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Moving Forward Spiritually through Life and Death Situations

Submitted by Shichi-Dan Barnes, Denshi/Shihan, Ueshiro Bushi Dojo, Beverly Hills, CA

Under the Direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione

Arigato Hanshi!

Step First ! The Spiritual Mantra Master Ueshiro passed on to Hanshi, his number one devotee, the chosen one, whom he hand picked to carry the message and teach the teachings of our great art form, Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate.

Shoshin Nagamine, In his final paragraphs of The Essence of Okinawan Karate, states:

“One is both humbled and uplifted by this knowledge of self : ken zen ichijo.. Karate and Zen as one”. P. 272.

Ken Zen Ichijo..Karate and Zen as One…….Next Level.

One of my favorite Zen tales is that of “How do you stop a Samurai for Separating one's head from one's shoulder?" as told by Professor Joseph Campbell (American Professor of Literature at Sarah Lawrence College who worked in comparative mythology and comparative religion.)

I will share it with you now :

Let me tell you one story here, of a samurai warrior, a Japanese warrior, who had the duty to avenge the murder of his overlord. And he actually, after some time, found and cornered the man who had murdered his overlord. And he was about to deal with him with his samurai sword, when this man in the corner, in the passion of terror, spat in his face. And the samurai sheathed the sword and walked away. Why did he do that?

Because he was made angry, and if he had killed that man then, it would have been a personal act, of another kind of act, that’s not what he had come to do.

The samurai’s mission was not simply to kill the murderer, but to honor his master and fulfill his duty. Killing the murderer out of anger would not have fulfilled the intrinsic call of his duty. To an observer, whether he killed the culprit motivated by honor or anger, it wouldn’t have mattered. The murderer would be dead either way.

But to the samurai, his own motivation made all the difference. He needed a crystal clear answer for why he was taking action, and a reactive response out of anger would not only be dishonorable, it would negate the reason for his quest.

You can choose your response. You can observe an unhelpful emotion take hold, but you don’t have to react. You always can choose to act in a way that honors the vision of the person you truly want to be.

Nothing is just a means to an end. Every action is an end in itself. The path is the destination. It’s the journey that matters.

In our journey we may ( we will) be confronted with a Life and Death situation and must decide who’s life and who’s death will result in the next 15 seconds and we may make the mistake of acting out of anger or of pity, when as a result of our training, if we are truly honoring our master and dedication and commitment to our sacred Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu training, we will not need to sheath our sword, we will in fact put away our attacker(s) and preserve our life, fulfill our duty to honor the long hours we have spent in the dojo fostering our courage through the ecstasy of hard work and sweat, polishing our human spirit, it is because of this commitment that I am crystal clear of why I am taking this action, like the samurai fulfilling his duty, so do I, so that I may live on another day, to honor the vision of the person I truly want to be, to celebrate with Joy & Vigor,….. karate and zen as one !

Domo Arigato,

Barnes Sensei,

Shichi-Dan, Denshi/Shihan Ueshiro Bushi Dojo, Beverly Hills CA

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