happy Birthday Hideyoshi!❤

Click here for the previous post. (Untitled.)

Advertisements

Instinctual Intellect.

      Tokugawa Ieyasu was the first Shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate. The above is one of my favourite quotes by him and is appropriate even in the 21st century; though it was spoken more than 400 years ago.

     No matter what the era, illusions and delusions about fellow mortals have always led to individual ruin. 

Let us discuss the quote in parts:

Persuade thyself that

     These three words are a message within itself. You are the only one who can pacify yourself. You are the only one who can ruin yourself with toxic thoughts. It’s your decision. You are the only one who has the authority to persuade yourself and change your own opinion. Don’t get influenced by others. At the end, it all boils down to what you want to perceive about yourself and your surroundings. 

     In this context, Tokugawa Ieyasu san wants us to coax ourselves by understanding the truth of human nature.

imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals,

     Human beings are the epitome of disharmony in terms of emotions. We are guided by the flow of our thoughts, impulsive to the core, and we succumb. That we act on instincts makes us different from each other. We set different standards of reality and act according to it. At the end, it all boils down to ‘Me’, ‘Myself’ and ‘I’. 

     Thus, everyone acts according to their own motivations. And when things don’t go our way, they are just an eyesore. When we expect something from someone, we impose our view of reality on them. This, of course, is our flaw. And when the person is not able to fulfill them, we get disheartened. But in actuality, they were just acting according to their version of reality, which unfortunately turned out to be different from ours.

     In this sense, none of us are perfect in each other’s eyes. And when things do not match our reality, they cause discomfort. Distortion of thoughts. And as an intellectual species, the haywire of thoughts and emotions is an inconvenience

     The quote wants us to realise that every single mortal will act according to self instinct. And instincts are meant to come naturally. Just as sheeps follow the shepherd, humans follow the trail of individual desire.

and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair.

     After you acquaint yourself with the fact that every human being will surely differ from your expectations, emotional resolution will arise.

     As I said previously, things that don’t go according to our will are a hindrance. When we free ourselves from the false thought that people will keep up to our criteria, we save ourselves from the trauma. There is no discontent in thought and everything is clear like a summer day. Discontent causes turmoil. It obstructs day to day activities and prevents us from thinking straight. And as intellectual beings, a loophole in the thought process can cause severe decisive consequences. 

     And this in turn leads to despair. We survive in a vicious circle of thoughts. Despair makes us question our lives and affinities. And that is detrimental. It makes us question and generalize humanity. 

“Why does this only happen with me?” 

“Why is this world so cruel to me?”

are thoughts that bother us. 
     Actually, it’s all in the mind. If we convince and immune ourselves to human thought and behavioural process, we can have a peaceful mental status.

Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair.

-Tokugawa Ieyasu

     Always keep in mind that no one can ever be at the exact pedestal that your thoughts lead you to. There are discrepancies. The fact that we can’t actually understand each other’s reality is a human flaw; an imperfection. This has caused inconvenience since time immemorial. But do not let this sway you. Do not let this disrupt your spirit. If you accept this fact, you will be free from disappointments and disarray.

(Symbol of the Tokugawa clan. Image source- Google)
Thank you for checking out this blog!

Do comment your views and suggestions about this format of quote interpretation.

Interpretation of a quote by Date Masamune. (Of Rectitude and Benevolence)

Click here for the previous post. (Gazing Into the Memory of a Lens.)

Of Rectitude and Benevolence.

     Date Masamune. The name itself is the echelon of power. He is one of my most favourite historic figure and I absolutely adore this valiant being. He is the One Eyed Dragon of Oshu and a single eye is enough to instill fear in the hearts of not only humans, but demons as well.

     Well keeping my admiration aside (I could talk about it the whole day), I would like to talk about the quote in the above image. 

Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness; 

benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness


First, let us decode the meaning of a few words:


Rectitude –


1. Straightness; the state or quality of having a constant direction and not being crooked or bent. [from 15th c.]


2. (now) The fact or quality of being right or correct; correctness of opinion or judgement. [from 15th c.]


3. Conformity to the rules prescribed for moral conduct; (moral) uprightness, virtue [from 16th c.]


(via wikitionary)

 


From the above meanings, we can interpret the following,


1 talks about the physical aspect of rectitude. 


2 talks about the idealistic aspect. 


Whereas 3 is the amalgamation of both.


     If rectitude implies ‘straightness’, it suggests a constant state of mind in a human context. The inability to accept change and move on. The firmness of the mind in its self indulgence.


     If rectitude is ‘the quality of being correct’, then rectitude is a self perceived virtue. What is right for one man, is evil to another. It is subjective.


     If rectitude is ‘conformity to the rules of morals’, then it is obedience to norms. Self prescribed or socially prescribed.


     If we look closely, rectitude is almost the same as stiffness. But Date sama has used both these words. Maybe he is trying to tell us something different. Let us try to interpret.


 When he says,  

“Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness”,

he seems to imply rectitude in an idealistic sense and stiffness in a physical sense, like face value, something tangible


***

Let us take an example appropriate to Date Masamune samas time to understand this better:


There are two warring states. One is equipped with western styled rifles and cannons and the other chooses to fight with katana (swords). The state using traditional weapons justifies its morals by the usage of non-western goods and thereby retaining the cultural pride. 

On the contrary, the state using western weapons justifies its morals of triumph by using any means possible. The virtues for culture lie within the heart, no matter what means used.


In most of the cases, it is obvious that the state with advanced weapons will emerge victorious. They’ll reign over all. If the state using traditional weapons had changed their strategy to suit the changing times and not fallen victim to the stiffness of their rectitude, they would have a fair chance of winning too.


     So this stiffness of the reluctance to use new weapons was a tangible quality. We could visually gauge the rectitude of this state; carried to excess in the time of war. 

***

So now let us interpret the following :

Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness,

The constancy of morals is an appropriate thing, but don’t carry it to more than what’s desired. The quality of being excessively virtuous will make you resistant and reluctant to change. This will hinder your growth as an individual. You will no longer be able to adapt to change. And that will be your end in this game of survival of the fittest. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Benevolence

1. (uncountable) Disposition to do good

2. (uncountable) Charitable kindness

3. (countable) An altruistic gift or act


(via wikitionary)



     It is very clear that benevolence is the epitome of humanity. Compassion is one of the seven virtues of a samurai. Benevolence is the instinctual desire to do well for the society. 

じん-Jin (One of the virtues of the ‘Bushidō’)


    Benevolence is not only kindness in terms of service or financial or physical help; you can even be benevolent with your trust. Giving people the benefit of your trust is a kindness of your heart. But benevolence should be confined to certain limits.

    That’s what Date sama is trying to explain. Anything in excess is lethal. Be it rectitude or benevolence.

     Benevolence is like sand. You can hold a few of the grains in your palm but a fistful would just repel away. 


Benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness.”


     Excessive benevolence is deceptive like quicksand. If you try too hard, you will sink faster. But this quicksand is your inevitable downfall. Be kind, but be shrewd.

     In Date samas time, one had to be sly to protect the fiefdom. Armies were massacred ruthlessly and people went to war at a very young age. There were betrayals. So I can understand where his words come from.

     Turning a blind eye to reality under the pretext of ‘trust’ is the greatest mistake. Many civilizations have thus fallen down. 



     Benevolence is a virtue. Being kind and helping people physically, emotionally and financially is totally alright. But we must keep this habit in check. 


Are you providing your shoulder for others to cry on to such an extent that it hurts?


Are you being so emotionally kind that you are incapable of defending yourself by protecting your own sanity?


Are you being so financially kind at the expense of not being able to feed your own self?


If any of the above is true, then it’s time to change. So in this regard, we can interpret the next two lines,

Benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness,


Be kind. But not so kind that you bet your self identity over it. Judge people. Analyse their motives. Everyone doesn’t require an equal amount of kindness. If you cross the limits of benevolence, you will be taken advantage of your foolish behaviour. You will become gullible. You will become vulnerable beyond help. Do good to those who need it aka do good to yourself and be just towards yourself.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date Masamune

(Image source – Wikipedia)


Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness; 

benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness.




Thank you for checking out this blog! 

Do comment and let me know your suggestions if you want me to interpret other quotes from anime / manga or by Japanese warlords.

Click here for the previous post. (Connected.)