This story is titled part one because The Way of the Sword is something not readily apparent and required my meditation for some time. But perhaps I have scratched the surface now for some scraps to mull over today.
I know a little bit about Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s all-time greatest swordsman, and desire to read his books one day. But I have decided to first seek within on this matter.
As a fan of martial arts, I was of course fascinated by his legacy, as many others are too, but I began to feel disturbed to derive inspiration from a man who has killed so many. Wanting to strike another man down, especially for sport, comes off as dysfunctional to me, and I know Musashi was not raised in a stable home.
But despite that, human nature does not automatically reject violence. The combat sport industry has been a successful one across many civilizations and centuries, including today, as we enjoy MMA/boxing bouts, and even the small scuffles in more tame sports.
So, was living the life of a dueling swordsman just about the thrill of combat?
A duel to the death must activate you in some extraordinary manner. Maybe it’s an adrenaline high that keeps them coming back? Even street racers could recognize this feeling.
But Musashi did not die a brute. He passed away as a dignified leader of a school, adoptive father, artist, serviceman, and published strategist and philosopher.
So, pulling back from just Musashi, and looking at all the men who participate in this sword dueling realm, I will give them more credit and ask, was it about human potential?
Is it possible that leaving one’s fate to the decision of the duel is the ultimate quest for seeking self-knowledge and fundamental truth?
Consider this, if you strike a man down in a duel, you live, and he dies. It is uncontestable who was better. That much is at least provable.
Life and death seem to be the only realms we can’t really argue about. You’re here and then you’re not.
However dysfunctional it may be resorting to violence in this manner, two men agree on an even playing field with both having something to prove. They both test their human ability, and only one is allowed to live with confirmation about the way he views the world.
Something deep within me resonates with the definiteness and decisiveness that is the life and the Way of the sword.
I have found myself lately with a subtle aching to strike a man down, but not physically.
Let me explain.
Every man has their own worldview, and I believe the peak of masculinity is to commit yourself to see that world through.
My worldview, my beliefs, perspectives, and actions I take on my path, is my sword. Although I am mostly practicing my forms and sharpening my sword alone, there are many other men also trying to shape the world, and slowly I’m realizing that eventually we will have to cross paths.
That is when my world view, my masculinity, will be tested.
It won’t be life or death, but whether with a sword or a pen, a contest of ideas is the only way to know the truth about the path the man is on.
If he loses, he learns his method is incomplete. If he wins, he lives to seek another opponent, continuously, until he is the best.
The only danger I foresee on this path is to have rivals, because once a rival is defeated, I would be left without a purpose. Ego and emotional investment in the affair can be misleading.
So, I suppose the real fight is to discover the truth.
In the age of Miyamoto Musashi, using physical means was the easiest way to impose truth into reality. And the contest being within the threat of death was also the fastest way to activate the complete necessity of a man’s full potential.
But there’s no way it can just be chalked up to just mindless violence. There must have been something more ethereal, spiritual, about the Way that attracted so many men to it.
Whether he lived or died, the Way of the Sword granted a man the greatest opportunity to settle the incessant chatter within his head and uncontestably revealed to him his place within the world.
The Way of the Sword requires 100% of you; a full commitment.
The Way of the Sword is putting everything on the line in order to know.
See you on the Far Side… – Monk Moon Base
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