Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Way of the Sword - Miyamoto Musashi.

Shinmen Takezo or better known as Miyamoto Musashi embarked upon the journey of self discovery through wielding the katana or the long samurai sword.; he was a truth seeker to the very end of his life. Throughout his illustrious life as a student of the martial arts, Miyamoto developed his own philosophy about life depending on no one but his own determination to live despite all the challenges that could have ended his life  as a student of the samurai sword technique.  From every worthy opponent he met along his journey he learned the deeper meaning of life as a swordsman. One of his mentor was a Zen monk Takuan Osho who had him tied hanging from a tree as a punishment for killing a man and later became his spiritual guide throughout his life. Through this relationship Miyamoto was honed to the spiritual side of his nature. 

At his younger age Miyamoto was a very reckless and angry young man whose childhood days was spent growing up on his own as he was abandoned by his father. He grew up with the believe that he was dependant upon no one and nothing but his own strength and fortitude. With an unquenched anger in him he called his path with the sword as the path of carnage.In one of his most famous of battles was against the Yoshioka school in Kyoto where he had to kill a ten year old boy set up as the head of the school, a ploy to deter him from winning the fight. Heartless as it may had seemed, Miyamoto went on to become one of the most celebrated if not feared samurai in Japan.  When asked why he killed the child Miyamoto replied, 
"A swordsman cannot loose a match. As long as i killed the commander- in chief I would have been victorious even if I had died fighting later at the hands of many... to a swordsman, loosing means death."
This was the passion and commitment that Miyamoto had towards his quest to understanding his own nature. The fact that death was a constant equation in the Way of the sword the outcome justifies the means; there is only one way and that is to stay alive to Musashi Miyamoto. The Way of the swordsman in Japan was similar to that of the Way of the Gunfighter in the Old West of the American frontier and in modern days it is in the Ways of the extreme sports like the racing cars and motorcycles or the mortal combats in the ring. It is the ultimate test of human endurance and discipline. In the life of Miyamoto Musashi and the likes of him, it was walking the razor's edge between insanity and enlightenment and few in history survived to be hailed as the supreme victor of man over his dark nature and fewer still has survived to be revered as historical figures. 

Sometime in the early eighties I was introduced to the life of Miyamoto Musashi when I stumbled upon his book entitled, A Book of Five Rings." and one of the quotes from the book Musashi wrote,

 " Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the World." 

“there is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” “Do not sleep under a roof. Carry no money or food. Go alone to places frightening to the common brand of men. Become a criminal of purpose. Be put in jail, and extricate yourself by your own wisdom.” 
― Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings:  Quotes from GOOD READS.
From the life of an outcast of his village and living in the woods by himself as a child growing up, Miyamoto Musashi grew in fame to become a household name in the Japanese culture and an artist and profound thinker in human history. 

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