The last five days of my writing challenge have been all about the concept of “Being Prepared”.
Starting last Sunday a consistent message of the importance of being ready for Death has been running through both my life and my practice. The message in services was all about growing and making an effort to improve physically, mentally, spiritually and relationally. The concept was that we were meant to use this life in a constant effort to make ourselves better and prepare for the day we pass away and must give a proper accounting of our lives before God. Jesus had led the way, showing us how it should be done and now it is up to us to follow His lead.
This message was followed by an evening spent watching the movie “47 Ronin”. While the popular theme of the movie is revenge and honor, the more powerful theme for me is the Samurai-turned-Ronin’s constant focus on being prepared for Death. Each of the main characters must fight through temptation, pressure to give up and even various forms of torture and persecution to ensure they are ready to do their duty, even to the death. After watching the movie I pulled a copy of the Bushido out of my library and began reading it again. It was then that I finally understood the very first tenant of Bushido – “GI” or Rectitude.
The next 4 days provided more examples of how to apply Gi, being ready for Death through right actions, in my life. And this is the key that I finally understood as I read the Bushido again…
Being “Prepared for Death” is NOT about being focused on Death!
Being “Prepared for Death” IS about how one lives!
The Samurai, or “Servant”, understood that their actions in life made all the difference in how they would die. When they meditated on Gi, it was not a focus on Death itself but on how they lived each day. They understood that each action, word and even thought had a powerful effect on their lives and eventually on how they were to die. Even more importantly they looked upon each day as an opportunity to make a mark, to “live their dash”, in such a way as to have had meaning and be remembered for being a valuable member of their community.
The last few days have shown me opportunities to live as the Samurai, to behave at all times in a manner that demonstrates all the virtues we should be cultivating in ourselves:
Behave with Honor – even in the face of opportunities to treat others as poorly as they are treating me.
Act with Integrity – even as those I encountered attempted to lie and deceive me.
Speak with Respect and Courtesy – even as those speaking to me are falsely accusing me and speaking with great disrespect.
Exercise Self-Control (Anger Management) – while confronted by someone who really needed to be “put in their place”.
Value Others above Self – gently and graciously lead and help others, even to my own loss of opportunity.
And, I have a feeling that this line of learning and personal development is not over… nor will it ever be truly complete.