Saturday, November 06, 2010

My Feudal Lords

It's been a little over six weeks since my mother visited. I don't get to see her very often, and it was a welcome opportunity, but it left me wondering things in an odd way. More recently a family emergency prompted a trip to Sacramento, and ended up raising this idea again.

The thing that's linking both of these events, for the purpose of this writing, is that both of them lead to a massive gain in material wealth. I gained a laptop and a PS3 Move from the first, and several thousand dollars from the second.

Were I capable of not thinking deeply about these things they would have simply been a bit of welcome largess, but some combination of guilt, and my normal lack of such fiscal liberty have made me into someone who considers such prominent gifts very seriously, and it was from this that I gained great insight into the nature of Bushido.

I've been reading about Bushido a fair amount in the last five or six months. I haven't been reading heavily, but I have a book of Bushido wisdom that floats around and I read a parable or two every few days. I've always had a mixed relationship with it. I have a great respect for most of it, but the role of a Samurai as a retainer has never truly synced with me until now. Recently I have come to a greater understanding and I've come to understand how it applies to my own life. The people who have given me these gifts, and those upon whom I am dependent, are my Feudal Lords. They give me direction, and they give me the power and resources to pursue that direction, but I'm not directly bound to them. It's not a strict power structure, like a boss or a superior officer, rather it's a gentler system in which they are my backers and my teachers. Nor is it a strict contract of service. I'm not being paid directly to do some job, I'm being supported to fulfill a role. They empower me and give me counsel, and in return I carry out their will, using the endowments they have given me. When I'm looking at, or thinking about these gifts, things which go far beyond my living expenses stipend, I remember this.

The laptop, which I'm writing on now, could be turned into an excellent gaming PC. It won't be. It could follow in the footsteps of all of my previous computers and be slowly corroded by the dubious practices involved with acquiring music, videos, and software at no expense, but it won't be. Instead it's being used for media, but nothing potentially damaging to he machine, and for work. My first priority when I set it up was to make sure it wouldn't get infected, and this is the only computer in decades where I've paid for high quality security software. This machine isn't just a computer, it's a gift from my Feudal Lords, and like a horse, or a Daisho, or any other bit of equipment a Samurai might be given, it has to be used with them in mind.

I considered this when I first set up this computer, and like all computers it asked for a name. This name would only really matter if it were being designated in some kind of network setting, but to me the name holds great symbolic meaning. This is why this computer is named Koku. Technically a Koku is a unit of measure, but it was also once a unit of currency, with one Koku being worth enough rice to feed one person for a year, which according to wikipedia was set at around 330 lbs. I have been told there is a specific term for the stipend a Feudal Lord gave to their Samurai, but I don't know it and have had no luck finding it, but I do know the stipend was commonly given out in the form of Koku. So this computer is named Koku, because it, amongst the other things I receive, was given to me by my Feudal Lords, and I'm keeping their will in mind when I use it.


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