Living and dying with bravery and honor is at the heart of Hagakure, a series of texts written by the eighteenth-century samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo. For many years known only to the warrior vassals of the Nabeshima clan to which the author belonged, Hagakure later came to be recognized as a classic exposition of samurai thought. It illuminates the concept of bushido (the Way of the Warrior), which Tsunetomo refers to as “the Way of death,” a description that has held a morbid fascination for readers over the years. In Tsunetomo’s time, though, the understanding of bushido also related to the Zen concept of muga, the “death” of the ego. Wilson’s introduction delves into that concept and allows for a more nuanced reading of this classic of samurai philosophy.
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