(Further to the two previous posts.) To situate the sidewalk incident in a broader context, I turn to an ancient text on Japanese swordsmanship. Zen master Takuan (1573-1645) writes that “adepts do not use the sword to kill people; they use the sword to let people live. …. Whoever attains this freedom is invincible against anyone on earth and is utterly peerless.”
According to Thomas Cleary, the translator, the moral basis for this approach comes from Taoism: “Good warriors are not militaristic, good fighters don’t get angry, and those who are good at defeating opponents don’t get caught up in it. … If you go into battle with kindness, then you will prevail; if you use it for defense, then you will be secure” (Tao te Ching).
Taking ‘warrior’ and ‘battle’ as metaphors for life in an essentially chaotic world helps to unfetter my thinking. Comments to yesterday’s post reminded me that “you’re human” and “not the Dalai Lama.” What a relief, I thought when I read that, even if my intentions — to save all sentient beings, for instance — are as unattainable as his. “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness,” the Dalai Lama says, “in the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”
text source: “Tai-a ki: notes on the peerless sword” by Takuan, in Cleary, T. (2005). Soul of the samurai: modern translations of three classic works of Zen & Bushido. Rutledge, VT: Tuttle, p. 144; image credit: wix.com