Issue nº 55

21 June 2003, Jordan, the Dead Sea |  On the art of the sword

On the art of the sword

Many centuries ago, in the days of the samurais, a text was written in Japan on the spiritual art of wielding the sword: "Impassive comprehension", also known as "The Treatise of Tahlan", the name of the author (a fencing master and Zen monk). Below are some extracts that I have adapted:

Keeping calm
Whoever understands the meaning of life knows that nothing has a beginning and an end, and so he does not become anguished. He fights for what he believes in without trying to prove anything to anyone, keeping the quiet calm of one who has had the courage to choose his destiny.

This holds true for both love and war.

Letting the heart be present
Whoever trusts in his power of seduction, capacity to say things at the right time, and proper use of the body, is deaf to "the voice of the heart." This can only be heard when we are in perfect tune with the world around us, never when we feel we are the centre of the universe.

This holds true for both love and war.

Learning to be the other
We are so centred on what we feel is the best attitude that we forget something of great importance: in order to reach our objectives, we need other people. So it is necessary not only to observe the world but also to imagine ourselves in the skin of others and to know how to follow their thoughts.

This holds true for both love and war.

Finding the right master
Our path will always cross that of many others who for love or pride wish to teach us something. How can we tell the friend apart from the manipulator? The answer is simple: the true master is not the one who teaches an ideal path but rather he who shows his pupil the many ways that lead to the road that must be travelled to reach the destination. As of the moment that you find this road, the master can no longer help you, because your challenges are unique.

This holds true neither for love nor war - but if we fail to understand this item, we will never get anywhere.

Escaping from threats
We often think that the ideal attitude is to give life for a dream, but there is nothing more mistaken than this. In order to make a dream come true, we need to conserve our life, and so we have to know how to avoid whatever is threatening us. The more we premeditate on our steps, the more we stand to be wrong, because we are not taking others into consideration, or life's teachings, or passion and calm. The more we feel we are in control, the farther we are from controlling anything at all. A threat gives no warning, and a quick reaction cannot be programmed like a walk on Sunday afternoon.

So if you want to be in harmony with your love or with your fight, learn to react fast. Using polite observation, do not let your supposed experience of life turn you into a machine, but rather use this experience always to listen to "the voice of the heart." Even if you disagree with what this voice is saying, respect it and follow its advice, for it knows the best moment to act and the right moment to avoid action.

This also holds true for both love and war.

Issue nº55