Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Way of the Samurai

Here's an interesting quote from the ancient tome Bushido: The Way of the Samurai...

An old retired swordsman once said, "There are levels in the course of mastery throughout your life..."

He goes on to define them as the lowest level, the middle level, the high level, and the higher level. He describes each level in some detail, and though those descriptions are certainly insightful, I was most intrigued by what he said comes after the "higher level."

Beyond this higher level, there is one further step: the level of the trackless road. If you travel deep into the trackless road, infinite secrets will finally appear. Then you can never see the end of your mastery. Then you truly realize how lacking you are. You have only to go ahead with your intention of mastery in mind. You go forward without pride and without humility...Your life is something you build every day. You must convince yourself that you have surpassed yesterday. And tomorrow you must feel that you have surpassed today. In this way there is no end to your mastery."

I really like the perspective I see in these words--a perspective that says Mastery of Life isn't about always looking at the distant horizon where you envision yourself eventually becoming the biggest and best version of yourself. It's about looking at who you are today, and moving yourself one small step closer to mastery today than you were yesterday.

This perspective seems to come naturally to us in the arena of athletics. Long distance runners, for instance, know that training for a marathon isn't about going out and running 26 miles right off the bat. It's about running a little farther or a little faster today than you ran yesterday, or last week. "In this way," says the samurai, "there is no end to your mastery."

Here's to the power of small daily change.

1 comment:

melissa said...

I am very intrigued by your using quotes from the Bushido tome. For the last year, I have identified greatly with Samurai and actually looked in my area for somewhere to learn Bushido. My search was unsuccessful. What I did find however, was the fact there were women Samurai. I was not surprised.

Your writings on the trackless road hit very close to home for me. I have stepped very purposefully onto a road such as this. I needed to see these words today. I needed to remember that secrets will appear, no matter the fear in not knowing what's next.

After 15 years of being in a relationship that was never fully what I dreamed it was, I am setting out across America in a couple of weeks in search of my new home. I feel the call and know I must go - where I will end up is a mystery today. I am certain with everything in me, I will know when I get there. I am letting the place choose me for the first time in my life and am being drawn to one state in particular. I wonder though, will it be there or somewhere I travel through on the way. The freedom to choose is life giving.

I have prayed for freedom for years upon years and it is so close now, I can hear it's whisper in my ear and feel it's warm breath on the back of my neck. So close, so close.

I have known for sometime, I am a warrior of sorts, deeply connected with God. I have woken up however, over the past few months, fully, and realized this culture I've been living in has betrayed me - betrayed my feminity and I willingly went along for the ride. After years and years of faithful devotion, study and service, I finally saw the truth. I have been living in a world where I have been told I must find my identity in my husband, my worth as a woman is connected to God through him. I knew somewhere in me this didn't fit. I just didn't realize how strong the message was and how it absolutely does not work for me. I do not believe that was Christ's intent nor do I see his actions with women supporting this view of me being a second class citizen. I knew I was drawn to the Samurai, I just didn't realize why.

I take full credit for my part in this living life in a bird cage - beautiful as it was. I was led to believe my wings were clipped for my own good - only they were never were really clipped. The lie was given to keep me trapped. Once I realized how free I really could be - how I was created to be exactly who God created me to be - from the way I look to the desires he placed in me to create in this world - I took up my sword and began to destroy the bird cage. My wings, which were weak from sitting on the wire, are stronger now than they've ever been. They are ready to fly and freedom is calling.

The trackless road is beckoning and I am going. I don't know what will appear or what will show up on the horizon, AND I know, it will be for a reason. I will find what's meant to be found and I will live the life I am meant to live.

Thank you for these words today Michael - you have given me the courage to face yet another day of uncertainty.