Of Wolves and Ravens – Eastern Philosophy – The Code of Bushido

Happy Tyr’s Day


Eastern Philosophy is a large subject.  It stretches over several different cultures.  Middle Eastern, Islamic, Chinese, Japanese, etc. all have their philosophical schools and viewpoints.  If there is a commonality to Eastern Philosophy it is focus more on community and oneness with the universe.  In western philosophy people overcome surroundings.  In eastern philosophy, one becomes one’s surroundings if that makes any sense.

I am not going not dive into the metaphysical sea that is eastern philosophy. Today I just want to do a comparison between the Nine Noble Virtues of Ásatrú (NNV) which I follow, and the Code of Bushido (COB).  The Japanese Warrior Code is something I admire, so the purpose of this comparison is not to note superiority of one over the other.  I have a feeling if a samurai and a viking warrior sat down and had a discussion about these things they would walk away from each other with a profound amount of respect. Rather, my main purpose is to learn and grow.  To perhaps see other facets of the jewel known as the NNV by comparing it to another jewel – The COB.

There are similarities – Both have honor.  The difference is that the NNV tries to encompass in honor the idea of respect, where the COB makes that a separate virtue.  Both have Fidelity, but the COB adds the idea of Duty as part of that, although I would say it is part of Fidelity as well.   Honesty lines up very much with Truth. Compassion lines up very well with Hospitality.  Both have Courage. There is a lot of overlap as you can see.  The learning is in the differences.

The COB has Respect as separate from Honor and the Virtue of Integrity. In the case pf respect, looking at this reminds me as a follower of the NNV that Respect is a part of honor.  To me self-worth and respect are two sides of the same coin of honor.  The COB reminds me that I need to remember it is two-sided. Integrity is sticking with one’s decisions and being commuted to them.  I would say in Fidelity we see that but not so much our decisions as being committed to our relationships and making decisions based on those commitment that are loyal and true.  I can change my decisions if a different path suggests I would demonstrate more loyalty to that person or group than my current path.

The NNV has the following virtues that are more emphasized than the COB: Self-Reliance, Industriousness, Discipline and Perseverance.  It is not that the COB doesn’t talk about these things, it is just two some might be seen as expressions of the other virtues.  Discipline as part of Compassion.  To be disciplined one must then display perseverance.  However, I think the concept of ‘face’ kicks in here and failure is far less of an option in the COB as it is in the NNV.  The Viking Warrior after failing, gets up and tries again.  The Samurai might instead to stave of losing face commit ritual suicide.  The thing being that in Eastern philosophy community is far more important that the individual.

This is probably best seen in Self-Reliance and Industriousness. It is not that the COB does not emphasize them, it is just they are always seen as a part of a greater whole.  The problem with this in Viking culture is you can find yourself alone trying to survive and live.  The climate and nature of the Scandinavian world meant you are going to have to face things at times without the community. So you better figure out how to do things yourself and you better work hard or you might die or suffer for relying too much on others or not working hard enough.

To the Wolves and Ravens:

Needs (Geri):

Comparison in philosophical systems is needed to strengthen our own.  It avoids the cranial rectal inversion that some philosophers develop that I am trying to avoid.  Having one’s head up one’s own ass philosophically.  Easter philosophy with its different focus points tends to be quite revealing when you put it side by side western.

Wants (Freki):

I personally want to see aspects of the Code of Bushido expressed in my following of the Nine Noble Virtues. There is a need to remember respect as part of honor for me. To remember community is important when it comes to hospitality and fidelity.  That Integrity is a part of Truth for me. Learning how to fuller understand and express the NNV by looking at how others see the same virtue is something I definitely want.

Reason (Huginn):

I would say reason tells us that codes and virtues might be the same but which ones are going to be more emphasized are going to depend a lot of culture and society.  The Code of Bushido fits its Eastern philosophical world. The NNV virtues make more sense for me because I live in a culture that is more self-reliant and individualistic.  However if I had or do business in Japan, it might do me well, from a rational point of view, to switch while I am there.

Wisdom (Muninn):

Learning to find wisdom where you find it is key.  Wisdom knows no culture or society. It sometimes expresses itself differently depending on society but the concepts of wisdom tend to be the same.


I have enjoyed this look at the Code of Bushido.  It has made my meditation on the NNV a little more fuller as I consider aspects of the NNV in its light. It has allowed me to see more of my own path and code.  I imagine I will return to it again.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.



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