The Ronin and the art of facing the multiplicity of things
The Ronin cuts the bamboos from different standing positions and everybody seems amazed by his skills except for an old monk standing at the front. Upset by this carelessness, the young stops his training session and addresses the old monk.
The young Ronin: you do not seem impressed by my art, old men?
The old Monk: exhibiting bamboo cutting in public is far from an art.
The Young Ronin: it’s not only bamboo cutting but the art of the sword and combat that I have performed. What are you doing here if you are not interested in this art?
The old Monk: I had heard that a young Ronin had arrived to the temple and I wanted to ask him if he knew the art of Cha No Yu (art to serve the tea)
The Young Ronin: Those arts like Cho nu Yo and calligraphy are meant for females or for fighters softening their brains. I do not practice Cho Nu Yo since it has nothing to do with the art of combat
The old Monk: I suppose you do not practice meditation either.
The Young Ronin: far from me the idea to offend you but meditation is for old men like you. I am still too young to sit and meditate for hours. I am a man of action and I practice hard the art of the sword and this art needs to be performed just like I did with these bamboos and not by sitting still.
The old Monk: no one can reach the art of combat without practising internal meditation and you pretend you can?
The Young Ronin: these are the words of an old Monk without any combat experience.
The old Monk: your audacity may be excused by your youth. Would you accept a challenge to prove your words?
The Young Ronin: only if it’s related to the art of combat. I have no time to lose with other topics.
The old Monk: I had already understood this. Could you cut 3 bamboos in a row the same way you cut your second bamboo? If you cannot, I will ask you to serve me the tea I came for.
The young Ronin was surprised to see that the old monk had noticed that the second bamboo he cut was made with a clearer cut than the others. He had felt it but was not sure and did not want to look now.
The Young Ronin: I accept this challenge
The young Ronin trained himself with multiple bamboos and this challenge was far below his real capacity. 3 bamboos were therefore aligned in front of the Ronin and the Old Monk placed himself in front of him in order not to miss any details. The young ronin took his stance but suddenly felt something different compared to the previous cuts. He looked at the old Monk and crossed his deep staring eyes which made him boil with rage.
“Old fool! Do you really think that you know the art of combat? I will show that there is a difference between your temple and the reality of the fields” thought the Ronin while taking his stance.
When the ronin took the sword out of his scabbard to execute his cut movement, the old monk let a powerful and loud cry escape. The ronin could not properly achieve his cut and his sword remained stuck in the middle of the first bamboo. Distracted by the old monk the ronin removed his sword from the bamboo in a rage he never felt before. Never before had he felt such offense and embarrassment in front of a crowd.
The Young Ronin: How dare you? Don’t you know that I could cleave you for having offended me?
The old Monk: I doubt you could but before you even try allow me to show you something.
The old Monk slowly moved towards the bamboos which still separated him from the Ronin and stroke them with the edge of his hand. The Ronin’s fury and boastfulness vanished as the pieces reached the floor. The crowd was suddenly silent and amazed to discover the hidden talent of this old monk.
The old monk added these words:
See young Ronin, you have forgotten an essential ingredient in your art: it’s the art of facing the multiplicity of things. Like someone new in martial arts, you have practiced what you already knew best regardless of the other disciplines you ignore.
Let’s now have this cup of tea.
I wrote this fable because I wanted to underline the danger of closing your professional path to the discipline you already know.
Some people tend to lock themselves up into disciplines they master and show their job description in order to justify their refusal to operate in fields they do not fully master. Even if it’s not good to over diversify yourself in many disciplines, it’s essential to be opened if you wish to progress in your career.