Sword : Hidden Blade

Japan Adventures (10) : Legend of the Sword that Did Not Cut

456847_wakizashi_1From ‘Fodor’s Exploring Japan’ by David Scott – ‘Only those with the purest hearts and the highest moral standards could become master swordsmiths. The making of each sword was analogous to a spiritual journey and the sword-maker would undergo a ritual purification and fasting before he began to make a sword. While at the anvil, he wore white robes and adopted the lifestyle of a monk. ‘

A story is told of two famous competing swordsmiths, Muramasa and Masamune, who were almost equal in skill. When a sword made by Muramasa was held upright in a running stream, every dead leaf that drifted against its edge was cut in two. However, when Masamune’s sword was put to the same test, the floating leaves passed either side of its edge, remaining uncut. Masamune’s sword was judged the superior for its spiritual power over leaves. Well, the Buddha taught that trading in weaponry is unskilful livelihood because it creates instruments for causing suffering. If so, does the creation of a weapon, such as Masamune’s sword, that never harms make it alright? Here is a fictitious tale to share, just freshly concocted… Once upon a time, there was a chivalrous swordsman, who roamed the countryside. He lived off the goodwill of the people, especially those who were grateful to him for his heroic help, wt and wisdom in their times of desperation. He wielded a sword that had a magnificent hilt. So majestic it was with its sheath that rumours spread about how much greater the hidden blade must be. In fact, gossip became abound as to how wonderful the sword was – though it was never drawn. On his deathbed, there was a squabble over who had the right to inherit his sword. Much like his usual character, the swordsman passed away with a chuckle, without saying anything about his sword. When the sword was coveted by the most dishonourable of the villagers, he attempted to draw it from the sheath… but he could not. With much efforts by many later, who were too eager to see the blade, the hilt was accidentally broken off. To their surprise, there was no blade. The hilt was only joined with the sheath. The swordsman had wielded a truly great weapon – because it was never a weapon. Not only did his blade never leave the sheath, he never saw the need for a blade. He did not believe in violence. It struck the villagers that that made him doubly a hero, who had resolved countless matters without a fight. The true hero does not cut away at his enemies; he cuts away his need for harming his enemies, while transforming them for the better. The greatest sword is not just that which was never drawn, but that which was never there. The most powerful respect is commanded not by any sword, but by integrity, kindness, wisdom and bravery. This was the swordsman’s final lesson.

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