“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. However, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” -Lord Chesterfield
How many skills have you let rest as “good enough”?
What skills are worth the time and effort..to the detriment of what others? Is perfection in “everything” possible to even attempt?
Is “perfection” ultimately a display of skill or a frame of mind? I think of the Zen tea ceremony. Is it really about perfection of every movement? Or is it about the “perfect mindfulness” in anything you do?
How far do you take this idea before it has no real useful meaning? Like Kyudo…is the “perfect shot” one that can miss the target? From a practical manner (as in life or death) isn’t a hit all that really matters? But are practical matters all that there really is when we discuss “perfection”?
In China there was once a man who liked pictures of dragons, and his clothing and furnishings were all designed accordingly. His deep affection for dragons was brought to the attention of the dragon god, and one day a real dragon appeared before his window. It is said that he died of fright. He was probably a man who always spoke big words but acted differently when facing the real thing.
This passage makes me think about the tendency to confuse the trappings and the skills involved in “warriorship” with the deeds that are the REAL substance of it. How many times have you seen the IT/web professional who accumulates helmets, plate carriers, chest rigs, 2K carbines and attends 3-5 “tactical carbine” courses a year? Nothing wrong with that, but don’t confuse the trappings with the “doings”. And beyond that, to me this passage talks about the difference between the “appearance” and the “guts”. The webdude with the tactical firearms hobby who “dies of fright” when the Tactical Gods drop him into a real firefight illustrates that skills and mindset/attitude are two different things.
It’s the same with the martial arts, strutting around like you are “SOMEBODY” because you have a black belt shows me that you have a self-esteem problem. You are a person with a skill. Your skill is no more or less important than a person with a skill in carpentry, dance, accounting or electrical engineering. Show me what kind of person you are by what you do in the world. You don’t have to be a SEAL or a tactical guru to be “someone”. The type of person you are will always be more important than the skills you acquire.
So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people and grovel to none.
When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.
Office of a knight is the end and the beginning wherefore began the order of chivalry. Then if a knight use not his office, he is contrary to his order and to the beginning of chivalry. *** The office of a knight is to maintain and defend the holy catholic faith by which God the Father sent his Son into the world to take human flesh in the glorious Virgin, our Lady Saint Mary; and for to honor and multiply the faith, suffered in this world many travails, despites, and anguishous death. Then in like wise as our Lord God hath chosen the clerks for to maintain the holy catholic faith with scripture and reasons against the miscreaunts and unbelievers, in like wise God of glory hath chosen knights because that by force of arms they vanquish the miscreaunts, which daily labor for to destroy holy church, and such knights God holdeth them for his friends honored in the world and in that other when they keep and maintain the faith by the which we intend to be saved.
* * *
The office of a knight is to maintain and defend his worldly or terrestrial lord, for a king ne no high baron hath no power to maintain righteousness in his men without aid and help. Then if any man do against the commandment of his king or prince, it behooves the knights aid their lord, which is but a man only as another is. * * * The office of a knight is to maintain the land, for because that the fear of the common people have of the knights, they labor and cultivate the earth for fear lest they should be destroyed.
* * *
The office of a knight is to maintain and defend women, widows, and orphans, and men diseased and not powerful ne strong. For like as custom and reason is that the greatest and most might help the feeble and less, and that they have recourse to the great; right so is the order of chivalry, because she is great, honorable, and mighty, be in succor and in aid of them that been under him and less mighty and less honored than he is.
* * *
The office of a knight is to have a castle and horse for to keep the ways and for to defend them that labor the lands and the earth. And they ought to have towns and cities for to hold right to the people, and for to assemble in a place men of many diverse crafts which been much necessary to the ordinance of this world to keep and maintain the life of man and of woman.
* * *
The office of a knight is also to search for thieves, robbers, and other wicked folk, for to make them to be punished. For in like wise as the ax is made for to hew and destroy the evil trees, in like wise is the office of a knight established for to punish the trespassers and delinquents.
* * *
– Raymon Lull, Libre del Orde de Cauayleria (The Book of the Order of Chivalry).
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”