where the way is found


Skull and crossbones
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“A warrior has success in his head, armor on his chest, and his fate is in heaven. Go to fight with confidence and you’ll come back without a single wound. Rush into the battle ready to die. Should you leave home, remember that you shall never see it again, only then shall you come back. If you dream for a moment of returning home, it will most likely never happen. Life brings about constant changes, but a samurai doesn’t think that way as his fate is predestined”. –Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578 )

The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim.We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one’s aim is a dog’s death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling. -The Hagakure

“We’re all scared.  You hid in that ditch because you think there is still hope.  But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you are already dead.  And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function.  Without mercy.  Without compassion.  Without remorse.  All war depends on it.” -From “Band of Brothers”

The passages above pretty much say what I want to convey.

After many years of reading various military and martial arts sources I have seen this idea time and again… Warriors saying that to be able to operate freely and to your full potential in combat that you can’t be concerned with “surviving”.

I suppose that I can see the logic in the idea. If your primary goal is avoiding death, all you will do is try to find the “safe” answer to a problem that has no “safe place” in it. At the best you will live; either as a coward or as something far less than a Soldier or a Warrior. At the worst you will probably be killed; as it’s easier to kill a person who is cowering, unmoving and “unfighting” in one spot, than it is to kill a moving and attacking Warrior.

While it’s easy to think that all this means is mindless “banzai” charges, I think that the point is more subtle than that. This idea applies to your personal mindset as a warrior, not to military planning and “risk mitigation”. Plan operations to reduce as much risk as possible, make your tactical decisions to increase your odds of survival, live your life so that you are not needlessly placing your life in jeopardy, but when the time comes to act you have to ACT without clouding your thoughts with worry over your survival

Sometimes the only way out is through.

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