|Glossary of Buddhism|
Gaman (我慢) is a Japanese term of Zen Buddhist origin which means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance", "patience", or "tolerance". A related term, gamanzuyoi (我慢強い, gaman-tsuyoi), a compound with tsuyoi (strong), means "suffering the unbearable" or having a high capacity for a kind of stoic endurance.
Gaman has been attributed to the Japanese-Americans and others held in the American internment camps during World War II and to those affected by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. In the internment camps, gaman was misperceived by the non-Japanese as introverted behavior or as a lack of assertiveness or initiative, rather than as a demonstration of strength in the face of difficulty or suffering. Gaman and the related term yase-gaman are, in Japanese society, closely related to complying with conformity and silent heroism, which seems to be hidden pride for compensation for sacrifice and being satisfied to pay reciprocal service in advance or to being seen themselves as victims by folks. Gaman toward authority, 'unquestioning obedience' or 'blind obedience' is supposed to be unfit to a healthy democracy.
The mentality of gaman seems to be derived from the strong conviction of Japanese way of fatalism, which was reinforced by Buddhism mujo, impermanence,nihilism, tradition of self destruction, the collective nature of its society, and the forced attitudes of resignation and submission under the Edo feudal period. Those world-views were depicted in The Tale of the Heike, the works of Yoshida Kenkou, Kamo no Chomei. The sequence of events of Japanese fatalism seems to be explained as dormant, ceaseless accumulation of self-righteousness, which is justified by accusing other's faults rarely explicitly, mainly in their thought, and sudden manifestation of aggression if suppression (gaman) fails.
After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the resilience, civility, lack of looting and ability of the Japanese to help one another was widely attributed to the gaman spirit. The 50 to 70 heroes who remained at the damaged and radiation-emitting Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant despite the severe danger demonstrated what was regarded as gaman as well.
Gaman is also used in psychoanalytic studies and to describe the attitudes of the Japanese. It is often taught to youth and is largely used by older Japanese generations. Showing gaman is seen as a sign of maturity and strength. Keeping private affairs, problems and complaints silent demonstrates strength and politeness as others have seemingly larger problems as well. If a person with gaman received help from someone else, they would be compliant, not ask for any additional help, and voice no concerns.
- Hirohito surrender broadcast
- Stiff upper lip
- Shikata ga nai
- Honne and tatemae
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- DeMente 2004, pp. 74–75.
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... "it can't be helped", as well as the virtue "gaman" which defies easy translation, ...
- Swann, Christopher (20 January 2013). "Atomic nightmares". Business Standard (India). Retrieved 8 July 2020.
Experience with crises has shaped the Japanese ethos of "gaman" — "enduring the unendurable". Even after the March 11 disaster ...
- Jones, Clayton (15 March 2011). "A nuclear meltdown in Japan? Not if these brave workers can help it". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
One noble trait that the Japanese admire is gaman. It is their word for the ability to persevere, endure, and overcome, with patience ... Japan may remember them for their gaman despite personal exposure to dangerous levels of radiation
- Kolb 2007, p. 146.
- Burns 2005, p. 51.
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- West 2009, p. 4.
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- Hearn 1904, pp. 245–241.
- Dower 1986, pp. 132–133.
- Benedict 1946, pp. 116, 230–232.
- Takeo 1971, pp. 129–130.
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- Hearn 1904, pp. 204, 243.
- van Wolferen 1989, p. 250.
- Dower 1999, p. 218.
- Ian Kershaw, Fateful Choices, 2007, page334, 347
- Nakamura Hajime, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples,1964/1985, p352
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- Keiji Nishitani
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- Saul Kassin et., Social Psychology,2017, page71,583
- Nakamura Hajime, Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples,1964/1985, p366
- Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword,1946, p315
- Matthew 11:16~19
- Ruth Benedict, The chrysanthemum and the sword,1946, page190
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Fueled by gaman ..., the workers did not abandon their posts even if it seemed suicidal to go on. They showed another Japanese trait: putting first their country, community and group over their individual concerns.
- Johnson 1995, p. 181.
- Benedict, Ruth (1946). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780547525143.
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- Johnson, Frank A. (1995). Dependency and Japanese Socialization: Psychoanalytic and Anthropological Investigations Into Amae. New York University Press. ISBN 0814741924.
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- Kennicott, Philip (28 March 2010). "The Art of Gaman: Life behind walls we were too scared to live without". The Washington Post.
- The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946 at Smithsonian Institution
- The Art of Gaman at the University Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts
- 尊厳の藝術展 (The Art of Gaman) at NHK.or.jp (in Japanese; archived)
- Gaman at American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) (archived)