"The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him."
--Miyamoto Musashi, from The Book of Five Rings
Question from a reader -
I'm reading The Book of Five Rings, and I have a question.
There's a lot of good stuff about acting decisively and immediately so that you can win while your opponent is hesitating, but I don't get why he emphasizes swords so much in particular.
Masters of the long sword are traditionally known as heihosha [strategists]. As for the other military arts, those who master the bow are called archers, those who master the spear are called spearmen, those who master the gun are called marksmen, and those who master the halberd are called halberdiers. But we do not call masters of the long sword "long swordsmen", nor do we speak of "short swordsmen". Bows, guns, spears and halberds are all tools of the warriors and each should be a way to master strategy.
According to the gospel of Luke, John the baptist and Jesus were destined to be great men before they were a twinkle in anyone's eye. Angels, prophets, and complete strangers constantly remind their parents that they have a mission from God. In one scene, a prophet named Simeon addresses Mary specifically.
"Listen carefully. The child [Jesus] is destined to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be rejected. Indeed, as a result of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your own soul as well!"
A lot of commentary suggests that Simeon was warning Mary that Jesus' rejection would be painful to bear as he lives out his cause for the Most High. But I think there's something else going on. When Simeon says that a sword will pierce her soul as well, it immediately follows the phrase about the thoughts of many hearts being revealed.
The word "sword" is better described as a javelin - a throwing spear - when we take a closer look at the Greek. And the etymology of the word "pierce" suggests a long path or journey. Have you noticed throughout these chapters that Mary keeps pondering things in her heart? Perhaps Simeon is saying that all the things Mary wondered about her son would eventually be revealed as he came into his own, and that Jesus' anointing was also her journey.
What do you think?